How To Tell If Your Palo Santo Is Real

Smudging practices have been used for centuries for their cleansing properties to infuse spaces with positive energy. One of the preferred woods for smudging is Palo Santo, also well known as the “Holy Wood,” which has become a household name over the years.

The Palo Santo fragrance is unique and has been considered sacred since ancient times in Peru and Ecuador. This wood with a mystical scent has quietly woven its way into spiritual practices all over the world. Because of the current world market trend, the demand for authentic Palo Santo smudge sticks has increased exponentially. Unfortunately, the situation has simultaneously expanded the growth of inauthentic or unethically harvested Palo Santo.


So How Do You Know If Your Palo Santo Is Real?


The Scent of the Smoke is Unique


If you have ever experienced genuine and high-quality Palo Santo wood, I think you will agree that its musky, sweet smoke is simply like no other. Palo Santo has a distinct, almost sacred, aroma that other woods cannot replicate. After experiencing the scent of authentic Palo Santo, you have already set a standard for your next smudging experience!

What Color is the Wood


One of the main indicators of whether the Palo Santo wood is authentic, or not, is the color which immediately gives away the quality of the wood. Authentic Palo Santo has soft orange streaks layered along the amber-colored grain of the wood. But pay close attention as unscrupulous sellers often submerge regular wood in oils to replicate the color and scent of Palo Santo.

Unfortunately, this practice has become rampant due to Palo Santos rising popularity. The only way to avoid this is to be vigilant, try a sample, or ask to see certification of where the wood was harvested. Buying from reputable stores and sellers also lessens the chances of getting fake Palo Santo smudge sticks.

What color is the Palo Santo Smoke


Is the smoke black, white, or both? The smoke emitted from the wood also determines how authentic the stick is. Typically, Palo Santo produces black smoke when first lit and then turns into white smoke when the flame is blown off. This is not the case for the fake wood.
Black smoke is emitted from fake Palo Santo wood regardless of whether it’s just lit or blown off. This is due to the oils applied to the wood.

The Unforgettable Woodsy Sweet Fragnance


Palo Santo has several properties that create its unique, woodsy, and sweet fragrance. It is composed of a phytochemical called terpenes which can be extracted as an essential oil. It produces a distinct smell that opens our olfactory senses giving us therapeutic relief and a mind-soothing effect. Small traces of the oil appear on the surface of the wood once burned. Fake Palo Santo lacks this mystical scent and simply smells like burnt wood in a fireplace.

Is the Wood Hard or Soft


Unlike other wood, which can be difficult to cut using a knife, Palo Santo is softer than most woods. Also carving into the softwood already emanates its particular and unique scent.

How Long does the Palo Santo Cured for


Once you have established that the Palo Santo wood is authentic, it is also important to know how long the Palo Santo has been cured. Harvesting and curing times can greatly affect the quality of the wood.  Palo Santo that has been harvested too early, or allowed to cure for too long, is not ideal. Palo Santo which has been harvested naturally and allowed to dry and cure for 3-5 years is ideal, as this ensures that the natural oils are embedded in the wood and create the soft auburn streaks, deep amber colors, and that special scent that we have all come to love and appreciate!

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