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Sage Smudging – Burning Sage to Cleanse your Home

Smudging is the ancient (indigenous American) practice of burning sage and other sacred plants to clear negative energy, purify and bless an environment.

What is Smudging?

Smudging dates back thousands of years. Many (though not all) Native American cultures burn sacred plants and use the smoke from the plants to remove negative energy and bring peace to a space.

You can use many herbs, plants, and even types of wood for clearing negative energy. Each of the smudging herbs have different properties and scents, but all are said to rid a space of negative energy.

Sage cleansing and burning Palo Santo are two of the more popular ways to smudge. As with everything in the metaphysical world, I encourage you to try different routes and methods to find what works best for you.

White Sage Smudge

There are hundreds of different types of sage, but for the purposes of this page, I’ll stick to sharing the kind of sage used for white sage cleansing.

White Sage – Salvia Apiana

Out of the many different varieties of the sage plant, I’d be willing to guess you’re probably familiar with garden sage which is widely used in cooking. While garden sage is delicious added to pasta dishes, it’s not the best type to use for smudging a house. The type of sage that is used in a smudging ritual is called salvia apiana, commonly known as white sage.

White Sage Smudge Stick

White sage is dried out and tied into sage bundles. These bundles are often referred to as smudge sticks, or as sage sticks. The terms can be used interchangeably – so feel free to choose your preference!

It’s common to have a sage smudge stick containing only white sage, but some contain an assortment of different herbs and flowers. Each flower or herb added to the bundle will give it an extra dimension. For example, adding lavender to a smudge stick gives it a calming quality in addition to cleansing the space.

Some metaphysical stores even tie a crystal (like Rose Quartz) to the smudge stick, as pictured in the smudging basket above. Take note that the crystals included in the bundles are not meant to be burned – they’re a compliment to the white sage smudge sticks.

The Benefits of Burning Sage

If you’ve come to this page chances are that you aren’t looking for a scientific dissertation on sage – you’re probably looking for a way to improve your living space and remove negative energy.

Below, I will provide the spiritual and scientific benefits of sage to the best of my ability. As with anything in the spiritual and metaphysical world there isn’t always evidentiary proof that it works, but those who believe in it swear by it.

Remove Negative Energy

Smudging has been used for thousands of years to remove negative energy and purify a space. This page focuses mostly on sage cleansing for clearing negative energy.

It also touches on using sage to lift your mood, and reduce bacteria in the air. For whatever way you choose to burn sage, this article will teach you how to do so safely and effectively!

Smudging Reduces Bacteria in the Air

There are some reports that in addition to removing negative energy, smudging has also been proven to remove some bacteria in the air.

A 2007 report published on the U.S. Library of National Medicine reported burning medicinal smoke over the course of an hour resulted in “over 94% reduction of bacterial counts”. It went further to say “the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24h in the closed room”.

Note: I would not recommend smudging in a closed room because you want the negative energy you’re cleansing to have an escape path, and if there are no open doors or windows there’s no way for it to escape.

Burning Sage Lifts your Mood

Let’s talk about ions. There are two types of ions – cations (positively charged ions) and anions (negatively charged ions). Have you heard the term “opposites attract”? This is true for ions too! Since cations and anions have opposite charges they are always attracting each other in order to form ionic compounds.

Normally, a negative is a bad thing, but not in this case. Negative ions (anions) are produced by natural sources. A 2018 report states that negative ions are produced by sources like sunlight, waterfalls, thunderstorms, and plants.

A 2013 report on air ions and mood outcomes states that “Negative air ionization was associated with lower depression scores”.

I am in no way advocating smudging to replace modern medicine or a doctor’s advice. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your health plan – they are trained professionals and can help incorporate new practices if they’re right for you.

How to Burn Sage

Now that you know why using sage for smudging is beneficial, let me teach you how to smudge. It’s a simple practice, and requires very few ingredients.

You need a smudge stick, the intention to remove negative energy, a source of flame, a heat proof smudge bowl or abalone shell, and something to waft the smoke (I prefer using a feather, though some people use their hands).

Smudge Stick

Smudge sticks can be made of sage, palo santo wood, cedar, sweetgrass, herbs, or any other sacred plant you feel drawn to. Experimenting with all of them over time is the best way to find the type that resonates with you.

I started smudging with sage, but your smudge stick choice is completely up to you! If you’d like to know a little more about my journey with crystals, feel free to check out my about me page.

Abalone Shell

Having an abalone shell, or some type of heat proof smudge bowl is a safety requirement, and one you shouldn’t skip. When you’re done smudging a house (or yourself, or your crystals), you’ll want to have a way to extinguish the smudge stick.

To put out the smudge stick, tap the end on the abalone shell until all the smoke is stamped out. Make sure it is completely extinguished before putting your smudging tools away.

Source of Flame

Some people use a match to light their bundle of sage, but I prefer using a candle. Using a candle makes it feel like an intentional smudging ritual.

When I light the candle, I light it with the intention in my mind to cleanse and purify my space. I watch the flames dance for a few moments while taking deep breaths, and when I feel ready I light the smudge stick.

Let the smudge stick catch fire, when it does, gently blow out the flame. You’ll be left with a trail of smoke coming from your sage stick.

Smudging Feather

After you’ve lit your smudge stick you’ll want to move the smoke around the space you’re cleansing. If I’m cleansing crystals or myself, I don’t worry about using anything to waft the smoke, because the smoke doesn’t need to travel very far.

However, if I’m smudging a house I’ll use a smudging feather. Turkey feathers are the traditional feather for smudging. Some people use their hands to waft the smoke but I find a smudging feather to be more effective.

What to Say When Smudging a House

Many people who use sage to smudge, incorporate a smudging prayer as part of their smudging ceremony. To me, this step is optional depending on the type of cleansing you’re doing.

If I’m just cleansing a house with sage because I feel that it hasn’t been done in a while, or it feels like it’s overdue, I’ll forgo the sage smudging prayer.

However, if I feel that there’s a negative presence in my house, I will elect to say a sage cleansing prayer. I don’t have a set prayer that I say- instead I try to vary what my wording based off of the situation.

If I’m smudging a house for negative spirits, I’ll say out loud “This is my space. Any negative spirits are unwelcome and must leave. I do not welcome any negative spirits in my home. Get out now!”.

If I’ve had a large group of people in my home and feel a drain on the energy of my space (whether it be the entire home, or just a room), I’ll say “I welcome positive energy into this space. This space is beautiful, vibrant and energized. I embrace positive energy in this space”.

Your burning sage prayer is personal, and completely up to you. Listen to your instincts and know that if you’re speaking from an open heart and throat chakra, your words will be heard and listened to!

Some people use the words they say in their smudging ritual as smudging prayers for protection. I normally use what would be better described as smudging affirmations. However, as I mentioned before, this is YOUR ritual – do what feels right for you!

Types of Sage Cleansing

Now that you know how to burn sage, let’s talk about the different situations in which you’d use cleansing sage. For clearing negative energy, burning sage is a powerful tool. You can sage your home, your crystals, and even yourself!

How to Sage a House

When you sage your house, it’s important to open any windows in your home. Think of it this way – if you’re cleansing a space of negative energy, you don’t want it to stay trapped in your home so you need to give it an escape route.

Most people sage homes by starting at the front door and moving in a clockwise direction. I have a large sliding glass door that leads to my patio, so I like to start there and move clockwise.

Since sage uses windows and open doors to expel negative energy, I find starting by my sliding door to be the best course of action for me. I encourage you to look at your space and find the spot that makes the most sense to you.

Once you light your sage, use the smudging feather to waft the smoke. Be sure to do so while focusing on your intention to clear the space of negative energy.

Waft the smoke upwards towards the corners of the rooms. Negative forces can sometimes try to hide in the corners of the rooms, so make sure you feel those areas are clear before moving on.

As you’re moving around your house don’t forget areas like closets, basements, garages, and nooks and crannies (like behind shower curtains). Those areas need to be cleansed too!

Once you’ve cleansed the inside perimeter of your home and have returned to your starting point, extinguish your sage stick. Take a few deep breaths and say thank you to the the sage and thank you to your space.

Sage Cleansing Yourself

One of my biggest tips for smudging would be to begin (and end) your smudging ritual by smudging yourself. If you’re clearing your home of negative energy, the best place to start is with yourself!

Now that you’ve learned how to smudge your house, smudging yourself will be easy! Take your smudge stick and gently waive it over your body.

Start at your head and work your way down your body, making sure to cover every area, from the top of your head to the middle of your back and all the way down to the undersides of your feet.

Take deep breaths as you sage yourself, breathing in positive energy and breathing out stress and negativity. If it helps you, you can visualize a warm white light surrounding you – purifying and protecting you.

Cleansing Crystals with Sage

Smudging crystals is my favorite ways to use sage. I can always tell when my crystals need a little refresher, and sage is a great way to keep them performing at their highest potential.

Light your smudge stick as you would with smudging yourself or your home. If I’m smudging a lot of crystals, I like to use sage because it seems to produce smoke longer. If I only have a few to smudge, I’ll use Palo Santo because I love its sweet smell.

Hold your smudge stick under the crystal you’re cleansing and watch the smoke dance around the crystal. The amount of time you smudge each crystal is up to you – listen to your intuition. You’ll know when the crystal is clear and you’re ready to move on.

I like to cleanse mine for 10-20 seconds each, but again, it’s up to you. Experiment with different timings and you’ll find what works! I have full faith in you and know you’ll find the best way to smudge for you!

Smudging Tips

My biggest tip for you would be to breathe. Burning sage can seem like a daunting process, especially if you’re doing it to clear a negative presence. Trust in yourself and know that you can do this!

I like to meditate before I smudge – this clears my mind and puts me in a relaxed mood. I find the calming myself before burning sages makes it seem easier!

You don’t need to meditate for a long time, just a few minutes of meditation will do – enough to center yourself and ready your mind for the task ahead.

There is no “wrong” way to smudge. As long as you’re handling the fire with safety and extinguishing your smudge stick at the end of your ritual, you’re doing it correctly!

Smudging FAQs

If you’re a crystal enthusiast looking for a refresher course, or a metaphysical newbie looking for a smudging for beginners guide, I hope you’ve been able to find something to help you in your journey.

I’ll leave you the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions on smudging. Be sure to let me know if you have a question that isn’t answered in this post in the comments section – I’ll be happy to answer it!

Q: Does Smudging Smell Bad?

Well, this one is kind of up to you. I will say that burning sage smells pretty similar to weed. My boyfriend came home one day after I’d smudged the apartment and asked me if I’d been smoking weed.

I don’t mind the smell, but if you don’t like the smell of weed, you probably won’t like the smell of burning sage. If you don’t like the smell of sage, you can always burn something else.

I think Palo Santo smells lovely! Palo Santo wood comes from the the Palo Santo tree in Southern America. It literally translates to “holy wood”. This holy wood had a faintly sweet smell, and is less aggressive on the nose than sage.

Q: Does Smudging Make You High?

While we’re on the topic of weed, I thought it would be good to address this question. Smudging does not make you high. The property of weed that produces a high is called THC. There is no THC in sage, so you can’t get high from it.

Q: Is Smudging Religious?

Smudging is not considered a religious practice in all religions and cultures, but it is in some! Many indigenous American people burn sage and other sacred herbs – though not all do. The uses of herbs and meanings vary between different cultures.

Q: Does Smudging Invite Spirits? (and/or) Can Smudging Bring Bad Spirits?

The purpose of smudging is to drive out negative energy and spirits, and to cleanse a space, not to invite spirits in. Sage clears negative energy and makes space for positive energy, but it doesn’t call forward spirits.

I have never had any negative experiences with spirits being invited into a space after smudging. However, if it’s something you’re concerned about, be clear with your intentions when you smudge your space. If you do not want any spirits of any kind, say that out loud! They will listen.

Q: Can Smudging Be Dangerous?

Any time you’re dealing with fire, you should use extreme caution. Never let children near fire, and make sure when you finish smudging that you extinguish your smudge stick. As with any candles, incense, matches, or items that create smoke and fire, please use caution!

Q: Does Smudging Work?

My short answer is yes. I’ve worked with spaces that held extremely negative energy and once I smudged the space, the negative presence was gone.

My long answer is still a yes, but with an addendum. I believe that like anything in the metaphysical world, smudging is 50% action and 50% belief.

Do I believe the act of smudging drives out negative spirits and energy? YES. However, do I also think that you have to believe that smudging drives out negative spirits and energy? ABSOLUTELY.

The mind is a very powerful tool – however you choose to use it. Belief is just as powerful and doubt, and fortunately for us, this life is made of choices and we get to choose how we want things to play out.

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Smudging: How to Smudge using Sage

A guide to smudging your home, crystals, and self. Quickly and efficiently remove negative energy from your life.

Smudging is the ancient (indigenous American) practice of burning sage and other sacred plants to clear negative energy, purify and bless an environment.

Does Incense Hide the Smell of Weed?

Monday March 9, 2020

I f a weed version of the game show Family Feud ever gets onto the air, the audience poll’s top answer for “Best Thing to Cover Up Weed Smell” is going to be “Incense.” For a couple generations of cannabis consumers, incense has been the go to for covering up any weed ghosts still haunting the room after you and your friends finish a sesh. Of course, the use of incense goes back even further than that. But does the trusty odor masking product help cover up the trademark smell of cannabis?

History of Incense

Incense has a long history that dates back to the prehistoric Egyptians as well as the ancient Indian and Chinese civilizations. The fragrant stick has been used for occasions as varied as religious ceremonies, aromatherapy, repelling insects, celebrations, and sometimes to cover up the smell of bodies (deodorant and refrigeration are still relatively recent inventions). With a long resume of aromatic versatility like that, why wouldn’t incense be the best choice to cover up the smell of your weed once you’ve stashed your bowl or stubbed out your joint?

The truth is that incense may not be as effective at dampening the many odors of herb as we would all like it to be, and there are other options to consider when looking to hide the smell of weed.

Before diving into whether incense is the best aromatic for clearing a room, let’s talk about the two different types of smells that we may be trying to combat when it comes to weed. Fresh weed should smell skunky, pungent, flowery, sweet, or piney. Or – if it’s not great weed – kind of like hay. Either way, this is not the worst smell in the world and a welcome thing to have in your home as long as everyone’s cool with it. The second kind of smell is that burnt, musty, ash-tray stench of spent bowls, old roaches, and well-seasoned bong water. Unless you’re trying to base your whole personality around the “I’m a stoner” vibe (look, we’ve all been there), these aren’t the smells you want lingering around your place.

Cannabis and Incense

Lighting up a stick of incense can certainly cover for both types of cannabis aromas in the short term. If your parents, your roommate, or anyone else who doesn’t want you smoking weed walks into the room where you’ve just burned down a stick, you’ll at least have plausible deniability. You could say that you were meditating real hard and that’s why your eyes are all red. As an added bonus, incense has aromatic benefits from naturally occurring terpenes that can contribute to your cannabis experience.

Perfume smells like lavender can be relaxing, giving the pot you just smoked an extra chill vibe. Smells like cloves or pine can give you a little energy boost if you’re looking to head out after. Plus, incense just smells good, and the smoke dancing off that stick into the air is real relaxing to watch. Even if you’re not trying to cover up the smell of your session it can be nice to just light some up anyway.

However, even incense has its limits when it comes to covering up scents, whether we’re talking human bodies or bowls. The perfume smell is going to dissipate out of the room at some point, usually once that glowing ember reaches the end of the stick. If your wand of incense is now ash, the weed smell is going to come right back just as strong as long as your roach, your bowl, or your bong is still hanging around. It should also be noted that health wise, it’s not the best to be breathing incense smoke in a confined area all the time. There are chemicals in most incense sticks that are known to be harmful in the long term, and so reducing your exposure to them is always recommended.

Other Methods for Hiding Cannabis Odor

So, if not a stick of incense, what is the best way to cover up your weed smell in the long term? Should you insert a plug-in deodorizer into your outlet to keep that smell covered consistently, even when you leave the house? Should you light a scented candle to make your apartment smell like a New England woodworker’s shop or a painter’s idea of the ocean?

Whatever aromatic method you choose is really up to you, but the best way to cover scents long term is to get rid of them or prevent them in the first place. Opening up your windows and keeping a fan on while you smoke will help guide that marijuana odor out the window rather than letting it soak into the walls, hard surfaces, or the fabrics of your room. Buying some odor absorbers will also soak up the small particles of carbon, tar, and terpene that are causing the smells in the first place rather than trying to cover them up with another smell afterwards.

It also helps to undertake a couple of light post-smoking chores to get rid of the smell right off the bat. Knock out your bowl in the trash once you’re sure the ember is out. Get that ashtray of roaches off the table and empty it out. Pour out your bong water and leave it tipped upside down (you should do this after smoking a bong anyway in order to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria). Once you’re done, or in a reasonable amount of time, take out the trash and then open up some windows. You won’t need to light any incense at all unless you’re feeling that vibe or have to do some spring cleaning later.

However, if you’ve just smoked a bowl, a bong, or a joint and need to get rid of that smell, but are maybe not feeling super motivated at the moment to clean up for some reason (who can say why?), then light up some incense and enjoy. Sometimes, the ancient ways are still best.

Do you use incense to cover up cannabis odor? Why or why not? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Incense has been around for thousands of years and has been helping people cover up various odors since its creation. But does incense hide the smell of marijuana? Learn more about the odor masking properties of incense and whether it can handle the dank smell of cannabis.