Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Smell It: This Is What Air Fresheners Should Smell Like

My New Years resolutions this year is to try new things.  While I hope to experience a couple of big, perhaps life changing, things I also want to try smaller things at home, with the kids, cleaning etc. 

So far this month I tried skiing (loved it), tubing (loved it), am trying to a new approach disciplining my 4 year old (not being as strict - both my son and I are happier and more relaxed), and we planted a (organic of course!)  garden at home (arugula, broccoli, strawberries and cilantro for now).  

I am also trying some green cleaning home-made recipes around the house and I must say : I AM LOVING IT.   Seriously, after trying these ‘recipes’ you might never go back to   buying cleaning supplies.... among my favorite and EASIEST ‘do-it-yourself-green-solution'?  Air fresheners! 

Ever since we moved into an old house back in September, I have noticed that when I get home the house always smells.... well old.  Living in California,  I have the windows opened most of the day BUT I do close them when I go out and that old musty smell always comes back when the house has been closed for a bit.  

Store bought air fresheners, like ‘plug ins’ are extremely toxic (and in my opinion smell way too strong) and are made of a toxic cocktail of endocrine disruptors, among other chemicals ( common endocrine disruptors include phthalates, BPA, Fire Retardants, Lead, Teflon, organophosphate.  To read more on  why they are bad please read our blog post  Phthalates ABC's) .  Basically these ‘fresheners’ pollute the air inside your house.  Most of these plug-ins actually state that they should be used only in well ventilated rooms.

Non-Toxic Alternative?  Cook up your own sweet smelling freshener.   This could not be easier   - in fact as I write I have rosemary, lemons and vanilla simmering in the stovetop.  All it takes is adding a couple of ingredients to a large boiling pot of water and letting it simmer away... the smell will subtly spread throughout your house without assaulting your sense of smell.  Once the water starts boiling, lower the heat and allow it to simmer.  Make sure to put an alarm to remind yourself too check up on the water level to avoid having it evaporate and causing a fire!  There are countless recipes you can play around with, here are a few of my favorite;

  • 4 fresh rosemary sprigs, tsp of vanilla extract and a sliced lemon
  •  sliced lemons
  • sliced oranges
  • 5 cinnamon sticks, 1 sliced orange  and 1 Tbsp of cloves
  • 1 slice orange and 1 Tbsp almond extract

I still have nightmares when I think back to a certain College roomate who sprayed Febreze EVERYWHERE.   Back then I didnt know how toxic these ‘air freshener’ sprays were, but the smell made me gag.   Today I know better and am not surprised to find that The Environmental Working Group has found over 87 chemicals in some Febreze products, getting Febreze listed on the EWG Database Cleaners Hall of Shame" list.

According to the Environmental Working Group, Sprays like Febreze and Lysol products contain quaternary ammonium compounds or ethanolamine, which are chemicals that can trigger asthma attacks and can cause new cases of the disease in people who are asthma-free.  They have found that if misused (by a child or pet, for example) they could cause serious harm: Glade air freshener sprays warn that “intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling the contents can be harmful or fatal.” 

Non-Toxic Alternative:
Make your own room spray. Blend ten drops of essential oil in seven tablespoons of water. Shake well before filling the sprayer.  Make sure you are purchasing pure essential oils (synthetic essential oils exist and are commonly found for a cheaper price.) and remember, while they might seem a bit expensive, a little goes a long way:  they are very potent. 

Another simple solution?  
Place a bowl of baking soda or vinegar in any room to absorb odors.

Who doesn't like receiving a pretty (sometimes quite expensive)  candle as a gift?  The flicker of a candle can be relaxing (or romantic!) and the smell, which even I can admit can smell amazing, can leave your house smelling fresh and rich.  Candles, however, can be pretty toxic too.   

PARAFFIN: Most candles contain paraffin which is a waste product from petroleum and which, when burned, releases carcinogenic chemicals. 
LEAD: many scented candles have lead in the wick, which when burned releases this very well known toxic chemical into your house ( lead in candles has been banned in the US, however they are can be found in candles made overseas )
OTHER: many scented candles have also been found to release carcinogens like benzene and obesity-promoting fragrance chemicals (pthlalates)

Non-Toxic Alternative?
You do not have to ban candles from your home! Choose 100 percent beeswax candles with cotton wicks.  Beeswax is much more costly than paraffin so these two are often blended together:  make sure the candle says it is 100% beeswax.

1 comment :

  1. Fantastic article! Really useful information! Thank you for posting it! I prefer candles instead of air fresheners. I love the smell of burning candle :) Greets!