How to Make Smudge Sticks ( with Photos )

Smudge sticks are bundles of dried herbs that have been bound together so that they will smolder slowly. Herbal stores and New Age shops have been increasingly carrying smudge sticks touting their air clearing abilities. The Native American tribes of the South and Southwest used smudge sticks of different kinds of sages in healing ceremonies, to banish sickness, and to banish spirits. New Agers believe that the smoke from smudge sticks clears out negativity and bad spirits. The science of smudge sticks proves that the smoke from white sage does actually kill airborne bacteria, so in a way the Native Americans and New Agers were right that the smoke does clear out sickness, just not ghosts.

The kind of smudge sticks I make happen to be with cedar sage leaves because a friend gifted me a cedar sage plant. I prefer the smell of white sage, but cedar sage still has the benefit of smoking bugs out of the garden. I hope to grow white sage next year.

How to Make Smudge Sticks

Step 1 - Gather Leaves
To make my smudge stick that's about 5" long I needed 45 leaves (not all shown). Cedar sage grows 2' - 3' high so I can pull 45 leaves off one plant without harming it. You will need leaves of various sizes. DO NOT ALLOW LEAVES TO DRY OUT. Use fresh picked leaves.

Step 2 - Layer Leaves
Choose a couple of large leaves and lay them in your palm. Choose progressively smaller leaves. You want the smallest leaves you have in the middle to create a tight bundle that will smolder longer. Continue to stack leaves adding progressively larger ones until you wrap the outside with a couple of more large leaves. This will hold all the smaller leaves inside.

Step 3 - Roll the Bundle
Gently roll the bundle up in your hand as tightly as you can.

Step 4 - Wrap Up the Bundle
Using white string, such as kite string, wind one end around several times. Now slowly proceed up your smudge stick keeping the string as evenly spaced as possible.

Step 5 - Wrap Down
Once you reach the top, slowly wind your way back down criss crossing as you go.

Step 6 - Tie Off
Using a needle - I used a plastic crochet sewing needle - pass the end of your string several times through the top. This will secure the end of your string so it won't lose any tension and come undone. Cut off your string.

Step 7 - Hang to Dry
Hang your smudge stick up to dry. This will take 1 - 2 weeks to dry all the way through. I hang mine off my fireplace mantle and sometimes up in doorways so they get good air circulation.

Please attribute all photos to me, Brittney Voelker.



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