- a comprehensive guide.

Native American Smudge Stick

Smudging is a traditional, ceremonial method of burning sacred herbs to produce aromatic smoke

which is used for cleansing and purification

before prayers or healing rituals.

Smudging is particularly used by certain Native American tribes and many other cultures throughout the world practice similar smoke cleansing  rituals.

Smudging is the ritual cleansing of the mind, body and spirit.

Smoke cleansing is also often used to cleanse

and purify objects, rooms and spaces.

Smudging Herbs

Smudge is the name given to the dried herbs used in a smudging ceremony. These can be loose leaves or a bundle of herbs wrapped with cotton which is known as a smudge stick.


The most commonly use smudging herb is

Californian White Sage followed by Sweetgrass,

Cedar and Palo Santo.

Some other popular herbs are Yerba Santa,

Blue Sage, Mugwort and Osha Root.

Each one carries its own vibration and has specific properties.

(Sage, Cedar, Sweetgrass and Tobacco, are the four

'Sacred Medicines' in Native American culture.)

Smudging herbs can be put together in a variety of combinations to create your desired fragrance or to suit your energetic smudging requirements.

smudge stick and abalone shell

How to Use Smudge

*Place loose smudging herbs in an abalone shell or heatproof bowl on top of little soil or sand and ignite using a match (which is traditional) or a lighter.


*Herbs and incenses will usually burn well on their own, however resins burn better when placed on a lighted charcoal disc.


*A smudge stick should be lit and allowed to smoulder.


*Never blow on smudge to increase the smoke

Use a smudging fan, smudging feather or your hand to fan the flame.

*It is not necessary or advisable to burn a whole smudge stick in one go.

(Smudging is NOT the same as fumigation - which DOES involve a great deal of smoke!)

*Smudging is intended to be a sacred act and as such should be conducted with respect; 

in reverence and with prayers of gratitude to the Creator.


*An important part of Native American ceremony is the inclusion of all four elements and directions:

Your chosen herb represents the earth

Using an Abalone shell to hold the lighted herb

introduces the water element.

Burning the herb represents the element of fire

And using a smudging feather brings in the element of air.

Smudging Procedure

Respectfully set your intentions before you begin the ceremony.


*First cleanse yourself by using a feather/fan or your hand to direct the sacred smoke around your body: from head to toe and from front to back. Do the same if cleansing another person.


*Then direct the smudge smoke towards the Four Directions:

Begin in the East which represents Air

Turn to the South - Earth

Move on to the West - Water

Continue on to the North - Fire

Then return to the East to complete the circle.


* If you are working indoors move the smoke into each corner of the room.

Your space is now ready for prayer, sacred or spiritual work

or just cleansed for ready for everyday life


*If smudging an object direct the smoke all around it


*Following an indoor smudging ceremony open the window to allow the smoke to carry unwanted energies out into the open air to be dissipated.

Remember to give thanks to the Creator, Great Spirit or The Universe.

*Once you have finished smudging, the smudge stick or herbs will gradually extinguish on their own. A smudge stick can then be used again.

*Never use water to extinguish the flame.

* Never leave burning herbs/smudge sticks unattended

*Be sure that the smudge stick has gone totally cold before storing it.


The following study has also shown that air within a

confined space will be cleansed of bacteria

when medicinal herbs

are burnt: 

"We have observed that 1 hour treatment of medicinal smoke emanated by burning wood and a mixture of odoriferous and medicinal herbs on aerial bacterial population caused over 94% reduction of bacterial counts by 60 min and the ability of the smoke to purify or disinfect the air and to make the environment cleaner was maintained up to 24 hours in the closed room........We have demonstrated that using medicinal smoke it is possible to completely eliminate diverse plant and human pathogenic bacteria of the air within confined space.” 


(NB: The researchers used an Ayurvedic  herbal mixture - Havan Samagri - for this study)