How To Make Incense Sticks That Are Powerful And Long Lasting

how to make incense sticks
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Today, I’ll show you how to make incense sticks that are powerful smelling and long-lasting. They are one of the best ways to fill your home with wonderful, fragrant scents.

Incense sticks are commonly called agarbatti in India and I prefer them over other types of air fresheners as burning these turns the act into more of an event, instilling me with tranquillity as I strike the match.

This may be psychosomatic, but at the very least your home will smell great and you can impress your friends with an amazing, homemade gift!

how to make incense sticks

We will be minimizing the black smoke by using dipropylene glycol (DPG) and infusing the stick with fragrance oil.

What Do We Need For Making Incense Sticks

What You Will Need To Make Homemade Incense Sticks

The Unscented Incense Sticks

You must buy pre-prepared, unscented sticks. Ordinary bamboo sticks will not work. You can pick them up very cheaply online or from your local aromatherapy store.

If you have a store that sells Wiccan supplies nearby, you’ll likely find them there as well. I have said that this recipe can make around 30 sticks dependant upon the length.

The DPG

Dipropylene glycol is a chemical (although has exceptionally low toxicity) that will help your incense burn properly and reduce black smoke.

I wouldn’t omit this unless you want your house to smell like you did a bit of indoor barbecuing. It is used widely in craft and industrial perfume making and again is available online.

Essential Oils

If you really want to impress, when you make your these you can substitute the fragrance oil with essential oils, which have been used for centuries for their mood-altering and boosting properties. But their price tag may put you off a little. More on this later on.

When showing you how to make diy incense sticks, many recipes will tell you that you can do it in batches of 5, but for a strong-smelling incense you need to do them in batches of no less than 20-30. Keep in mind that the more sticks you get out of this recipe will mean more bang for your buck, and this recipe will produce around 30.

how to make incense sticks

How To Make Your Own Incense Sticks

Here's how to make incense sticks that are powerful smelling and longer lasting than most recipes. Simply the best way to fill your home with a wonderful, fragrant scent.
4.34 from 3 votes
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Active Time: 10 minutes
Infusion & Dry Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 15 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Yield (adjustable): 30 sticks (approx)
Author: Angela Wills
Disclosure: The ingredient and equipment links below are affiliate links, please read my affiliate policy here.

Ingredients

Equipment

Instructions

  • Measure out 20 ml (4 tsp) dipropylene glycol into the box or lipped dish you intend to soak your sticks.
    Then, measure out 10 ml (2 tsp) of your chosen fragrance oil (or essential oil) into the box/dish with the DPG. This time I’ve opted for sandalwood. Stir well, but be careful to let the oil on your spoon drip back into the box/dish.
    Measure out 1 tbsp and 1 tsp dipropylene glycol into the box or lipped dish you intend to soak your sticks.
  • Take your sticks, in batches of 10, and soak them in the oil blend. As we have 30mls of oil, you won’t want to soak any more than 10 at a time as you’ll need the sticks to be fully (or at least mostly) submerged in the oil. If you’re using longer sticks, remember you might have to put in a few less, and you can trim the plain, bamboo stick end if you need to make them fit.
    Take your sticks, in batches of 10, and soak them in the oil blend.
  • Cover the box with plastic wrap so that nothing can evaporate and place aside, out of direct sunlight, for 24 hours so that the sticks will fully infuse with the oils.
    Cover the box with plastic wrap so that nothing can evaporate and place aside
  • Once they have soaked for 24 hours, get another box/dish. I’ve used one similar to the box I infused the sticks with, only longer. Wearing a rubber glove, pick out the sticks and place them, spaced out onto your second box/dish so that air can circulate around them (see picture).
    Then put aside, out of direct sunlight, to dry for 24 hours. Depending on the climate of where you live, you may need to leave them a few days, particularly if it’s humid. If you find they aren’t drying quickly enough for you, pop them somewhere a bit warmer and dryer.
    earing a rubber glove, pick out the sticks and place them,
  • Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until you have 2 or 3 batches. You may find your sticks do not fully return to their original color once dry, which is fine.
    Once your sticks are dry, they will be ready to burn. I keep my batches separate at first and burn one from each as quality control. There will be less oil after each batch soaks, so you will need to be sure that each batch has been fully infused. If I’m making them just for me, sometimes I skip this step, but it’s vital if you’re planning to gift these.
    Store homemade incense sticks in a zip lock plastic bag to maintain their strength.
    Store homemade incense sticks in a zip lock plastic bag to maintain their strength.

Notes

Important: This probably goes without saying, but be careful to watch your little ones when burning incense in the house, and NEVER let them light them themselves.Store in a dark place, out of the reach of children. Also, do not attempt to burn these until they are fully dry.
  • You must buy pre-prepared, unscented sticks. Ordinary bamboo sticks will not work. 
  • Dipropylene glycol is a chemical (although has exceptionally low toxicity) that will help your incense burn properly and reduce black smoke.
  • If you really want to impress, when you make your incense sticks you can substitute the fragrance oil with essential oils.
  • This recipe will produce around 30. 
Tried this savvy homemade projectMention @Savvyhomemade or Tag me! #savvyhomemade

How To Use Incense Sticks

How To Use Homemade Incense Sticks

Now you know how to make them lets have a look at using incense sticks in your home.

These are very easy to use if you get yourself a burner. In fact, I wouldn’t really recommend burning incense without one. These vary in price, but you can get a cool incense holder or burner on Amazon for a couple of dollars. If you’re crafty with wood or metal, you could even make a diy incense holder!

  1. Simply slide or prop the bamboo end of the stick into the end groove of the tray. It will hang over the rest of the tray so that when the stick burns the ash will collect for easy disposal (see picture above for better explanation).
  2. Once secure, light the tip of the incense with a match or butane lighter. As soon as it catches, blow it out and allow the ember to burn down the stick, vaporizing the essential oils into a delightfully scented smoke.
  3. Depending on the length of the unscented stick you’ve bought to use in this recipe, your sticks could burn for up to 2 hours! The length I have usually last about an hour, sometimes more and sometimes less. If yours are quite long and burning for over an hour is too much for you, when you’re halfway through you can extinguish by dipping just the very tip of your burning stick (where the ember is glowing) in a bit of water and then relight when you want to use it again. I sometimes do this if I have to rush out after lighting but don’t want to ruin a stick.

Important: This probably goes without saying, but be careful to watch your little ones when incense are burning in the house, and NEVER let them light them themselves.Store in a dark place, out of the reach of children. Also, do not attempt to burn these until they are fully dry.

How To Gift Them

How To Gift Homemade Incense Sticks

Like so many homemade crafts on this site, homemade incense sticks make the perfect homemade gift! Craft a designer fragrance with a special selection of oils, just for them!

Include an incense stick tray with the sticks to complete the gift set. I like to pop a bit of lovely ribbon around the sticks, tie it in a bow, place in clear plastic bags and arrange in a box on a bed of shredded colored tissue paper for that wow factor! Be sure to let them know that it’s handmade!

Incense Recipes

The choice of fragrance oil for an incense recipe is entirely yours. There are literally hundreds of different varieties available, such as those that mimic essential oils or a variety of different aromas like toffee, vanilla, honey or even mock designer perfumes or colognes.

Be experimental when making these, try more than one, and be creative! Keep in mind that smoke is the vehicle for your scent to waft through your home. You’ll want to avoid anything that might be unpleasant when mixed with a delicate smoky smell (e.g. chargrilled blueberry muffin stinkiness).

Try some of these combinations out if you’re struggling for inspiration!

  • Calm Yourself:
    Frankincense and Jasmine
  • Welcome to My Home:
    Vanilla and honey
  • Juicy Fruit Delight:
    Cherry, mango and lemon
  • Kindergarten Dreams:
    Cotton candy and bubblegum

How To Make Them Using Essential Oils

You can use essential oils as a substitute for fragrance oil if you want to make your incense sticks extra special. I rarely do this, as essential oils can be expensive and we’d need to use a lot here. If I want to use essential oils I generally switch to my essential oil difusser as it only needs a few drops so is a lot cheaper.

However, you can still get 20-30 sticks, and if you’re gifting to that extra special someone, then go for it! Make sure they know about all the aromatherapeutic properties of their new, essential oil incense sticks.

Larger Batches

Although we’ve only made 20 or 30 sticks today, in the future you can make batches of hundreds by multiplying the ingredients. 200-300 sticks will need 100mls fragrance oil and 200ml DPG. Soak them in batches of no more than 100 at a time. You can then store them to gift all year round, or work out good price and sell them at your local craft fair!

There you have it, the steps to make diy incense sticks! I’ve made a lot of these and they smell wonderful, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. Post any recipes, comments or questions below 😉

No matter which style of incense you choose to make, you can save money and create your own great fragrances to suit your needs easily.

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Angela Wills

About Angela Wills

SavvyHomemade is a true passion for me and my family, its where we've been busy sharing inspirational DIY craft ideas since 2008! With over 30 years of handcrafting and creative experience, the dream is that this information will make life a little easier for others whilst also doing a little towards protecting our planet. More About Angela Wills »

24 thoughts on “How To Make Incense Sticks That Are Powerful And Long Lasting”

Discussion (24 Comments)

  1. Hello Angela,

    The tub I use to soak the sticks overnight. How do I remove the oil as it’s very sticky and won’t come off easily. Would you recommend a specific tun to use? I’m cautious of using the same one again in case it upsets the ratio. Should I use PET tubs?
    Thanks
    Andrew

    Reply
    • Hi Andrew,

      If you’re planning on using essential oils, I would definitely recommend using a PET plastic tub. However, fragrance oils can be used with any old Tupperware. As for the stickiness of your fragrances, which are you using? If you’re using fragrance oil you should be able to clean it off with just soapy water.

      Reply
  2. I would like to make a more natural incense. is there anything more natural than dipropolyne glycol i can mix with essential oils.

    Reply
    • Hi Sharif,

      I haven’t found anything, unfortunately. However, you could try using unscented charcoal based incense sticks. My research indicates that you get much less black smoke with these, but I haven’t used them so cannot confirm whether they would be suitable to use without DPG. You may need to experiment.

      Reply
  3. I really enjoyed your training recipe, they were practical oriented and will want to try them. Thank you for the wonderful information.

    Reply
  4. Hi again,
    I’m having a tough time here. I’ve followed the instructions exactly – using DPG and without. I’ve used fragrance oil for some and straight essential oil for others and soaked and dried and even soaked some again.
    Nothing I light smells like any of the scents. They just smell like the unscented stick smoke.
    I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong but I would love to figure it out as I bought a ton of oils and was really looking forward to making scented ones myself.
    The stick smells like the oils when dry but as soon as I light them, it’s gone.
    I’d appreciate any suggestions, thanks so much.

    Reply
    • Hi Dawn,

      Yeah, this has happened to me in the past. Often this can be down to the quality of your incense sticks. I find the cheaper, machine rolled incense aren’t terrible, but they definitely don’t hold the scents as well. Try a hand-rolled product. eBay is a good place to look for these.

      Other than this, you can try increasing the DPG. The DPG is very important and soaking the sticks without it is almost pointless. It reduces black smoke and allows your nose to detect your fragrances more easily. I would also try soaking them for longer.

      Reply
  5. Hi,
    It looks like the box you use to soak the sticks in is made of plastic? I am just wondering if plastic absorbs scent – even after washing? I have about 20 different scents I want to use and don’t want them “mixing.”

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Hi Dawn,

      Yes, it can absorb some of the fragrance. Yet I can’t say I’ve had major problems, though. If you’re concerned, stick to using glass.

      Hope this helps!

      Reply
    • Hi! I’ve just followed this to create my first batch of incense sticks… but I find they won’t stay lit?

      I thought they may still be damp so I’ve left them for 5 days now and tried again, still won’t stay lit.

      I tried burning a plain unscented stick to ensure I didn’t have faulty sticks and that burns fine (but stinks!)

      What could the problem be?

      Reply
      • Hi Mark,

        Yes, this is something I’ve had a problem with before. When I originally wrote this tutorial I was using handmade, unscented incense sticks that were absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, the lady who made them has since passed away. I haven’t since been able to find another supplier that sells sticks that are of such high quality. Thus, I have turned to machine-rolled stick, which I have found myself take literally ages to dry. Sometimes as long as 2-3 weeks. It’s actually ridiculous. But what can we do? I have a feeling that this may be the reason your sticks are failing to stay lit, as perhaps even after waiting so long they haven’t fully dried.

        What color are your sticks at present? Are they much darker than your plain sticks? If so, then they’re still wet. All I can suggest is to leave them as long as they require to dry. However, I have decided that at some point in the near future I will be teaching myself how to make incense sticks from scratch myself, and I will definitely be passing everything I learn onto you lovely people. So stay tuned for that, as we may be able to start making our own that dry efficiently and smell wonderful! I bet we’ll save in more money, as well!

        Reply
        • Ok, thanks for that! Yes they’re a lot darker than original so I’ll wait a bit longer… be good to know how to make sticks from scratch!

          Reply
  6. Hi Angela, I’m Wendy from Australia. when you say Pre Prepared unscented incense sticks do you mean just unscented incense sticks. I looked on Amazon but could’nt find the pre prepared sticks. I’m thinking of making my own incense sticks and i’m happy to buy from Amazon but i want to make sure i’m buying the correct items that you have stated on your site of the making of incense sticks.
    Any suggestions on all of the best buys to get to set myself up would be good. Containers etc i can get i’ts just the best sticks and oils to purchase
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Regards Wendy.

    Reply
    • Hi Wendy
      Yes this is just unscented incense sticks. I’m not familiar with the Australian Amazon store, but there are lots of them in the UK and US.

      Reply

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