There are two main methods of ingestion; smoking, or chewing the leaf.
Smoking: Smoking offers a safe introduction to the Salvia experience, at least in terms of duration. The effects come on quickly. The peak experience lasting 5-10 minutes, followed by another 10-15 minutes tail-off. My personal take is that the smoking experience is, if anything, too brief and does not allow enough time for orientating oneself once in the altered state of consciousness. Smoking also involves some paraphernalia, since the smoke burns very hot and a water pipe (a bong) is needed in order to cool it for reasonably comfortable inhalation. The pipe needs to have a fairly large bowl. One of the main benefits with smoking though is that it uses much less leaf than chewing. Leaf size can be quite variable but if you check out the picture^, which is of a medium size fresh leaf (about 15cm long), then smoking less than half of this (as dried leaf^ ) would be plenty. The smoking technique requires deep inhalations, not little puffs. It may take a little practice [...]
Chewing: Many people prefer chewing fresh leaf, even though it uses more plant material. Chewing offers a longer experience lasting about 40-50 minutes. The effect from smoking is perhaps stronger, but there is more time with chewing, and, again with practice and if you chew enough, the effects can be impressive. Referring to the leaf picture^ again, you need between 6 to 10 leaves of medium size. Almost, but not quite, as many as you can comfortably fit in your mouth. This is the bit that takes practice, they could hardly be described as sweet and delicious. Your first reflex might be to spit them right out. Having said that, chewing is not too difficult, it's just that most of us are not used to chewing loads of raw dark green leaf, and the chlorophyll taste takes some getting used to. There is no getting round it I am afraid, for it is primarily through the saliva that the active constituent, salvinorin, is absorbed. To get the most effect, you therefore need to chew and hold the leaf in your mouth for as long as possible. In fact, there is no real need to swallow, some people prefer to, out of a sense of neatness more that anything else, but if you have a bowl handy you can simply spit out the well chewed leaf. Apparently, absorption through the saliva works better if you clean your teeth and/or use a strong mouthwash prior to chewing. [...]
'The Crystal Highway'*: A variation on the smoking method is using salvinorin extracted from the plant. In it's purest form this results in salvinorin crystals. Different techniques can also produce, if not pure salvinorin, more concentrated preparations, with terms like 5x and 10x suggestive of relative strength. However, to make any of these for yourself you would need a working knowledge of the procedures involved, not to mention a chemistry set.
* The term 'Crystal Highway' comes from Dale's Pendell's book Pharmakopeia [...]>
Tincture: For a variation on 'oral' ingestion Salvia is available in the form of a tincture. This is an extract made from Salvia leaf. It's liquid, containing alcohol. It's basically a concentrated solution taken sublingually. A small amount is held in the mouth. - The salvinorin is absorbed in the same way as the quid method, but (obviously) without the necessity of chewing leaf [...]
Environment: Generally the best environment in which to take Salvia is in quiet, subdued surroundings with friends and/or where you feel safe and secure. You can take it on your own if you enjoy your own company and are not feeling insecure. In fact, it's not particularly about socializing or making new friends, unless of course you count the plant itself. To paraphrase Dale Pendell, consider salvia if you want to walk with an ally, and don't blame me if the green beings recruit you and you become a plant disguised with legs instead of a person.
Try to be clear from the influence of any other substances. I'm thinking particularly of the effect of alcohol, which could interfere, or marijuana. Some people say Salvia synergises well with marijuana, but I'd suggest you want to see Salvia clearly on its own, at least initially.
It's also advisable to have some prior knowledge of the expected effects (see separate section), not so as to prejudice your own judgment, but it is useful to be forewarned, particularly about the physiological effects.