Smudge Sticks have been used to cleanse the air since the beginning of recorded history. From religious ceremonies to insect repellent, the practice of smudging has many uses. With just a couple minutes of your time, I can show you how to make an smudge stick to help kill airborne bacteria and cleanse the air!
What is a Smudge Stick?
Smudge sticks are a bundle of herbs or flowers that have been dried and tied together, when burned, it’s referred to as smudging. Although the practice of burning sage sticks are long associated with Native Americans and their ceremonies, there are many benefits you can gain from from smudging on a regular basis. Such as killing up to 94% of the bacteria in the air, repelling insects, and more!
How to Make a Smudge Stick
Making a smudge stick is as easy as gathering wild flowers and herbs and letting them dry. You can easily make you own, or purchase one already made from Amazon.
If you would like to grow your own fresh sage so you’ll have it whenever you need it, we offer tips on How To Grow Sage.
- All Natural Twine or String
- Bundle of herbs (see list below)
Gather a large handful of herbs in any combination you desire, including stems.
- Clip herbs to similar length
- Bind the ends of the herbs altogether at one end and continue to tie the herb bundle like you would a roast.
- Once the bundle is bound, hang to dry in a cool, dark place for a couple of weeks.
- After your smudge stick is dry, it is ready for use.
- You may have to tighten the string or twine if your herb bundle has shrunk.
- Light the end in a secure area and wait for the stick to smoke.
- Gently blow on the end to create a nice smolder and cleanse the air.
- Place in a fireproof tray or abalone shell to catch any ashes.
- Stay with it until the fire is completely out.
What Can I Use to Make a Smudge Stick?
There are many different herbs, flowers, and weeds (herbs in disguise) you can use during smudging. What you need to use will depend on what you’re using it for and what’s available to you.
The most popular herbs used in smudging are:
- Bee Balm (Monarda)
- Catnip (Nepeta cataria)
- Cedar (Thuja)
- Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
- Mint (Mentha)
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
- Mullein (Verbascum Thapsus)
- Palo Santo
- Sagebrush (Artemisia californica)
- Sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata)
- Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
- White sage (Salvia apiana)
- Yerba Santa
Can You Use Common Sage When Smudging?
Sage smudge sticks are the most popular sticks available today for purchase. White Sage is typically the sage used in commercial sticks, however, you can use a variety of sages.
Some other examples of sage you can use to make your own smudge sticks are
- Black Sage (Salvia mellifera)
- Blue Sage (Salvia clevelandii )
- Common Sage (Salvia officianalis)
- Desert Sage (Artemisia tridentata)
- Dakota Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana)
- Lavender Sage (Salvia leucophylla)
When To Use Smudge Sticks
Many people still use smudge sticks in rituals, Native American traditions, or to remove negative energy.
I for one, only use the burning of herbs for their amazing ability to kill bacteria. Not to mention, they smell incredible!
Here are some ideas for when you may want to burn a smudge stick.
- If there has been mold in a house (after the mold issue has been dealt with).
- When someone is sick
- During Cold or Flu Season
- After the house has been closed for a while
- During Spring Cleaning
- As an Insect Repellent
- If someone has passed away
- When you are expecting guest
- After you’ve had company
What Do You Say When Smudging?
Indigenous peoples and those that are performing religious ceremonies require specific chants, prayers, or mantras while smudging.
Largely depending on what I’m smudging for, I may say a prayer, especially if I’m smudging because someone is sick or I’m trying to cleanse the air of bacteria.
It certainly isn’t a requirement and doesn’t affect the effectiveness of the smudge stick. So play some Vivaldi or Aerosmith and smudge away!
History of Smudge Sticks & Smudging
Dated as far back as 1530 B.C.E in Egypt and in Israel in the fifth century B.C.E, smudge sticks were used in ceremonies where the practice was so revered that separate altars where used.
Although it is relatively new to western cultures, the practice of smudging has in fact, been around since recorded history.
The Science Behind Smudge Sticks
Smudging has been used for thousands of years and it is one method we can use today to help purify the air and kill airborne bacteria.
Published research reveals that cleansing herbal smoke, such as that used in rituals, can actually clean the air.
According to a study published by the US National Library of Medicine, that medicinal smoke can reduce over 94% airborne bacteria.
In addition, they also claim that by burning the medicinal herbs, one could completely eliminate human pathogenic bacteria in the air within a confined space.
Do you use smudge sticks in a different way then what I mentioned?
I would love for you to share your ideas with me. In addition to making smudge sticks, sage has a plethora of uses. We share how to cook, grow, and use sage for medicine.
Lastly, If you would like to learn more about using herbs- you’ll enjoy our other herb-related articles here
- Herbs to Boost Your Immune System in the Winter
- How to Boost Your Child’s Immunity to Prevent Sickness
- Herbs to Ease Arthritis and Joint Pain