Palo santo (Bursera graveolens) is a new addition to our Fontana family of home-scenting options, but the aromatic wood has been valued for its therapeutic properties for centuries.
In fact, palo santo literally translates to “holy wood,” and South American shamans and healers have long utilized palo santo to remove negative energy and purify the air.
So, what is it really? And why are we at Fontana so excited to bring it to you? We break it down for you here!
What Is Palo Santo?
Native to South America, the palo santo tree belongs to the same family as myrrh and frankincense. When it burns, the aromatic wood emits a sweet, smoky scent with hints of lemon, mint, and pine that make it invigorating and therapeutic.
In order to reap the benefits of palo santo, however, one can’t simply cut down a palo santo tree. That’s not only not sustainable and bad for the environment, the healing properties of palo santo only develop when a palo santo tree is allowed to die naturally and decompose for several years. The palo santo essential oils used in our Fontana products are sustainably harvested from fallen trees in Peru, where only after at least three years on the forest floor are the oils in the palo santo wood mature enough to be processed into beneficial essential oils and sticks.
Once in stick form, the palo santo can be held at a 45-degree angle over an open flame until the wood catches fire. It can be burned for about a minute or until the flame goes out naturally, after which the palo santo should be placed into a small, fire-safe bowl – or you can continue to walk with the wood throughout your home or office – allowing the fragrant, cleansing smoke to linger in your space.
The palo santo essential oils can be diffused for aromatherapy or burned in our candles, and no matter which form of palo santo you choose to use, you can begin to reap the benefits.
What Are the Benefits?
It is believed that when palo santo wood is lit, it eliminates stagnant or negative energies and purifies the space, bringing uplifting positive energies. The soothing aroma of the smoke is often used to give your house a sweet-smelling aroma and feel, reminding us of a lighter version of our Peppermint candle, mixed with cedarwood.
That pleasing scent of palo santo has been found to trigger the brain’s relaxation response, reducing feelings of anxiety and calming the nervous system.
The act of lighting palo santo and allowing the smoke to linger can also create a grounding, cathartic ritual.
While clinical studies on the health benefits of palo santo are limited, it is thought to relieve congestion, throat pain, and inflammation. This is likely credit to the strong presence of both antioxidants and limonene in the wood, with limonene having been studied and shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
While this is hopefully not a daily concern in your home, palo santo has also been shown to be effective as a bug repellent. In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties, the limonene within the wood is thought to be an effective insecticide, warding off mosquitos, flies, ants, and other insects.
Whether in the form of sticks, essential oils, or within our candles, we hope you enjoy welcoming palo santo into your home and wellness ritual as much as we have!