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D.I.Y. Fridays - Homemade Incense with Upcycled Orange Peels

by Nicole Wines

NOTE: I learned this simple D.I.Y. from my co-director Francisco and his family, and I am sharing it with you.  Please pass it along, by sharing this post and simple instructions, and making this homemade incense to use in your own home and give away as handmade gifts.

A lot of cooking happens in the Raíces kitchens, and a lot of food aromas come with the territory.  While it is satisfying and comforting to walk into a house that smells like a home cooked meal, once the cooking is over, it’s nice to freshen up the air with an all-natural, organic, homemade incense.

I also found this to be a great way to use my orange (and other citrus) peels.  I use a lot of oranges, lemons and limes, in my daily smoothies and citrus water.  Instead of throwing them in the compost right away, I dry them and save in a bowl or jar to reuse or upcycle for this simple D.I.Y. project.  It gives a second purpose to the oranges, lemons and limes that I use almost every day and even helps them break down a bit before going into the compost bin.

What You Will Need

  • Dried citrus peels (I like orange the best so I dry a larger ratio of orange peels to lemon and lime, but you can make your mix the way you like it!)
  • Whole cinnamon sticks
  • Whole cloves
  • White vinegar
  • Essential Oils (optional)
  • Small or medium sauce pan
Homemade, all natural incense ingredients
Homemade, all natural incense can be made mostly with ingredients found in the kitchen!


  • Put a handful of citrus peels, a cinnamon stick and a few cloves in the saucepan.
  • Cover with a half inch to an inch of water.
  • Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Add a few drops of essential oil if you want additional scents.
  • Bring to a low simmer and leave over a low flame for an hour or two.  The vinegar will act as an air freshener, cutting any old, lingering scents and the citrus, cinnamon, cloves and oils will quickly begin filling your home with warm fragrance.  As an added bonus, this homemade incense also adds moisture to the air during the cold, dry months.
  • Remember to check periodically for drying, add water when needed.
  • When finished, throw used ingredients in the compost.
Simmer your incense over a low flame.
Simmer your incense over a low flame.

I use organic ingredients whenever possible!  Remember, a lot of the oils and residues evaporate into the air you breathe when you simmer the incense, so you want to use organic whenever you can to keep it clean and pure.

To give this as a homemade gift or save a batch for future use, mix the dried ingredients in a glass jar with a lid.  I keep my jar’s lid slightly cracked, to let the good scents slip out as potpourri all day long.  Only a handful of this incense mix is needed at a time, a little bit goes a long way.

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