How many times a day do we go to light a candle, or spray some air freshener in our homes?
In my household, the answer used to be quite a few. When you live with boys and pets, there can be a lot of unpleasant smells to cover up! But, what are we really breathing in when we spray lemon-scented air freshener or smell the plume of scent from a lavender candle?
When I figured it out, I stopped using them in my household.
The chemicals that are given off by scented candles “can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well as cause developmental difficulties” according to the HuffPost. Over time, this can affect the chances of developing “health risks like cancer, common allergies, and even asthma.”
Likewise, air fresheners contain harmful toxins that can cause some of the same issues as scented candles. According to the Scientific American, in 2007, the “Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that 12 out of the 14 widely available air fresheners contained phthalates”. Why is this important? Phthalates “cause hormonal and reproductive issues, birth defects and developmental disorders”.
Raise your hand if you want any of those! No one? What a surprise. Yet, we continue to breathe these harmful chemicals on a daily basis. In our own homes.
So how do we avoid this? HuffPost suggests we stick to unscented and uncolored candles, as long as they are vegetable-based. Scientific American provides several alternatives, including a baking soda and water odor eliminator, and house plants or flowers.
A scent alternative that many people turn to is essential oils. While you can find brands that use only natural ingredients and pure oils, be wary! There are brands out there who use chemicals in their products as well.
Personally, I use a combination of these to rid my home of unpleasant odors. We have house plants to help purify the air, we have replaced candles with a diffuser for organic essential oils, and there are a few different ways I like to use baking soda around the house.
But, I believe the best way to avoid dangerous chemicals in your home is to be an informed consumer. Read ingredient labels, and if you don’t recognize something, do your research.
At the end of the day, it’s the choices we make that determine the health of our home.