White prairie sage (Artemisia ludoviciana) is both antimicrobial and antibacterial . White sage (Salvia apiana) is also antimicrobial. And both have been shown to repel insects. Beliefs that burning sage clears out spiritual impurities, pathogens, and even insects have been fundamental to the practice of smudging.
Know the history
“Burning sage is one of the oldest and purest methods of cleansing a person, group of people, or space and of getting rid of unwanted spirits. The practice dates back to prehistoric times and it’s been documented as having been used in every corner of the world by our ancestors.”
Learn the science behind the smoke
“Simply put, sage clears bacteria in the air. Sage smoke offers rapid delivery to the brain and efficient absorption to the body. Scientists have observed that sage can clear up to 94 percent of airborne bacteria in a space and disinfect the air. When sage is burned, it releases negative ions, which is linked to putting people into a positive mood. The Latin word for sage salvia stems form the word heal. Other qualities believed to be associated with sage when burned are giving wisdom, clarity, and increasing spiritual awareness.”
Light it up with care
“Once you’re ready to light your sage, grab the sage as far from the end you are burning as possible. Hold the sage at a 45-degree angle, light the sage, let it burn for about 20 seconds and then gently blow out the flame so that you see orange embers on one end. Then you can start the process of clearing your space. Clients sometimes complain that they can’t get their sage to stay lit. If the sage bundle was packed too tight when made, then the oxygen can’t get in properly and the sage won’t stay lit. Loosen the ribbon around the sage and take the tip you are lighting and smash it on to a surface to give it a little breathing room. This helps to keep your sage smoking. If you also start to see the glow of the embers fading you can gently blow on the end that is lit up and remember to do this gently, otherwise you can send sage ash flying onto your outfit or carpet.”