What is the White Powder in Chinese Incense?(Explained)

Have you ever been curious about the white powder found in Chinese incense burners?

This powder is known as white ash, and it is made from a variety of materials such as plant ash, mineral ash, and charcoal ash. In this blog, we will explore the different types of incense ash and their uses.


What is White Ash for Incense Made of?

The types of white ash can be roughly divided into three categories: plant ash, mineral ash, and charcoal ash.

1. Plant Ash

Plant ash, also known as plant charcoal ash, is made from burning a mixture of plant materials such as leaves, twigs, and roots.

After the materials are burned, they are sifted to remove any impurities, and the resulting powder is used in incense burners.

However, plant ash is not suitable for use in incense ceremonies due to its strong odor and large particle size. It is commonly used in temples for incense burning.

2. Mineral Ash

Mineral ash, on the other hand, is made by crushing limestone and then sifting it several times.

The resulting powder is then roasted and cooled, and the process is repeated several times until the ash is pure white.

Mineral ash is commonly used in incense powder seal carving, it is not not suitable for using indirect heating to burn incense. However, if the ash is not made properly, it may have an unpleasant odor and must be stored in a dry place.

3. Charcoal Ash

Charcoal ash is a popular choice for incense burning in Japanese incense ceremonies. High-quality charcoal ash is made from compressed charcoal briquettes and has a complex recipe and production process. Japanese incense enthusiasts prefer pure white ash, which they believe has greater aesthetic and artistic value.

In conclusion, different types of incense ash have different uses and production methods. If you are interested in incense burning, it is important to understand the properties of each type of incense ash in order to choose the right one for your needs.

How to make white ash for incense at home?

To make white ash for incense at home, follow these steps:

  1. Choose your material: rice husks, bamboo, or sandalwood are common choices, but any wood or plant matter that burns cleanly will work.
  2. Burn the chosen material until it turns into ash. Carefully monitor the process to ensure it doesn’t become overly charred.
  3. Once the ash has cooled, grind it into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle or an electric grinder.
  4. Sift the powder through a fine mesh to remove any larger pieces or impurities.
  5. Store the white ash in an airtight container to keep it fresh and dry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of white ash in incense burning?

White ash plays a crucial role in incense burning as it provides a stable foundation for the lit incense and helps to control the burning temperature. This, in turn, allows the incense to release its fragrance more evenly and effectively. Additionally, the ash helps to preserve the incense stick or coil, preventing it from breaking or burning too quickly.

What types of incense burners work best with white powder?

Traditional Chinese incense burners like xianglu or censers work well with white powder as they often have perforated lids to allow for airflow and aroma diffusion. These types of burners are specifically designed for use with ash, providing a stable platform and heat-resistant interior. You can also use ash in other incense burners that have wide, flat bases to accommodate the ash layer.

Can white ash be used with other types of incense?

Yes, white ash can be used with various types of incense, including sticks, cones, and coil incense. The ash serves as a heat-resistant base that aids in even burning, regardless of the incense form. Just make sure that the incense burner you are using can accommodate the ash and incense type.

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