Learn more about Palo Santo wood including where it comes from and how to use it as incense and for smudging.
Palo Santo or Holy Wood is the name given to the wood of Bursera Graveolens, a wild tree native to Mexico and destinations in South America including Peru and even the Galapagos Islands.
The tree was given the name Palo Santo by Spanish Monks who discovered the wood and its abilities to cleanse and heal.
The tree belongs to the same family as frankincense and myrhh and has a unique concentration of essential oils that produce a lovely scent.
Palo Santo has been used for generations by shamans for folk medicine and for clearing bad energies and bringing good luck.
Interestingly, Palo Santo trees grow in 'harems' with one male and 8 females in one typical group. Female trees tend to live around 40 to 50 years whilst male trees can exist for over 200. The wood for each is slightly different with female trees being heavier, very dense and more yellow in colour whilst male trees are lighter and more hollow with a paler wood.
Today Palo Santo wood is often harvested to produce smudge sticks, incense and wooden chips, all of which can be burnt for the purpose of clearing energies around people, objects, rooms and even whole homes.
Due to both the demand and for respect of these sacred trees, strict measures are in place to try to ensure that this wood is sustainably harvested. It's not unusual for governing bodies to place restrictions on both upright and fallen trees to state the wood cannot be gathered until the tree has reached an age of maturity.
In many locations, a new sapling is planted for every tree that is harvested. Typically the best quality Palo Santo is from trees which have fallen and been left to rest for several years as these build the best concentration of aromatic oils.
However it's the branches of a fallen tree that haven't touched the ground which are the cream of the crop and which are often rarer to find and more costly to obtain. These branches will have spent years being washed by rainwater and dried by natural sunlight and it's thought that this ritual of nature makes the healing and energy clearing properties of the wood even stronger.
To use Palo Santo as incense or smudge, hold a stick slightly upside down and light a corner until you get a flame. Leave the flame burn for approx 1 minute before blowing out. Leave the stick in a fireproof bowl to catch any embers, blowing on it as needed to produce more smoke.
If you're interested in purchasing Palo Santo products wholesale, we stock a variety of sticks and chippings that can be used as incense or for smudging. We also stock Abalone Shells which have been traditionally used for burning the embers in.