Performing a Cleansing Burn With Feng Shui

Updated November 1, 2018
woman with ritual incense

Combine feng shui and a cleansing burn to rid a space of negative energy. You can use incense for cleansing or try burning another substance to clear negative chi.

Burn Cleansing Incense

Using incense for cleansing is an efficient way to renew and refresh chi energy in the spaces where you live, work, and play. Incense is easy to find, and there are a variety of scents you can use to cleanse your spaces.

What You'll Need

You'll need the following:

  • One incense stick for each room you wish to cleanse
  • A match or lighter
  • Incense holder

Incense Varieties

Burning Incense Stick

There are a number of scents that are excellent for cleansing negative chi. Try any of these aromas for cleansing:

  • Sandalwood clears negative energy and refocuses spiritual energy.
  • Rosemary creates new beginnings and flushes away stagnant energy.
  • Nag champa, which is a combination of plumeria and sandalwood, is a sacred blend that purifies and sanctifies spaces.
  • Sage clears away all energy, both negative and positive, leaving a space to bring in new energy.
  • Lavender is an excellent incense fragrance to burn after illness because it supports healing energy.
  • Cedar is protective against negative energy.

How to Use Incense Sticks for Cleansing

To use the incense sticks, do the following.

  1. First, thoroughly clean and declutter the space. Get rid of all clutter then sweep, dust, and mop the areas in which you want to do a cleansing burn. If the weather is permitting, open the windows to allow fresh air to flow into the room.
  2. Light the incense until it smolders.
  3. Put your burning incense in an incense holder in the middle of each floor or room of your house if you want to cleanse the entire home. If you just want to do one room, place it in the middle of that room. Allow it to burn out completely.

Tips for Using Incense to Cleanse

Consider the following tips:

  • Choose an incense with natural ingredients (as opposed to synthetic perfumes).
  • Consider which type of energy you need most in your cleansing and select the appropriate fragrance. You can use more than one if you feel you need more than one type of energy.
  • Make sure you ventilate well.
  • Choose a holder that will catch the ashes and keep the burning incense away from any flammable materials.
  • Burn out of reach of children and pets.
  • Don't leave burning items unattended.

Use Smudge Sticks and Burning Herbs

Many practitioners rely on burning herbs, woods, or resins to perform an active cleansing of spaces or of their auric fields.

Varieties of Burning Herbs and Resins

There are many burning resins, herbs, and woods you can use for cleansing, and they come in multiple forms.

  • Palo santo is a fragrant wood that cleanses and invites Divine energy into a space. It usually comes as a stick or chips.
  • Sage purifies and clears away all energy, leaving space for new energy. Sage may come as loose leaves, or it may be bundled alone or with other herbs in a smudge bundle.
  • Sweetgrass comes in braids, smudge bundles, or as loose herbs. It invites in positive energy. It's excellent to burn along with or right after burning sage.
  • White copal is a tree resin. It purifies the energy of spaces.
  • Frankincense is a resin that clears negative spiritual energy.
  • You can also burn sandalwood sticks or chips, rosemary herbs, lavender petals, or cedar chips or sticks, and they will have the same properties as noted for the incense fragrances.

What You'll Need to Burn Herbs, Resins, and Wood

Herbs, Resins, and Wood

What you'll need depends on what you are burning.

  • To burn a smudge bundle, you'll need the bundle, a lighter or match, and something non-flammable such as a dish or an abalone shell to capture ashes.
  • To burn loose herbs, you'll need the herbs, an abalone shell or non-flammable dish, matches or a lighter, and a large feather or fan.
  • To burn resins, you'll need a nonflammable holder filled with a non-incendiary material (such as sea salt or sand), a charcoal disc, matches or a lighter, and a large feather or a fan.
  • To burn wood sticks, you'll need the stick and matches or a lighter.
  • To burn wood chips, you'll need the chicks, an abalone shell or non-flammable dish, matches or a lighter, and a feather or fan.

Instructions for Lighting Loose Herbs or Wood Chips

If you are working with loose herbs, do the following:

  1. Place about a tablespoon of the loose herbs in the abalone shell or non-flammable dish in a small pile.
  2. Light with the matches or the lighter. Allow it to flame and burn down until it smolders and smokes.
  3. Relight as necessary throughout the cleansing.

Instructions for Lighting a Smudge Bundle

If you will be using the smudge bundle, light it as follows:

  1. Light the wide end of the bundle with the match or lighter.
  2. Allow it to flame until the flames taper to a smolder with lots of smoke. You may want to hold it over a dish as you do so to catch any ashes that fall.
  3. Relight as necessary during the cleansing.

Instructions for Lighting a Resin

If you are working with a resin, such as white copal or amber, do the following:

  1. Fill a non-flammable dish (such as a glass dish) with a non-incendiary material such as sand.
  2. Place a charcoal disc in the sand, making sure it doesn't touch the sides or bottom of the dish so the dish doesn't get hot.
  3. Use the matches or lighter to light the corner of the charcoal disc. Allow it to burn until it turns white.
  4. Place pieces of the resin on the disc. They will begin to smolder.

Instructions for Lighting a Wood Stick

If you are using a wood stick, such as cedar, palo santo, or sandalwood, do the following:

  1. Hold the stick in one hand at the end and light the other with a match or lighter.
  2. Allow it to flame until it begins to smolder and smoke.
  3. Relight as necessary.

Using the Smoking Material to Cleanse

Once the material is in the proper vessel and smoking, do the following:

  1. Hold the vessel (or for a smudge bundle or stick, hold the item itself) in one hand and the feather or fan in another. Bring your matches or lighter with you in a pocket in case your smoke stops. If you're using a smudge bundle or stick, you won't need the feather or fan; instead, you can easily waft the smoke by moving the stick or bundle where you want the smoke to go.
  2. Start at your front door. Stand facing the front door and move the burning herbs clockwise around the front door, using the feather or fan to fan the smoke as you do.
  3. Proceed in a clockwise direction around your home from the front door. Go into each room and closet, fanning smoke into every corner and always moving around the perimeter in a clockwise direction.
  4. When you come to an entrance into the building; in other words, a door, window, or drain (including sink, shower, and toilet drains), move the smoking item in a clockwise direction all around the entrance, fanning with a feather.
  5. If there are stairs in your home, go up or down them when you come to them and work the floor you come to in a clockwise direction until you return to the stairs and return to the floor where you started.
  6. Continue working clockwise until you have moved around your entire home or space and you return to the front door.
  7. Fan the smoke around the front door in a counterclockwise direction.
  8. You can either allow the herbs to continue to burn in a non-incendiary dish in the center of the room or extinguish them once you have completed the circuit of your space.

Cleansing Your Aura

You can also use any of the above herbs or incense to cleanse your aura. The key is to fan the smoke. Once your item is lit, blow it out. Then, take your feather or fan (or your hand) and waft the smoke toward your body, beginning with the top of your head and ending at your feet. Be sure to lift your feet so you cleanse the negative energy from the soles.

Release Negative Energy and Welcome Positive Energy

You can combine this with prayer or affirmation to invite even more positive energy. Try reciting prayers, affirmations, well wishes, and positive thoughts while performing your cleansing burn.

Why Perform a Cleansing Burn?


Spaces retain the energy of people and events, and a cleansing burn can help refresh and renew energy. Try performing a feng shui cleansing burn in any of the following situations:

  • After illness or injury
  • After arguments or negative energy
  • When you first move in
  • After you've had guests, visitors, or a party
  • Any time you're feeling stuck or stagnant
  • After any highly emotional event, such as the loss of a pet or loved one, a relationship break-up, etc.
  • After watching a scary movie or negative news
  • After negative or emotional world events

Consider performing a burn at least once a week as part of your spiritual hygiene, and more often as needed. If things in your personal life seem to be going all wrong, anything from your relationships to your finances, it may be the energy that surrounds you is negative or stagnant. If you're feeling tired, irritable, or just unwell all the time, this energy is definitely negative. In order to get that stagnant energy moving again and the negative energy away from you, perform feng shui and a cleansing burn.

Safety Note

Never leave a burning item alone in a room. Even an item that is only releasing smoke is hot enough to ignite a flammable substance or burn skin. Always use caution.

Performing a Cleansing Burn With Feng Shui