Smoke Cleansing Explained

Smoke Cleansing, Smudging, & Saining Explained

If you are a beginner witch or new to the pagan community, it’s crucial to dive into the realm of cleansing and protection. This is a fundamental aspect that you simply cannot overlook. When you embark on your spiritual journey, you’ll encounter a multitude of energies and practitioners along the way. However, not all of them will have your best interests at heart.

Luckily for you, you’ve stumbled upon one of the simplest and most accessible ways to incorporate a cleansing and protection ritual into your practice. Let’s begin.

Smoke Cleansing

What Is Smoke Cleansing?

Smoke cleansing is just as it sounds: using smoke or incense to clear out energetic impurities, banish negative entities, or even as a blessing. This easy ritual can be performed on yourself, someone else, your home, your altar, or new items you intend to use in your practice.

Using purifying herbs and botanicals, smoke cleansing is a simple practice used to cleanse a space or imbue it with specific properties.

Herb cleansing is an easy, inexpensive ritual that anyone can do. It’s a great starting point for beginner witches and a valuable tool that even the most advanced practitioners perform regularly to clear their homes of unwanted energy.

Smokeless Smudge Mist
Smokeless Smudge Mist


Perhaps the most commonly-referenced smoke cleansing practice, smudging is a tradition belonging to Native American cultures. Smudging is modernly associated with the First Nations People and is considered a closed practice.

It’s important to note that if you were not raised by or taught to perform these rites by tribe members, you should not stake a claim to this practice. If you wish to perform a smoke cleansing ritual, there are many other ways to do so without committing cultural appropriation.

As a widely-appropriated practice, this caused the white sage used by natives to become overfarmed and eventually endangered – an unfortunate consequence that cut off access to traditional practitioners’ use of this sacred native plant. When practicing a smoke cleansing ritual, be sure you are harvesting herbs responsibly and with consideration to those who have an inherent right to it.

White Sage Alternatives
White Sage Alternatives


Saining is a Celtic smoke cleansing practice that includes the burning of botanicals in an herb bundle. Saining herbs may include juniper, rosemary, lavender, or thyme.

This herb bundle is burned while dispersing water that is blessed or imbued with magical properties. This ritual can be performed while chanting an intention or petitioning a deity for protection or blessing upon yourself or your home. Perhaps practices like these are what inspired Catholic rituals like blessing holy water and the Holy Smoke rite practiced today.

Celtic Devotionals Prayers
Celtic Devotionals Prayers

What Is The Purpose of Smoke Cleansing?

While smoke cleansing is often used to clear out one’s home of stagnant or negative energy, this practice can be adapted for a variety of uses.

You can cleanse items for your altar or spiritual practice, as residual energies on these items may cloud your intent. Cleanse second-hand items before bringing them into your home, as these also carry energy from their previous owners.

Your smoke ritual, of course, doesn’t need to be performed specifically for cleansing. You can customize this ritual to match your intentions, using alternative botanicals to further enchant your home.

Smoke rituals can be traced back to many ancient cultures throughout the world, for both spiritual and health-related reasons. While herb cleansing is commonly used to purge unwanted energy from the home, this practice can be adapted for a wide variety of intentions.

Your intention can be as simple as lending a pleasant aroma to your space, connecting with your deities, or blessing the home with healing, wealth, happiness, or luck! Whatever you can dream, you can craft an herb bundle to bless yourself and utilize those properties. The power is in your hands. How will you choose to wield it?

Incense Smoke Divination
Incense Smoke Divination

How to Create an Herb Cleansing Bundle

You Will Need:

  • Dried herbs of your choice, such as lavender, rosemary, cedar, pine, or thyme.
  • Twine. (Infuse your herb bundle with color magick by securing it with colored twine.)
  • Selenite stick or another gemstone that matches your intent (optional)


  1. Gather your chosen herbs.
  2. Imbue your herbs with intention. This is as easy as telling your ingredients what purpose they serve regarding your intent. For most smoke rituals, cleansing and purifying is the main goal.
  3. Carefully bind your herbs and ingredients together and secure them with twine.
  4. You’re done – make sure you burn your herb bundle safely!

Herbs & Ingredients For Smoke Cleansing

When we think of smoke rituals, a very specific herb comes to mind. However, sage is not the only botanical that can be used for smoke cleansing. Here are a few other options to consider:

You can also include a stick of selenite in your bundle to amplify its cleansing properties. What other crystals might enhance your intentions?

Most popular crystals
Most Popular Crystals

How to Perform a Smoke Cleansing Ritual

You Will Need:

  • A bundle of herbs or stick of incense
  • Something to light it with
  • A fire-safe way to hold your herb bundle, such as an abalone shell or a small cauldron


  1. Make sure the space you are performing the ritual is properly ventilated by opening up a window or door.
  2. State your intent as you light your herb bundle.
  3. Allow the cleansing smoke to fill the room, moving your bundle clockwise to purify your space. Alternatively, you can rotate in a counter-clockwise motion if you intend to banish.
  4. Continue stating your intention as you make your way through the space.

Alternatively, you can perform this ritual on yourself, your altar, or other items you intend you use for your practice or bring into your space. Just pass the item through the incense or herb smoke or let it flow gently around you, stating your intention as you would otherwise.

This method can also be used for more than just traditional smoke cleansing. Use this practice to enchant your home with protective properties, calming vibes, or whatever your heart desires!

There are many different ways to perform a smoke cleanse, so do what works best for you. You don’t have to create a complicated ritual to incorporate this practice into your spiritual arsenal. Many witches choose to simply light a stick of incense and skip around the house until the smoke reaches all the crevices!

All practices are valid as long as you are being respectful to both closed practices and those around you. Always conduct thorough research before beginning a new spiritual practice.

Cleansing Purification Clean Spellwork
Cleansing – Weekly Witchy Challenge

More Tips For Smoke Cleansing

When smoke cleansing, make sure you open up a window or door, especially if you do so with the intent of cleansing or banishing. Otherwise, any entities you are condemning will have nowhere else to go! These energies may continue to reside in your home and affect you.

Always consider the safety of others in your residence, particularly any pets you may have. Burning herbs like lavender can be harmful to cats, so be sure to research any herbs you intend on using to see if they may pose risks to the pets in your home.

If you live in an apartment building or a place where others with breathing difficulties or allergies may reside, smoke cleansing may not be the best option. When in doubt, be considerate by checking with your neighbors before burning herbs in a shared space.

Make sure your room is well-ventilated, as excessive smoke can cause damage to your lungs and those around you. Keep animals and babies out of the room when smoke cleansing.

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