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Why don't you sell saltpeter?
Saltpeter, the chemical potassium(or sodium) nitrate, is a very combustible ingredient that some incense makers add to their incense to make sure it burns. If you use self-lighting charcoal, it's the stuff that makes the sparkles when you light it. From our point of view, it's not natural, and doesn't belong in premium handmade incenses. It adds a scent to incense that we don't like, it makes cones burn faster, it can be dangerous if used incorrectly and it's difficult to ship legally. If you use incense for magical purposes, it can also add Martian influences that you might not want in every blend! We prefer to use the art of blending gentler combustible materials, like Sandalwood, Cedar, or Clove, into our cones and sticks to make sure they burn, rather than using saltpeter as a crutch. Try converting recipes that call for saltpeter by making a blend of half Sandalwood, and half the specified ingredients, and rolling it in thin sticks, as a starting point. If you really want to burn a blend of materials that won't burn on its own, we'd recommend burning it loose on charcoal instead.

Making incense cones seems difficult. Why should I do that rather than just burning my incense loose?

Rolling incense isn't difficult at all, and rolled incense definitely has some advantages over loose incenses. It burns at a steady even rate, meaning less smoke and longer periods of time during an event or ritual in which your incense won't need to be attended. I've been at rituals where I've been “smoked out� by billowing clouds from the loose incense, and since it was important to the working that the incense keep burning, they just kept piling more on! Burning rolled incense uses a lot less of your valuable material per unit burn time. Incense cones are also much easier to carry around and use; they're tough enough to stick in your pocket and take with you anywhere. All you need is a match and a non-flammable spot to put them down, and you are ready to go. Rolling and forming incense dough is also a great meditative tool, a chance to add your personal energy to materials you'll use later. Handmade incense cones and sticks also make great gifts.
There are a few reasons to burn incense loose: you need a blend for immediate use and you haven't left enough time for rolled incense to dry, you're burning a blend that is not combustible enough for cones, you are working with materials which are too difficult to powder, or you're looking for a billowing smoke effect.

Can I use the herbs I buy from you in my cooking? Can I use them as herbal remedies?
Although many of the herbs we offer at Mother's Hearth have culinary or healing uses, and our herbs are top quality, we sell them for incense use only, and not for internal use.

Should I be concerned about the safety of the herbs I'm using to make incense?

It's always a good idea to know about the materials you are using. Some of the herbs we sell are mildly psychotropic or can have other short or long term health effects. Some essential oils can be irritating to skin. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have a special health condition, you'll want to be especially careful. Please look up safety information from a reliable source like this one if you are concerned. If you have small children or pets living with you, keep your incense materials away from little hands' and paws' reach. Risks from handling herbs or breathing herb powders should in general be lower than those of taking the herb internally.
That having been said, the materials in our roll-your-own incense kits are not generally considered problematic ones.

All information and text on these pages is copyright Little Pagans 2004, except where otherwise stated.
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