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Article: Using Loose Herbs for Smoke Cleansing

how to use loose herbs for smudging smoke cleansing

Using Loose Herbs for Smoke Cleansing

What is smoke cleansing? 

Smoke cleansing is an ancient practice that has been used by various cultures and spiritual traditions around the world for centuries. It involves the burning of herb bundles, loose herbs, incense, or botanicals to create smoke, which is used to cleanse and purify spaces, objects, and energy.

Smoke cleansing, sometimes simply called “sageing,” helps create a fresh and harmonious environment, promoting a sense of peace and balance. Many people use smoke cleansing as a common practice to prepare a space for meditation, intention setting, rituals, or simply to create a peaceful and tranquil atmosphere in their everyday life. Scientific evidence supports this, noting that herbal smoke and resins create negative ions and may have certain health benefits.

Smoke cleansing can also be used to cleanse crystals. Crystals have the ability to absorb and store energy, both positive and negative. Over time, they can accumulate energetic imbalances or become overwhelmed with unwanted vibrations. By subjecting them to the smoke of cleansing herbs, the crystals are cleared of any stagnant or negative energy, allowing their natural properties and energetic vibrations to shine through once again.

Whether you are cleansing your home or purifying your crystals, smoke cleansing can be a transformative practice that helps create a sacred and energetically balanced space. It offers an opportunity to reset, clear out any bad vibes, and refresh the energy within your surroundings, promoting a sense of harmony, clarity, and energetic well-being.

Feel that your space could use an energetic clean up? Try our best-selling Space Clearing and Home Blessing Kit

We also carry several kinds of herbs and resin, perfect to cleanse your crystals and your space.

How to use loose herbs for smoke cleansing

Often, smoke cleansing is done with a smoke cleansing bundle (sometimes called a "smoke cleansing stick," "sage stick/wand" or "herb wand"), or incense sticks. However, some prefer to use loose herbs for smoke cleansing for various reasons. This allows them to use less of the herbs, and/or combine them to create a specific kind of blend. 

To use an herb and/or flower blend to cleanse your home or sacred space, try one of the following:

In a dish

Put a small amount of herbs on some salt or sand in a heat-safe dish, light them, and VERY carefully blow out the flame, so that they smolder - taking care not to blow the burning herbs out of the bowl.

  1. Get a heat-safe dish
  2. Fill the dish with a bit of salt or sand. Filling it about half way up is usually a good amount - but use your judgment. 
  3. Place your herbs/flowers on top of the sand
  4. Using a lighter or match, light your herbs/flowers
  5. VERY gently, blow out the flame so that they smolder. Be careful: you do not want to blow so hard that burning herbs/flowers fly out of your dish.
  6. Enjoy!

With a charcoal tab

Put a small amount of the herbs on a lit charcoal tab and allow them to burn (use a censor designed for burning herbs and resin, or place the charcoal tab on bed of salt or sand in a dish, to buffer some of the heat)

  1.  Get a heat-safe dish 
  2. Fill the dish with a bit of salt or sand. Filling it about half way up is usually a good amount - but use your judgment. 
  3. Light a charcoal tab. You can do this either by placing it on the sand and lighting it while already in the dish, or by using a pair of tongs to hold the charcoal tab while you light it, then place it on the sand. NEVER hold the charcoal tab with your hands while you light it! It lights quickly and gets extremely hot.
  4. Place your herbs/flowers on the charcoal tab and let them smolder. 
  5. Enjoy!

That's it! The burning of herbs like this can be very easy - although it is a bit different from burning an herb bundle.

Want to learn more about space clearing, in general? Here's a blog I wrote about exactly that.

Important safety reminders

Please note that charcoal tabs get extremely hot - and  can make your dish very hot, as well: always set your dish on a heat-safe surface and use caution before you touch or pick up the dish.

Remember to never, ever leave burning herbs/resin/wood/flowers unattended and to always practice common sense with any kind of flame, charcoal, or smoke.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a question about the specifics of smoke cleansing with loose herbs? Here are some common questions - and our answers.

Q: What are the best herbs to use for smoke cleansing?

A: When it comes to smoke cleansing, there are several common herbs used for their purifying and energetically cleansing properties. Some popular options include:

  • White Sage: Listed here because of its popularity, white sage is known for its strong cleansing properties and is widely used for smoke cleansing to clear negative energy and promote harmony. While many avoid white sage entirely to avoid cultural appropriation and respect Native Americans, if you choose to use white sage for any reason, be sure that you are always buying cultivated or farmed white sage - not wild sage, as it often destroys the plant and depopulates wild reserves important to indigenous people and cultures. For this reason, it is also important to recognize that smoke cleansing is a general and much more interpretive practice, used for overall energetic or spiritual purposes, while the practice of smudging is a specific Native American tradition and ritual practice. This is why it's important to be clear that the practice most of us are engaging in, is smoke cleansing - even (and especially) if we attach our own rituals, meanings, and practices to it.   

  • Blue Sage: Blue sage, also known as Grandmother Sage, is commonly used for spiritual purification and protection, promoting clarity, calming energy, and enhancing intuition. A blue sage wand is a great alternative to white sage. Desert sage or sage brush are also variations that can be used. Garden sage is occasionally used for smoke cleansing, but tends to have a smell that most find off-putting.

  • Frankincense: Frankincense resin is widely recognized for its sacred and purifying properties. The use of resin incense for energetic cleansing has been used for centuries in religious and spiritual ceremonies to cleanse and elevate the energy of a space. When burned, Frankincense releases a rich and uplifting aroma that promotes a sense of tranquility, connection, and spiritual awareness.

  • Copal: Copal resin has a long history of use for spiritual and energetic purification. It is often associated with Mayan and Native American traditions. Copal resin has a sweet and resinous scent when burned, creating a sacred atmosphere while helping to clear negative energies and facilitate spiritual connection.

  • Cedar: Cedar has a long history of use for purification and protection. It is believed to cleanse spaces and promote a peaceful atmosphere.

  • Sweetgrass: Often used in combination with other herbs, Sweetgrass carries a gentle and inviting fragrance. It is traditionally used for blessing and attracting positive energy.

  • Lavender: Known for its calming and soothing aroma, Lavender is frequently used in smoke cleansing rituals to create a peaceful and harmonious environment.

  • Rosemary: With its invigorating scent, Rosemary is believed to clear stagnant energy and bring mental clarity and focus.

  • Juniper: Juniper wood is known for its purifying and protective properties, making it ideal for cleansing negative energies, enhancing spiritual connections, and bringing about a sense of grounding and stability. It can be used in place of palo santo, or holy wood, which is a sacred plant that comes from Peru and has also been mis-managed in some instances. 
rose petals and other herbs and botanicals

Q: How do I choose the right herbs for my intention or purpose?

A: The best way to choose the right herbs for your intention or purpose in smoke cleansing is to start by considering the energetic properties and associations of the herbs. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Intention: Clarify your intention for the smoke cleansing ritual. Are you seeking to clear negative energy, invite positivity, enhance relaxation, or promote spiritual connection? Align your herb choice with your specific intention.
    • Clearing Negative Energy: Blue Sage, Rosemary, Juniper
    • Inviting Positivity: Sweetgrass, Rosemary, Frankincense
    • Enhancing Relaxation: Lavender, Chamomile, Mugwort
    • Promoting Spiritual Connection: Frankincense, Copal, Myrrh

  • Personal Preference: Consider the scents and aromas that resonate with you. Different herbs carry unique fragrances, and it's essential to choose ones that you find appealing and comforting.
    • Earthy and Woody Aromas: Cedar, Sandalwood, Patchouli
    • Floral and Sweet Fragrances: Rose Petals, Jasmine, Yarrow
    • Citrusy and Uplifting Scents: Lemon Verbena, Citrus Peel, Lemongrass

  • Cultural Heritage or Significance: Some herbs have specific cultural or spiritual associations. Research and honor the traditions and traditional herbs that resonate with you, ensuring you use herbs that are respectful and aligned with your beliefs.

  • Intuition: Trust your intuition when selecting herbs. You may feel drawn to specific herbs or find yourself naturally attracted to their energetic properties. Follow your instincts and choose herbs that resonate with you on a deep level.

Q: Are there any safety precautions I need to consider when using loose herbs for smoke cleansing?

A: While using loose herbs for smoke cleansing, it's important to keep safety in mind. Here are some precautions to consider:

Fire Safety:

Always exercise caution when working with any kind of open flame. Ensure that you have a fire-safe container or dish to hold the burning herbs, such as a heat-resistant bowl or an abalone shell. Place the container on a stable surface, away from flammable materials, and keep it out of reach of children and pets.


Ensure that the space you're working in has proper ventilation. Open windows or doors to allow the smoke to dissipate and prevent the buildup of too much smoke in the area.

Personal Safety:

Be mindful of your personal safety. Avoid standing too close to the burning herbs to prevent accidental burns. If you have any respiratory conditions or sensitivities, consider using a smudging fan or feather to direct the smoke instead of directly inhaling it.

Fire Extinguishing:

Have a designated method to extinguish the herbs once you're done with the smoke cleansing. You can gently press the herbs into a heat-resistant container filled with sand or use a smudging feather to smother the smoke.

By practicing fire safety, ensuring proper ventilation, and taking necessary precautions, you can create a safe environment for your smoke cleansing rituals.

Q: Can I mix different herbs together for a customized blend?

A: Yes, you can absolutely mix different herbs together to create a customized blend for your smoke cleansing rituals. In fact, blending herbs allows you to combine their unique energetic properties and create a synergistic effect.

When creating your own herbal blend, consider the intentions you have for the smoke cleansing and the specific qualities of each herb. Choose herbs that complement and enhance each other's energies. For example, you might combine White Sage for purification, Lavender for relaxation, and Rosemary for clarity.

Experiment with different ratios and proportions to find a blend that resonates with you. You can also intuitively select herbs based on their aromas and how they make you feel. Trust your intuition and let your senses guide you in creating a customized blend that aligns with your intentions and preferences.

Remember to research the properties and safety considerations of each herb before blending them together. Some herbs may have specific guidelines or precautions to keep in mind.

Enjoy the process of creating your own unique herbal blend for smoke cleansing and let it enhance your rituals and intentions.

Q: How do I store leftover herbs for future use?

A: To store leftover herbs for future use, it's important to keep them in a way that preserves their freshness and potency. Here are some tips for storing loose herbs:


Ensure that the herbs are completely dry before storing them. You can air-dry them by spreading them out in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. This helps prevent mold or mildew growth.

Airtight Containers:

Once the herbs are dry, transfer them to airtight containers such as glass jars or resealable bags. The containers should be clean, dry, and stored in a cool, dark place. This helps protect the herbs from exposure to moisture, light, and air, which can degrade their quality over time.


It's a good practice to label your containers with the name of the herb and the date of storage. This helps you keep track of their freshness and usage.

By following these storage practices, your leftover herbs can maintain their potency and be ready for future smoke cleansing rituals or other uses.

Q: How long does the smoldering process typically last?

A: The duration of the smoldering process during smoke cleansing can vary depending on several factors, including the type of herbs, the quantity used, and the ventilation in the space. Generally, the smoldering process can last anywhere from a few minutes to 15 minutes or more.

It's important to allow the herbs to smolder and release their aromatic smoke gradually rather than burning them quickly. The smoldering process allows the herbs to release their energetic properties and fragrance, creating a soothing and cleansing atmosphere.

Pay attention to the herbs as they smolder and use your judgment to determine when to extinguish them. If you feel that the cleansing process is complete or if the herbs have burned down significantly, you can gently extinguish the smoldering herbs by pressing them into a heat-resistant container filled with sand or by using a smudging feather to smother the smoke.

Always use caution when handling the smoldering herbs and ensure they are fully extinguished before leaving the area. Safety should be a top priority throughout the entire smudging process.

Create your experience 

Looking for sage, herbs, or resin to start your own smoke cleansing practice? Or are you ready to enhance your smoke cleansing rituals with the power of crystals? Discover our collection of carefully selected of crystals and herbs that can amplify the energy of your practices.

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