Smudge Sticks

Burning aromatic dried herbs are referred to as “smudging.”

Tied bundles of dried aromatic herbs, or smudge sticks, often figure in spiritual healing and cleansing rituals. However, you can simply choose to burn aromatic herbs to enjoy the scent. To make your own smudge sticks, gather a large handful of aromatic herbs and use a natural string {cotton is best} to tie it at one end. {Leave both ends of the string hanging evenly.} Hang the herbs to dry. When the leaves are ready, wrap the string around them, making a compact, cigar-shaped bundle, and knot the string up top.

To burn the smudge stick, light the herbs on one end, and let the stick smolder and release its aromatic smoke. You may hold the smudge stick, gently waving it in the air and carrying it from room to room, or simply prop it up on a fireproof plate, bowl, or ashtray and let it smolder. When you’re ready to extinguish the flame, lightly tamp the lit end of the smudge stick into sand or salt and make sure the fire is out. Continue to use your smudge stick time and time again until it has burned completely.

You can use a wide variety of herbs for smudge sticks. The herbs need to have long enough stems to be cut, bundles and dried. White sage, pinion, cedar, and sweet grass are very traditional smudge herbs; they all smell wonderful either alone or in combination.

Other good smudge herbs include lavender, lemongrass, garden sage, pineapple sage, rosemary, mugwort, any aromatic evergreens, mints, thyme, eucalyptus, and sweet woodruff. Experiment with fragrant herbs found in your garden.

You can also burn loose dried herbs, such as lavender buds, rose petals, white sage leaves, or pine needles, using self-lighting charcoal discs designed for burning incense. These charcoal discs are inexpensive and very easy to use. {Caution: The type of charcoal used for grilling food is not suitable for burning herbs.} Light the disc using a match or lighter, then place it in a fire-proof container such as a ceramic bowl or ashtray. It will spark, then begin to glow red. Then simply sprinkle your dried herbs on the disc. They will smolder and burn, releasing their aromatic smoke. You can use nearly any fragrant herb for incense. I recommend gathering a selection of dried herbs and burning small quantities of each, one at a time so that you can experience how each herb smells while it’s burning.

Some of my favorite herbs to use as loose incense include white sage, lavender buds, sweetgrass, costmary, cedar wood chips, bay leaves, lemongrass, and rosemary.

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