If you have ever felt that your home gives you a bad mood or just affects your emotions in a negative way, then smudging may be the ideal way to remove this bad energy and start afresh.

In this article, I will go over everything you need to know in order to start carrying out this effective ritual in your own home, so let’s get started!

What is smudging? 

In modern new age and neopagan practices, smudging is a cleaning ritual using smoke from various herbs. The term ‘smudge’ derives from the Middle English word ‘smogen‘ which refers to using dense smoke to ward off insects. Its use in reference to indigenous rituals probably comes from the first interactions by Europeans with these groups.

Smudging, as we’ll refer to it, is a ritual traditionally done in many Indigenous cultures. It is the act of burning natural materials to cleanse the mind and space of negative thoughts or energy. While different indigenous peoples have different ceremonies regarding smudging, the general protocols remain similar. 

Four essential elements of smudging

In order to smudge properly in your home, you will need four elements to complete the ritual. The first is a container. The container is traditionally a shell to represent water, but another non-flammable receptacle such as a clay bowl can be used to hold the organic elements of the ritual. 

The next element, known as ‘the plant’,  is representative of mother earth. Popular plants used for smudging are cedar, sage, sweetgrass, and tobacco. Each plant will have different properties and uses for the smudge. For your first foray into this practice, you’ll find sage quite easy to source. 

The third element of a smudge is fire. Fire is needed to ignite the dried plants and help drive away negativity. During a smudge, the fire will preferably come from a wooden match, which is also symbolic of Mother Earth.

The last element is the smoke produced from burning your chosen plants. When smudging, the chosen plants are placed in the container and lit on fire.

The flames are then blown by another person, or wafted with a long bird’s feather. If a feather is not available, wafting with hands is also appropriate. The person will then breathe in the smoke gently to purify themselves. After the smudge is complete, the ashes are placed outside in soil, representing clear energy being returned to mother earth. 

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In order to obtain the materials needed for a smudge, Beginner smudging kits can be purchased online on Amazon or in your local New Age store.

What to do during your first smudging ritual

Smudging can be done by just about anyone, but it is important to be intentional with the ritual. Here is all you need to know for a successful first smudge. 

Getting your mindset right is very important for smudging to be effective, as is preparing the space. Before I smudge a room, I like to open the windows and turn off the smoke alarms briefly, especially if I’m smudging the entrance to my home. It may be an ancient practice, but we have to contend with modern technology too. Remember to switch alarms back on later!

Once you’ve prepared your space, start with the intention of clearing negative energy from your body, space, and mind. Once your intentions are clear in your head, you can light the plant you have selected for your smudge.

When lighting, it is important to hold the plant at a 45-degree angle with the tip pointed towards the flame. Let the plant burn for 30 seconds before you blow it out. Place the plant on a heat-proof surface. Traditionally an abalone shell is used to hold the burned plant. If you don’t have an abalone shell, you can also use tempered glass, stone, and metal such as cast iron. 

Leave the plant to release smoke for about 5 minutes. While it is burning, walk around the room while fanning the smoke towards yourself or throughout the room. When fanning, be sure to continue thinking of clearing the negative energy from your space. 

When the five minutes is up and the negative energy is gone, you must replace it with positive energy. Place the ashes from the smudging outside in the dirt, and hold your intention firmly in your mind or, if alone, you can say it out loud. 

How to get the best out of smudging

You can get the most out of smudging if you are completing the ritual at the proper time. Think of it as a top-up to a stress-free mindset and environment.

Choose your moment to smudge 

Smudging is most effective after certain situations have occurred and should be avoided at certain times too. Here are some situations in which you can and should smudge.

#1 –  Smudge after socializing

If you had a long day filled with social interaction and need to decompress, smudge before bed. I find that even if my day was fun and I didn’t have any bad experiences, I still have an agitated feeling by bedtime. Smudging helps alleviate that and I always get a good night’s sleep.

#2 –  Smudge when hosting

When hosting guests, you should try smudging before they arrive and after they leave. Unfortunately, people bring their negative energy wherever they go, even if your soiree was an enjoyable one. By cleansing your space before you have people over, it becomes a lovely neutral space to entertain in. Smudging again before bed means that none of their unwanted negativity remains in your home.

#3 –  Smudge before move-in day

If you have just moved into a new home, it is important to clear any potential negative energy that could have been left behind. A new home is a huge, and normally positive, step in anyone’s life. If you allow any negative energy to remain behind in your new home you could seriously jeopardize that.

#4 –  Smudge before new opportunities

When beginning a new job or starting a business smudging can help you start on the right foot. I personally see this as a chance to center yourself and focus your energies on your new task. I would recommend that the night before you start a new job, smudge the room where you keep your work clothes. If starting a new business, smudge the premises where you plan to conduct it.

#5 –  Smudge and meditate

Smudge before you meditate. It just works so well. Firstly, you are removing any trace of negative energy in your meditation space, and you are already tapping into the right mindset for meditation. I generally feel much better after a mediation that has been preceded by a smudging ritual than without one.

#6 –  Smudge after sickness

When you have been sick, smudge after you’ve recovered. Feeling under the weather brings a lot of negativity into our lives. As soon as you are over whatever ails you, you need to smudge to remove the last of that negative energy.

#7 –  Smudge after a fight

After disagreeing or fighting with loved ones or friends, smudging is a great way to return balance to your body. My advice is only to conduct the smudging ritual when you have resolved the fight. I find it much less effective to try and remove negativity from my own body when I’m still slowly smoldering with rage.

Don’t Smudge when you have experienced good fortune, as the ritual will do nothing to help or change your situation. Smudging is ideal for returning things to a neutral level of energy, so don’t waste your time doing it when things are clearly going well!

Prepare your smudging space 

Although choosing the right time to smudge is important, where you smudge is equally so.

To make the most out of your smudging, start with a clean house. Make sure there is no clutter in the room you are planning to smudge in. Open windows to give negative energy an exit and clean air an entrance to flow in.

Turn off your phone to remain in focus and make sure to continually repeat your intentions in your mind. Being distracted and inconsistent while smudging makes it less and less effective.

What to say when smudging a house

While many Indigenous cultures vary on what to say during smudging, there are a couple of prayers that are standard. While reciting the prayer keep in mind what every word you are saying means.

Be intentional about how you say the words and feel their meanings wash over you.

The following is a common Native American Smudging Prayer: 

May your hands be cleansed, that they create beautiful things 

May your feet be cleansed, that they might take you where you most need to be. 

May your heart be cleansed, that you might hear its messages clearly. 

May your throat be cleansed, that you might speak rightly when words are needed. 

May your eyes be cleansed, that you might see the signs and wonders of the world. 

May this person and space be washed clean by the smoke of these fragrant plants. 

And may that same smoke carry our prayers, spiraling, to the heavens. 

There are specific prayers you can recite depending on what you would like to obtain from the ritual. While the prayer above is a good general prayer, another common prayer is one regarding love. If you wish to smudge in order to bring more love into your life, recite the following: 

Sacred plants, may you purify this space to cleanse away heavy energies that do not serve my highest good, creating space for love, peace, and light to flow in. 

Sacred plants, may you purify and open my heart so I can feel and deeply know that I am pure love. 

Sacred plants, may you connect me to the divine so I can begin to remember piece by piece who I truly am. 

Sacred plants I express my gratitude for the love, healing, and purification you provide. 

May your sacred smoke carry my prayers to the high heavens to be received and answered. 

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Types of herbs used for smudging

Different herbs have different benefits and uses in smudging. Check out the list below to help you choose which herb to use and when. 

Yerba Santa Smudge

Sometimes referred to as “Holy Weed”, this smudging plant is used for protection and boundaries. It is used to support love, growth, empowerment, and beauty. It releases the emotional pain held in your heart chakra. Use this smudge when you have doubts in your love life and wish to protect your heart. 

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Cedar smudge Stick 

Burning Cedar is known to cleanse and purify places, objects, and people It will cleanse any air that it comes in contact with and do away with negative auras. It is great at protecting people from unwanted external factors. Cedar will also provoke positive emotions and make you feel light and happy. 

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Sweetgrass smudge

Also known as the hair of Mother Earth, sweetgrass is believed to heighten kindness in one’s heart. Because grass will bend but not break, it is representative of kindness in ourselves and others. If you burn sweetgrass, you will have more patience and react to adversity with kindness. 

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Blue sage smudge 

Blue sage is also known as Grandmother Sage. It is known to provide strength to those who burn it and will remove any bad spirits while attracting spiritual strength. It will also attract success to the user, allowing pathways for abundance and wealth to appear. 

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Lavender smudge stick 

Lavender is well known as a protection plant. Burning it will safeguard the user against any malintent or maleficent spirits. It will wash the air of impurities and only leave kindness in the user’s heart and space. 

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Rosemary smudge Stick 

Rosemary has healing properties that will help you stay healthy. It will cure you of any physical illnesses. Rosemary will also provide you with mental health and clarity. It is said that rosemary will enhance your memory and open your heart to new possibilities. 

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Juniper smudge 

Juniper will not only clear negative energy but draw positive energy in as well. It will attract energetic spirits while detoxifying the environment. It will clear your head and heart of any ailments. 

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Black sage smudge 

This smudge is great for those seeking creativity. Black safe will encourage dreams, visions, and introspection in the user. Expect to go through inner healing and restful sleep if burned before bedtime. 

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Eucalyptus smudge stick 

Eucalyptus will boost the energy of the user and align your Chakras. It is great for reducing stress and anxiety while getting rid of negative energy in your mind and space. As one of the Earth’s first herbal healers, Eucalyptus will give the user emotional balance.

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Mugwort smudge stick 

Mugwort is for dreamers. If done before bed, it will aid the user in lucid dreaming, futuristic visions, and protection. It is also used for healing physical ailments and finding mental peace. 

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Pine smudge stick 

Pine is used to keep sickness at bay and attract wealth to the user. It is burned to promote inner and outer peace while drawing out pain and rejection. 

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Crystals used in a smudge stick

Crystals can be used alongside plants to cleanse the space around you. In order to optimize your cleansing ritual, it is important to understand the benefits of different crystals. The most common crystals to pair with your smudge are as follows: 


Amethyst will rid you of negative energy and bad habits. It gives the user optimistic thoughts and heightens spiritual awareness 

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Himalayan Pink Salt 

This salt has positive ions that will neutralize negative ions in the air. 

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Selenite will promote peace, harmony, and internal balance. 

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This crystal gives the user good luck, wealth, and abundance. 

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Clear Quartz 

Clear quartz will promote mental clarity as well as physical and mental well-being 

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Obsidian is great to clear blocks in your Chakras while preventing negative energy from entering your body.

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Do I need to use a feather to smudge?

When smudging, it is important to waft the smoke around the room, object, or person in need of purification. Traditionally, a smudge fan is used. These are fans made of feathers that are used to spread the aromatic smoke around the room. The smoke must be spread properly for the ritual to be effective. 

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Birds feathers are most commonly used to bless the person or object. When using a feather, make sure to use the underside of the feather to waft the smoke. Traditionally, the bottom of the bird’s wings face the Earth as it flies, and this is why the underside of the feather will provide more blessings than the top. 

What is the shell used for in smudging? 

Abalone shells are most commonly used in smudging rituals. They are the perfect size and shape for catching ashes that fall from the smudging stick. Beyond their convenience, the shells are seen as a gift from Mother Earth. 

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The shells are thick and shimmery with pearly colors. They are said to, by indigenous people, to hold the energy of the ocean inside of them. The ocean brings a calming and healing energy, allowing the user to be connected to the energy of the ocean even on land. 

Using the abalone shell in your smudging ritual is important because it incorporates the water element. All four of the earth’s elements must be used in ritual in order for your smudging to be as effective as possible. 

Is Smudging cultural appropriation from indigenous peoples?

Although modern smudging rituals may be based on Native American practices, they are not strictly the same. True tribal rituals are a jealously guarded custom and actually differ from the New Age rituals in practice and purpose.

As the two are not one and the same, I personally don’t feel that I am disrespecting or appropriating the culture of first nation people. However, it is important to respect other aspects of their culture, such as not trying to buy religious ingredients from them.

This is why I don’t suggest you try and source your smudging materials from local indigenous people. They would find THAT particularly sacrilegious.

Alternatives to smudging your home

If you would like to cleanse your house but don’t want to smudge, there are a couple of smoke-free options you can utilize to achieve a similar effect. It is possible to cleanse your house using different mists. Palo santo mist can be used in a diffuser to invite positive energy into your home. Similarly, white sage mist will clarify your space and leave you feeling light and motivated. 

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Oranges are also commonly used to uplift the energy of a home. They are easily accessible for anyone. Make sure to buy high-quality and organic oranges to optimize your space clearing. You can take the peel off of your oranges so the smell permeates the air. You can also make your own orange mist by combining orange essential oil and water in a spray bottle. 

Sound vibrations can also be used for cleansing. Every sound vibration can radiate through spaces, people and objects. When the proper sounds mix in the air, it will send away negative energy. Common instruments used include gongs, cymbals, and bells. Metal instruments are known to cut through negative energy, while crystals and class will clarify the air. 


Charlie Hawes
Charlie Hawes

Charlie Hawes has developed a fascination for the spiritual and metaphysical world around us. He enjoys researching and sharing ideas about how to better understand ourselves and the worlds we live in. Read more