It might be a bit harsh to say to you that you’ve got to stop using your beloved tree. But at this moment the Palo Santo tree is endangered and we should take it slow on the usage of this amazing piece of wood.

There are only about 250 trees left and therefore it would be good to look at a couple of alternatives to make sure that we preserve this tree, which is sacred to some indigenous people.

Palo Santo Endangered

However there are many kinds of different varieties of Palo Santo trees, there are only two types that aren’t endangered.

This means of course that we have to be careful about what we buy. And at the same time make sure that we don’t overuse the other two as well. Because this will make those other two species endangered as well. 

Having a closer look at it, Palo Santo is translated into holy wood. And we have to honor that as well.

With the rising demand for pieces of this tree, it’s hard to keep up with it. The tree itself is sacred and can only be cut when it is dead. Which means it takes a long time before you can harvest some of its branches. 

Not only does this mean that it’s an endangered species. You are also contributing to the fact that some people, like the authentic shamans, will find it harder to get access to their part of the tree. Making some cultural rituals harder to perform.

As yogis, we are aware that we have to be careful and therefore there are a couple of alternatives that you can use when you do want to smudge yourself to clear your energy.

Alternatives for Palo Santo

White Sage

However that white sage is getting overcultivated, it’s not on the endangered list because it’s also easy to grow.

Therefore, if you’ve got some space at your home, put some sage at home and it will grow very rapidly and massively.

Every year I trimmed it down until there was almost nothing left and after a year everything grew back very easily. It’s a tough plant which can withstand a lot of conditions as well.

White Sage is a great alternative for when you are used to smudging yourself with Palo Santo. As I mentioned in my article about Highly Sensitive People, I use it all the time and I even like it better than Palo Santo. This is because White Sage releases more smoke and after smudging myself with it, I always feel more rinsed.

And another great thing about White Sage is like I mentioned before, it’s easy to grow yourself and it’s even easy to make yourself a smudge stick.

How To Make a Smudge Stick

First of all, you’ve got to start collecting some sage branches. Make sure that they are more or less the same length, that the leaves on them are nice and grey-green-ish.

If you want to make just one stick, you can go for about 7 branches. But you can also decide to trim down your whole bush and then you might have enough smudge sticks for the whole season.

When you gathered your sticks, you can already start by dividing them into piles of 7. Make sure that you’ve got a good bunch. At the end of the sticks, you can tie them together. Make sure it’s tight and firm so you won’t lose any branches in the process.

Now, wash them first to make sure that there are no bugs or other insects on the leaves anymore. Make sure you’re not to rough while washing them as there still have to be a couple of leaves left on the branch to make a stick out of them ;).

When you’ve tied them together, find a dry spot that doesn’t get direct sunlight. It’s alright to hang them in a light area, just make sure that they don’t catch the sun directly. If you do have a bit of humidity in the room, it might happen that the leaves of the sage will burn and then you can start all over again…

Leave them hanging there for a couple of weeks. You can see they are fully dried when you try to pick a leave from one of the branches. If they snap easily, it means they are ready.

When this is done, you can put them down again and get yourself ready to make your stick.

Dragon’s Blood

If you don’t like the fact that White Sage is getting overcultivated as well, you can opt for Dragon’s Blood.

Just the name itself makes you want to buy it!

This resin or extract is coming from some tropical trees, whose names are unpronounceable. As it is not specific to one type of plant or tree, it is easier to get and it’s not that high in popularity just yet.

Picture by Andy Dingley on

In this article I’m talking about smudging in particular, but I’d also really like to mention that there are other benefits.

Dragon’s blood has been used for ages already, from the Romans, to the Egyptians, the Indians and so on!

In the olden days, it was said that it could cure all ails! But now it is proven that it is primarily good for the digestion. There are some other benefits as well, but that might be for another article.

For smudging purposes, it is often used together with Sage to make sure that you get a strengthened effect.

It’s also possible to use it on its own though. It’s said that it will clean your space, but also heal and protect it. Just like it will do with you.

So, in a way this tree is even better than Sage or Palo Santo. Although, the latter is holier and it debatable which one is better.

Dragon’s Blood can be found in Smudge Stick form but also in Resin. You can therefore decide if you’d like the smoke or just the scent.

For this you’ll need a couple of things:

– String (one that burns easily, but not too fast)

 – Scissors

 – Plant Sheers

You’ve already tied the ends together, so your sticks should be already bundled. This makes it already a lot easier as you’ve just got to have a long string.

This is to tie up the whole bundle together. Make sure you have enough to go around the whole bundle with the string two times.

Three times would be better to make sure that your stick doesn’t loosen up when you are smudging. This will result in a lot of leaves falling on the ground.

When you have tied everything together, you can use the sheers to cut off the branches that you don’t need. This is more an esthetical thing. You can leave them on if you’d like, it just looks nicer when you cut them.

And that’s it! Now you can use your own, home-made smudge stick!

Smudging Without Smoke


If you can’t stand the smoke from either Palo Santo and White Sage, there is another way to cleanse yourself as well. And you can even combine it with actually washing. It is Salt!

For this, you just need some salt and a bath. Just make sure that you use a good type of salt. The best one to use is Himalayan Salt as that is still pure and doesn’t have a lot of clutter in it. North-sea salt is considered quite polluted as we dump a lot of our waste into the ocean.

How to cleanse yourself with salt? Well, that’s easy, fill up your bath, put some salt in it and when it’s dissolved go and lie in it! 

If you don’t have a bath, don’t worry about it, I also used salt in the shower once and it also had a very nice effect. For this method, you need to make sure that you’ve got a washcloth. Make sure it’s one where you can put your hand in as this will be the container for your salt. 

Put in some salt, make the cloth wet and start scrubbing yourself with the cloth. 

By using a washcloth, you make sure that the salt doesn’t directly get scrubbed onto your skin, which makes it a bit healthier. And if you’ve got open wounds it might sting even more when you are using salt directly on the skin. It’s harder this way, but it works as well!

Resin Incense

I’ve talked about this genius type of incense already in this article, and I’m going to repeat it here as well. If you are looking for a type of incense that isn’t too smokey than this one will do the trick for sure! It’s gaining a lot in popularity and there are many types of scents available already!

The great thing about resin incense is that it burns very subtle and much longer than your incense stick. And as it’s all-natural, which those sticks often aren’t, they’re also very safe to use. You’ve just got to have an oil burner and a candle. Oh yeah and some resin incense as well of course :).

Oil Diffuser

Another great way to smudge yourself without using Palo Santo or Sage is the use of an oil diffuser. You can also use an oil burner, so together with your resin incense, you can alternate them with just the use of one utensil. Which will save you money and you can have more options on what to burn.

Some great oils to cleanse your room of all negativity are the following:

  • Cypress
  • Myrrh
  • Juniper Berry
  • Virginian Cedarwood


That’s it for now on some alternatives for Palo Santo and why it’s best to slow down a bit. If you’ve got some other ideas as well that I can include in this article, let me know in the comment section down below. If you liked this article, you might also enjoy the article where I talk about the best alternative for incense sticks.

Nama-stay wonderful!

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Juan

    Thank you for the nice post, it is true, Palo Santo is a very important trees for our culture and life style, is sacred and over productions of products from it and exploitation of it, has put it in a very harsh spot, and mostly because people know very little about it, only some of the benefits, but they don’t know that there are alternatives and that because of the way it needs to be harvested, the trees need a proper time to recuperate a proper time to heal from over exploitation. Hopefully your post gets to more people, I’ll for sure share it in my social media.

    1. Virendra

      Thank you for your response Juan and for the share! I do hope this will have some effect in the future!

  2. Skuchmane

    you are the best. I recommend we all slow down the cutting of sao santo wood and switch like I learned Another great way to smudge yourself without using Palo Santo or Sage is the use of an oil diffuser. You can also use an oil burner, so together with your resin incense, you can alternate them with just the use of one utensil

    1. Virendra

      Yes you can Skuchmane! And you’ll be able to use more versatile products as well. There are so many oils and scents available that have their own healing properties!

  3. Jomata

    Thank You so much for this post, personally I have a special love for Palo Santos and I wouldn’t want it to go on extinction hence the reason I searched for an alternative and this post met me well, however white sage is another beautiful plant also and I also highly recommend it so together we can save Palo Santo.

    1. Virendra

      Yes we can Jomata! And especially when we are taking rituals from other people away. Some tribes use this wood for their ceremonies, and if it would extinct, they wouldn’t be available to practice their faith.

  4. Philebur

    Hello there thanks for this review. Wow I must say reading these facts about this tree is new to me. Never knew trees too can be sacred and can only be cultivated when dead. But then apart from the ritual aspect of not using this tree I think the use or cutting of trees should be limited for the purpose of preventing deforestation.

  5. edahnewton1

    Hey thanks for the article there. It is indeed an eye opener,  the supplements for Palo Santo should be adhere to because, some unscrupulous business men may intentionally or unintentionally sell Palo Santo that is dangerous to the health to some one that is not aware of the differences. To save your self from this drama is preferable you go for the alternative for which you will be rest assured that you are buying the right thing.

    1. Virendra

      Well, what you cultivate yourself, ergo white sage, you’ll always be sure that you have the real deal ;).

  6. wilson kume

    what an amazing review we have here,Why We Need to Stop Using Palo Santo, Palo Santo in Spanish is holy stick. The therapeutic benefits of Palo Santo are many, with it being highly medicinal and healing. The only way to get the full benefit of this tree is by letting it die naturally, and allowing it a four to ten year resting period on the forest floor.Inhaling Bursera graveloens smoke results in strong, psychoactive results. Palo Santo is also used as an analgesic, aphrodisiac, diuretic, expectorant and insecticide also has anti-inflammatory effects.thanks for sharing.

    1. Virendra

      Hi Wilson, thank you to elaborate a bit more on the effects of Palo Santo, I haven’t heard about these yet, so I’m going to do a bit of research and maybe I can include them into the article :).

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