Interest in smudging has grown over the years, putting the white sage species at risk due to over-harvesting in the wild. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to white sage for all of your smudging needs.
What Is Smudging?
A certain person's energy can cling to you like your grandmother's lavender perfume. Like that familiar scent, a person's energetic vibes can cling to you long after they left the building.
Just like a scent can cling to you, bad energetic vibes can cling to your home. To rid your personal space of bad energy, you can do something called "smudging". Smudging is another name for burning sage. There are many different types of sage, but white sage is most commonly used here.
You might have seen smudge sticks, or bundles of sage, before in a friend's house or in a store. Some even believe that sage can turn energy into a more positive space for you.
Smudge sticks originate from Native American culture. Native Americans used smudge sticks to cleanse spaces of negative energy, as well as to bestow blessings upon people.
Native Americans have used sage to talk to spirits and clean spaces of negative energy. The smoke from the sage penetrates the atmosphere and absorbs any dense energy that's around. According to the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, sage can clean up over 90% of the bacteria in the air.
Smudge sticks usually get made from dried white sage. They can also be made of other dried herbs and flowers like rosemary, thyme, and lavender. These sticks give off a pleasant scent when burned. The act of smudging then involves the burning of the smudge sticks in a certain space.
Is Smudging White Sage Bad?
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.
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 Nation's 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.
- Black sage
- Garden sage
- Wormwood (this is my go-to, since it's so abundant where I live)
- Holy basil
- Lemon balm
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 learn more in the tutorial for how to make a smudge stick below.
How To Clean Up Your Home's Energy With Sage
The sage that you will need to clean up your home's energy isn't the type that you can purchase in the produce section of your local grocery store. You want to find dried white sage. It can come in sticks or dried leaves. Feel free to choose other herbs, as desired.
If you really want to go all out, create an altar for all of your supplies. You can place this altar on any flat surface. While all you will need for the cleansing is the herbs, some people decide to add other items such as bells, feathers, and even eggs!
Want to cleanse the energy of a space but need to do it without sage smoke? You can use a mist instead. Put spring water in a spray bottle and add either sage or palo santo oil.
Those who are cleaning up the energy in their home should clear away any clutter that's around. Open up all doors and windows. Ring a bell in each room of your home to wake up the present energy.
Place your herbs on your altar. Put the sage or other hebs in a heatproof bowl and burn a candle while setting an intention. Use the candle to light the sage. Holding the sage in your hands, position the sage smoke towards your heart, over your head, and down your front and back.
Once all of this is done, go to the lowest level of your home. Send the sage smoke into all four corners of each of the rooms. Try to get the smoke into the areas where the walls and ceilings meet. Then direct the smoke out of the windows and doors.
When you have completed the smudging process, extinguish the sage by putting it out on the ground. Just don't extinguish the sage in water. Doing this will ensure that you won't be able to use it again.
After you have cleaned up the energy of your space, you'll find that the energy has neutralized. At this point, you will need to fill up your space with love. You can use rose petals or rose water for this purpose. An advanced tactic involves mopping your floors with rose tea. But if you're a renter, you might want to stick with the rose petals and rose tea. The first two methods make for easier cleanup.
Experts state that homeowners should sage about once a week. But you'll get good results the more you do it. You can use saging as part of your morning routine. In the morning, burn some incense while you say a prayer to maintain the good energy of your space.
How to Make Smudge Sticks
The smudge sticks you make at home can be just as powerful as those you buy on Amazon. While most people use sage for smudging purposes, different herbs can be used for different purposes.
Some herbs are great for cleansing purposes. Others can be used for their medicinal properties. Other herbs like lavender just smell nice. You can use your own smudge stick for your own needs and preferences.
Try these different types of sage for smudging:
- Common sage (or garden sage)
- Mealy cup sage
- Scarlet sage
- Pitcher sage (or humming bird sage)
- Anise sented sage
- Autumn sage
- Discover all of the different types of sage here
Some popular herbs for smudging include the following:
- Lemon Balm
- Palo Santo
- White Sage
Some other herbs that you can add to your smudging stick include the following:
- Bay leaves
- Cinnamon Stick
How To Make a Smudge Stick (with or without Sage)
Choose From the Following Options:
- 1 ounce fried cedar
- 1 ounce dried Frankincense
- 1 ounce dried juniper
- 1 ounce dried lavender
- 1 ounce dried lemon balm
- 1 ounce dried Myrrh
- 1 ounce dried Palo Santo
- 1 ounce dried Sweetgrass
- 1 ounce dried white sage
- 1 ounce yarrow
- To make a smudging stick, you'll need to gather your chosen herbs and some twine. You can also use thread to tie up your herbs. If you want, you could add dried flowers to your smudging stick. But if you work with fresh herbs and flowers, the stems will end up less brittle.
- Put all of the herbs, flowers, and string together in one location.
- Start layering the herbs and flowers together. The bases of the biggest leaves should sit at the same level so that the binding process runs smoothly.
- Cut the string to a length that is about four times the length of your bundling. Knot one end of the string. Tighten the knotted string around the stems. Tie the bundling together. Now one side of your string should be about three times the size of your bundling.
- Take up the long end of the string. Wrap up the bundling tight. Make sure that you spiral up to the top of the bundling. Tuck in any stray leaves under the string. Once you get to the top of the bundling, keep wrapping. Crisscross the twine as you go back down the bundling. Take the original knot and tie up the loose end to the base of the bundling.
- To get the very best results, hang your smudging sticks upside down in a sunny location. A window is a good place to do this. Dry the sticks for up to three weeks.
- Light the end of the sage bundle with a candle. Take a feather and fan the sage smoke into the corners of every room. Once you've completed this process, place the smoldering stick in a shell or heatproof bowl or glass.
- Open the windows to get rid of any bad energy. When you keep the windows shut during an energy cleansing, it traps toxins and bad energy inside your home. Whenever you smudge your home or any other space, open any and all doors and windows to really cleanse the area.
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!
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 🙂
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!
Is blue sage also endangered? I am trying to find info on it but am having little luck. Thanks!
Lavander saging, is it still effected?
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.
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!
I was recently educated, by someone who is Native American, to not call it “smudging” since it (along with the white sage) is a closed practice. I, personally, have started to call it ritual burning or cleansing instead.
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?
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
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.
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?