Take a piece of white blotter paper and cut into 6 inch strips around an inch wide. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to a half cup warm but not hot water. Stir until completely dissolved.
Soak the paper strips in the solution until saturated and then hang them up to dry or lay out on a wire rack (like you use for cookies).
Now you have the base of your ‘incense’.
At this point you can use essential oils for scent however it’s been my experience that most wont hold on the paper so better to use a tincture.
First you’ll need ethyl alcohol. This can be hard to find these days but you can also use everclear (legal moonshine). You need an alcohol that is 70% (140 proof) for this to work. (otherwise is just wont hold the scent very well)
Now you get your dried herbs (Fresh herbs wont work well in this case because of water content and some herbs just aren’t alcohol soluble). The more pungent the better (I love to make cinnamon). Grind your herb into a fine powder and put it into a small bottle or jar. Add just enough alcohol to cover the herb and shake vigorously every day for 10 days.
Next you need cheesecloth (a coffee filter works fine) to strain the herb through. Be quick because alcohol evaporates in air. Now put more herb in the bottle and pour the strained alcohol into it and repeat the process of shaking every day. Rarely, the scent will be strong enough the first time through but most herbs will require twice. If the alcohol still overpowers the herb scent you’re likely using an herb that isn’t soluble. You can try adding a bit of distilled water, that sometimes helps.
Once the scent is ready, add a few drops of glycerin or castor oil to stabilize and preserve. Store tightly capped in a cool, dry place. No direct sunlight either. Whenever you’re ready to use it, pour a couple drops of tincture onto the base paper, spread it around and add a few more drops until the entire side is anointed. once it dries it’s ready to burn… well smolder anyway.
As I said, some herbs wont work, you’ll have to experiment. Here is a list of herbs I know work from my own experience. The gums I guarantee will work after one week. The rest might take the whole 10 days or even 2 weeks.
Frankincense (gum, is sticky to work with)
Myrrh (gum, is sticky to work with)