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Sage vs. Palo Santo – Key Differences You Need to Know Before Using Each One

Sage vs. Palo Santo – Key Differences You Need to Know Before Using Each One

Sage and palo santo are both incredibly powerful ancient spiritual tools, that are becoming immensely popular today.

So, when it comes to deciding between using sage vs. palo santo, it’s important to understand the sacred history behind each tool, to better understand when to use which for spiritual cleansing and purification.

In this post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about the key differences between palo santo vs. sage, so you can be more mindful when using each one in smudging rituals and general energetic cleansing.

Table of Contents

What is Sage and Palo Santo used for?

palo santo vs sage

Sage has been used for centuries in Native American spiritual healing and purifying practices, and it also has a history of use in Greek, Roman, and Egyptian medicine.

Palo Santo has been used traditionally for thousands of years by indigenous healers and Shamans in South America, for spiritual purification and warding off evil spirits.

In many ways, both sage and palo santo are similar as they’re both burned to cleanse a space of negative energy.

The process of burning palo santo and sage sticks is called smudging, an ancient spiritual clearing practice, that uses smoke to disperse stagnant and negative energies, creating and encouraging a positive and calm space.

Although, both are ideally used for the same purpose, there are some key differences between sage vs. palo santo and how and when you should use them for smudging.

When to Burn Sage vs. Palo Santo

When to Burn Sage

When you compare burning palo santo vs. sage, sage leaves a stronger aroma when burned, as the dried leaves of the sage plant have an earthy, more herbaceous scent. The word sage comes from the Latin “salvia” which means “to heal.”

Sage is excellent to use for:

  • Clearing negative energy in a space
  • Dispelling heavy energies from situations such as arguments, toxic relationships, divorce
  • Dissipating stagnant energy and radiating positive vibes
  • Great for a complete refresh!

At times when a space is filled with really dense energies, such as with a lengthy divorce, bad relationships, horrible tenants, fights with partners or roommates, sage is your go-to smudging tool, to really drive out all of that unwanted heavy energy.

Since sage is more heavy-duty, as it cleanses the space it can also expel some of the positive energy or good spirits that you ideally want to keep. So, once you’re done burning sage you can invite back positive vibes with meditation, intentions and visualizations, positive music, crystal ceremonies, burning essential oils, reiki and more.

Also, you want to make sure the white sage you use is ethically sourced. At LotsofZen, all of our 100% pure white sage is grown in California, by small farmers, that adhere to sustainable practices.

When to Burn Palo Santo

Palo Santo, or “holy wood” in Spanish, comes from the Bursera Graveolens tree and has been revered in South America for centuries for its spiritual healing and uplifting qualities.

Palo Santo is excellent to use for:

  • Inviting positivity to a space
  • Promoting calm and relaxing vibes
  • Purifying a space with its gentle aroma

Palo Santo has a beautiful, sweet scent, and is great to burn while you meditate, to uplift your mood after a stressful day, or simply make your home smell fresh.

Our 100% real palo santo comes from trees that have finished their life cycle, not from wood cut on living trees, and is exclusively hand-picked.

So, how and when is it best to burn sage vs. palo santo?

Since sage removes negativity from a space, and palo santo brings in positivity it’s a good idea to burn them one after another.

When to burn palo santo vs. sage:

  • Smudge with sage first to clear out bad energy, then burn palo santo to bring back positivity and good vibes
  • Do NOT burn them both together, as it will only confuse the energy in the space — as in what is asked to leave, and what is invited in
  • It’s not advisable to burn sage every day, but it is definitely needed as a deep cleanse from time to time to completely refresh the energy in a space and reset it from scratch
  • On the other hand, Palo Santo is an excellent spiritual healing cleansing tool to use daily as its gentle energy does not overwhelm
  • Reach for sage to clear heavy energies, after a negative experience or situation

Smudging with sage repels “outside” negative energies and forces, helping to cleanse a space, whereas palo santo works more with “inside” forces helping to raise your vibration, so you feel lighter, happier, calmer and more at ease

  • Palo santo can help unlock creativity so it is great to burn before starting a project and for some fresh inspiration
  • If all you want to do is promote positive energy or purify the air, palo santo is the better choice as it has a fragrant, calming and restorative aroma which smells incredible – excellent for meditation!
  • It’s important to be mindful of your intentions when using any of the two, as that plays a major role in manifesting what you want to achieve
  • Sage is easier to keep lit, so it works very well for clearing large spaces. Palo santo does not burn as long, so if you’re working with a large space, you may need to re-light it a few times.

How to Burn Palo Santo vs. Sage

Now that you know the difference between smudging with sage vs palo santo, and when to burn which, let’s talk about how to burn palo santo vs. sage. As mentioned above:

Start with sage first, and end with palo santo

Before you begin:

  • Open at least 1-2 windows to release negativity from the space, otherwise energy will remain trapped inside
  • It’s also advisable to remove any pets from the space
  • Set your intention for each ceremony — for example, if you move into a new apartment, you'll want to remove any stagnant energy lingering in the space and reset it, and then invite positivity in the form of comfort, abundance and joy
  • Besides the actual smoke you can see and smell, the entire process is greatly intentional, so make sure to set a clear intention!

How to Burn Sage

  • Hold a sage stick, at a 45-degree angle towards the flame, over a fireproof dish
  • Light it using a match or a candle
  • Let it burn for 20-30 seconds and gently blow out the flame
  • Carry the stick to different areas in your space, waving it in corners, doorways etc.
  • Direct the smoke with your free hand or a feather, towards an open window
  • Make sure to keep your intention in mind throughout the entire smudging process
  • Once done, press the stick firmly in the fireproof dish and make sure it has completely stopped smoking before you leave it unattended

To learn more, read our detailed post on: 10 Amazing Benefits of Burning Sage and How to Use White Sage for Smudging

How to Burn Palo Santo

  • Hold a Palo Santo stick, at a 45-degree angle towards the flame, over a fireproof dish
  • Light it using a match or a candle
  • Let it burn for 30 seconds to a minute and blow out the flame
  • Carry the stick to different areas in your space, waving it in corners, doorways etc.
  • Make sure to keep your intention in mind throughout the entire smudging process
  • Once done, press the stick firmly in the fireproof dish and make sure it has completely stopped smoking before you leave it unattended

To learn more, read our detailed post on: How Often Should I Burn Palo Santo? Discover How to Burn Palo Santo the Right Way

Sage vs. Palo Santo vs. Incense

Since we’re on the topic, its a good idea to discuss how incense fits into the picture. Incense has become incredibly popular today, so how is it similar and different from burning sage vs palo santo?

Sage and palo santo are bundled dried leaves and wood, respectively, whereas incense is a blend of herbs and oils compressed in the shape of a stick or cone.

Not all incense is created equal – some are very high in chemicals and artificial fragrances which can do more harm than good. At Lots of Zen, our palo santo incense is made from fine palo santo wood shavings bound together with a chemical-free glue.

Sage and palo santo are spiritual healing tools traditionally used to cleanse out negative energy, whereas incense is typically use to alter mood, and is used in sacred ceremonies, meditation and as an air freshener.

Key Takeaways

  • Palo santo vs sage — two incredible spiritual healing tools that help cleanse our homes and our own energy
  • Sage has a much more powerful, deep aroma, whereas palo santo is more gentle, sweet and fragrant
  • Sage is excellent to use for moving heavy energy out, whereas palo santo gently invites positivity energy in
  • Whether using sage or palo santo, make sure to find respectable sources that are sustainably harvested to maintain the integrity of the plant and the sacred ceremony you are using it for

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