Since I have been asked this many times – I wanted to post an article to explain how to use loose or powdered incese. You can use almost anything as an incense – including any type of loose herb. Before you burn any herb, please consult a reputable herbal guide to make sure the smoke is not toxic to you. There are MANY herbs in old magickal texts are poisonous and not safe to use as an incense. To burn loose or herbal incense you will need the following:
1) 1 Fire-proof container – you can use a cauldron, a brass burner or any type of fire-proof container. Please be sure to add in some ASH to each container to properly insulate it. Even if you are using a fire-proof container. Also be sure you use some type of trivet or fire-proof coaster to keep your altar or surface from being burned. I have used in the past either cork or stone coasters and they have worked well. Even with a fire-proof container – it will get VERY hot – so be sure you protect yourself and your altar/surface.
2) 1 Tablet of charcoal – this can be round or square. There are many different types of charcoal out there – just find something you like best. Place the charcoal on top of the sand inside your burner.
3) One set of tongs of some kind – you can buy special charcoal tongs but sometimes they tend to be expensive – but I use little metal serving tongs you can buy at the grocery store for $2.
What you will need to do is pick up your charcoal with the tongs – and place it in direct flame for about 10-15 seconds to light it. Depending on the charcoal you are using, you may need a few more seconds. Some people use a lighter for this but I prefer to use a candle, it is safer. Once my charcoal is lit, I generally blow on it a little to see how far in it is – so long as it lights you should be good. Place your charcoal back down on your burner (on top of your ash) and let it sit there for about a minute or so while it finishes catching.
4) Select your herbs or incense to burn. Place the herbs or incense on top of the lit charcoal block. It will begin to smolder. My recommendation is to use very little to start with and then gradually add in more herbs or incense until you reach the desired amount. If you put too much herbal material or incense, you can actually snuff out your charcoal, so start small!
In this very short video I go over some ides on how to use our loose incense!