palo santo cleansing

The How & Why Of Smoke Cleansing & Smudging

What is smoke cleansing/smudging?

Smudging and smoke cleansing are both practices that aim to cleanse a space or person using the fragrant smoke produced from burning various plant substances. Commonly used plant materials include palo santo, white sage, sweetgrass, sage, eucalyptus, rosemary, emu bush and juniper.

Various forms of smoke cleansing and smudging have been performed

sage smudge stick in abalone shell

throughout the years for spiritual and ceremonial reasons, however lately it

has become quite a trend, especially amongst individuals interested in spirituality, to perform smoke cleansing or smudging to rid their home/self of negative energy. If you are looking at smoke cleansing or smudging for this reason (not for spiritual/ritual reasons), you first need to figure out if smoke cleansing is what you really need.


How to know if you need to smoke cleanse your space

Because smoke cleansing is often used to rid an area of negativity and stagnation, individuals will often turn to smudging or smoke cleansing to help them deal with negative situations in their lives.

While there is generally no harm in cleansing an area (unless you leave the bundle of herbs smouldering and burn the place down), there are other things you should look at when deciding whether or not smudging or smoke cleansing is the most appropriate course of action for your situation.

Before You Smoke Cleanse Or Smudge An Area Look At These Things:

  1. Is there a practical reason that you are experiencing this negative situation. For instance, if you are wanting to smoke cleanse your child’s bedroom because they are acting strangely and are not themselves, firstly you must decipher whether or not there is an actual physical world problem.
    unhappy girl sitting on lounge
    Are they getting bullied at school? Are there issues at home? These are all things that will not be harmed by smoke cleansing, but probably will not be solved, either.
  2. Are you avoiding change? Smoke cleansing/ smudging may indeed be a part of a larger process to change your situation and cleanse your space and your life, however it cannot be the only process. Oftentimes as humans, we look for the easy way out (me included) and want the quick fix. No amount of smoke cleansing will fix your issues unless you also take proactive steps to change your situation.
  3. Are you looking for reasons to explain away a bad situation? This is a hard one and will probably be unpopular, however sometimes we do not want to look at the elephant in the room. It is much easier to explain away a bad situation by lumping it into the “its negative energies and I am not to blame” category than to look at ourselves in the mirror. If you have been in a string of bad relationships and you think you may have negative energy attached to you, that may be the case (and to an extent probably is, just from those relationships)- or you may be meeting all of your partners through the pub and there is substance abuse issues at the heart of each relationship (and yes I do realise that not everyone who goes to the pub has substance abuse issues). The fact is, there may be a very logical explanation as to why we are having real world issues. Not everything is caused by spiritual involvement. Some things are plain boring old mundane world issues that we can control if only we can look ourselves in the eyes and be honest with ourselves.

If you have looked at these questions and can confidently say that they do not apply to your scenario, definitely perform a smoke cleansing.


How do you perform a smoke cleansing?

To perform a smoke cleansing you will need a dried herb bundle, a fireproof bowl (such as a shell, small cauldron, or ceramic bowl), sand, matches or a lighter, a feather (optional).

How To Smoke Cleanse Your Home

  • To use your smudge stick or smoke cleansing herb bundle, light the end of the dried herb bundle over a fireproof bowl with sand or dirt contained in it. *Ceramic works well, as do things such as abalone shells, but please make sure they are sourced ethically. Abalones are one of the many classes of organism threatened with extinction due to overfishing.
  • Blow out the smudge stick so that it is smouldering and not burning.
    smudging a house
  • You can either leave the herb bundle smouldering over the bowl (make sure that it is not left unattended) or you can go from room to room, wafting the smoke with a feather to encourage the smoke to permeate every corner of your living space and cleanse the air. Pay particular attention to the corners of your rooms as that is where energy can get stuck.
  • Once done, snuff out the smouldering smudge stick/ herb bundle in the sand or against the abalone shell and store it away in a pouch for later use.
  • Some people recommend burning incense after smoke cleansing to invite in positive energy after removing the negative energy from a space. Incense such as Frankincense or Myrrh are ideal for this purpose.
  • Ensure that the smudge stick/ herb bundle is fully out and cold prior to placing in the pouch.

How To Smoke Cleanse Yourself/ Another

  • In a well-ventilated area, light the end of the dried herb bundle over a fireproof bowl with sand or dirt contained in it.
  • Blow out the smudge stick/ herb bundle so that it is smouldering and not burning.
  • If you are smoke cleansing or smudging someone else, have the person stand in front of you, arms and legs spread apart and waft the smoke around the aura of the individual, from the feet to the head. This ensures that the fragrant smoke can permeate their entire being.
  • If performing this on yourself, stand the same way and hold the herb
    smudging with sage smudge stick and feather
    bundle at arm’s length from your body and perform the exact same process.
  • Visualise how the smoke is removing any stuck energy and negativity from your aura or the aura of the person you are performing the cleansing on. Pay attention to any sensations that you feel while this is happening.
  • Once done, snuff out the smouldering smudge stick/ herb bundle in the sand or against the abalone shell and store it away in a pouch for later use.
  • Ensure that the smudge stick/ herb bundle is fully out and cold prior to placing in the pouch.

How To Increase The Power Of Your Smoke Cleansing

While smoke cleansing in and of itself can be a powerful way to re energise a space, there are a few ways to make it more powerful. Some of these ways are as follows:

Prepare and harvest the ingredients yourself- One of the reasons that a lot of these ceremonies are so sacred in many cultures is that they are actually a part of a larger ceremony. Oftentimes people are taught to harvest the plants and they may dry or bundle them up as part of a large process. It is all part of the healing journey. These days, due to busy schedules and lack of time/access to these practices, we often just buy the ingredients at the store, however if you have the means to grow/harvest (responsibly and with permission) your own herbs they will naturally have more power as there is more of your own intention in the practice.

Find your own feather- a lot of the smudging kits that you find in the stores

feather on ground

contain a feather. It’s purpose is to manipulate the direction of the smoke from the smudge stick. As a consumer, you do not know how these feathers came to be. Were they ethically sourced? A good way to put your own good intentions into your practice is to ask the spirit world to guide you to a feather suitable for your practice. Once you do this, go for a walk in nature and see if you find a feather (it may not happen straight away). Depending on where you live, you may find that a bird has chosen to gift a feather to you. Use this feather for your practise. You put your own energy into collecting it and it was gifted from spirit.

Believe in the journey- This is not a way to say that the practice is in any way a type of placebo, rather it is a way to remind us that cleansing and clearing is a process, not a destination. If you have a wash, you do not go out straight away and run in the mud (unless you’re a dog). Same with cleansing. There is not much point cleansing your home and then inviting in negative people/situations into it. Cleansing is one part of the journey- not the destination itself.


What If you Don’t Have Access To Smoke Cleansing Bundles/ Smudge Sticks

Like most popular spiritual practices, smoke cleansing is not an exclusive practice (smudging with white sage however is controversial).  If you do not have access to fancy herb bundles in your area, or do not have the money for them, there are some very simple ways to achieve the same results.

  1. Harvest/ Grow your own- If smoke cleansing is something that you wish to add into your practice, growing your own herbs and learning to harvest
    Rosemary smudge stick in front of a ball of twine and scissors
    them is both a practical and economic way to get around having to buy smoke cleansing bundles all the time. Not just that, it also adds to the ceremony and you may even see more powerful results because you were part of the process of giving life to the plant. If you want to know how to make your own Rosemary Smudge stick, read our blog post here.
  2. Go to the supermarket-If you cannot grow/ buy smoke cleansing sticks, don’t despair. As long as you are in an area where there is a supermarket, you have access to some powerful supplies. You can go straight to the dried herb section and pick yourself up some rosemary or common sage which are both used for cleansing and removing negative energy. Chances are, if you cook, you may even have some in your pantry at the moment. You may not be able to use them as a bundle, but you can burn them in your heatproof dish on charcoal and use the smoke the same way you would a herb bundle.
  3. Use Incense- Incense has been used for smoke cleansing for thousands of years. If you do not have access to smoke cleansing herb bundles or smudge sticks, you may have access to incense. If you do have access to incense, choose one that is natural and has the cleansing ingredients that you require (such as rosemary/ eucalyptus/ sage etc) and use it. As always, do this in a well- ventilated space and keep the tip of the incense away from your body. 
  4. Use an essential oil spray- whilst not very traditional, for areas where you are forbidden to use smoke (such as some apartments, hospitals, nursing homes etc) you may still be able to achieve similar results using the essence of the plant in another form, such as an essential oil spray. Many places now sell sprays that they often call “smudge sprays” designed for this purpose, or you can make your own by adding some essential oil in a spray bottle with water and using it to spray yourself/ your space (as always check prior to spraying essential oils around the place as some places will not allow this either). Check that the smudge spray” you are buying is actually an essential oil spray, not one filled with chemicals and nasty ingredients that are not good for you or the environment- always remember that just because it is being sold as a health or “spiritual” product, does not mean that it is actually healthy or spiritually motivated.

Let us know what you think. Do you smoke cleanse/ smudge? What herbs do you prefer? Or do you prefer sprays?

If you are looking for incense, check out our range here

If you are looking for Smudge Sticks and Smoke Cleansing bundles, check them out here.



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