This is a general guide for using a mortar and pestle for grinding frankincense.  There are likely many more techniques and tricks one may learn over time, however this is a general “getting started” tutorial.

Select your Mortar and Pestle

I am using a granite mortar and pestle for grinding frankincense.  I like the rough surface in the bottom of the bowl, and I also like being able to mash the large pieces without any concern of shattering a more fragile mortar.

One problem I ran into with using a granite mortar and pestle, was that the gums and resins had built up within the rough interior of my mortar .  Therefore, not only will this tutorial will give a few helpful techniques for grinding frankincense with a mortar and pestle, but it will also show a method of how to clean a stone mortar and pestle when one is finished using it.


Mortar and Pestle for Frankincense

The Basic Technique for Using the Mortar and Pestle

While using a stone mortar and pestle for crushing and grinding frankincense resins.  I have found that two basic techniques have been helpful in turning fine resins into powder and they are “mashing and grinding”.

The first technique is the smashing, grinding, and hammering the resins into smaller pieces.  The second technique is grinding by using a circular motion with the mortar and pestle to grind the pieces into a smaller size.  And the continued repetition of mashing, then grinding over and over until the frankincense is fully pulverized.



The Finished Frankincense Powder.

Once you have pulverized your frankincense into a powder, you are ready for all sorts of new projects such as infusing the frankincense into oil and making a balm.  If you are interested in learning a basic process for infusing frankincense into a carrier oil, please read my blog entry 15 Easy Steps for Infusing Frankincense in Oil.

15  Easy Steps for Infusing Frankincense Oil


Cleaning The Mortar and Pestle

After thoroughly grinding Frankincense, which is an oleo resin, you will have a gummy build up of frankincense in your mortar and pestle.

Gummy frankincense residue.

I feel that using alcohol is very quick no hassle method of cleaning your mortar.  I chose the highest proof alcohol I had available, as I wish to keep the frankincense alcohol mixture for future perfume making.  I used the closest alcohol to perfumers alcohol that I had available, which was Everclear.

I simply poured alcohol into the mortar, and filled the entire rough surface area.  I then used the pestle in a few grinding circular motions with the alcohol in it before letting it settle and allowing the alcohol to break down the resin.

Because I plan on reusing the alcohol for perfume, I also placed plastic wrap over the top the mortar to prevent evaporation.


After about 10-15 minutes the gums and resins had broken down enough for me to rinse the mortar out easily with hot water, and dish soap on a rough sponge.  And that was all!

The mortar and pestle is clean and ready for the next resin to be ground up, or to be put away until the next usage.

A Very Clean Mortar and Pestle

Final Notes:

If you would like to meet and correspond with other frankincense enthusiasts, and learn and share more ideas for using frankincense resins. Please visit the Facebook group below.

Frankincense Resin/ Boswellic Acid Testers and Users

If you would like to purchase frankincense resins please visit us at by clicking the link below. – Frankincense Resins and Essential Oils