Make 10 DIY concrete incense holders for under $20. Alternative bachelorette party favors, birthday presents, or just an unusual and handmade gift idea.

DIY Concrete Incense Holders

All the cool kids are decorating with concrete. It’s a dope material, tough and durable, and heavy as hell. Concrete is gorgeous because of all its crack and crevices and color variations. It means business and looks both super industrial and ultra modern/minimalist all at once. Have I convinced you yet? Then stick with me and learn how to make your own concrete incense holders.

concrete incense burners inspiration
Inspiration from Etsy: AManoDesignIT, MakeAndMatter, and Marschland

I often try to find new and different ways to incorporate concrete into our home decor. I’ve gotten into incense lately, but unfortunately, don’t have a burner/holder that I like. They are all very hippy-dippy (demonstrative of the general public that like incense, I suppose) or wood or ceramic. I’ve been hunting for a modern, clean incense holder on Etsy and elsewhere since December. Unwilling to pay $20+ for a small block of concrete, and determined I could make one myself, I started investigating that option instead.

Maker Mixes Up Makers Mix

Imagine my delight to stumble upon Maker’s Mix, a light-weight, quick-drying alternative to traditional concrete. Another plus: it’s available in a small, craftable container. (I got a little intimidated by true concrete upon learning that it’s only sold in like 80 lb buckets. Eep!)

By comparison, Makers Mix only costs $10 on Amazon for a 3 lb bucket. Upon opening it, I discovered the container to be a bit messy and some of the grit was loose. But I quickly learned how easy this stuff is to work with and started scheming how I would bring my vision to life. 

Makers Mix only requires water and a mold to set in — the rest is up to you! Before getting into the real how-to, I got acclimated to Makers Mix by doing a small batch in a familiar silicon ice cube mold. I greased it up with canola oil, mixed a single batch of the Makers Mix and squished it in. To see how my concept for an ash-catching area would work, I pushed a greased shot glass in on top of the mix and let everything cure the required 30 minutes. Once cured, I tried to drill the hole to put the incense stick into. L O L. Here’s what I got:

DIY Concrete Incense Holder Prototype
I mean other than being a tiny and awkward and effectively useless prototype, it’s cute!

A few quick lessons proved this to be a valuable experiment:

  1. When this stuff sets, it sets HARD! I honestly thought that my shot glasses were lost. Or at the very least, they now had giant concrete bases. Do not underestimate how much oil you need, especially if you want to keep whatever you’re molding with!
  2. When using a silicon mold, reinforce the sides so that you can get a clean straight edge. The Makers Mix wanted to “pooch” out the sides of the molds a bit. I made a mental note to accommodate for this in my final plan.
  3. WEAR GLOVES! This shit will get under your nails and there is literally nothing worse. Nothing. NOTHING. So wear gloves when you’re mixing and molding Makers Mix.
  4. This stuff does not drill. Drilling is not an option. The hold has to be made BEFORE it cures, because ain’t no drill bit getting in there.

Onto the how-to!

DIY Concrete Incense Holder Materials

This one’s pretty straight-forward, but I still had to noodle on it a bit. Finding the right mold was easy, but the solution to the “divot” was the hardest part. So bear with me and read on to see how it all comes together.

Once again, Amazon was my BFF for accumulating the necessary supplies:

I’m assuming you have water, oil, some nails, and gloves of some sort on hand… if not, do it. All said and done, this project cost me $17 and I’ve been able to make 10 incense holders to give out as gifts. That’s a damn sight better than $16 each! Anyway, enough of the what and onto the how.

Step 1: Prep Your Molds

I used some spare wood to create a little frame that my soap mold would sit into. This is not absolutely necessary but I did it to pre-empt any pooching out once I got the Makers Mix into the molds. I wanted perfectly straight and square sides, no pooches. I just used wood glue to tighten up the sides of my spare wood and keep them in place. Kinda janky, but it works!

DIY Concrete Incense Holder Molds

Once the molds were sitting in their frame, I put on my gloves and oiled up every mold with canola oil. I poured about a teaspoon into each mold and massaged it around with my fingers until I was satisfied that there would be no sticking. I also got the top face of the mold, just in case of overflow.

DIY Concrete Incense Holder
GLOVES! Not kidding about that.
DIY Concrete Incense Holder
It’s about to get exciting, I promise.

While I was at it, I oiled up the bouncy balls and nails so that I wouldn’t have to come back to those after mixing the “concrete.” One and done!

Step 2: Mix, Press, and Set

Pretty straight-forward from here, folks. To make three of these bad boys, I used 2 cups of Makers Mix and 2/3 cup water as instructed on the box. Mix that up with a spatula in whatever bowl and then get to pressing that into your molds!

DIY Concrete Incense Holder
Mix, mix, mix, Señora…

Once mixed, it feels like the consistency of thick, wet sand, about as you’d expect. It’s a little tough to be sure that you got all the air bubbles out, since it’s quite thick, but if you continue to press down you should be able to squish out most of the air from the mold.

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
It’s just like frosting a disgusting cake!

Use a knife edge or spatula to smooth off the top edge of the mold, then press the greased ball into one end of the form. You’ll want to press it down no more than a 1/2″ at most so that the curve of the ball doesn’t get stuck in the concrete. Give them a good spin to make sure the compression is solid.

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
You’re gonna get some gloop up around their sides. Don’t worry; we’ll take care of that.

Once you have a nice, firm impression from the ball, lift them out as cleanly as possible. Next, grab your nails and drive them as close to straight down, in the center of the divot, as you can. This will help make sure the incense stick stands straight and ashes into the area we just defined to catch said ash.

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
Not the prettiest, but hey, this is the sausage being made.

Smooth the tops and edges with the spatula or your fingers, trying to get all the concrete into the mold and relatively level on top. Don’t worry about getting it perfect; we’ll sand it after it sets as well. (PS, those white balls you see are what helps the Maker’s Mix cure faster/lighter and actually give them a cool speckle!)

Now take off the gloves and go make a cocktail. Just hang out for 30 – 45 minutes while your beauties set.

Step 3: Unmold and Sand!

Once the Makers Mix has cured, you can remove the bouncy ball and turn the molds upside down. Next, peel the silicone off the forms. They should pop right out if you oiled them up right!

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
Ready for sanding!

There may be a little discoloration around the base of the forms from where excess oil pooled up. Don’t worry about that, it will fade as the form continues to cure and dry.

Even if you did a decent job leveling the top, you will probably want to hit them with a sanding block to help smooth it down. You can see on mine that a few had more “low” points; I sanded down to smooth things out but didn’t get everything perfect. These are hand-made… it’s okay if they look a little rustic! 😉

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
Sand, sand, sand, Señora…

And you’re done! You may choose to spray your concrete incense holders with a shellac to give it a smoother finish. I used Thompson’s Waterseal and let it dry for about a day before using them. If you do choose to add this finish, make sure that you poke an incense stick (or the nail) back into the hole you made. You don’t want it filling up and sealed with finish!

The Perfect Gift

These concrete incense holders make terrific gifts, especially for people you maybe don’t know particularly well. I have a stockpile now ready for coworker gift exchanges, impromptu birthday gatherings, and white elephant gift parties. Who is going to be disappointed with a super cool, modern industrial, handmade concrete incense holder? Pair it with a nice set of coconut incense and you’ll make anyone’s day.

DIY Concrete Incense Holders
DIY Concrete Incense Holders

I also think these would make great alternative gifts for bridesmaids or Mothers’ Day presents. Not everybody wants or needs another piece of jewelry. These make for functional and thoughtful goodies that anyone can enjoy.

So get cracking! They’re easy, fun, and can be further customized with paint or other details… sky’s the limit, realake ly! I had a blast bringing this idea to life and can’t wait to enjoy them for years to come. (And, spoiler alert, I think my friends and family will be doing so, too!)

Reviews of Blue Apron's Smoky Seared Cod w/ Potatoes & Dates, Miso-Butter Chicken w/ Freekeh & Carrots, and Pork & Cabbage Tacos w/ Pineapple Jalapeno Salsa

Blue Apron Box Review: By Land, Air, & Sea

I know I always say this, but BLUE APRON I MISSED YOU SO MUCH! For real, it seems like every time we take a week off from meal kit deliveries, I feel totally wiped out and ready for someone else to do the thinking and shopping for me again. This time at least I can blame SXSW and spending my weekend volunteering on my feet for the masses. It’s so draining to have entitled tech ~professionals~ (and college kids pretending to be them) yell at you for 6 – 8 hours a day.

Anyway, I survived, with blissfully few horror stories to share. And I finished caulking the bathroom tile project! Woo! So that’s even closer to being done and I am feeling preeetty good about myself. I even baked banana bread muffins to really amp up the domesticity factor this weekend.

But here we are on the other side of that and it’s high time that Blue Apron comes back to the rescue. This week we have a little bit of everything: chicken, pork, and fish, and flavors from home and abroad.

Enough dilly-dallying; let’s get into it!

Smoky Seared Cod: Cod in the Middle

Blue Apron Smoky Seared Cod Review
This is a first but I think my plate looks better, tbh!

“Do I like cod?” I asked myself upon opening the box. The answer is, “Sorta?” This recipe had a pretty simple format and approach. You pickle some onions, you season and sear your protein. Bake some potatoes! And it was fine, really. It plated up real nice and felt like a healthy way to finish the day, especially coming from my upside-down yoga class (amazing.)

But was it great? Nah. Not really. The “spice blend” for the cod was actually just paprika and rice flour, so it wasn’t very smoky and fell flat. Cod is such a dense, neutral fish that I found it to be really lacking in this preparation. The thickest pieces (with the smallest amount of seasoning or sauce, relatively speaking) felt extremely “meh.” Oh, and the slices of potato were super awkward to eat. Pretty, but awkward! This is definitely a B- recipe overall, and a little bit of a disappointing return to our friend, Blue Apron.

Paired well with: A glass of 2016 Vinyasa Muscat Canelli from Winc. (PS, Grab a bottle yourself for free by using this link!) My sister gave me this bottle for Christmas and it’s a terrific post-workout wine. It was lovely with the fish and the bright acidity of the salad. I hate to say it, but the wine may have been the best part of the meal!

Miso-Butter Chicken: Getting FREEKEH

Blue Apron Miso Butter Chicken with Freekeh Review
I swear I put this on a plate and not directly on my countertop…

I didn’t know what freekeh was, so I was nervous that it would be tough and grainy like some grains Blue Apron has introduced us to. Not so! It’s actually nice and more closely aligned with rice in terms of soft chewiness. It took the flavors of the miso and butter quite well!

The chicken in this dish was a bit of a surprise as well. I’ve NEVER had pre-chopped protein from Blue Apron before (it seems like a very Home Chef thing to do) but this chicken breast arrived chopped up and ready to go. It was kind of nice, honestly, to not have to worry about that prep work on top of the veggie prep. The flavors from this dish SEEM simple, especially during the construction, but their layers add up to more than the sum of their parts. The soy sauce gives an umami depth for the miso and butter to dance upon. It’s very savory and reminiscent of your favorite takeout, but with more exotic textures mixed in.

This is a very solid B+; I wouldn’t make it exactly again or seek out freekeh on my own, but I enjoyed every bite! I’m also now on the hunt for some good miso paste!

Paired well with: a Barre workout because I treated my body like garbage all during SXSW. Actually, just kidding (not about taking a barre class, but), this paired really nicely with some ginger kombucha “soda” that I got for free from work. So try this dish with ginger ale (or ginger beer if you like some kick!) It was a great complement to the miso and soy flavors of the dish.

Pork & Cabbage Tacos: Ta-co? More like TA-GO!

Blue Apron Pork Cabbage Tacos with Pineapple Jalepeno Salsa Review
That salsa just screams “put me on the actual taco, plz”

Like any good Texan, I love me some tacos. I saved these for our Thursday dinner (RIVERDALE! Oh wait, jk bc actually The Vampire Diaries ended A WEEK AGO! And the CW has the gall to make us sit through a retrospective after the fact anyway. Instead of giving us the sweet, sweet dose of Riverdale that we crave. Cool. Cool story, CW.) because it was clear that this recipe would be stellar.

And it is! The pork is spicy and tangy, the pineapple “salsa” is awesome, and the marinated cabbage provides zip and crunch. The only issue I can take with this recipe (which was way easy to work through, btw) was the plating. The “salsa” is silly to have if you’re not going to give me chips. So, of course, we just put it on the tacos as soon as I was done taking the picture. It’s okay if there’s no side dish, Blue Apron. ILY anyway. A for the pork & cabbage tacos!

Paired well with: a slightly non-traditional margarita! I picked up some tequila-based almond liqueur ages ago because I’m a sucker for everything almond. I’ve been using it bit by bit for about two years now and I’m ready to see it GONE. I use it in lieu of triple sec in a traditional margarita recipe, as it’s quite sweet, and it gets the job done! Just 2 oz tequila, 1 oz almond liqueur, and the juice of one lime shaken with ice and poured (ice and all!) into a glass. Boom! Makes the pineapple even zippier and neutralizes the jalapeno’s burn. 

Up Next… Home Chef!

So there you have it! All of the proteins and none of the fuss. It’s back to Home Chef for a box or two next, especially while I’m alone at the house. No husband to eat with equals a HIGH probability of dinners composed entirely of snacks. Why yes, popcorn, cereal, crackers, and a protein shake DO count as dinner if you eat them over a long enough time period! Xx

Surprise! ModCloth kills it with their ~MYSTERY~ deals every season. See what showed up as my Stylish Surprise accessory and apparel items for Spring 2017!

ModCloth Stylish Surprise Review

Remember when I got that KWAZY sample box from Influenster and wrote about everything inside? Yeah so that was a blast and I wanted to do it some more. This is a bit less fun since I had to pay for my ~STYLISH SURPRISE~ items using my own money (rather than getting them gratis to review) but whatever. I have been ordering stuff from ModCloth’s mystery sales for as long as I can remember. I’m SUCH a sucker for a mystery anything. This goes way back — remember white Airheads?! MY REASON FOR LIVING IN 4TH GRADE.

Normally I’m one of the first weirdos to get to ModCloth’s Stylish Surprise page and I get one of everything, thankyouverymuch. But I’ve been burned before! Continue reading “ModCloth Stylish Surprise Review”

Sweet (red) vermouth, dark rum, and honey simple syrup make up this cocktail that's sweet, herbal, and perfect to end your day with.

Red, Rum, & Honey Cocktail

For reasons unknown, I’m having my vermouth moment. Vermouth intrigues me, partially because it’s an alcoholic mixer. Partially because I can keep it in the fridge and not stress about it going bad before I can use it. And, on top of that, I’m into it as a way to make other alcohol BETTER. So yeah, I guess vermouth and I are “talking.” Which is why I figured out how to use the sweet kind in this new, simple cocktail. Just red, rum, & honey. Hang tight, you’ll get it in a second. Continue reading “Red, Rum, & Honey Cocktail”

Raspberry Green Tea Banana Bread

Raspberry Green Tea Banana Bread

Let me level with you: I have a shopping problem. Well, not really a problem, maybe more like a pattern. I read about something cool then I immediately start doing research on this cool then. THEN, I buy the thing if the research pans out even a little. (Research consists 99% of Amazon review-reading.) This pattern is how I came to be the owner of a 2 lb bag of matcha powder after reading that it is good for your skin. It’s bitter AF and tastes like sad grass, and I’ve been trying to use it up for three years. I’ve hit my limit of seeing it in the pantry, so I’ve been making green tea everything to try and use it up. This is how we get to today’s recipe: raspberry green tea banana bread. Continue reading “Raspberry Green Tea Banana Bread”

History & recipe for the Sazerac: rye whiskey, Peychaud's bitters, absinthe, sugar cube, and lemon peel. Learn to make it properly and thank me later!

Serious Cocktails: The Sazerac

There are a lot of different types of cocktails out there. Bubbly cocktails. Fruity cocktails. Cocktails that require straws. Cocktails that are best shared. Even some that are better made by the pitcher! (These are rare.) But I would remiss if I didn’t, from time to time, call out the serious cocktails. Cocktails that are about the booze, front and center. They deserve to be hailed in a class of their own, and I intend to do so, starting now. This is the first post in a series I’ll be working on about SERIOUS COCKTAILS. And, with Fat Tuesday just behind us, what better place to start than with the Sazerac? Continue reading “Serious Cocktails: The Sazerac”

Home Chef Box Review: Welcome to Sauce Town

The apocalyptic cold season of February seems to have abated. (Thank God.) I feel like I lost about 4 days, just gone, to being sick. Definitely one of those weeks where having Home Chef take care of the bulk of meal planning and shopping is ideal! I was again surprised and impressed by their predominantly meat-and-veggies options for this week’s box:

Continue reading “Home Chef Box Review: Welcome to Sauce Town”