What is Palo Santo, How to Use It, and How to Buy It Responsibly
What Is Palo Santo?
Palo Santo is known as ‘holy wood’ and these trees are found in the forests of Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
Palo Santo use as an incense originates from Indigenous peoples in Central and South America. Peruvians would harvest the fallen branches and twigs of the Bursera graveolens tree and burned pieces, much like incense, in order to spiritually purify energy. Shamans used Palo Santo to offer grounded and clearing energy. It is a non-endangered species in the Burseraceae family, a close relative of frankincense.
Palo Santo is often used to cleanse the energy of spaces, items, and people, as well as for its woodsy, fragrant aroma.
Is Palo Santo Sustainably Sourced?
All Bursera Palo Santo is sourced from the dry forests of northern Peru and Certified Sustainable by SERFOR (National Forest Service and Wildlife of Peru). The regional forest and wildlife authority only authorizes the use of dry and naturally fallen trees. This certification is critical to ensuring we protect the forests.
Why is that important?
In Northern Peru, where Bursera’s Palo Santo is harvested, there are strict government laws in place to protect the trees. These laws outline that living trees cannot be cut down, but rather twigs and branches that have naturally fallen are collected after sitting on the forest floor for a minimum of three years.
Not only is this practice sustainable and ensured the longevity of the tree, but also essential for the development of the fragrant Palo Santo oil and crystallization processes within the wood.
“Our ethical harvesting process ensures that no living trees are ever cut down, period.”
While these protection policies important to secure the longevity of these trees, it can be incredibly challenging to properly enforce them, which is why we take such care to build strong relationships with our suppliers.
Sustainability and the regeneration of our planet are at the core of Bursera’s beliefs and business practices. Our goal is to help people connect better with nature and traditional practices while ensuring that we operate in a way that allows us to support the replenishment of our planet’s resources.
Along with sustainable harvesting practices. For every purchase made, we plant a tree through Trees for the Future.
…..But Isn’t It Endangered?
Palo Santo (bursera graveolens) is not endangered. In 2019, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for the first time released a review of the Palo Santo (bursera graveolens) conservation status and declared it “of least concern.” They also express that more demand combined with responsible cultivation and harvesting could be good for the species and its habitat.
We believe in transparency so we recommend getting to know your source and if you’re unsure about something, ask.
How to Burn Palo Santo:
- Holding the stick at a downward angle, light the end until a flame is present which can take up to 45 seconds of holding a flame or a candle to it.
- Once lit, let burn for 10-20 seconds.
- Blow out the flame.
- Holding vertically, move the Palo Santo and cleansing smoke throughout the air.
- Extinguish the smoke by placing it in a Palo Santo holder or metal, glass, or ceramic vessel.
Yes, It Can Be Re-lit!
Each Palo Santo stick can be re-lit over and over, allowing you to enjoy the healing and cleansing benefits of this sacred wood for an extended period of time.
Key To Protecting The Longevity Of Palo Santo
Ensure that we use it in a way that respects its origins. In seeking a deeper understanding of its use, and intended purpose you are gaining a respectful understanding of its origin. An understanding we hope you will deepen into, take time to learn more about on your own, and that you will allow yourself to further root into the practice of learning, mindfulness, and coming back to yourself.