I remember being in University, living alone for the first time, and getting to shop for myself. I'd go up and down the aisles of the grocery store, buying Smarties ice cream for breakfast and microwavable dinners to take to school for my lunch breaks (and you wonder why I ended up with food allergies 😜).
One of my favourite things was the cleaning aisle, with it's dozens of different Glade candles and their delicious Tropical Getaway and Triple Berry scents. Real adults cook a lovely meal at home and light a wonderful smelly candle while they're studying for an exam, right?
Well, if I would have know what a chemical soup those candles were, I would have learned how to make DIY natural air fresheners years ago!
Now that I'm really a grown-up and am in charge of another human (my son, not my husband), I eat whole foods that are healthy, try and get off my butt every one in awhile and move my body, and use natural remedies for our everyday issues like colds, coughs, and pain.
I stopped using artificially scented air fresheners and candles almost 10 years ago when I went to nutrition school, but never really got into teaching my clients not to use them since I figured they didn't make that much of a difference in overall health. I'm a holistic nutritionist, after all, so changing their diet was always my primary focus.
Well, a few weeks while I was writing some emails, I was in the middle of writing the following line "not much scientific research has been done on artificial scents and fragrances, but I think we can all agree that they're not very good for us" when it occurred to me that I should *actually* try looking up any research.
Turns out, artificial air fresheners and candles are a scientifically verified chemical shit storm with the research to back it up.
I had no idea. No idea what toxic side effects a scented plug-in, candle, or wax warmer was having on households everyday.
What sort of toxic side effects? Let's take a look at the research, shall we?
This study looked at the relationship between air pollutants and eczema (i.e. atopic dermatitis). Researchers studied 150 children and the air pollution in their house caused by formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, tuolene, bacterial aerosols, and airborne fungi from sources like house construction, mold, air fresheners, heating fuel, and ventilations issues. They concluded that:
To alleviate AD symptoms, simple questions about residential environments such as visible fungus on the walls and the use of artificial air freshener are helpful ...
In other words, they're implying that to reduce eczema symptoms (Atopic Dermatitis = AD), visible fungus on the walls and artificial air fresheners were singled out from all the other sources of chemicals that they looked at.
Would you let your child sleep in a house covered with fungus and expect them not to get sick? This study is implying that you could consider the same question with artificial air fresheners.
This study examined the relationship between the current use of household cleaners (including air fresheners) and those used prior during pregnancy, and the resulting lower respiratory tract infections and wheezing in the babies who were 12-18 months old.
They found that air freshener use after birth was significantly associated with wheezing and lower respiratory tract infections, and the study concluded:
The use of cleaning sprays, air fresheners and solvents during pregnancy may increase the risk of wheezing and infections in the offspring.
Note: this study also showed that infant wheezing significantly increased when women used regular, chemical-filled cleaning sprays while pregnant but the wheezing did not significantly decrease even when the mother stopped using them after birth. This indicates that pregnant women being exposed to chemical cleaning sprays can affect their unborn child's immune system.
This final study that I'll refer to takes the cake. A study on 170 families showed that:
Infant diarrhea and earache were statistically significantly associated with air freshener use, and diarrhea and vomiting were significantly associated with aerosol use. Headache experienced by mothers 8 mo after birth was significantly associated with the use of air fresheners and aerosols; maternal depression was significantly associated with the use of air fresheners. The results of the study suggest a link between the use of products that raise indoor levels of TVOCs and an increased risk of certain symptoms among infants and their mothers.
This absolutely blew me away, and the Facebook post that I shared about it got almost 100 shares in less than a day. This information needs to be out there.
Now, if you're using artificial air fresheners, don't feel bad or scared. If you didn't know this information, you do now. Can't stick your head back in the proverbial sand, can you?
This is your chance to make a change!
I remember when I was in nutrition school, and every day I learned new things about our food system that I couldn't unlearn. It made me want to stop eating altogether. But that's not really a realistic solution, is it?
I started making small changes each day in our household: where we shopped at, choosing a few things organic so we didn't blow our entire food budget on butter, and planting a tiny garden (and I do not have a green thumb 🌱).
So, if you're using artificial air fresheners, like Glade plug-ins, scented candles, or Scentsy products, here are the steps to take to get that toxic crap out of your house and replace it with just-as-delicious smelling goodies, rated from good to better to best:
*NOTE: with all the options below, I recommend using doTERRA's Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils. You can see why over here. If you use a brand from the health food store (or any other retail store), it more than likely isn't pure and potent, and could even be 100% synthetic ... even if it says "100% pure" on the label (hint: if you have to use 20 drops in a diffuser, it isn't very potent). If you opt-in for the diffuser recipes below or the checklist over here, you'll be included in an email series to teach you the difference between brands.
1. Non-toxic Wax Melts
For all you Scentsy lovers out there who have invested money into wax warmers, you don't have to get rid of them ... just the smelly cubes of garbage that you put into them 😜. Try this instead:
DIY Wax Melts
Prep time: 5 mins
Cooling time: 3 hours
4 tbsp beeswax (grated or pellets are easiest)
2 tbsp coconut oil
20 drops Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils (any combo)*
*check the free download below for some amazing blends
Melt the beeswax and coconut oil over low heat in a saucepan until liquid.
Remove from the heat and stir in the essential oils of your choice.
Pour the mixture into molds or an empty, clean ice cube tray, then let completely cool.
When cool, use by popping one cube into your wax warmer.
This option is a good one and definitely better than using artificial air fresheners, although heating therapeutic grade essential oils will reduce their effectiveness for health issues.
If you're only wanting to have a wonderful smelling house, aren't interested in the healthy side effect of using essential oils, and already have a bunch of wax warmers, then this is a great option to get started using a non-toxic and natural air freshener.
2. Mason Jar Diffuser
Who doesn't have about a half dozen extra mason jars sitting around their cupboards? I can't be the only one .
Put them to good use by making these DIY natural air refreshers over here. These are a better option than the wax melts that get heated, however, these are a little higher maintenance than the options below. Over time, the essential oils will evaporate, so if you want to keep you room smelling yummy, you'll have to add a few drops every few days.
3. 2-Ingredient Room Spray
Got an empty spray bottle, some water, and some essential oils? Give yourself 30 seconds and you've got a natural air freshener!
This is a better option as again, the oils stay cool and therefore therapeutic, but I find I'm more likely to use a spray on a daily basis. Make it in a decorative bottle that you like so you'll be OK leaving it out where you can see it. If you can see it, you'll use it.
If you make this DIY room spray with lavender, it makes a fabulous linen spray for your pillow and sheets. You'll get better quality sleep in exchange for about 10 seconds of your time every night. 👊🏻
4. Essential Oil Diffuser
The best option by far is using an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser with doTERRA's Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade® essential oils. This is my absolute favourite way of using essential oils everyday to keep my moods balanced, boost my energy, and to purify the air.
With all the different oil options, you can make a natural version of pretty much every one of your fave synthetic scents, so your house smells delicious AND using pure essential oils gives you a positive health side effect.
So, you get the same yummy smells plus better health! Who wouldn't want that?
All you have to do is get an ultrasonic essential oil diffuser, fill it with water, and add anywhere from 3-6 drops of pure essential oils. Most diffusers will run for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours, and will turn off automatically when the timer goes off or it runs out of water.
I have one in every room of our house, including our bedrooms. I love being able to help us calm down at night before bed or to run it during the day when I'm working to keep me motivated. I'm also responsible for creating a few diffuser addictions 😳. There are worse things in the world, right?
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So there you have it, 4 healthy options to get rid of toxic air fresheners with tons of combos to get you started.
I WANNA KNOW: comment below with an "I'm in!" if you're ready to switch to a non-toxic alternative.