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How to Smudge With Sage and Palo Santo & Why You Should

INSIDE: Discover how to smudge with sage and palo santo to bring balance to your personal energy and the space around you. Learn the benefits of smudging and the steps for how to use a smudge stick.


Smudging is one of the best ways to perform smoke cleansing. Its benefits reach into the soul but certainly don't skip over the body and mind. 

In this article, we'll take a deep dive into everything you need to know about smudging, starting with the history of smudging, moving on to the many benefits of smudging, when to smudge, and finally walking you through step-by-step directions for how to smudge with sage and palo santo.

History of Smudging

Smudging dates back thousands of years and spans every inch of the globe. It's probably best known as a Native American tradition, but it was also widely used in ancient spiritual rituals performed by the Incas, Buddhists, and by indigenous peoples around the world.

It is one of the oldest ways to cleanse the energy in spaces and people. Medicine men use it to enhance their mental state so that they can more intuitively treat illness.

Herbs have been used since the dawn of time, and before modern medicine, they were prized and treasured. For example, the three wise men brought frankincense and myrrh to baby Jesus because it was one of the most valuable gifts they could give.

3 Main Benefits of Smudging

There are so many wonderful benefits of smudging, and they are pretty much the same whether you are using sage or palo santo.

In a study called Medicinal Smokes, many advantages were found as a result of smoke-based remedies, including:

  • Rapid delivery to the brain
  • More efficient absorption by the body
  • Lower costs of production

That's what allow the medicinal benefits of smudging to be so powerful. Here are the three main reasons why people smudge...

Smudging Releases Negative Energy

The main benefit of smudging is that it removes negative energy. This is true whether that negative energy is in the environment around you or within your body, mind, or spirit.

That means that it can help with all of the following:

  • Releasing past traumas or negative experiences
  • Cleansing objects and crystals
  • Making your space more positive
  • Boosting your mood and making you feel more uplifted
  • Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Cleansing your aura or personal energy

Cleanses & Purifies

Smudging with sage or palo santo produces a medicinal smoke that has antiseptic, antimicrobial, and antibacterial properties. This means that when it is burned, it can help purify and rid the air of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

In fact, a study published by Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that burning sage removes 94% of airborne bacteria. Therefore, it can be used to disinfect the air in your home when people are sick.

These effects were maintained for up to 24 hours afterwards and some bacteria were even eradicated from the air for as much as 30 days!

Smudging is also effective at removing allergens. This is because burning sage has been scientifically proven to release negative ions which neutralize the positive ions that cause allergies (pet dander, pollution, dust, mold). 

While all of this shows that smudging can help with asthma, bronchitis, and allergies, you should never inhale the smoke directly because that can have reverse effects.

How to Smudge With Sage

Improves Spiritual Connection

One of the main reasons why smudging has been used in so many ancient ceremonies and rituals is because of its ability to heighten our state of consciousness.

There is science behind why this is true. For example, sage contains thujone, which is a mild psychoactive that has been shown to enhance intuition.

It has the ability to increase intuitive powers and put your mind in a more receptive state. This can have tremendous effects on one's ability to heal others, connect with spirit, and enhance your spiritual practices.

If nothing else, smudging can help to make the space around you and your mind more conducive to meditation and spiritual rituals. Consider using it at your spiritual altar.

Other Lesser-Known Benefits of Smudging

While removing negative energy, cleansing, and spirituality are the three main reasons for smudging, there are many other benefits of smudging that you might not be aware of...

Improves Mood

A thesis paper by Taylor Hayes called Terpenes and Flavonoids From Salvia apiana and Their Affinities to Cannabinoid and Opioid Receptors explains that white sage contains compounds that activate the receptors in the brain that are responsible for positive mood and reduced stress and pain.

This is why smudging is a great way to bring positive energy into your life.

Improves Memory & Focus

A study titled, Salvia (Sage): A Review of its Potential Cognitive-Enhancing and Protective Effects, found that sage contains numerous compounds that can enhance cognitive activity, including memory, attention, and learning. In addition, it showed that sage also protects against neurodegenerative disease.

More Energy

When you get rid of all of that negative energy that has been weighing you down, you will naturally feel lighter and you'll have more energy. That's why smudging is a natural energy booster.

Air Freshener

Sage and palo santo both have very distinct scents and they can be used as air fresheners. Some people don't like the smell of sage, and in that case palo santo is usually suggested. 

Benefits of Smudging

Why & When to Smudge

Now that you understand the benefits of smudging, let's look at the main ways you can use smudging in your life, as well as when to smudge.

To Clear a Space

When we are in a bad mood or are having a negative experience of any nature, it leaves an imprint of negativity in the space.

That's why we say we can cut the tension with a knife. We can literally feel negative energy in the air and it drains our energy, brings us down, and traps us in a cycle of negative manifestations.

For that reason, smudging is especially useful in spaces where there has been an argument or where a lot of people pass through. Just like certain healing stones, smudging also clears the energy and brings it back into balance.

Consider smudging for the following reasons:

  • To clear the negativity left from toxic people
  • To clear the tension from an argument
  • To remove unwanted spirits
  • To raise the vibration of a space
  • To clear the space when you are moving into a new home or office
  • To repel inspects

To Clear Yourself or Another Person

Smudging is also beneficial for clearing yourself of negative energy.  It brings your energetic body back into balance and helps you to improve your mental state.

It brings with it a fresh perspective and makes us feel uplifted. Therefore, it is a good stress reliever and a wonderful way to keep yourself emotionally balanced.

Consider smudging yourself for the following reasons:

  • After you've been around negative people or someone who is going through a difficult time
  • To raise your vibration
  • When you want to elicit transformation in your life
  • After you've experienced a trauma
  • For general health and wellbeing

Smudging Tools

To learn how to smudge with sage or palo santo, you will need a few different tools:

  • A Smudge Stick - This can be made of either Palo Santo wood or California White Sage, otherwise known as White Sage (this is not the same as the sage that we use to season our food).
  • Abalone Shell - We love using Abalone Shells to hold our smudge sticks because they fit so nicely in your hand and they're beautiful, but you could also use a bowl made of ceramic, glass, or clay.
  • A Feather - This is optional. It is used to waft the smoke around a space. 

How to Use a Smudge Stick

When you're learning how to use smudge sticks, whether you're using sage or palo santo, there are some precautions that you should take:

  • Smudging can set off a smoke alarm. Opening the windows will help.
  • Don't inhale the smoke. This can lead to respiratory issues.

Now let's get to what you really want to know: how to smudge. Just follow these steps...

1) Clear Pets & People From the Area

It's always best to smudge when no one is around. This will make for a more sacred ritual and will ensure your pets or small children aren't affected by the smoke.

2) Open Windows & Doors

The negative energy you are removing needs somewhere to go; otherwise it can't change. By opening the windows, the smoke will escape, taking negativity and impurities with it.

Likewise, open all doors inside the house, including closet doors. This creates a flow of energy in the space, allowing the sage or palo santo to clear those spaces as well.

3) Set Your Intentions

It's always a good idea to set an intention as you are beginning the sacred ritual of smudging.

For example, you might say something like, "All energy that is not for my highest good, leave this house."

4) Light the Smudge Stick

Tilt the smudge stick on a 45 degree angle and then light the end of it. Let it burn for 20 seconds, and then blow out the flame. The leaf tips will burn slowly, revealing orange embers, and resulting in a think smoke.

If your smudge stick is bundled too tightly, it will be difficult to keep it lit. In that case, you can loosen the string that is holding it together and crush the end of it on your abalone shell to give it more breathing room.

If the embers start to fade as if they are putting themselves out, gently blow on the lit area to reignite it.

Palo santo is a little more difficult to keep lit, so you might need to light it several times throughout your smudging ritual.

5) Let the Smoke in Each Nook & Cranny

Place the burning smudge stick on the abalone shell or bowl so that it collects the ashes as it burns. Hold the shell or bowl in one of your hands as you walk around with it to disperse the smoke.

Let the smoke cover the object, the air, or your body, depending on what you are smudging. You can use a feather to direct the smoke in a certain direction.

Be as thorough as you can, letting the smoke linger and fill all the crevices, surfaces, or spaces.

6) Properly Extinguish the Smudge Stick to Conserve for Future Uses

By pressing the burning end against the shell or bowl, you can stop the burning.

Then, place the smudge stick in a dry place away from the sun until you are ready to use it again. You should easily get two or more uses out of each smudge stick.

7) Close Your Ritual

Show gratitude to the sage or palo santo for its ability to help you cleanse and purify the object, space, or yourself, depending on what your use was.

You might even want to place the ashes around the earth outside of the space as a way of making full use of the smudge stick.

Spirituality Crystals

How to Smudge a House

Knowing how to smudge a home is the most common use for how to smudge with sage and palo santo. Here's how to do it...

Place the shell that is holding the burning sage in one hand and carry a feather in the other hand.

Start on the lowest level of your home. Waft the smoke with your feather, getting it in each of the four corners of the room and any nook and cranny you can think of (under beds, in closets, etc). Then move to the next room and so on

Just like dust and dirt tends to collect in the corners of a room, so does stale energy, so be sure to address each corner of each room.

How to Smudge Yourself

When you are learning how to smudge with sage and palo santo and how to use a smudge stick, you should know what to do if you want to smudge yourself.

Hold the smudge stick in front of your heart, raise it up over your head and then down the back of your body, and then the front of your body. Pay special attention to areas of the body that feel heavy or in pain.

How Often Should You Sage?

When you're learning how to smudge with sage and palo santo, it's common to wonder how often you should do it.

We suggest smudging at least once a week, however you can do it as often as you'd like. 

At the very least, smudge during the following times:

  • After a lot of people have come into a space
  • After an argument
  • When you're feeling down or negative
  • Before a special event or ceremony

How to Smudge With Sage & Palo Santo: Where to Buy Smudge Sticks

Knowing how to smudge with sage and palo santo is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Smudging is something we do here at Cosmic Cuts on a regular basis. It helps us to create a consistently high vibrational space where we can house all of our crystals for sale. 

Our customers love the energy in our store so much that they asked us to start selling smudging kits, and we listened!

Browse our Sage and Palo Santo Smudging Kits here!

how to use crystals ebook

* Crystals and stones should not be used as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Please read our full disclosure notice here.

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How to Smudge With Sage & Palo Santo

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Laurie Peavey

Thank you for the wonderful learning experience. Very informative. I just moved to a old home and wasn’t sure if I should smudge my space or not.

Theresa Munden

Thank you! This is so complete. I will be sharing it with clients. I already direct them to your website for their Crystal needs.

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