I know that burning powdered incense is something that a lot of people seem not be doing anymore. I'm not sure as to the reason but I think some people may think it's too hard or time consuming. So I thought I would give a few pointers for burning powdered incense.
Burning powdered incense tended to be the preferred method in conjure work once spiritual supply houses were formed. Some believe that it's because the powdered form allowed workers to add herbs, roots, oils and other items to the incense. I think there may be some truth in this but I also think the inexpensiveness of powdered incense is also a big factor.
The first thing to address is what powdered incense is. Powdered incense used by workers is primarily a sawdust base that is colored and scented. It can be scented artificially or naturally, depending on the manufacturer. If it is self-lighting then it will contain saltpeter. If it is self-lighting you do not need charcoal to burn it.
Before we begin, you will need a safe object to burn incense in. It will need to have a relative flat surface and be composed of metal, clay/pottery, porcelain, glass or stone. Wood and the newer plastic/resin incense burners that are now being sold should not be used. If you do not have a proper incense burner or if you can not afford to buy one then it's perfectly fine to use a metal lid and/or an old can of potted meat, tuna fish or cat food can that is shallow and suited for incense burning. Another tip is to visit your local thrift stores. Many will carry small brass cauldrons, planters or bowls that work great as incense burners. If you are like me then with time you will form a small collection of incense burners for use in your work.
Once you have your burner then the next step is usually the formation of a cone. In the past powdered incense was usually sold in metal tins complete with metal cone formers. The one that I use came from an old can of Vantine's incense. You can see it in the pictures below. You simply squeeze it together and then dip it down into the incense powder to fill it. Use your finger to brush off the excess and then then tip it over onto your burner and then release the cone former and lift it up. You are then left with a nice cone of powdered incense.
Now, since it's nearly impossible to find these metal cone formers then one will need to improvise by creating their own with aluminum foil. The picture below will give you an idea. It's going to be a bit more tricky to release the incense but you should get the hang of it.
Now, the wonderful thing about self-lighting incense powder is that you don't have to form it into cones! So if you just want to scrap the home made cone former you can! Just take a spoon and place at least half a spoonful into your incense burner. If need be, use your fingers to shape it into a mound. Once lit it will burn just as good as if you fashioned it into a cone!
Now comes the lighting. Use a wooden fireplace match or a fireplace lighter to light your incense. I prefer the fireplace lighter but fireplace matches work just as good.
The smoke that billows up from powdered incense is lovely, especially in a dark, candle-lit room and truly does set the mood for magic. Hopefully those who were a bit intimidated by using powdered incense will give it a try.