Product Review: Palo Santo
Palo Santo is a fragrant wood with many uses, from the spiritual to the practical, so how does it stack up?
The use of Palo Santo as incense goes back centuries. It is being used for everything from an accompaniment to ayahuasca rituals, to a household tool to keep mosquitoes away. Its captivating smell is highly valued to cleanse a space and open the connection to the self during meditation. Commonly, a stick of Palo Santo is set it on fire, consciously guided around the room, and then left it in a fire safe bowl to smoulder. So I got some Palo Santo sticks by Herbs of the Gods, and did just that.
The cut sticks of Palo Santo come in a sturdy paper bag, sealed with the products label. The bag itself is quite fragrant, foretelling of the strong smells to come. The bag contains 70-80g of roughly cut wood sticks, ready to be burnt. For me, this was 14 sticks.
Being a solid stick of wood, I assumed that Palo Santo would be much harder to light than conventional incense, but was surprised to find it lit very easily. Holding a lighter to the top of the wood for about 10 seconds caused the wood soon burst into flame. I then left it on fire for a further 30 seconds or so, before blowing the fire out and allowing it to smoulder. I began to see an oily sap start to bubble out of it. I can only presume that this sap is the culprit responsible for Palo Santo’s extremely fragrant smell.
And what a smell! Compared to more traditional incense, the aroma produced by Palo Santo has a much lighter feel. It mixes citrus and minty notes with the general spicy tones incense users will be familiar with, leaving it feeling a lot more refreshing than cloying. It is an aroma that quickly fills a room, and lingers well after the Palo Santo has been extinguished.
One thing I did find, is that if you plan to burn the whole stick in one go, you will likely have to keep coming back to relight it. Although the natural oils within the wood seem to make it quite flammable, it is not the same a stick of traditional incense, which burns up completely in one sitting. However, I did not find it to be particularly bothersome. In fact, it was somewhat beneficial; the wood produces enough aroma to last a decent amount of time, so for anyone wanting to meditate, do yoga, or just chill with a pleasant aroma, you will be pleased to find you have some left over to burn later.
So, according to traditional practices, Palo Santo is supposed to have both therapeutic and medicinal effects – purifying the being and enhancing healing. As I am not particularly ill, it is hard to comment on any aspect of healing, but I can say that I do feel a lot more mellow and balanced out. Whether this is because of the relaxing atmosphere it created, or because of its chemicals is difficult to tell. But if your aim is to chill – be it after a hard day or for meditative practice – it is going to help facilitate that. Although I did not test the Palo Santo oil, it is often used in aromatherapy for just this – helping set calming and relaxing scene where one can unwind and find equilibrium.
Also, just generally, the aroma of the incense was pleasant, and would be great for general fragrance around the house.
On the whole, I found using Palo Santo to be a very pleasurable experience. It produces a very refreshing aroma that offers more longevity than standard incense sticks. The aroma is also unique, offering incense lovers a new fragrance to enjoy. Its use is a little trickier than standard incense – that you can just light and forget about – but the extra trouble is worth it.
Written by: Josh
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