Updated: Sep 9, 2019
Our bodies and the spaces we occupy are infiltrated by synthetic fragrances which are polluting our indoor air. Fragrance chemicals (which are labeled as many different names such as Parfum, Perfume, Fragrance Oil, just to name a few) are everywhere - personal care products, detergents, cleaners, and of course in the products that we buy to make our spaces smell good. But at what cost? You don’t have to take my word for it, there are plenty of publications and documentaries citing the adverse affects of synthetic fragrance (If you haven’t seen Stink yet, it is a highly recommended watch). In a nutshell, these chemicals are making us sick with symptoms ranging from allergies and headaches to respiratory and hormonal illnesses.
I understand the hesitation. I remember how my favourite Bath & Body Works Candle smelled good enough to eat - but the truth is, it’s not even good enough to breathe.
As with all of our senses, the sense of smell can bring us so much pleasure.
The good news is that we can still enjoy products that “smell” good but instead of posing a risk to our health, actually come with their own set of benefits. The decrease in exposure to toxins is enough of a reason for me to be fragrance-free, but the waves of nausea and crippling headaches I experience when exposed to fragrances have made it necessary for me to be completely fragrance-free. Instead, I surround myself with earthy and botanical aromas that induce relaxation and stimulate the senses. Below, are my four favourite ways to do so.
1. Essential Oil Diffusers: These have become increasingly popular over the last few years and they come in many forms. Newer products are electric or battery-operated and work as an aromatherapy diffuser and humidifier. They come in a variety of sizes and price ranges. Other traditional forms of diffusers include, candle-burning diffusers, or essential oils applied to terra cotta clay dishes or ornaments. *A note about essential oils. As they are becoming trendy, band-wagoners are to be expected. A lot of companies are now selling their own versions of oils, labeled as "Fragrance Oil" designed to be used just like an essential oil, but without the therapeutic properties. Essential Oils are labeled as such, and are a pure plant derivative.
2. Incense: One of my favourites and what I most commonly use when I need to cleanse a space or my mind. Incense can be purchased in several forms, but typically will require a basic holder to keep the incense in place and to catch the ashes. Just as I mentioned above, it is crucial to be an educated consumer - there are plenty of synthetically scented brands on the market and releasing those into your space will do anything but cleanse it. Do your research, and check the ingredients. It should only be scented with essential oils. My personal favourite - Sea Witch Botanicals.
3. Simmering Spices: An old kitchen trick I learned from my mom. This one is particularly useful when you’re trying to cover or eliminate strong cooking odours. Keep a simmering pot on the stove before, during and after cooking with a blend of water, white vinegar and cinnamon. Another option - orange peel and cloves. Divine.
4. Wear It! You can find unique jewelry pieces that have oil diffusers built into them. I enjoy applying certain essential oils directly on my skin, sometimes just for the scent and other times for a specific therapeutic property. Most oils permeate spaces and for that reason, our home perpetually smells like patchouli (Sorry, not sorry, Rob ;).
How do you keep your spaces smelling good? If you’ve got any other favourites, I’d love to hear about them!