Not all incense comes in the form of processed sticks or cones. If you want a more natural way to scent your sacred space, you might want to try using resins. Resins are hardened and waxy pieces of tree sap or gum, with the varieties coming from different plants.
Unlike stick incense, resins do not burn or smoulder on their own. In order to use resins as incense, you need to use them with charcoal tablets. Or if you have the setup for it, coals from a small fire would work as well.
Charcoal tablets are small, round and usually have an indent in the top, designed specifically to hold granules of incense. Lighting a tablet can be tricky, especially if you let them dry out. Touch a match to one edge of the tablet and make sure to hold on to the opposite size (or even use tweezers). The surface of the tablet will spark as it lights, and the sparks will move quickly from one side to the other.
Set it down on a heat-proof surface as soon as it begins to light. The charcoal will look black and unlit at this point, but trust me it is hot! Place a few small pieces of your resin on the brick and they will start to smolder. Resins produce a lot of smoke so start with a small piece or two.
Charcoal tablets can be broken into half if you don’t need the whole thing at once.
Common Resin Incense:
- Frankincense – Frankincense is sometimes known by its older name ‘olibanum’, and it comes from Boswellia sacra plant in Somalia. Its one of the most commonly used resin incenses, and it is burned for purification, spirituality and is associated with the Sun.
- Myrrh – Comes from the Commiphora myrrha tree in Africa. Myrrh is frequently blended with frankincense as it has similar properties, though it is also used for healing and attraction as well.
- Copal – Copal is most often burned for purification, both spiritual cleansing as well as for cleansing physical items. Copal comes from various species of the Bursera tree, in Mexico and South America.
- Dragon’s Blood – Dragon’s Blood can be burned for love, strength, and courage. Needless to say, it does not come from dragons, but the Dracaena draco tree. Dragon’s Blood can be used to add potency to any spellwork.
- Pine and Cedar – Pine and cedar resins come from various species of pine and cedar trees, common in North America. These resins are frequently used in Native American smudging rituals, and often blended with white sage. They help cleanse your space of negative energy. Pine resin is also known as collophony. Either resin will give your sacred space a lovely forest-y scent.