You may have heard of smudging with sage, but have you heard of Palo Santo? Palo Santo, Spanish for “holy wood”, is a type of wood that comes from the Bursera Graveolens tree. This tree grows native in South America. Since the time of the Incas, Palo Santo has been used in special ceremonies and shamanistic rituals. Because of its history and unique status as a healing plant, it is highly regulated in certain areas. In Peru, Palo Santo can only be harvested after the tree has died and remained dead for 3 to 5 years.

A lovely alternative to incense and sage, check out all the different ways you can use this ancient and fascinating plant!

Air Freshener

When burned, Palo Santo gives off a spicy and citrus-like aroma that many find pleasant. It is all-natural, often cheaper than candles, and after being burned, the sticks can be reused multiple times.  

Insect Repellent    

Palo Santo has been traditionally used in Peru and Ecuador to keep insects like mosquitos away.  Try burning it on a warm evening.   

Meditation

This wood’s lovely scent draws you deeper into the moment and inspires calm. Its smoke is purifying and is said to raise energy levels, making you more attuned with the divine. You can leave a stick smoking during meditation or a personal ritual, just like you would an incense stick. 

Space Clearing

The smoke from Palo Santo is not just aromatic, but is also said to attract good fortune and inspire creativity. It is traditionally used to ward off negative energy and to clear unwanted vibes. This makes Palo Santo excellent for cleansing a new space or clearing an old one of bad energy. Simply walk around the space with a smoking Palo Santo stick while reciting an intention. Be sure to guide the smoke into all corners and directions of the room.

Physical Healing  

Traditional herbalists have recommended Palo Santo to relieve colds, coughs, headaches, and migraines. It is also said to boost the immune system and fight inflammation. When used for healing, Palo Santo can be applied to the skin in the form of an essential oil or boiled in water to make an herbal tea.

How to Burn Palo Santo

Palo Santo comes in small sticks that usually measure about 3 to 5 inches. To use, simply select a stick and light one end with a match, letting it burn for about 30 seconds. Blow out the flame and let its smoke trail fill the space. While it smokes, you can leave the stick in a fireproof container or glass dish until the embers burn out. As always, when working with flames or fire, be extra vigilant and use caution.

Give it a try! You may find that Palo Santo becomes a regular staple to have on hand, whether for personal ritual or to simply make your home smell nice.