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What is Smudging?

Smudging your space, your home or office, or even your body with sage is like taking an energetic shower, or doing a deep metaphysical cleansing. Smudging is the practice of burning herbs, or Palo Santo sticks and allowing the smoke to cleanse the air. However there are In addition to the ceremonial purpose of this, there is a scientific side as well.

There have been several studies, showing that smudging ‘caused a reduction of bacteria and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make an environment cleaner, and can be maintained up to 24h in a closed room.

Smudging is the spiritual equivalent of washing your hands before you eat, and is used as a preliminary to many sacred ceremonies.

8 Benefits of Smudging

  • Increasing your sense of well-being and improving mental focus.
  • Clearing negative energy.
  • “Nature's antidepressant.”
  • Clearing the air.
  • Cleansing objects.
  • Relaxing effects.
  • Increased energy.
  • Improved sleep.

Why is smudging effective?

Smudging is one powerful antiseptic, a 2007 scientific study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology found that smudging with “medicinal smoke” for one hour reduces airborne bacteria by more than 94%. It also said that the purification or disinfection could be maintained for up to 24 hours within a closed room.

When burning smudge, sage, and other herbs release negative ions that can purify an environment. Various plants and herbs have been used around the world for this purpose; most commonly used by indigenous cultures in North and South America. It is found that sage and palo santo to be the most potent. Palo santo has been used for centuries for cleansing and healing ceremonies. While California white sage has been used by Native American tribes for rituals and prayers to bring balance and peace to space. Check out more benefits of smudging at Healthline "11 Benefits of Burning Sage, How to Get Started, and More."

How often should you smudge?

Clearing your home of stagnant energies can be done anytime, but it's a good practice to do a thorough smudging of your home when the seasons change. You may decide to smudge your living space whenever negativity or foreign energies have compromised it, I myself do after company.

Most commonly used tools for smudging are Sage, Palo Santo Sticks, and Sweetgrass:

  • Sage is an aromatic plant native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It has the power to drive out negative energies, spirits, and influences.
  • Sweetgrass is a sacred grass of the indigenous people of Canada and the United States. It is used as a smudge, in herbal medicine and in the production of distilled beverages.
  • Palo Santo Sticks, also called holy wood, is a medicinal tree that grows in South America. It is a powerful tree well respected by elders and shamans and used in many healing and blessing rituals. The sticks used in the clearing ritual come from fallen trees and are wild harvested. If the tree is cut while living, the concentration of the essential oil is not nearly the same, so the healing Palo Santo sticks come only from trees that have undergone a natural life to death transformation.
palo santo
Palo Santo

How Do You Smudge?

1. Decide on what tool (herb) you are going to smudge with. You can use a smudge stick or use a smudge bowl.

Plants often used for smudge sticks are Sagebrush, sage, sweetgrass, cedar, mugwort, juniper, yerba santa, sandalwood, and rosemary. You can find a variety of smudge mixes to make on the internet or by attending your local shop that carries an assortment of smudges.

2. Use a fire safe dish to burn it on; shells are most commonly used. If you're burning loose sage, you will need some shell, bowl or plate that can take the heat. If you're burning a smudge stick, you need something to rest it on. That can be a plate, ashtray, or shell, just make sure it's burn-proof.

3. Light up. If you're burning loose herbs, let them burn for a few seconds and blow the flame out. Be careful when you blow; loose sage can become airborne pretty easily. If you're burning a smudge stick, let it burn a bit longer before blowing it out, as sticks tend to consume less quickly.

4. If you're clearing a room, walk around and guide the smoke until you feel the energy shift. As you are waving the smoke throughout the areas with your hand or a feather think positive intentions and ask for the white light to protect and clear the space.

5. Let the smudge burn out. The idea here is burning what you need and hopefully having it self-extinguish by the time you're done.

Other tools to consider to smudge with are:

Burning Resin

  • Burning sacred resin such as frankincense and myrrh is also a popular alternative to smudging, but not if you are looking for something easy! It takes a bit of time and concentration if you are starting with burning resin or loose herbs.

Natural Incense

  • However, the most common problem with using incense is its quality -- most of the incense on the market has poor-quality, artificial ingredients that can easily cause a headache. The best way to find good quality incense is to buy it in person from a reputable supplier, such as a gift shop or a bookstore. This way you can ask about it, as well as possibly smell it. Ceremony and ritual - Scent is considered a powerful pathway to higher consciousness and can enhance your magical practice. Cleansing - The smoke from incense or smudge sticks can cleanse a space of negative energies or bad spirits. Blessing - Incense or smudge sticks can also be used to bless people and places.
  • Nag Champa is our choice at home, as it is a sacred incense (it's a blend which consists partly of Sandalwood). Nag Champa can be burned for many of the same reasons as Sandalwood. It can be used to sanctify or purify an area. It's also a good general-purpose incense for spiritual matters.
Nag Champa

Smudging Spray

  • Smudge mists dilute herbs, either in dried or essential oil form, in water and witch hazel for a smell-good spray that can provide energy cleanse on-the-go.

Essential Oils*

  • Aromatherapy oils can affect both our physical bodies and our emotions. They can influence our spirit. Use an essential oil diffuser to smudge using the oils.
    • Frankincense is known for its purification and powerful in removing negativity from the body, aura, psychic, and environment. It is said to hold great wisdom and wards off evil and negativity. It's used in many religious ceremonies around the world for this reason.
    • Peppermint gets of tension and negative vibes. Smelling peppermint is known to ease anxiety and stress, and is also a refreshing way to feel more alert and focused.

*If you are looking for a great resource to get your ethically sourced essential oils, I highly recommend local Alberta Girl Rachel of Pure Essentials.


  • There are a wide variety of Crystals and Stones that pair well with herbs for cleansing and protecting. Crystals symbolize strength and healing Earth energy. A crystal will take up your intent and maintain it long after the ritual has been completed. The crystal of choice will act as a transmitter, generator and an activator of energy, both physical and spiritual. - Be sure to cleanse your crystal before using it for smudging. You can find methods of cleansing your crystals.
  • Cleansing/protection Crystals you could choose might include Black Tourmaline, Apache Tear, Obsidian, or any other black stone as those tend to be great for absorbing negative energy and providing protection. Black Tourmaline is considered one of the most powerful stones for this purpose, so I generally opt for it if it is available.


  • A lightened candle represents the element of fire. Fire is considered very sacred to many cultures; fire brings to light, courage, and purity of intent.

What do you prefer to smudge with? Leave your comment below.

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