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A quick guide to palo santo

Palo Santo At Surrender To Happiness

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If you have yet to experience palo santo, you’re missing out. You’re probably thinking to yourself, why am I? What is so special about palo santo?

Palo santo means ‘holy wood’ and belongs to the same family as frankincense and myrrh. Surrender to happiness only uses palo santo harvested from bursera groveolens trees that have fallen naturally. Found in South America, this sacred tree is now protected in many countries. The Incas originally used it for cleansing and spiritual purification since its smoke is believed to remove evil spirits and misfortune.

Slowly regaining popularity in today’s society, more people are using it as a natural medicine to purify themselves and their surroundings. You can find it in many different forms, from palo santo sticks to bars of soap or flavoured tea.

What does palo santo smell like?

It gives off a magical, natural scent, similar to a mixture of citrus and pine. The mesmerizing smoke can benefit your mind, body, and soul in many ways. Once you have smelled its natural perfume, you will recognize it anywhere.

Here are just a few benefits of palo santo:

Smoke cleansing with palo santo

The smoke creates a calm and tranquil space and is known to remove negative energy. Plus, at the same time, it brings creativity and good fortune to the area. You can clear any space by setting an intention and smoke cleansing the area with a wood stick. Start at the door and work your way around the room. The smoke must reach all corners of the space you are clearing for optimal results. For more detailed information on smoke cleansing, go to our blog, ‘a beginners guide to smoke cleansing your space.’

Natural insect repellent

Used regularly in Peru and Ecuador to ward off insects, the sweet scent of a burning stick or cone will help keep away mosquitoes that are out to bite. Therefore, it has become our favourite when we are in the garden. It also has the added benefit of not emitting nasty toxins into the environment. So put away the chemical insect repellant and treat yourself and the earth more carefully.

Health benefits

Allergies, headaches, colds, and flu symptoms can be relieved with palo santo, as well as anxiety, stress, and depression. Found as soap, wood chips and pieces, incense sticks, incense cones, and essential oil. Each one of these has a specific health use and benefit. You can also brew tea from this magical wood to support and boost the immune system (we recommend researching this thoroughly before trying it at home). So depending on your symptoms, look at what form will work best for you.

How to light and use palo santo sticks or cones

As mentioned regularly in this article, burning sticks or cones create palo santo smoke. Below are some tips for doing this:

  • Once you have lit your palo santo, allow the flame to burn for roughly 30 seconds before blowing out the flame and allowing the scented smoke to fill your space.
  • It is the hot embers that produce the smoke. Not the flame.
  • Always ensure cones are placed on a fireproof surface. And once you have finished with a stick, please put it in a fireproof container until the embers burn out. Never leave a burning stick or cone unattended.

We use palo santo to clear our homes, work areas, and crystals. As mentioned earlier, we use cones to deter insects when sitting outdoors and as incense inside our home. The scent brings a feeling of relaxation and calm. If you have never tried working with palo santo before, we recommend it. After all, it’s not called ‘holy wood’ for nothing!

Try using it for cleansing your crystal collection or living space. It also works well with sage smoke cleansing sticks and dahlia smoke cleansing sticks. Customers can buy incense cones and sticks in our shop, so please feel free to browse at your leisure. Please remember to share photos with us on Instagram @surrender_to_happiness; we love seeing our visitors enjoying life.

Please ensure that any palo santo wood you purchase is sustainably sourced. It is also essential to learn about the cultural history of palo santo to avoid exploitation and cultural appropriation of Native American and Indigenous Nations.

For more spiritual and wellness tips, check out other sections of our blog. Finally, palo santo can be used for grounding. For more information, click here


Smoke cleansing is closely tied to the spiritual practice of smudging by Native American / Indigenous Nations. White sage, palo santo, sweetgrass, and many other plants used for burning are considered sacred medicine by the Native American / Indigenous Nations. It is, therefore, essential that to avoid cultural appropriation and exploitation you understand the cultural history of these items. As well as the history of suppression forced upon these native populations, where they were forbidden to practice their culture, language, and traditions, including smudging, until 1978 and the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Even with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, Native American / Indigenous Nations still find themselves continually persecuted for various reasons. When purchasing sage and other plants used for burning, it is essential to ensure that they are ethically sourced and that there is no over-harvesting of these sacred medicines. And where possible, always support the Native American and Indigenous Nations.

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