White sage is at risk; here’s what to smudge with instead

posted in: Herbalism | 15

Smudging is the practice of burning dried plant material – traditionally white sage – to cleanse and purify a space.

The practice of smudging homes has become more widespread, but with that comes issues: white sage is now an at risk species due to over harvesting in the wild.

Fortunately, there are sustainable sources out there and a few alternative, more abundant plants you can smudge with instead. 

I make this sage cleansing spray with garden sage. Available here.

Alternatively, you could also forgo smoke clearing rituals altogether and use other energy cleansing tools, such as sage spray, water, sound, light, and visualization. All can be powerful as well as more sustainable and respectful.

But if smoke clearing is a must, here are a few more eco-conscious ways to source your smudging supplies.

Ethical sources of white sage

When you buy white sage, choose organically grown white sage. Avoid wild harvested sage and sage smudge sticks. If the seller can’t tell you the origin, that's not a good sign.

You can purchase white sage and smudge sticks from First Nations people who use sustainable practices. 

You can also choose a trusted supplier of organically cultivated white sage, such as:

You can also grow your own white sage if it will do well in your area – this is by far the most ecologically sound choice!

Alternatives to white sage for smudging

If you're not too tied to the white sage plant, you might consider using an alternative for smudging. Many other types of sage are actually very abundant and possess many of the same cleansing properties.

Making smudge sticks doesn't differ too much based on what plant you use – things simply need to be arranged differently to hold together. You'll figure it out! This tutorial from Frugally Sustainable has great instructions and photos for assembling a smudge stick.

If you've come across a good source for white sage or if you've had success smudging with other plants, tell us about it in the comments!

Sage stick burning in the background with overlayed text: "black sage, wormwood, cedar, pine, holy basil, mints, rosemary, lemon balm, juniper"
White Sage Alternatives
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Kylie Wiser is a certified aromatherapist and herbalist who enjoys sharing recipes and resources to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.

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15 Responses

  1. Lauren

    Making your own smudge sticks (from white sage or one of the other plants mentioned) is also a really relaxing ritual in itself, definitely worth the extra effort 🙂

  2. Regan McLaughlin

    Thank you for encouraging people to use what’s in their own backyard!
    I was reading another article that encouraged people to dry herbs that their ancestors may have used. I’m sure it all depends on your purpose but I thought that was a neat idea if your goal is to connect with a space!

  3. Katie

    Is blue sage also endangered? I am trying to find info on it but am having little luck. Thanks!

  4. Susan

    Cooking sage bundles well when fresh and burns very nicely when dried. I’ve tucked in some lavender in the bundle and it smelled great. The recommendation of mints caught my attention (sooooo abundant here) so I’ll probably give that a try.

  5. Madelyn

    Thank you so much for posting this article!! It is a very helpful resource on alternatives to white sage, I really appreciate your insight on this!

  6. Edition 6: You have a limited amount of "Weird" points to spend

    […] The white sage is at the center of this conversation. It smells good, Instagrammers love it and there’s some purported health benefits. It wasn’t officially legal for American Natives to practice their religion – which includes burning sage – until 1978. That context, plus the over-harvesting of sage, has led to appropriate backlash from indigenous communities.This Bustle article outlines some culturally sensitive ways to approach sage, including alternatives like burning cinnamon sticks and lavender. And if you’re really into it, there’s also responsible ways to buy sage. […]

  7. Katy Tran

    Hi! I am super sorry. My backyard has NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. We just have grass and trees. All the flowers are dead. On 5 Below, I found white sage. I’m not native at all. Can I get it, still? I promise not to smudge it. And- the sage might be fake because… ITS FIVE DOLLARS! Please, can I?

    • Kylie Wiser

      Hi Katy, you really don’t need permission to do anything. This information is here to inform and empower you to make a conscious choice. <3

    • Olivia

      There is literally so many other alternatives to white sage to smoke cleanse with. It doesn’t need to be white sage, it can be black or blue sage if you REALLY want to use sage. You can also purchase/trade from actual Natives if using white sage in particular is THAT important to you. Tuh.

      • yo

        Hey Olivia,
        what alternatives to sage would you use that’s used for the same basic purpose? Also, do you know where I can purchase from actual natives?

        thank you

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