In many religions, practices, and rituals, smoke cleansing is a prevalent way to purify a space or individual. Smudging, the act of burning sage or other herb bundles, is a distinctly Native act. Catholic and Christian denominations use special resin or incense to cleanse holy spaces. All in all, smoke cleansing holds countless benefits for those who possess spiritual values. Discover the true benefits of burning sage and smoke cleansing here!

A Note About Smudging

Smudging is a very important and protected practice in many Indigenous cultures. White Sage, the sage most commonly used to create smudge sticks, is an endangered plant. Those who participate in smudging without being a part of a culture that practices smudging may be culturally appropriating. The best way to understand and aid Indigenous communities is to learn why smudging is practiced, if how you are practicing it is correct and safe, and if you are gathering your smudge sticks from communities that sustainably harvest and defend the White Sage plant. Consider buying White Sage from WolfWalker Collection, which is a group that grows and harvests endangered indigenous plants with the Taos Pueblo community of New Mexico.

A pine needle smudge stick and a white sage tulip smudge stick.
Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

9 Benefits of Smoke Cleansing

1: Purification

Smoke cleansing will purify just about any space if done right. Using herbs like lavender, pine, or palo santo and leaving the windows open allows for any negative energy and evil spirits to be expelled from your workspace. However, this goes beyond the simple spiritual use of purification. Smoke cleansing with sage, in particular, can have a slight benefit on your health. White Sage is antimicrobial, meaning it can help fend off infections, fungi, and other harmful particles. 

2: Stress Relief

Everyone can get a little stressed sometimes! When days are hard and things aren’t going your way, consider smoke cleansing! Herbs like sandalwood, lavender, and mint can have a soothing effect on the body and help quell any stressors. In order to best benefit from these herbs, light the dried bundle of incense and place it in the room you are inhabiting. Breathe in the purifying smoke and release any of the tension in your body. Then, find that the smoke cleanse has chased away all your stress!

3: Aids Sleep

Sleep doesn’t come easily to everyone. If you’re in need of a good night’s sleep, consider smoke cleansing! Lavender and mugwort are both easily obtainable and amazing herbs that can help settle your mind and also inspire some psychic dreams! White Sage is also said to possess certain components that can aid with insomnia

4: Empowerment

Certain spiritualists have items that require empowerment to be of any use. Among these items, crystals in particular need attunement to allow them to flourish. Using the smoke of lavender or sage and carefully smudging around the crystals will imbue them with the clean and gentle energy that the smoke contains. 

Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

5: Pleasant Scent

This is just a fact! Most burned herbs or incense will have a pleasant scent. These scents can be used to mask pet odor, dander, and general stale scents that exist within a living space. Be sure to use smoke sparingly, though, as installing too much can be bad for your lungs!

6: Improves Cognition

Sage, cedar, pine, and mint burn strong and fragrant, but did you know that their smoke can aid with cognition? Similar to stress and sleep aids, smoking herbs that have pungent or fragrant scents can make you more alert and defog your brain. If you don’t wish to smoke cleanse but want the same effect, try a dehumidifier with essential oils or oils in salt to fully capture their cognition-healing effects!

7: Improves Mood

Similar to stress relief, smoke cleansing and burning herbs can have a positive effect on one’s mood! If you wish to invite calmness, lavender and rosemary are perfect to edge you towards that emotion. If you want to bring happiness into your mindset, mint, cedar, and palo santo can inspire a true cheeriness within your heart.

8: Keeps Away Insects

My grandmother would always leave bay leaves beneath cabinets to keep the creepy crawlies away. This is the same concept but with smoke cleansing. Herbs like bay leaves, peppermint, and sage keep insects away. They dislike the scent and usually will steer clear of smoke in any case, so if you have an ant or cockroach problem, smoke cleansing should keep them at bay!

9: Relieves Headaches

While too much smoke can be the cause of headaches, certain smudging sticks can actually offer headache relief. Palo Santo is an all-star smokeable that soothes tension headaches and chases away remnants of bad sleep or loud noises. It is also a holy wood, so burning it will allow you to find cathartic bliss.

A cone of incense that can be used to smoke cleanse
Photo by petr sidorov on Unsplash

Frankie Kavakich


Frankie Kavakich is a published prose and poetry writer and a practicing witch whose love for the occult and horror permeates their everyday life. For eight years, they have studied a variety of practices including kitchen witchery, chaos magick, divination, manifestation, and brujería. Within their writing, Frankie features numerous topics ranging from ghosts and spirits to the importance of community and reliance on nature's bounty. Their great grandmother Nilda was a healer from the rain forests of Puerto Rico, and Frankie is endlessly inspired by the gentle hands and kind hearts of their ancestors.

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