In this post I share my process on how to make white sage smudge sticks from scratch using freshly harvested white sage. I outline the traditional uses of white sage and how to use your white sage smudge sticks for energy cleansing. I have written this post from my experience as a herbalist, naturopath, intuitive healer and reiki practitioner.
All About White Sage
White sage (Salvia apiana) is a beautiful plant to grow in the home garden if your climate allows. It is native to North America but readily grows all year round in warm, dry climates where it is protected from frosts and heavy rain.
I grow white sage in my garden. It is a highly aromatic plant. If you brush your hand over the foliage the scent is released into the air. It has a strong, pungent odour when freshly picked. White sage when freshly harvested reminds me of a herbaceous and camphorous fragrance.
Its white-green leaves are also beautiful to observe in the garden. It grows readily during the summer months, which allows me to pick several harvests for drying over the growing season.
My preferred method of propagation of white sage is to buy seedlings, as the seed is often quite tricky to germinate. It also can take several years for white sage to become established enough to allow for regular harvests.
The best time of day to harvest white sage is in the mid-morning after any overnight dew has fully evaporated. The terpene levels (compounds which give the aroma and medicinal qualities of white sage) are generally highest during the middle of the day.
Traditional Uses of White Sage
White sage is native to North America. It has long been used by Native American culture for ritual purposes and for ceremonial energy cleansing.
Traditionally, white sage was also used in Native American culture for treating ill health. An infusion of the fresh leaves has been said to treat the common cold and a range of respiratory and immune ailments.
In my practice as a herbalist, white sage is not a herb we typically use in this manner. I prefer to use regular sage (Salvia officinalis) for its similar anti-bacterial properties.
White sage however does contain strong anti-bacterial properties. When white sage is burned as a smudge stick to cleanse and clear stagnant energy, it can also purify the air from bacteria as the terpenes are released into the atmosphere.
When harvesting white sage, I am mindful to respect the plant and ask for permission first. I also am sure to leave enough for the plant to continue growing easily and not over-harvest.
Energy Cleansing with White Sage
Have you ever walked into a room and the energy just felt off? A feeling of heaviness, weighed down vibes, or stale air? This is a good sign the room needs the energy cleansed and cleared. White sage is a wonderful ally to have for this practice.
How to Cleanse Energy with White Sage
I make my own white sage bundles from my own homegrown plants, in which I will detail the process further below. For now, let’s focus on how to cleanse a room with white sage.
I always give thanks to my white sage for her wonderful energy clearing properties before beginning my cleansing practicing. Next, I open up all the doors and windows, including the cupboards, closets and wardrobes. It is important to open up the windows because as you stir up all the stagnant energy, it needs an exit point to leave.
I usually light my white sage smudge stick from a lit candle, but you can use matches or a lighter. Remember that white sage can often emit a lot of smoke, so pause the smoke detectors before beginning and turn them back on afterwards.
I also carry my sage stick underneath a small ceramic bowl or plate to catch the ashes. You can use a feather to fan the embers to create a stronger burn, but I find just walking around is sufficient to keep the stick burning well.
I carry my sage stick to every corner in the room and I ask out loud to the universe and my guides: “I ask that any stagnant and unhelpful energy is lifted up and released. I ask that this old energy exits the room completely and new bright energy takes its place now”.
If you are familiar with the reiki symbols, you can use these at the same time. I often give the power symbol with the healing symbol to seal in the new energy in the room. You can also draw the symbols with your burning sage stick and walk through the smoke symbol to supercharge your energy cleanse.
How To Make White Sage Smudge Sticks
The method for making smudge sticks will vary slightly depending on your climate and humidity levels.
Drying the Herb – Before or After?
In my climate, it can be quite humid and muggy over the summer months. I find that even if it is really warm with 25 degrees + temperatures, if it is humid and muggy, my herbs don’t tend to dry very well.
They can often take a long time to fully dry or go off/spoil from mould before they dry properly. My strategy to combat this issue is to do the following:
- I first harvest all my fresh herb. For white sage smudge sticks all you need is fresh white sage. But if you like, you can harvest other aromatic herbs like lavender and rosemary to add to your smudge sticks.
- After harvesting, I dry my herbs hanging up in my garden shed, or in my office where they have plenty of air flow to dry. I don’t pile them on top of one another, they need room to breathe to dry uniformly.
- I also dry them flat on a piece of cloth placed on a table or the floor. This way it’s easy to turn the herbs over every day or two to dry the other side.
- Once the herbs are almost completely dry (80% approximately), I then wrap the dried herbs with cotton thread into smudge sticks.
Normally this process is done the other way around. Harvest your fresh herbs, wrap them into smudge sticks then hang them to dry. But as I mentioned before, in my climate this is a no go. I’ve tried doing it this way and the smudge sticks didn’t dry well and spoiled.
If you live in a really dry climate, or you have a dry room with a dehumidifier, you could probably get away with this method, as it is much quicker.
Wrapping the Sage Smudge Sticks
For this part, all you need is a good quality hemp or cotton twine. Preferably one that is organic or natural (not polyester) as when it burns, you don’t want to be releasing toxic fumes into your room.
I start by sorting my dried herb into piles of similar lengths. Then I take the biggest piece and collect smaller pieces around it. I make sure the stems at the bottom are neatly even and I begin to wrap my thread around the base of the stems. You can tie a knot if you have thicker twine but with my cotton thread, it is secure enough to wrap around itself without unravelling.
I continue to wrap the thread all the way up the smudge stick and back down again. I tie it off somewhere around the middle and it’s all done! Usually I leave my smudge sticks out in the open for a week or so to completely dry. Then I store them in an open box in a drawer away from direct sunlight.
Summary – How To Make White Sage Smudge Sticks
White sage is such a wonderful plant to grow in your garden. I really recommend you give it a go next growing season as the flowers and foliage are stunning. If you live in New Zealand, I purchased my white sage plants from Awapuni Nursery last summer.
The herb when dried is a powerful energy cleansing tool to have in your home. Whenever the energy feels off, you can burn white sage and feel the vibe transform into a higher vibration. It’s also a great way to bless a new home before moving in, to re-set the energy field of the house.
If you have any experiences working with white sage you would like to share, write them in the comments box below!
If you are interested in receiving a reiki session or an intuitive reading, visit my bookings page.
Happy energy clearing xx