Culture Lifestyle

Are Smudge Sticks The Real Deal?

August 2, 2017

You might have heard about smudge sticks.

They can definitely be grouped into the *alternative* wellness trend that’s making the mystical powers of crystals appear all over your newsfeed.

Because the uses/benefits of a smudge stick are half metaphysical-mystic-vibe-based and half sciencey, I’m just going to tell you all about them… and THEN tell you what I actually think at the end.

But before I get all witchy on you, let’s talk basics.

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A what stick?!

A smudge stick is simply dried sage tied together with twine.

Sage sticks have been around for a lonnnnnnnng time. (Like ancient Greece long time). They’re mainly from ancient Eastern traditions but also have Native American roots.

When you use it, it burns slowly, letting off a thick fragrant smoke (but don’t worry, not too much and it dissipates quickly).

To use a smudge stick, you just have to:

+ light it (and blow it out to get it smoking)
+ wave it around your space or yourself
+ go around the edges of a room to spread the smoke
+ or start at your feet and move to waving it around your head
*I’m trying to keep a straight face here*
+ extinguish it in a fireproof dish or plant soil

Don’t worry; it’s not a fog-machine level of smoke. There’s even less smoke than a cigarette because it dissipates so quickly. You’re really just leaving the scent.

I should also mention that smudge sticks come with different herbs. Lavender, pine and cedar are also common.

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Alrighty, so what’s the point?

Well, people claim there are benefits ranging from cosmic cleansing (I told you it was going to get witchy) to scientifically-proven air cleaning. The stick ‘smudges’ out anything from air impurities to bad vibes.

The four main benefits are:

 air cleansing

This study proved that burning sage/smudge sticks actually removes 94% of bacteria from the air. I’ll take sage over chemical-ridden Lysol any day.


Some people use the smell to help them meditate. Everyone seems to think it smells like something different but a lot of yogi’s swear by it.

 ‘metaphysical cleansing’ 

A lot of sage-users (can we call them smudgers?) swear by its power to make them feel happier and more centred. It’s also rumoured to help chase out bad spirits. To do this, you’re meant to wave it around the edges of a room (and away from any smoke detectors), paying special attention to corners.

This made for a great Saturday afternoon of my mom walking around our house with a smudge stick and me yelling, “don’t forget the vibes in the corners!!”

Also if you’re a believer in this metaphysical stuff: sage has a masculine energy and incense has a feminine energy, so by burning sage, you’re balancing the two energies” (read more here).

 ion changing

Alright, this one’s a bit complicated. There are little, charged particles in the air called ions. Some people believe that the balance of negative and positive ions is responsible for good and bad moods.

For example, before a storm there are 30% more positive ions in the air, creating that stressed feeling vs. after a storm when there are 30% more negative ions. I dunno about you, but I am always v calm after a storm. Places like forests and mountains have higher negative ion counts too. (Check out more here). 

Basically, the more negative ions in the air, the better the vibes are.

Smudge sticks are experts are negative-izing the air (okay… maybe that’s not a real word but would this really be a G+J blog post without a few made up words?).


I also feel like the fun of waving a burning thing around is a bonus too… am I a weirdo? Probably.

As for my actual thoughts:

After using the smudge stick for three days, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I actually did feel more at peace at home and that my mom and I didn’t have any friction.

I dunno, man.

I think my thoughts on smudge sticks could be summarised as the following:

To quote a video on crystals that I recently saw “Honestly, if wearing crystals in your makes you happy, who gives a damn whether they work or not.”

If you like waving around smoking sage, go for it.

If you’re not really into it, that’s totally fair too.

If you haven’t tried it, you should! What have you got to lose? (Other than $6).

Would you try a smudge stick? Or do you think it’s a little too witchy?

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