How to Make Your Smudge Stick Burn

“Why won’t my smudge stick stay lit?” or “Why won’t my smudge stick burn?”
These are the questions from frustrated users that we repeatedly encounter in various forums discussing various smudging practices. 

You may be happy to know that there is a relatively simple solution to this challenge!

Once you’ve tried the suggestions below, you’ll experience an immediate improvement in how long your smudge stick stays lit and how long it burns for.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert at the ancient art of smudging, you may have experienced the frustration of lighting your preferred smudge stick, only to have it go out or stop burning a few seconds later.  Sometimes the smudge stick simply won’t light at all, or even after lighting it repeatedly, it will not stay lit. In other situations, you discover that after the first or second use of a smudge stick, it becomes difficult to light the black stub at the end. This has been a source of trouble for so many people because it keeps the focus on the smudge stick, which distracts from the ceremony, intention, cleansing, ritual, or spiritual exercise, that the smudge stick should be used for.  

It is also possible that you may have resorted to returning or discarding the current smudge stick and purchasing new smudge sticks each time you experience this trouble. We have seen people who have continuously purchased new smudge sticks because they think that the inability to stay lit is a sign that the smudge stick is worn down and has served its purpose. This is however not true and this article is here to provide helpful tips to ensure your smudge stick burns perfectly, stays lit, and can be used repeatedly in its entirety.

Why Won’t Your Smudge Stick Stay Lit?

 

Typically, when you first purchase your favorite smudge stick, it is neatly bound with cotton string into a perfect bundle. This is by far the most common way people use their smudge stick, by lighting one end of the bundle directly. This may work every now and then, however, over time, you will come to discover that this usage is not the proper way as it only causes the smudge stick to not to stay lit or at least stay lit with difficulty.

The main reason is this:  When you use the smudge stick in its original bound state, it does not allow for enough airflow between the tightly bound sticks and dried leaves.  This makes it impossible to stay lit.  Fire needs air.

Various Methods To Make Your Smudge Stick Burn Perfectly.

 

There are various options and methods to make use of that will ensure the perfect smudging session. Below we will detail the best methods, starting with the most traditional.  These include:

#1 The Traditional Smudging Method of Burning Loose Leaves in an Abalone Shell:

The most traditional smudging method does not involve burning the smudge stick at all.  Rather, the cotton string is loosened on one end of the smudge stick, and the leaves are carefully broken off into a fireproof container or ceramic bowl.  Most people enjoy using a beautiful Abalone Shell as the container because of its spiritual significance which is believed to amplify the power of the smudging intentions.

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Start off by loosening the cotton string of your smudge stick.
  2. Gently break off some of the leaves into an Abalone Shell or fireproof container.
  3. Light the leaves directly in the Abalone shell.
  4. You can now move through your home or space holding the Abalone shell and spread the smoke throughout your environment while stating your smudge intention or prayer.
  5. Be careful because the container or Abalone shell can get hot in your hand.
  6. Once your smudging session is complete, make sure that all the embers and leaves are fully extinguished.

#2 Using the Smudge Stick and Having it Burn Perfectly.

Most prefer to keep it simple and use the smudge stick directly in their smudging practice. This is certainly convenient and easy.

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Start off by loosening the cotton string of your smudge stick.
  2. Roll that end of the smudge stick between your index finger and thumb, using the rolling motion and a little pressure to open up the space between the leaves. This will help to create the much-needed airflow between the leaves that will facilitate the proper burning of the smudge stick.
  3. Make sure to not loosen the leaves too much as this will create large flames and too much burn.
  4. Light the smudge stick, then gently blow out the flame. This should result in a slow and steady burn of fragrant smoke for your practice.
  5. Walk through your home or space wafting the smoke throughout, while making use of an Abalone shell or fireproof container to catch any loose leaves or embers.
  6. Once you have stated your intentions and completed your smudging practice, make sure that your smudge stick is properly extinguished in sand in a fireproof container.

Tips: The airflow allows the smudge stick to light properly and helps it sustain the smoke for a longer period. The key is not to loosen up the stick and leaves so much that the leaves begin to fall off.  After a few times of trying this method, you should find just the right amount.  Practice makes perfect.

#3 Relighting a Previously Used Smudge Stick

 

You’ve used your favorite smudge stick a few times and it is now time to use it again, but it seems to have a black stub on the end which does not always light easily or seems to not stay lit.   No problem at all. Follow the simple steps below to revive your favorite stick and scent.

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. Firstly, use a long pointed stick (such as a knitting needle or wooden skewer) and push it into the black stub part of the smudge stick. This will create a few “tunnels” for air within the smudge stick.
  2. Continue by shaking any loose parts off the black stub at the end of your smudge stick, then loosen the string below it a little.
  3. Roll that end of the smudge stick between your index finger and thumb, using the rolling motion and a little pressure to open up the space between the leaves. This will help to create the much-needed airflow between the leaves that will facilitate the proper burning of the smudge stick.
  4. Make sure to not loosen the leaves too much as this will create large flames and too much burn.
  5. Light the smudge stick, then gently blow out the flame. This should result in a slow and steady burn of fragrant smoke for your practice.
  6. Walk through your home or space wafting the smoke throughout, while making use of an Abalone shell or fireproof container to catch any loose leaves or embers.

As you can see, your smudge stick does not have to be a cause of headaches. The solution is relatively simple. As mentioned above, open up the top of the stick, separate the leaves and allow a little air to flow through. This will ensure that each magical smudging session fills your space with uniquely fragrant smoke that cleanses away negativity and fills your space with peace, joy and positive energy.

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