Palo Santo (Holy Stick) is a natural wood used for centuries by the Incas and the indigenous people of the Andes as a spiritually cleansing incense. It is also used in the Catholic churches in Ecuador, and it's sweet and spicy scent has gained admirers in many other countries. These sticks are from wood sustainably collected from deadfall of the native trees in Ecuador.
The scent of Palo Santo has sweet citrus-like overtones and a powerfully uplifting essence that will make you want to bathe in the smoke.
To use, light the end of a stick with a candle or match for 20 seconds and then blow out the flame, allowing the smoke to continue filling the space for a few minutes. Each stick can be used many times before it burns all the way through.
• Bundle of three palo santo sticks, each approx. 4'' long
I heave heard some concern about the sustainable collection of this wood. In fact, this tree lives about 60 years and the scent does not develop strongly in the wood until it has been dead for several years. My suppliers in Ecuador have explained to me that there is an abundance of naturally fallen deadwood that they collect and that there is not at this time a shortage for them. In addition, this company plants thousands of these trees every year to ensure that there will be a continuous supply in the future.
They have also explained that the biggest threat to the Bursera graveolens tree is the clearing of forested areas to use for cattle and agriculture, similar to the recent fires that destroyed much of the Amazon rainforest. In this case, collecting the deadfall wood gives the locals the incentive to keep the areas forested and to make a living selling this material instead of clearcutting or burning it all down. (This may not be the case with all suppliers and it is important to always know about how natural materials, especially woods, are harvested.) There is also a rumor that this tree is endangered and the truth is that it only grows in Ecuador and parts of Peru, so it never had a high population to begin with.
The stronger the wood is scented, the more likely it has been resting for a longer period of time. If you ever purchase Palo Santo that does not have that beautiful sweet resin developed inside it, you may have wood that has not aged long enough. This may indicate that it was taken from a live tree as well.