Monday, January 28, 2013

Freshen Up

I love walking in the door to a fresh smelling home. There are lots of products on the market to give your home a signature scent, but not all of them are products you'd want to use once you do a little research and find out just how harmful they have the potential to be. For example, those scented oil warmers and air freshening sprays? No good, my friends. Based on the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) research and publications, these products contain harmful levels of phthalates, which have been known to cause a number of scary problems, including birth defects, other reproductive issues and hormonal abnormalities. No thanks. Whether it's to get rid of a definite odor, add some freshness to a house that's had the windows shut all winter, or fill the air with a pleasant scent before company comes over, sometimes you just want to smell something good.

While browsing Pinterest, I've come across three safe alternatives that I now use instead of the commercially produced products.

1. Real Scented Oil - If you have a scented oil plug-in with a glass bulb (like the Bath & Body Works type), you have an easy solution. Unscrew the bulb from the plug-in and pull out the rubber stopper containing the wick. Empty and rinse the bulb, then refill with a pure aromatherapy oil (I really like peppermint oil for the fresh, clean scent and I purchase the oil from my local co-op). You can fill the glass bulb completely with oil for a longer lasting scent, or dilute with water. Plug it in and enjoy the healthier, fresh scent. Traditionally, there are oil warmers which are small dishes that are mounted above tea light candles. You pour a little bit of essential oil in the dish, put a tea light candle in the tray below it and the heat from the candle warms the oil and allows it to diffuse throughout the air. Of course, this type of oil warmer can only be used when you are home to keep an eye on the flame.

2. The Williams-Sonoma Scent - I've seen this one a lot on Pinterest, claiming to be that signature scent that makes you swoon whenever you walk by a Williams-Sonoma store in the mall. And whether it is or it isn't, it sure smells good! I actually had a pot of this boiling on the stove this past weekend. I had a lemon in the fridge, a rosemary plant still going strong in the garden, and vanilla in my baking supplies - those three ingredients plus water is all this recipe takes. I sliced half the lemon, cut about 3 sprigs of rosemary and poured in about a tablespoon of vanilla, then filled a medium sauce pan halfway with water. Turn the burner to low and let the mixture simmer and enjoy the relaxing scent it produces. You can probably even do this in a crockpot, too. As the water boils out, add more. Another variation of this that I love is swapping ground cinnamon or a couple of cinnamon sticks for the rosemary. It's an equally pleasant, warm and room-freshening scent.

3. Scented Soy Candles - I found this recipe for soy candles and it is both incredibly easy and not very time consuming. I purchased the soy flakes and wicks from a craft supply store, heated the soy flakes in a ceramic dish in the microwave until melted, stirred in a few drops of pure aromatherapy oil (peppermint again) placed a wick in a mug I picked up from a thrift store, and poured in the melted soy wax. All that's left to do is let the wax harden and you can start burning your homemade scented candle. When you purchase soy candles at the store, you might notice that they're a little more expensive than regular wax candles. I think this is probably because they typically have a longer burn time compared to a similar sized regular wax candle. Soy is a renewable product and it washes right off a ceramic dish with a little hot water and wiping with a soapy sponge. Hint: These make great gifts, too!         

Not all products are created equally, and if you still prefer the ease of picking up a ready-to-use product at the store rather than making your own, there are a few good options listed in the above-linked NRDC publication.

This is not a sponsored  post. All products and brands mentioned were purchased by my choice with my money. 

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