How to Make Incense Sticks Using Essential Oils: a quick tutorial for crafting handmade incense using aromatic essential oils
There are many facets of boho style that have been steadily gaining popularity over the past several years. One of these trends is the renewed popularity of incense. Both incense sticks and cones are making a big comeback, and with consumers taking more interest in what is used to create household products, there is a great opportunity here for natural and handmade artisans. Incense sticks using essential oils in place of typical synthetic fragrances are sure to be a hit with customers who love bohemian style and natural living.
Scenting incense sticks using essential oils is a surprisingly simple process. The biggest challenge, and greatest opportunity for artisans lies in formulating an essential oil blend that will delight their customers. In general, earthy base notes from essential oils such as Sandalwood, Palo Santo, and Patchouli make excellent starting points.
Best Essential Oils and CO2 Extracts for Incense
Bright and cheerful citrus scent with floral notes.
Deep, woody aroma associated with relaxation.
A sweet mint oil with surprising notes of cocoa.
Green, herbaceous aroma with deep woody notes used to promote spiritual balance.
Resin-based aroma with spicy, woody, and balsamic notes.
Warm and spicy aroma made from fresh ginger root.
Sweet tart citrus aroma used to encourage happiness.
Crispy woody conifer made from needles and twigs.
Peppery wood aroma reminiscent of conifers.
Camphorous herbal scent with a classic floral aspect.
Bold green citrus aroma often used to encourage focus and concentration.
Classic incense ingredient with a rich, balsamic, and resinous aroma.
Also known as Sweet Myhrr, this oil has a slightly sweeter and more delicate aroma than classic Myrrh.
Sweet and fruity herbaceous aroma with green and floral notes.
Woody balsamic aroma with notes of sweet citrus used to encourage positive energy.
A classic woody aroma with deep, earthy tones. Often used in incense and perfumery.
Deep woody floral with a similar scent to rosewood.
Classic floral with a deep, complex, and potent aroma.
A rich floral with a similar scent and potency to rose.
A rich green herbal aroma with a hint of spice.
A classic incense base, sandalwood has a deep, earthy aroma which is easily recognized.
A sweet, fresh mint oil with a clean bright scent.
A fresh and clean evergreen aroma made from spruce needles.
Sweet herbal aroma reminiscent of licorice.
A sweet, juicy citrus used to promote feelings of joy and happiness.
A classic ingredient for incense and perfumery with an extra-sweet floral aroma.
A deep, heady floral with woody notes, often used to encourage peace and relaxation.
Other Incense Stick Ingredients
Incense Stick Blanks
While it is possible to make incense sticks entirely from scratch, the method we are sharing in this post uses a product called incense stick blanks to make the process quick and easy.
Dipropylene Glycol (DPG)
Another main ingredient we feature in this tutorial is called dipropylene glycol (DPG). DPG is an additive used to reduce the black smoke burned by incense sticks. It also helps to evenly distribute the aromatic ingredients throughout the incense and increase the longevity of the scent.
While DPG is a synthetic ingredient, it isn’t considered to be particularly dangerous according to the EWG Skin Deep Database. However, if you prefer to avoid synthetic ingredients entirely, you can absolutely make stick incense without using DPG. We will share both methods below, as well as methods for scenting one or a batch of incense sticks.
Note: Where to find Incense Stick Blanks and DPG
These are both widely available online. Both are carried by multiple vendors on Amazon. They can also be sourced from smaller retailers by doing a quick web search for “blank incense sticks” or “DPG for incense”.
How to Make Incense Sticks Using Essential Oils
Create a Test Stick
Before you scent a large batch of incense sticks using essential oils it is a good idea to try out a smaller batch of your blend on a single stick. To make a single test stick of incense, simply apply up to 20 drops of essential oil directly to one incense stick. If you are using a blend of oils, be sure to mix them before applying them to the incense stick to help ensure they are evenly distributed.
Prep Your Essential Oils
You can use up to 4ml (about 100 drops) of essential oil per five incense sticks, and a little less per stick as the volume increases. This works out to the following ratios for differently sized batches:
|Incense Stick Quantity||Total Essential Oil (ml)||Total Essential Oil (drops)|
Mix your essential oil blend according to the size batch you are making. If you are not using DPG, simply mix your blend and set it aside until the next step.
To incorporate DPG into your incense sticks, measure the appropriate amount of DPG as follows, then combine it with your essential oil blend. You’ll need between 1 and 1.5 ml of DPG per incense stick. This amount can vary a little depending on the absorbency of your blanks. We recommend starting on the low end and adding more as needed.
|Incense Stick Quantity||Total Essential Oil (ml)||DPG (ml)|
|5||4||5 – 7|
|25||18||25 – 37|
|50||30||50 – 75|
Saturate your Incense Stick Blanks
If you are not using DPG, simply lay your incense stick blanks down on a try lined with aluminum foil. Use a dropper or sprayer to distribute the essential oil blend as evenly as you can over your blanks. Place the soaked blanks on a rack to dry for 24 hours. After that, they can be packaged in wax paper or cellophane to protect their aroma.
If you are using DPG, insert your incense stick blanks into a shallow glass dish that is as small as possible while still allowing the blanks to lay flat. (Please note that DPG is not food-safe so avoid using any container that would later be used for food or drink.) Once the sticks are set up, pour the DPG and essential oil blend into the container, covering the blanks completely. If needed, you can add extra DPG to make sure the sticks are completely covered.
Cover the container and let the sticks soak for 24 hours in a safe spot away from direct sunlight or excessive heat or cold. After they have finished soaking, remove the sticks from any leftover DPG and place them on a rack to dry for another 24 hours. After that, they can be packaged in wax paper or cellophane to protect their aroma.
Looking for more home fragrance inspiration? Check out our past posts on Aromatherapy Candle Diffusers with Himalayan Pink Salt and Aromatherapy Wax Melts – Six Ways.