Freshen Your Air With Homemade Smudge Sticks

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How to Make a Smudge Stick

A Better Way to Freshen Your Air

Learn how to make a smudge stick and freshen the air in your home using the entire plant, not just one concentrated form of the plant, like essential oils!

We’re “putting up” quite a few things here at the farm right now, but a few of the winter stores I’m working on may surprise you. Yes, we have the traditional fruits and veggies going into the canner and freezer. Of course we have our fall medicinals being harvested and dried. We even have some dried flowers going into potpourri!

The very next thing I have to do is make some smudge sticks. So let’s learn how to make a smudge stick!

How to Make a Smudge Stick

The essential oil craze is in full tilt. Many of you are used to mixing a few scents together and placing them in the diffuser, but it isn’t really my thing. I like to go to the source. Rather than a concentrated form of just one part of the plant, I like to use whole plant products as much as possible. This idea extends to how I prefer to freshen and disinfect the air.

Smudge is the use of herbs by burning. It is tied strongly in many cultures to ceremony, but recent studies have supported that the practice is also important for its health benefits.

When you burn herbs, you need a good, heat-safe vessel. I use an abalone shell sent to me by a friend who lives in North Carolina, but you can buy an incense bowl in a variety of shapes and sizes at the store. The next thing you might want is a charcoal disc. Lighting one of these underneath your smudge stick allows it to burn longer without the need for you to constantly relight it.

I’m making my own smudge sticks with the kids. You’d be surprised how easy and fun it is to do.

DIY Smudge Sticks



  1. Gather a basketful of herbs and flowers from around your yard. These can be of varying lengths, but try to pick one or two herbs that have extra long stems.
  2. Group 3-4 long stems (at least a foot long) and begin to fold them end over end. Your folded bundle of herb should end up about 3-4 inches long. With each fold, arrange any flowers, short leaves, or stems of secondary herb varieties inside.
  3. Be aware that this bundle will shrink. Make sure it is fatter than you’d like it to be once dried.
  4. Holding the completed bundle firmly, wrap your embroidery floss or kitchen twine in a wide stripe. When you get to the end of the bundle, turn and cross the first stripes, making x’s back to where you began.
  5. Tighten the floss as far as you can and tie a knot at the end.
  6. Allow the bundle to dry on a drying rack.
  7. When your herbs are dry, you will need to cut off your original knot and carefully rewrap the smudge stick as your original tying job will be loose and useless.
  8. Store in a sealed plastic bag until ready to use.

To Use

Light a charcoal round and place it in your incense bowl.

Light the end of your smudge stick and allow it to burn well for a few seconds. Gently blow out the smudge so that it smokes.

Place the smudge stick onto the lit charcoal round and enjoy!

This week: How to Make a Smudge Stick. Next week: The Best Herbs for Making Smudge Sticks.

Stay tuned!


About Dawn Combs

Dawn is a wife, mother, farmer, author, ethnobotanist, professional speaker, and educator. She has over 20 years of ethnobotanical experience, is a certified herbalist, and has a B.A. in Botany and Humanities/Classics. Dawn is co-owner of Mockingbird Meadows Farm. Her books include Conceiving Healthy Babies and Heal Local.

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  1. Olivia Pelliccio says

    I can’t grow herbs, I kill everything (lol). Could you refer me to a company that sells herbs in a way I could make my own smudge sticks?

  2. MiTmite 9 says

    Since learning about the harmful particulate matter in wood smoke (American Lung Association has declared wood smoke a “super pollutant”), I refuse to burn my wood fireplace or any kind of smudge or incense in my home. I think breathing in ANY kind of smoke is harmful. There are so many pollutants in our air already, we don’t need to add to the bad air quality in our home, herbal or not.

  3. Sabreena says

    Using charcoal to keep your smudge stick lit is an extra step that is not necessary and can add pollution to your home. Simply blow gently on the smudge stick and it will stay lit for as long as you need it to. Works great for me.

  4. Cibele Salviatto says

    Do you have a video with these directions by any chance? Thank you! And thank you for the beautiful service you offer to us all.