Palo Santo (meaning Holy Wood) is a sacred wood that comes from South African Palo Santo trees (Bursera Graveolens). It is used in ritual to invite positive energy in and draw negative energy out. It is a common and natural tool for energy work and can serve many purposes, namely energy cleansing. When burned it has a uniquely sweet and earthy scent that is beautifully uplifting and pleasant.
Palo Santo may be less familiar than the usual incense sticks, incense cones, herbal bundles, etc. Although it may be less familiar to you, it's easy to use! There are a couple of different ways to burn Palo Santo wood sticks so choose your favorite and you may even come up with your own unique way of using it.
1. Light one end
Using a lighter, match, or candle, light one end of the Palo Santo stick while holding the other end. This wood is rather dense so it won't burst into flames or even stay lit for very long. Keep the flame to the wood until the wood lights on the end similar to how you would light an incense stick. Once lit, blow out the flame.
2. Let it burn a bit
Because the Palo Santo wood is dense, you'll want to let the wood burn with a flame for about 3-10 seconds so the wood can begin smoldering. The smoldering is what helps release the scent and cleansing energy.
3. Let it smolder and smoke
Once the wood is smoldering, it will release the smoke. It's a beautifully light, sweet, and earthy scent that tends to warm the soul of almost anyone. The smoke is not strong or heavy so you won't need to worry about it billowing or smothering your space.
5. Extinguish naturally or snuff it out
After smoldering for anywhere from 2 minutes to 20 minutes, the Palo Santo wood will extinguish naturally. The entire stick will not burn all in one sitting. To allow it to extinguish naturally without holding it the whole time you may set it on a heat-safe dish. The smoke will end by itself. Be sure not to leave it unattended as it is still hot and potentially burning still. Safety first!
If you need to end the smoke before it's naturally done, you may snuff it out by putting the burning end into a dish of sand or ashes. You may also grind it into a heat-safe dish with the motion kind of like you're painting – using pressure to tap and grind the lit embers out. This will extinguish the burning but be sure to check that it's no longer lit before leaving it unattended.
5. Repeat (as needed)
As mentioned above, the Palo Santo stick won't be burned all the way in just one use so you're able to use it over and over again as needed for as long as the stick lasts. We can usually get about 20 burn sessions out of our Palo Santo wood sticks depending on the length and thickness of it.
ALTERNATIVE USE (Our Favorite Method)
If you're like us, you're obsessed with the scent and energy of Palo Santo. We like to keep it burning for as long as possible so we use the following "extended burn" method.
1. Light a coal disk in a heat-safe dish
Incense coal disks are really great to use for Palo Santo. They're small, charcoal disks that are used for a variety of ritual smoking including but not limited to loose incense, resin, and herbs. You can get a roll of these coal disks (or tablets) online for just a few bucks. Be sure to check out our loose incense and charcoal kits here if you need supplies.
Light the charcoal disk and set it in a heat-safe dish.
2. Set one end of the stick on the coal
Set one end of the Palo Santo wood stick onto the coal disk such that the wood will consistently be lit from the heat of the charcoal. This will cause the wood to stay smoldering for as long as the coal disk lasts which can be around 20 to 45 minutes! That's why we love this method. The smoke, aroma, and energy of the Palo Santo will be continuous and you won't have to worry about lighting it and keeping it lit.
Don't leave this unattended as there is a VERY hot coal and smoldering wood that could be dangerous.
3. Allow to extinguish naturally when coal burns out or snuff
You can leave it on the coal and let both the coal and Palo Santo wood stick extinguish on its own. This will happen after about 20 to 45 minutes as the coal burns out. Be sure not to leave it unattended as it is still hot and potentially burning still. Safety first!
If you need to end the smoke before the coal disk is burnt out, you may snuff out the Palo Santo stick by putting the burning end into a dish of sand or ashes. You may also grind it into a heat-safe dish with the motion kind of like you're painting – using pressure to tap and grind the lit embers out. This will extinguish the burning but be sure to check that it's no longer lit before leaving it unattended. As for the burning coal, pour some sand on it, let it burn out, or (worst case) pour water on it. We don't recommend the water as it's a bit aggressive. It's like washing a hot pan RIGHT after cooking – the sizzle and steam are a bit jarring so be careful.
HAPPY PALO SANTO-ING!