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How To Burn Incense Trails

Step-by-Step Instructions

How to Prepare & Burn Incense Trails

Incense trails can be created by simply placing one or more natural aromatics on an already burning trail of Makko powder or other base incense material or…

… by pre-mixing your natural incense recipe with Makko or other base material(s) to create an aromatic incense trail powder.

Materials Needed:

items needed to burn incense trails

Burning Incense Trails Instructions


Step #1 – an incense bowl is filled with white chaff ash and compacted by tapping lightly on the bottom of the bowl.

White ash can usually be found whereever Japanese incense is sold.

incense trails - start with an incense bowl filled with white chaff ash

Step #2 – an indentation is made in the ash with a “U” or other shaped koh press.

If a koh press is not available you can use any small object that will leave a straight line or shaped impression in the ash.

Gently press into the ash to make an indentation roughly about 1/2 inch deep x 1/2 inch wide.

Note: this style was used to create beautiful and elaborate patterns that were used as incense clocks in ancient Asia – see the book, “The Trail of Time.”


incense trails press
incense trails press indentation

Step #4 – fill the entire indentation with either Makko powder, Sandalwood powder, or a pre-mixed incense powder of both Makko + a loose incense mixture.

If using Makko powder alone, then you’ll sprinkle either loose incense or pellets on top of the trail once it’s burning.

Sandalwood powder can be used and will burn on its own and produce its own wonderful aromas to add to your mixture or ingredient.

A pre-mixed incense powder is a finely powdered loose incense combined with the proper amount of Makko powder, or other base ingredient, to create a fragrant incense powder that will burn on its own once it’s lit

To pre-mix your incense with Makko follow the instructions for making incense sticks, cones, and trails.

fill incense trail
incense trail full

Step # 4 – the koh press, or its substitute, is used to lightly compact the makko trail.

press incense trail again after fill

Step #5 – to light the trail you have options.

a) light one end of a small 1″ piece of a Japanese incense stick, and place it in one end of the trail and let burn.

b) use a long fireplace lighter to get one end burning.

c) lay match on the end of the trail while still lit – note that this will give off a foul sulfur smell at first. Worst option.

lighting incense trail

Step # 6 – once the trail is burning red-hot you can sprinkle your incense mixture or ingredient directly on top of the small section that is burning.

incense trail burning

Step # 7 – now you can either:

a) sprinkle your incense all along the entire trail now (but don’t smother it!) or…

b) wait and as the incense trail burns you place additional incense only on the portion of trail that is burning.

The latter requires more direct attention and patience.


incense trails burning
burning incense trail
makko powder for sale

Makko Powder

High Grade Premium Incense Base for Making Incense Trails, Sticks, Cones, Coils, and Molds

Book Title: the trail of time

Book: The Trail of Time:

Time Measurement with Incense in East Asia – by Silvio Bedini

– after everything has completely cooled (left overnight), you can clean the ash by removing the spent trail with a spoon and discarding it.

– the ash can be cleaned further by sifting it through a flour sifter.

– always keep incense and incense burners away from children.

– never leave burning incense unattended.

– make sure the incense trail is completely extinguished and cooled before discarding; hot trails can easily start fires and cause severe burns.

– it’s best to wait overnight before cleaning and/or discarding any burnt incense trails.

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