Want another way to enjoy your favorite herbs and flowers?
Put together your own DIY herbal incense bundles. Making incense is as simple as bundling and burning dried herbs, plants, and flowers.
Also known as smudge sticks, you burn these beauties slowly to enjoy their fragrance and to ward off bad energy.
“Burnable herbal bundles are a great way to release stagnant energy from a space,” says Jes, Creator of Plant Makeup, an artisanal apothecary that makes organic makeup, skincare products, hair products, aromatherapy oils, and incense in small batches. “Also, you can use them to wave over your own body to release any tension. It is a great way to clear the heart, mind, body, and spirit.”
Making them is enjoyable in itself, says Pip Waller, a medical herbalist, massage therapist, plant spirit medicine and shamanic practitioner, and author of The Herbal Handbook for Home and Health: 501 Recipes for Healthy Living, Green Cleaning, and Natural Beauty. “It’s fun to make your own smudge sticks. From spending time outside picking the herbs, to the winding and bundling part, to using them later,” she says.
And the benefits of burning herbal smoke in your home go beyond the esoteric ones of clearing the energy in a room and providing psychic protection. “Many aromatic herbs are antibacterial and antiviral,” she says. “Research has found a decrease in microbes in the air after use of such 'smudge sticks.'”
What Herbs to Use in Dried Herbal Incense
Pluck almost any herb, flower, or plant for your herbal incense bundles so long as it’s good for burning. “You can experiment with many flowers and herbs to add to your homemade smudge sticks,” Waller says. “But don't use poisonous plants.”
Sage is the most traditional herb used in smudge sticks. The ancient art of smudging refers to burning herbs and plants (usually sage) to clear negative energy from a space.
“You can use all types of sage, including garden sage, white sage, and desert sage,” Waller says. “These are used for clearing and cleansing, and for healing.”
It’s not just about the herbs. You can burn dried rose petals too. Or, add them to a bundle stuffed with a mixture of plants. Jes suggests adding roses to an incense bundle to promote love.
Calming lavender makes a beautiful addition to an herbal incense bundle. Burn it to promote relaxation.
Add lemongrass and other lemon-scented herbs to create a fresh, uplifting smoke.
Tuck small sprigs of trees like cedar to your herbal incense bundle to promote positivity. Cedar, rosemary, thyme, and lavender are all good for clearing energy and for protection and grounding, Waller says.
Add pine needles to your herbal incense bundle to boost confidence. They’re also beneficial for blessing a new home.
This mystical herb encourages psychic opening and release. “For this reason it's good to be cautious using it and to have a very specific and clear intention,” Waller says. “It is usually used mixed with sage and other herbs.”
Or, mix different herbs, flowers, and plants together. “My favorite mix is rosemary, sage, and lavender, and I like to add a few drops of juniper essential oil to the dried bundle,” Waller says. “This gives an especially potent mixture for space-clearing.”
5 Steps to Make Your Own Herb Incense Bundles
Assembling your own herb incense bundles is so easy. And rewarding. “Making anything yourself becomes a very personal experience that allows us to get in touch with our deepest energy,” Jes says. “This can bring about a great sense of peace and inspiration.”
Supplies you need:
- Herbs, flowers, and plants of your choice
- Twine, hemp or nettle string, or cotton yarn
- Matches or a lighter
Step 1: Pick your herbs
Choose herbs from your garden for your herb incense bundles. Or, use leftover herbs you purchased for cooking. Make sure to use fresh herbs because they wrap easier.
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“It’s important to keep in mind what plants we use for them. Make sure not to take plants from the wild that are over-harvested, like white sage,” Jes says. “I love recommending plants that we can grow ourselves or trade from friends and even neighbors. Fresh flowers and herbs from local farmers markets are also an amazing choice for materials.”
She also recommends choosing plants not grown with chemicals or pesticides.
Step 2: Make a bundle
Lay your plants all in the same direction. Stems on one end. Blooms or leaves on the other. Gather them into a bundle of about an inch diameter of thickness.
Step 3: Wrap the bundle
Take a few feet of twine, string, or yarn and wind it tightly around the herbs, starting with a few inches of loose string at one end. Wind up to the leafy ends, then cross over back down to the stem end making a criss-cross pattern. Make sure to tie it tightly because the plants will shrink while drying.
Step 4: Tie off the bundle
Make a few tight turns around the bundle and tie off the loose end with the few inches of string you left for that purpose.
Step 5: Let the bundle dry
Hang the bundle of herbs up to dry for around one to two weeks. How long it takes to dry will depend on the humidity where it hangs. They also look pretty as decoration.
The Best Way to Light Your Herb Incense Bundles
Once the bundle is dry, light from the leafy end (or either end if you decoded tp wra[ the bundle symmetrically). After a few moments, wait for the plants to catch a flame and then blow it out. It is also best to hold the bundle horizontal to the ground when lighting.
Waller suggests keeping a small heat-proof bowl or plate to catch any burning embers that may fall. Then, when you’re done letting it smolder, snuff out the herbal incense stick on the small bowl or plate. “If you put it out with water it will very difficult to light again,” she says.
Here Are the Incense Products We’re Loving
Get your incense on with these beautiful incense products.
Who knew incense could look so pretty? You almost don’t want to light these stunning incense cones, especially because they burn up in one lighting. But, Jes, the creator of Plant Makeup, says that’s part of their beauty. “It's so amazing to make something so beautiful that can just disappear after a single flame is brought to it,” she says. “It feels special to have a small moment in the incredibly long timeline of incense history.”
Plant Makeup uses local flowers and herbs to add pops of color and scent to its incense cones. “We take an artistic approach, so the aesthetic itself becomes healing and part of the overall experience,” Jes says.
This sample pack offers a selection of handmade incense cones. It includes one each of red cedar, chamomile, pink rose, wild rose, lavender, sage + copal, and orange peel. All of Plant Makeup’s incense cones are plant-based and use local ingredients. They’re also GMO-free, vegan, handmade, and compostable.
This gentle incense releases fragrance but has a smokeless burn. Choose from four different scents: calm (soothing herbal notes,) ground (earthy wood notes,) purify (refined floral notes,) or refresh (clean green notes.) Each box includes 60 sticks for a total of 30 hours of burn time.
This cute heat-proof ceramic dish features a small hole to hold an incense stick. (The flat part of the hand would also be perfect to hold and snuff out an herbal incense bundle.)
Reed diffusers are an alternative option to incense. This set from Indigo Wild includes 10 reeds, a reusable glass bud vase, and a bottle of pure essential oils. You simply pour the essential oils in the reusable vase, insert the reed stick, and flip it to let out the scent. Dip and flip as needed.
The frankincense and myrrh fragrance gives off a dreamy, woodsy scent to help you relax. Other available scents include lemongrass, patchouli-orange, and sea salt.
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Yes, There’s a Right Way to Burn Incense (Safely, of Course!)
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