White Sage Benefits + the Many Ways to Use It (With Steps)

Updated June 17, 2021
hand holding a sage smudge bundle

While white sage has been used in spiritual work for centuries, it has recently surged in popularity. Many people have come to recognize its benefits for energetic cleansing, whether they burn dried white sage for smudging to cleanse a space or object, or they use a white sage spray for the same purpose.

White Sage Clears Negative Energy in Spaces

Native Americans have long known the power of white sage, using it as one of their most important ceremonial herbs. In modern times, others have borrowed these traditions, burning white sage to clear negative energy that gathers in spaces such as a home or office.

Today, burning sage is one of the most commonly used forms of energetic cleansing. Why? Because daily life sometimes brings with it negativity, whether you have an argument with a spouse, tension associated with office politics, or other issues such as experiencing the death of a loved one or suffering a bout of illness or depression. Burning white sage in the spaces where you live or work can help clear away the negative energy associated with such life events.

How to Smudge With White Sage

When you use sage to clear negative energy, it completely cleanses the space, leaving a vacuum that must be filled with something else. This is why people frequently burn a second herb or incense following the sage burn; it brings intentional positive energy to the space. Some herbs and incense you can burn to bring positive energy after clearing it with sage include:

  • Palo santo wood
  • Cedar
  • Lavender
  • Sweetgrass
  • Nag champa incense

All of these invite good vibes to fill the space vacated by the negativity when you smudged with sage.

Sage and sweetgrass on a dish

To use sage to clear negative energy in spaces:

  1. Close all windows and doors.
  2. Light a white sage bundle or place some white sage in an abalone shell or non-incendiary dish and light it.
  3. Allow the flames to burn out or blow them out so the sage smolders and smokes.
  4. If you are using a sage bundle, you will wave the bundle around objects and spaces to disperse the smoke. If you are burning loose sage in an abalone shell, you can use a feather or similar object to fan the sage around the space. If you're working with a sage bundle, be sure to carry some type of a ceramic or glass dish with you to catch any ashes or sparks that might fall from the burning sage.
  5. Start at the main entrance to the space. With the sage smoking, wave or fan the smoke in a clockwise direction around the entryway.
  6. Then, moving around the space clockwise, wave or fan the sage smoke around the perimeter of the space, making sure you circle with smoke clockwise each entrance into the space (doors, windows, drains, fireplaces, etc.). Fan the smoke into corners and closets and behind places where energy may stagnate, such as large pieces of furniture.
  7. If the sage stops smoldering, stay where you are, relight it, and continue moving and fanning throughout the space.
  8. When you return to the front door, wave or fan the smoke counterclockwise around it to seal the energy.
  9. Now, repeat the above process with a burning herb or incense of your choice to bring the type of energy you'd like to experience to replace the negative energy removed by the sage.
  10. If you like, open the windows and doors to invite fresh air into your space.

When to Cleanse With White Sage

There are many times you can use the ritual above to help reset the energy:

  • After family or marital discord or arguments
  • After the death of a loved one or pet
  • After someone in the home has been ill or injured
  • Anytime you feel down or out of sorts
  • When you or someone else in your space has had difficulty with friends or family members
  • When you've experienced difficulty at work or school
  • When someone you sense has negative energy has spent time in your home or space
  • After any upset, such as a natural disaster, bad storm, issue in the community, etc.
  • After a break-up
  • If you or anyone else in your space has been in a bad mood
  • Any time your space just feels "off" or you feel somehow stuck in a cycle of negativity

Cleanse Second-Hand Items or Antiques

If you're someone who loves antiques or likes to shop in second-hand stores or at garage sales, then you're bringing a whole lot of other people's energy into your home. Objects can become infused with the energy of the spaces they've inhabited and the people that have owned them, and when you buy a used item, you have no idea what type of environment they are coming from and how that energy has affected and become embedded in the object. Therefore, it's always best to use something such as white sage smoke to cleanse any old energy from second-hand, vintage, and antique items before you bring them into your personal space.

white sage smudge kit

How to Use Sage to Cleanse Small Pre-Owned Objects

You can burn either a sage bundle or loose sage to cleanse pre-owned objects.

  1. Bring the object to your front porch, backyard, or another place outside of your home. Don't bring it into your home until you've cleansed it.
  2. Light the sage bundle or the loose sage.
  3. Blow out the flames and allow it to smolder. Place the smoldering sage in a non-incendiary pan or dish.
  4. Hold the object over the sage smoke, turning it so all parts of the object are coated in the smoke. This will only take a minute or two.
  5. Allow the sage to burn out naturally.
  6. If the object is fabric, such as an item of clothing, wash it to remove the scent of the sage smoke.

How to Use Sage to Cleanse Large Pre-Owned Object

If the pre-owned object is larger, such as a piece of furniture, then you aren't going to be able to hold it over the smoke. Instead, you'll need to direct the smoke over and around it.

  1. Use the sage before you bring the object into your house; smudge it in your backyard, on your porch, etc.
  2. Light the loose sage in a non-incendiary dish or light the sage bundle and hold a small dish under it to catch any ashes or sparks.
  3. Blow out the flames and allow it to smolder.
  4. Wave or fan the smoke all over the object. If it has drawers, cushions, etc., be sure you open doors and drawers or remove cushions and fan the sage into the open spaces and all around the cushions. Relight the sage as needed.
  5. If it's an upholstered piece of furniture such as a couch, you may want to allow it to air out in the fresh air before bringing it into the house to remove the aroma of sage smoke.

Cleanse Crystals

Crystals have their own high vibration that, when mixed with the vibration of another object, person, or space, will shift. The vibration of the object the crystal is near will raise, and the vibration of the crystal will lower so the two will meet somewhere in the middle. This is a process called entrainment in which two objects vibrating at different frequencies "lock into phase" by meeting at a middle vibration so they begin to vibrate at the same frequency. Since the goal with crystals is to raise the vibration of people and objects around it, cleansing the crystals with white sage allows the crystal to return to its original, higher vibration so it once again raises the vibration of people or objects nearby.

cleansing crystals with white sage

How to Use White Sage to Cleanse Crystals

To cleanse crystals, use white sage as you would to cleanse other objects.

  • If you have a large number of crystals, place them in a dish or bowl and fan the smoke over them, sifting through the crystals to make sure all of them come in contact with the smoke.
  • If you have a cabinet filled with crystals, fan the smoke in the cabinet and close the doors to allow the smoke to come in contact with all the crystals there.
  • If you wear crystals, hold them over the smoldering smoke for a minute or two.

Cleanse Your Personal Aura and Energy

You can also use white sage smoke to cleanse your personal aura and energy. This is especially helpful if you've visited a place with negative energy, recently experienced illness, injury, or upset, or you have visited a place that is haunted and are worried spirits might follow you home. Use white sage smoke any time you feel you need a boost or pick-me up of energy, or whenever you feel you may have negative energy attached to you that you'd like to release.

Sage with feather and shell

How to Use White Sage to Cleanse Personal Energy

  1. Light the sage bundle or loose white sage in a non-incendiary dish.
  2. Allow the flames to go out and the sage to smolder.
  3. Place the dish on the floor and sit on the floor next to the dish, making sure you have something underneath the smoldering sage to protect your flooring from the heat.
  4. Using your hands, scoop the smoke and pull it towards you, pulling it over your head and fanning it all along the front of your body and sides.
  5. Alternatively, stand with your arms away from your body in a T and allow someone else to fan or wave the smoke all over you, making sure to get your front, sides, and back.

Identifying White Sage

White sage (Salvia apiana) is not the same thing as common or culinary sage (Salvia officinalis) or other varieties of the plant such as clary sage (Salvia sclarea) or scarlet sage (commonly known as the plant salvia but officially named Salvia splendens). While all are members of the mint family, common sage is used for cooking while white sage is predominately used either in rituals and ceremonies or medicinally. Native Americans frequently burned white sage leaves in rituals such as purification ceremonies, but they also used the leaves, seeds, and roots of white sage as food and medicine. There are several types of white sage. All work well for every application.

Loose White Sage

These are dried, full sage leaves. They have a distinct, silver-green color and a pungent odor. You can burn these by placing them in an abalone shell or non-incendiary dish and lighting them. Allow them to smolder and use the smoke for cleansing.

White Sage Smudge Bundle

These are stems and leaves of dried sage that are tied together into a cylindrical bundle. They often include other herbs such as cedar, lavender, or sweetgrass. To use these, light the loose end of the bundle and allow it to flame for a minute. Blow out the flames and allow it to smolder. Wave it around to disperse the smoke, holding a dish underneath to catch any ashes or sparks.

Loose Leaf Incense

This almost looks like tea; it's small bits of sage leaves, often combined with other herbs such as lavender. You'll need to use a charcoal burner (a small charcoal disc you light and place on a non-incendiary plate, dish, or burner). Light the charcoal and allow it to get white-hot. Then, sprinkle the incense on the charcoal and allow it to smoke and smolder. This is best for applications where you don't need to move the sage around a space or object or hold it in your hand.

Sage Stick or Cone Incense

You will also find white sage stick or cone incense in which white sage has been ground and pressed with other ingredients into a stick or cone. Burn this as you would other incense in an incense burner. You can use this to fill a space with smoke, or you can carefully carry it with you and direct the smoke with a fan or feather or by waving it depending on the type of incense you're using.

After Burning White Sage

After you burn the white sage, you can either allow it to smolder and burn out naturally as it sits in a non-incendiary material (such as a dish or sand), or you can tamp a bundle out in sand or in a dish by grinding the smoldering end to extinguish it. Allow it to cool completely before disposing of it; it should sit for several hours so you know it is cool. Since sage ashes are organic, you can then dump them in the garden or yard thus returning them to the earth. Alternatively, wash them down the drain with some water.

Smoking sage

White Sage Smoke Is a Powerful Purifier

There are many uses for white sage. Primarily, burning it helps to cleanse "off" energy and create the space for new, more positive juju. It's a great go-to whenever anything feels not quite right. Whether you use it ritually and ceremonially or in the moments you feel you need a few extra positive vibes, it provides powerful cleansing and purification.

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White Sage Benefits + the Many Ways to Use It (With Steps)