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Scenting Your Home Naturally

12.06.12 Scenting Your Home Naturally


It's likely that if you are hosting any kind of holiday gathering, you'll be thinking of your home's scent. And a little mood light, special sparkle, holiday glamour.... But here's the thing; all scents are obviously not created equal and some scenting methods do more harm than good.

My guess is that no one really wants to host a party while knowingly compromising the air quality, right? The fumes from that "sugared apple" or "Christmas punch" candle wafting through the house can irritate the lungs, trigger an allergic reaction over worse, cause an asthma attack. 

As it's no surprise that candles are a go-to choice for adding some holiday flair to your home, here's what you should know: There is a bonified difference between burning paraffin wax-based/perfume scented/lead-wicked candles versus burning natural beeswax/essential oil scented/cotton-wicked ones. Even though conventional candles are available at every turn and are probably a little on the cheaper side, there is an unfortunate downside to lighting 'em up in your home. Here are the culprits:

  • Soot: Soot from candles can be very toxic, especially because soot particles can travel deep into the lungs. This of course, is highly unpleasant for anyone who is afflicted by asthma or any other lung condition as well as affecting healthy pipes.
  • Paraffin wax: Paraffin is a petroleum product- a byproduct of oil refining. Toxic chemicals like toluene and benzene are emitted while burning paraffin-based candles. Enough said.
  • Synthetic fragrance: This typically means phthalates, as fragrance mixtures are considered a "trade secret" and don't need to be disclosed on the ingredients list. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt hormone activity and some studies have linked phthalates with low sperm counts and cancer. 
  • Lead wicks: Burning candles with metal (leaded) wicks could present a lead poisoning hazard to young chilldren because the vaporized lead can be inhaled. Although lead wicks were banned in the US in 2003, they still find their way onto store shelves.

And when the EPA tested a random group of 30 candles, toxic chemicals like acetone, benzene, toluene, styrene and xylene were found. Yikes! And that's just to name a few.

Here's the solution: Make sure you burn pure beeswax candles. Beeswax is environmentally friendly, 100% natural and a renewable resource. Beeswax is non-toxic and non-allergenic. Producing negative ions, beeswax is a natural air purifier, helping to remove airborne pollutants. And beeswax burns clean.

And instead of conventional air fresheners that "plug in" to a wall socket or an aerosol mist of synthetic chemicals spritzed into the air, you might want to try these alternative methods:

1) Scented simmering water: either boil and then simmer in a saucepan on the stove or use a slow cooker. Infused with herbs, fruit and spices, here are some different combinations to try...

  • oranges, cinnamon sticks + cloves 
  • pine/cedar + nutmeg
  • lime, thyme + vanilla
  • lemon, rosemary + vanilla

2) Use a diffuser and essential oils like lavender, eucalyptus, lemon or cinnamon. Or make your own infused spray scent.

3) Bake some orange peels or a whole unpeeled lemon for 15 minutes at 300 degrees. Turn off the oven and leave the oven slightly ajar.

4) Make an old fashioned pomander! Choose either an orange, lemon or lime and stud with whole cloves, either entirely for a traditional look or in your own personal design. Very cool looking object to display plus the added lovely scent it brings to any room.

5) Add some plants! Not only do plants help to purify indoor air, they also help to absorb odors naturally. Check out these plants that naturally purify the air.

What are your scenting secrets? Any favorite combinations of scents?

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