How to Use Smudge Sticks for Energy Cleansing

Smudging is hardly a new concept, although it’s enjoyed something of a renaissance in recent years. Burning sage is an ancient practice that has been used in multiple cultures and traditions as a means of purification. For example, white sage smoke is used in both Buddhist rites and Native American ceremonies. Today, it’s easy to find smudge sticks made from bundled dried herbs tied together in an easy-to-hold bundle that you can light and use for all kinds of purposes, including energy cleansing.

Smudging with White Sage

White sage is the most well-known type of herbal cleansing smoke, and it’s easy to use. When lit, dried sage emits smoke with a pungent aroma that has been shown in studies to decrease bacteria in the air. Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties aside, white sage smoke is also believed to be a spiritual and energetic purifier; it clears all energy from spaces leaving room for new energy to enter. This is why you’ll often see spiritual mediums or energy healers burn sage before sessions with clients; because it creates a space where new energy can enter and not be obstructed by old energy.

You can purchase white sage alone or with other herbs, and as loose leaves or in tied bundles.

How to Smudge with Loose Sage

To smudge with loose white sage:

  1. In a large abalone shell or a heatproof dish, place the white sage leaves in a small pile in the center.
  2. With a lighter or long match, light the leaves until they flame. Allow the flame to burn out until the sage begins to smoke and smolder.
  3. Hold the shell in one hand and a feather or fan in the other.
  4. Walking clockwise around the space you wish to purify, use the fan to push the sage smoke all around the space, including into corners and closets. Relight the sage as needed.
  5. Once you’ve completed a full circuit of the place you’re smudging, place the still smoldering sage in the center of the room and allow it to stop smoking completely.

How to Smudge with a Sage Bundle

If you’re using a sage bundle, the practice is similar. It’s helpful to have a small dish with you to catch any ashes as you work your way around the space.

  1. Hold the bundle at one end and light the other. Allow the sage to burn until the flame goes out and the bundle begins to smoke and smolder.
  2. Carry the sage bundle in your dominant hand. Starting at the main entrance to the space you are smudging, wave the sage to send sage smoke around the space. Walk clockwise around the space, waving the sage smoke around the perimeter of every entrance to the space, such as doors, windows, fireplaces, vents, and drains.
  3. Complete the circuit and return to where you started.
  4. Stub out the sage in a non-incendiary dish to stop it from smoldering. Allow the bundle to completely cool before you store it.

How to Smudge an Object

You can also smudge objects such as crystals to restore them to their initial vibration. I recommend cleansing crystals with smoke from age or another herb at least once a week, and as often as every few days when they are working hard for you (such as those you wear or those that are in your spaces during difficult times). Additionally, I recommend smudging any used object, such as an antique or something from a thrift shop, before you bring it into your space.

To smudge an object:

  1. Place your sage bundle or loose sage in a small dish and light it. Allow the flame to burn out and smolder.
  2. For a small object, hold it in the sage smoke, turning it so sage smoke covers the entire object.
  3. For larger objects or a group of objects, lift the bundle or dish and fan the smoke around and over the objects you wish to cleanse.

How to Smudge a Person

Sometimes, people need their energy cleansed, as well. Smudging can help. Smudge a person after a period of illness or negativity to help remove any residual energy.

To smudge a person:

  1. Light the sage bundle or loose sage.
  2. Have the person stand with their arms spread wide in a wide v-stance with their legs flat on the floor.
  3. Use a fan to push sage smoke all around the person, making sure you sage under their arms, around their legs, and across both their front and back.

Using Other Types of Burning Herbs

Lighting a Sage Smudge Bundle

You can use other burning herbs in much the same way. Use these herbs after burning sage, in bundles with sage, or in place of burning sage following the same steps as listed above.

Palo Santo

Palo santo is a sacred fragrant wood. It cleanses energy, invites positive energy, and facilitates emotional, spiritual, and physical healing. You’ll find palo santo in sticks or in small chips. You can burn the ships in a shell, just as you would loose sage. Treat the sticks as you would a sage bundle.

Cedar and Sage Smudge Sticks
Cedar and Sage Smudge Sticks


Sweetgrass is a long, dried grass that you can typically purchase in long braids. Its smoke has a sweet, pleasant, herbal aroma. It is used to attract positive energy, and to bring power to prayer, visualization, or affirmation. To burn sweetgrass, light the end of the braid. It will smolder, and you can fan the smoke around the room, object, person, or space. Burn sweetgrass after sage, by itself to invite positive energy, or as part of a cleansing sage smudge.


You’ll often find sprigs of dried cedar in sage bundles, or you can find cedar bundles to burn alone. Cedar smoke has a woody, sweet scent. Burn it to purify energy, much as you would with sage, or burn it to help increase intuition and attract loving energy.

Smudging Safety

Smudging is an easy process, but it’s important you do it safely.

  • If burning herbs in a dish, make sure the dish is heatproof.
  • Light herbs with a long match or a taper lighter.
  • Never leave herbs burning without being present.
  • Make sure bundles have cooled completely before storing them.
  • Place still smoldering bundles in a heatproof dish.
  • When working with bundles, always watch for sparks and ashes, and make sure you catch them in a non-incendiary dish.

Purify Energy with Smudging

Smudging is a fast, easy way to eliminate negative energy and invite positivity into your life. Use smudging with new crystals you bring home and to cleanse your crystals regularly, as well as to help keep the energy of the spaces where you live, work, and play filled with positive vibes.

Karen Frazier
Karen Frazier
Karen Frazier is the author of books about metaphysics, crystal healing, energy healing, and dream interpretation including Crystals for Healing, Crystals for Beginners, The Crystal Alchemist, The Little Book of Energy Healing Techniques, Reiki Healing for Beginners, and The Higher Vibes Toolbox.
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