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Charcoal Block Recipe

In order to burn loose incense or resins you need a charcoal briquette. Now, I know these things are sometimes expensive depending on where you by yours and if you use as many as I do, they really get expensive! But, you can make your own charcoal briquettes. And, if you are really energetic and have the time and space, you could consider a small charcoal making business.

( To use this recipe safely and effectively, you should be in an area where burning wood is permissible such as on your own land or in your own fireplace at home. )

To Begin: Burn several branches or logs of hard wood (ash or oak is best). Allow the wood to incinerate completely and wait until it cools down. Take the chunks and grind them with a mortar and pestle until the charcoal is a fine powder and you have 3 ounces of it. Measure out the 3 ounces and put it in a wooden or glass bowl.

Take one tablespoon of Gum Arabic (you can find this at your local herb store or art supply store) and mix it with 1 cup of water. Boil this in a saucepan for 5 minutes. Put it in a jar or plastic bowl and seal it. It can be re-used. Keep refrigerated.

Get your bowl of powdered charcoal and add 10% salt peter (potassium nitrate). You may have to call around to find salt peter. It is usually available in most new age shops. Mix your charcoal and salt peter together 
thoroughly. Add 1 teaspoon of your Gum Arabic and water mixture to your charcoal and salt peter and mix thoroughly. Your mixture should the consistancy of dough (similar to bread dough).

Wen you feel you have the right consistancy, shape your charcoal dough into spheres and set on wax paper. Flatten out your spheres and use a shot glass or small round cookie cutter to cut into round blocks. You might make a small impression in the center of the block to hold the incense.

Allow drying and curing. This will take approximately 3-7 days. Go outside to test.

NOTE: The rule of thumb is to NEVER EVER add more than 10% salt peter to your mixture, ie 3oz=3/10 oz of salt peter. Too much salt peter will cause your block to poof and burn too quickly. Not enough salt peter, and your block won't burn at all. If on your test the block does not burn , try adding another small pinch to a new mixture in addition to your 10% or adding less than 10% if it burns too quick. If you increase the amount of charcoal you use, be sure to also increase your Gum Arabic mixture and your salt peter. Be careful that you don't burn yourself. HAVE FUN!

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