Using Gums and Resins

Small charcoal rounds can be used to burn resins, herbs, incense, and heavy aromatic gums for ceremony and scent. Raw oleoresins, are usually the sap formed on the surface of trees and plants, which we have collected and used as medicine, perfume, incense, adhesives and for many other applications, since time immemorial, across the globe, and in most every human culture. Though we like to call them saps, they differ from the true sap of the tree since they are usually produced by special ducts close to the surface of the tree in response to injury. Saps are usually considered the liquid that the tree produces deeper in itself which carries nutrients between roots and the farthest reaches of the tree, usually accessed by deep tapping of the tree. Our fragrant oleoresins are sometimes exuded naturally, or more often than not in response to our intentional damaging of the bark to produce a resinous response from the tree to the wounding. Usually this method of encouraging the tree to produce oleoresins does little harm. As incense, these oleoresins are burned, alone or in combination with other fragrant natural materials such as powdered barks, flowers and essential oils. In ancient times, hot embers from the fire were used to burn incense resins. Today most cultures around the world use manufactured charcoal pucks, made from compressed powdered, partly burnt wood. Often these are impregnated with Saltpeter so they burn evenly. In countries where burning oleoresins is a daily tradition, one will find simple and ornate electric burners in most homes.Incense is burned in many countries on a daily basis before meditating, after cooking, to purify and cleanse the home physically and energetically, for magic, ritual, and for healing. It has been shown that our bodies can absorb the medicinal, healing properties of oleoresins such as Frankincense through the smoke released while burning. For instance, Incensole and Incensole acetate are two such chemical compounds found in Frankincense Papyrifera that can induce feelings of heightened spirituality and well-being, reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and in studies have been shown to reduce inflammations in the brain. Raw resin incense is burned by placing small, pea sized pieces, or a small scoop of powdered resins, on a smoldering charcoal puck. The heated oleoresin melts and burns, releasing its essential oils first, (the oleo part), then the resins which require a higher temperature follow suit, producing aromatic smoke with a fragrance unique to each specific oleoresin. One can simply burn small amounts of a single oleoresin, such as Frankincense, Myrrh or Copal, or one can create a unique incense product by powdering and blending ingredients. It is an easy, and very gratifying process that requires no great skill, financial outlay or expensive tools. A simple way to experiment with incense making, and enhance your enjoyment of resin incense, is by adding a drop or two of your favourite essential oils to the resin, while or before burning.

After you have some charcoal, you will need something to burn your incense in. Censers can be purchased made from different materials and in many styles. They can be found in brass, silver, steel or ceramic, from the simplest of designs to the most elaborate and be-jewelled, open to the air, or with ventilated lids. Practically any non-flammable container, dish or bowl found in the average home can be used as a censer. A fully functional censer can be as simple as a glass or ceramic plate or bowl layered with kitty litter, fine gravel, powdered rice or sand. This non-flammable, insulating layer keeps the hot coal from coming close to, or in contact with the censer. Otherwise, it could heat up and burn fingers, whatever it is sitting on, and if the censer is glass or ceramic, it could crack or break from the direct heat of the hot coal. Light an edge of the puck with a lighter.(Hold it on the opposite side!). When it starts to sparkle a bit, or make a slight crackling, hissing sound, then the Saltpeter has been activated and the coal is igniting. Place your coal on the sand or litter and give it at least one minute to sit. Pass your hand over it, if you feel it is emitting heat then all is good. Take a small piece of resin, ( the size of small pea or a lentil), and place it in the middle of the charcoal. It will shortly release its fragrance and smoke, and there you have it. Pure, natural incense. Never leave lit charcoal unattended, or close to flammable materials. Another method which is halfway to an electric incense burner, is the use of a piece of tin foil, aluminum foil, or thin metal baking tin and the electric element on your stove. One can place an appropriate, small, thin, heat conductive and inflammable metal sheet on the element, turn it to medium high, place a piece or some powdered incense on it, and wait for it to smolder. The heat can be adjusted as needed on the stovetop, keeping in mind that aluminum foil will melt if the heat is too high. Remember this will become VERY hot, so plan ahead exactly how you will maneuver it on the stove. Thin pieces of Mica can also serve the same purpose and can be easily cleaned with alcohol and reused indefinitely.

Colourful Soapstone pots can also be used and are very decorative and colourful and are ideal to use as a Resin Burners.