Palo Santo products made in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador #AtoZChallenge
For centuries, Palo Santo has been used for it’s healing and cleansing properties. The tree grows in coastal areas of South America, is in the citrus family, and smells of pine, mint and lemon. It is a relative of Frankincense, Myrrh and Copal. Palo Santo translates to “Holy Wood” or “Sacred Wood” in English.
Dante Bolcato (top photo, lower left) makes products sold on his website, El Artesan, in Puerto Lopez. While walking along the malecon, you can find his store by following your nose – there is always Palo Santo wood smoking on the front sidewalk. In fact, in the evenings, you will smell Palo Santo smoking in many Puerto Lopez neighborhoods as families burn it to keep mosquitoes away.
You can take a tour of the manufacturing area, often a highlight for visitors. You witness the manual process that goes into making each product, like chopping pieces of wood, forming incense cones, and processing oil. The manufacturing plant is in the hills surrounding Puerto Lopez. Ask at the malecon store if you can schedule a tour through them. As of this writing, the tours are free but I recommend tipping your guide for their time and expertise.
Palo Santo Uses
- Smoke wood chunks to keep mosquitoes away from outdoor gatherings. (Light the wood, then let it smolder rather than burn with flames.)
- Apply topical oil to treat arthritis and joint pain.
- Burn incense cones in homes, restaurants and hotels to keep insects away from customers.
- Smudge homes and offices.
- Brew tea from the wood shavings for digestive aids, immune support and to reduce inflammation.
Harvesting Palo Santo
Palo Santo trees are protected. All wood is harvested from already dead trees and limbs in Machalilla National Park, which surrounds Puerto Lopez. Dante’s environmentally friendly family and company also plant new trees, helping to ensure a healthy future for these incredible trees.
A look back
Last year, I wrote Post-earthquake makeshift camps.
that is so interesting that they can use a tree for so many different purposes!! Have you ever tasted the tea?
I have – they do not sell a tea in bags, but I have used the wood shavings to make tea at home. I use Palo Santo shampoo, too, which is great! Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lisa!
Whenever I travel to a different country, I make sure to visit the local artisans. Most of them stay true to their traditions which is amazing to observe. Interesting note about the Palo Santo wood. It's amazing to note that nature which has made mosquitoes abundant in tropical areas also has the remedy right around the corner.
P is for Perfection
Great observation, Varad. It is amazing that a mosquito remedy is growing all around this area where mosquitoes live. You would love watching the artisans at work here. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Pine, mint and lemon–Palo Santo, I love you even before I've smelled you:)
I've just read a fragrant post by Deborah and now this…it's smelling roses on A to Z today.
Even the shopping list is being taken care of by your posts–all I gotta do is buy that ticket.
P is for Paradise in Plain Sight
The scent is amazing! I read Deborah's post last night and it seemed the perfect introduction to this post.
Before you arrive, your list should be all set, until you discover that I still have not told all there is to do and see here. 🙂
What a delight to have a peek into the production side of Palo Santo Emily. I burned a bit this morning, knowing from your hint yesterday that you'd be posting this. How lovely!
Because Palo Santo is one of the most important trees used in traditional ethno-botanical medicine of South America, and now it's gained such popularity elsewhere, there is serious concern about deforestation and over-harvesting. There is a current Palo Santo Project involving Parque Nacional Machalilla in Ecuador supporting the careful ecological harvesting of deadwood only. Only the branches and trunks that have fallen naturally are gathered; there is no cutting of any live trees. The harvesters are careful to not damage the areas surrounding the trees, and do not create any new footpaths or roads.
How wonderful that you burned some this morning knowing this was my topic for today!
Parque Nacional Machalilla is a huge park surrounding Puerto Lopez, including islands offshore. All Palo Santo harvested by Dante is done in the manner you describe. No live trees are ever cut. His team also plants new trees to replace those that have died naturally. If I remember correctly, it is not legal to cut live Palo Santo trees.
Excellent that you knew all about harvesting and how careful they are when doing so. Thank you so much for sharing, Deborah!
This made for such a fascinating read. I am imagining the smell of Palo Santo – Pine, mint and lemon mixed together would be heavenly!
It's wonderful that these products have so many uses and that they are giving a boost to the local economy and employment to so many people. Thanks for an informative post, Emily 🙂
I visit the manufacturing facility fairly regularly to say hi and purchase products. The aroma of the area never gets old. I was their neighbor for 2 1/2 years and our home always smelled incredible. A friend who has a much better nose than I says she can smell it throughout town.
Many of their employees have been with them for years. They treat them well. Thank you for stopping by and commenting, Shilpa!
I have never heard of this before. I have have really learned so much from your posts.
I had never heard of it until I visited Puerto Lopez the first time. Thank you so much for the kind words, Nancy! I really appreciate it since that is why I write about this area. For several years, I wished someone around here would blog. Last year, I finally had the epiphany that perhaps I should dust off my old blog and here we are. 🙂
We love Dante and his products…we stock up every time we visit Puerto Lopez…need some since our visit in July will be the first in 3 years!!!
He and his products are both wonderful! Yes, you are certainly due for more if you haven't been here in 3 years! Thank you, Werdna, for stopping by and commenting!
(Thank you also for the comment on Facebook. I recognized you here through that comment.)
A friend gave me a piece of palo santo to finely shave into hot water and drink like a tea, for my arthritis. It didn't help, but it did smell great. I bet it would make a wonderful incense.
Facing Cancer with Grace
That was very kind and well-meaning of your friend, Heather, but the tea, used once or twice, aids digestion. Long term, it is said to reduce inflammation. The oils, rubbed directly on the area, are supposed to help more with arthritis. Some of my friends use the oils for this purpose and say it helps their arthritis pain after a week or two of regular use. Another friend said it did not help her arthritis pain so perhaps it affects each person differently. Thanks for sharing your experience!
This was such an interesting post! Helping for digestion, arthritis, and keeps mosquitoes away? I need that in my life.
-Erika, Dorky Mom Doodles
Palo Santo is so useful in all of it's various forms. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Erika!
That sounds delightful – I'm going to have to keep an eye open for this!
It seems to be showing up in more and more places. Might be in a store near you, Jz! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Donna B. McNicol
They sold this on the streets in El Centro but we never knew much about it. Thanks!
Donna B. McNicol|Author and Traveler
A to Z Flash Fiction Stories | A to Z of Goldendoodles
And now you know the rest of the story… 🙂
Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Donna!
Hi Emily – this sounds just what I need … I'll check where the best place is to get some items … the mozzies are going to be a challenge here I can see! But I need some new shampoo – I'll give it a try … what an interesting range of ecological products to find out about – cheers Hilary
I hope you are able to find some. If not, you can always order from their website (link in the post). I stopped by their manufacturing area yesterday as I needed some shampoo. They had lots of boxes piled up ready to ship around the world. Thanks so much for your comments!
Ronel Janse van Vuuren
Sounds like a great way to keep mosquitoes away!
Ronel from Ronel the Mythmaker A-Z road-tripping with Everything Writerly: P is for Publishing
Excellent scent and no mosquitoes – it’s wonderful! Thanks for A-Z road-tripping, Ronel!