When to Use Sage vs. Palo Santo

Before adding Palo Santo & Sage into your daily routine, understanding the true purpose and sacred history of each ritual is one of the most important parts of using them so today, I wanted to do a breakdown on what each is for, their history and when I reach for each. For centuries, Indigenous tribes have burned sage as part of their spiritual ceremonies to cleanse and purify and within some Native cultures, the different sages have varying uses which is also important to note.

First, we can discuss the history of both sage and palo santo and understand that both are spiritual tools used for centuries by shamans and medicine people of Indigenous cultures. There are a lot of ways to disrespect these practices so being very mindful of their true purpose is critical. Where your items are sourced from is also a very important topic as some sources of palo santo are leading to overharvesting whereas white sage is also being over and illegally harvested from preserves and protected land. Using unlawfully-sourced or stolen plant medicine defeats the entire purpose so where you buy your sacred supplies from really matters.

Both sage and palo santo are similar in some ways, as both are designed to cleanse the energy in you or your space to encourage a more positive and peaceful environment. People have been burning various herbs, woods, resins, and plants for thousands of years now so these are simply two of many that can be used in energy cleansing ceremonies. One of the most important things to note here is that you should never burn sage while under the influence of any substance and considering the history of its use and the fact that at one time, the use of it was illegal, we must always come from a place of gratitude for these plants and the history of their intended use.


Sage is made up of the sage plant’s leaves and has a stronger, more plant-like smell when burned. Between the two, Sage is the more powerful plant, as it can be used to clear out all energy in a space, leaving room for positive and new vibes instead. If you have really heavy energy to move out, I am talking divorce, a new space with heavy energy, bad roommates moving out, fighting with your spouse, bad tenants, etc… you always want to reach for some sage to clear out all of the toxic energy.

Sage is a heavy-duty way to clear you and your space of everything. The downside is if you have any spirits or positive energy you want to keep, sage will also clear this out. You can invite it back in, however, it is good to be mindful of this before using. Once you are done burning your sage you are not done. You then must put back positivity into the space as after the sage, it is wiped totally clean. This can be positive music, dancing, meditation to set intentions, essential oils, crystal ceremonies, singing to plants, etc…

Because there are so many issues with the sourcing of sage, you only want to buy from local farms growing the sage themselves. All of our sage is grown in Southern California by a small, family-owned farm that sources it ethically. This is important as white sage is often stolen off of public and private land which goes against the entire purpose of its use. Another interesting fact is that White Sage is more for protection whereas Blue Sage is more for cleansing out bad energy. I carry both types so you can choose which you are more in need of.

You can shop my ethically-sourced Sage here!


On the other hand, we have Palo Santo which is cut up pieces from the Bursera Graveolens trees often sourced from Ecuador. Palo Santo means “holy wood” best known for its ability to add positivity to your space whereas sage removes negativity. It’s best to think of it as sage CLEARS it out the bad and palo santo BRINGS back the good. Palo Santo is what I reach for daily as it simply encourages positive energy while purifying the air. Because this one adds the positivity back into the space, you do not have to follow up with any additional steps, however, you always want to be very mindful when using both as your intentions are a huge part of both practices. Between the two smells, I personally love the smell of palo santo more, it smells like a really fragrant essential oil-infused wood, it’s one of my favorite smells!

You can shop my ethically-sourced Palo Santo here!


Before burning either, we always suggest removing all people and pets from the room. You also want to make sure a window is open to release all negativity from the home, this step is critical otherwise you will trap the negativity in the home. Before you begin, you will, again, want to set your intentions for the ceremony. Do not skip this! For example, if you moved into a new home, your intentions may be to remove all energy from the home, both good and bad, to reset it for yourself. Your intention would be to clear out any lingering energy that can no longer reside there and to then welcome in abundance, happiness, and comfort.

For Sage- Untie your bundle and remove all decorative ribbon, leaving the thin white string that holds the sage and flowers together. Indigenous smudging ceremonies do not believe in using butane lighters as they believe it kills the medicinal effects so they suggest using a match instead. I let it burn for about 20 seconds and then blow it out by waving it in the air. While the smoke is still lingering, you can walk around the space from corner to corner letting the smoke hit all walls and corners of the space. Once your space is cleared and the smoke swirls out the windows, you are left with a refreshed and new safe space. When you are done, do NOT put it out with water, instead place it on a dish or burning plate.

For Palo Santo- Light your Palo Santo for 30 seconds and then blow out. Let the smoke circulate for 1-2 minutes to clear your space of negative energy. For the best results, we like to set a positive intention before starting as this process is greatly intentional, beyond the physical smoke. Place on one of our sage dishes found here while it extinguishes out.

And there you have it! Hopefully, a clear and concise breakdown of when to use each and why. As you can tell, both are such intentional rituals so you always want to be mindful, present, grateful, and respectful. Have something I left out? Leave a comment below!

32 thoughts on “When to Use Sage vs. Palo Santo

  1. How does it light off? By itself or put it on water

    1. It fades away just set it on a dish you can keep an eye on, you can also use sand.

    2. I always gently smush it down into a bowl and twist it clockwise. Continuously until it goes out. Though a bowl of sand is the best way to smoother it. Just push it into the sand and leave it.

  2. How do you invite positive spirits back after sageing?

    1. Use Palo Santo and invite them back. ❤️

      1. Windows and doors open or closed when inviting spirits back in?

    2. You can call on them by name and invite them back into tour space after the smoke clears out. Which would be a couple of hours. Ex: I invite John Doe Matches, you are welcome here.

  3. It’s not a question, I just wanted to say you answered all my questions. Thank you and have a blessed day!

  4. Hello.
    I am struggling to sell my house. Can burning Palo Santo help?
    What “intention” do you suggest I set?
    Many thanks.

    1. You can focus on receiving the price you are asking for gracefully You can put your intention on attracting wonderful warm hearted people to make the purchase You feel relaxed and joyful in your decision to sell You can let go after setting these intentions and believe and all the Universe to take care…

  5. Hello, I wish I had found your website sooner as it was very informative. What happens if you do put your sage out with water instead of letting burn out on a dish?

  6. I’m confused. How do I properly sage my home. Does it help when you are not feeling well?
    Help not sure what do do.
    Thank you

  7. Hello, I have been trying to seek my house, it’s been n the market almost 5-mos and has not sold. Would I use sage or palo santo? Which one would work faster. I am planning on purchasing both, the palo santo to use here in my present home.

    Thank you.

    1. If you want to clear out ALL the energy, you would use Sage first, then, you will want to welcome in new, positive energy with your Palo Santo and crystals etc!

  8. Hi
    Can I use sage and the the Santa paolo wood straight after or do I need to wait?

  9. Hi! Thank you for this❤️ my question is when cleansing with sage, is it best to do it alone or would it be okay to do it with a friend who also shares in the intentions? My friend just moved to a new home that feels like it needs some cleansing but wold it make sense for her to do it by herself after explaining it to her or would it be okay for me to be there with her as she cleanses each room?

    1. Yes you could do together as long as both the energy and intention was positive! <3

  10. After Saging and letting the smoke out the window do You close the window before palo santo To keep the good vibes in?

    1. You can leave the windows open to invite new good energy in and then once complete you can close them!

  11. Hello, I’m certain I heard a growl in my new apartment and no one else was there but me. Should I sage ?

  12. I have mice in my house that won’t leave it has a stink animal smell in my house he lives under my bed running around it driving me crazy I stay up all times of the night because he under my bed running around how to I use sage to get him out

  13. What if you rent a house, and one bedroom is locked. Can you still smuge the area you have access to, and still have its (white sage/Palo santo) effects w/in the spaces you’ve smudged?

    1. Hmmm yes you can, maybe let some seep under the doors? Make sure to crack a window!

  14. Hi. Your page is very informative.
    1st. I light the sage to clear out negativity and make sure the windows are open

    2. Light Palo Alto to invite positivity to your home. May i know how many minutes should i close the window? Or should i wait til the palo santo’s burn is out?

    3. In making the ritual, should i say anything like a prayer and say my jntentions? Which part of the house should i start and end?

  15. I accidentally got rid of a good spirit using sage please tell me I am get it back😭

  16. Can you clear negative energy outside your home? A car crashed in our yard and want to make sure all the energy from the death is cleared.

    1. Yes you can, so sad to hear!

  17. Can I use sage and palo santo on the same day? One after the other?
    Or different day?

    1. You only want to use sage when you want to clear everything out. You would use sage first, then palo Santo to invite good energy back in!

  18. Hi thank you for your post! How long do I need to wait to do the palo santo after I’ve done the sage?

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