I love a clean home, the way it looks, the way if feels and most of all, the way it smells. Over the years, I have learned a great deal about going green in the home or office and what products or ingredients to avoid.
My weakness though is using scented candles to mask the smells of cooking among other offending odors. My excuse is; who doesn’t love a good smelling home?
For as much as I love to tout that we are eco-friendly in the home, the use of commercially produced wax candles has been my Achilles heel and I've allowed the usage in our home.
The candles I burn can be accused of being much like the fragrances added to many cleaners, they just smell different. Most notably though are things like laundry detergents and fabric softeners that may cause acute effects such as respiratory irritation, headaches, and eye irritation. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found that one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry are toxic. Since the chemical formulas of fragrances are considered trade secrets, companies aren't required to list their ingredients but simply label them as containing "fragrance."
The problem is that these fragrances can be carcinogenic which is the last thing I want to do to my family or myself. Our home environment has been scrubbed, deodorized, and sanitized with eco-friendly products so why am I still using potentially toxic methods to fragrance my home?
After asking myself this question, I promptly went around the house and gathered all candles, scent oils, and wax tarts that were meant for use, not just decoration. In total, I had enough scented wax to make a cow pasture smell pleasant.
Without giving it another thought, I dumped the offending tarts, votives, pillars, and oils into the donation. While I felt a bit at odds about donating the items to other unsuspecting shoppers, it was better than sending it to the landfill. Looking at the graveyard of scented wax in the donation box I felt a little quiver of regret. Though, my resolve won and I walked away from the fragrant container and will happily not look back.
As I continue on the quest to cleanse my home once and for all of known toxins, the next step is the find suitable replacement for the candles and scents I so love to fill my home with. An obvious alternative is soy candles that have been fragranced with essential oils. I would have thought that sort of product would be easy to source, but I have actually found that to be a bit of a challenge. What I have found readily available are soy candles scented with fragrance oils and not essential oils. Again, fragrance oils are considered proprietary and therefore manufacturers do not have to disclose the chemical content. Essential oils are not synthetically orchestrated; a far more natural way to scent the home.
So, while I am on the lookout for suitable candles, I am not opposed to other options. I consulted with the American College of Healthcare Sciences for a previous blog post in which Amanda Lattin, BA, MAT, DIP. AROMA., MH, RA who is the Aromatherapy Department Chair and Professor at the American College of Healthcare Sciences shared a room spray recipe. In that recipe, Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) essential oil was the star and for the bathroom spa experience, that essential oil is simply perfect. Though for scenting the rest of my home I will replace the Eucalyptus with another blend of Lavender (Lavandula angustifoila) essential oil and Lemon (Citrus limonum (Risso) essential oil. I think it’s a great blend for any time of year, but especially the winter months the lavender tends to calm and is soothing where the lemon is zesty and uplifting which inspires a good mood for me.
While the room spray is an immediate way to change the vibe in your space, it can be somewhat temporary. Aside from finding the appropriate candles, I found that investing in a good scent diffuser was just what I needed. Having used ‘scent’ burners for so long, I did not realize that all diffusers are not created equal. After doing my research I discovered that some models use blowers that send the oils into the air from a pad that has been scented with the oils. Other more simple diffusers are reeds that are placed in a vessel like a vase with the oils and it is dispersed into the air over time. My favorite though by far, is the Spa Vapor Diffuser which is the best way for me to get the essential oil wafting through the house, thus replicating the results I used to achieve by using the candles and scent burners. According to the manufacturer, the diffuser sends out high frequency ultrasonic electrical vibrations from a ceramic disc which then broadcasts the essential oils and water into the air in micro fine vapors that remain suspended in the air for extended period of time.
In the end, I decided to employ three methods of scenting my home in a safe way. I am using reed diffusers in rooms that would benefit from subtlety such as the master bedroom. In rooms where I need to break up cooking smells like the kitchen and family room I chose to use the vapor diffuser, and other places like the mudroom, the Aroma Sphere Dispenser which will give a bit more scented punch.
For more diffuser and essential oil options click here.
For information about ACHS click here.