The original question for this series of posts concerned making one’s house less toxic. The person asking the question doesn’t need to be convinced why this needs to be done — but some people may need to be. A few posts on commercial “air fresheners” can be found on Sonda’s site. The Mother Earth Living is a great article on both the toxicity of air fresheners/candles and on alternatives. I repeat here MCSgals list of safe cleaners from yesterday’s post. And of course Kathryn’s site has great info.
The slide show and info on Michellina’s site, I believe should be shared with every human on the planet. If you question why synthetic fragrances need to be eliminated from your life, please spend a few minutes checking it out.
Candles can have three levels of toxicity — the paraffin wax, toxic fragrance and lead in the wick. I burn candles infrequently but if I do it is for the ambiance of the candle glow. I buy unscented beeswax candles with no metal wicks. Beeswax candles can be more expensive but I believe they burn longer than regular candles (sorry I haven’t actually done an experiment on this, but have read articles that agree with me) and they save a lot on my doctor’s bills not breathing in the toxic fumes from many “traditional” candles sold in most stores.
When I actually want to freshen my air — I open up a window. It depends on the part of the world you live in but where I live air is generally considered cleaner outside than inside. Even in cold weather, the cats and I open up the sliding door and let in some fresh air for a few minutes a day.
Here is an 8 minute TED talk about how bacteria exists in a building and how bringing in outside air can be beneficial.
In the summer, I do not use air conditioning. I use open windows and ceiling fans to cool my house and allow fresh air in (much cheaper and air conditioning makes me ill). If there is a particularly smelly place in your house — inside the refrigerator, room with cat litter, etc. you can place a small open box of baking soda and this will help absorb the odors.
For those on a budget — opening windows, fans instead of air conditioning, baking soda and plants — are definitely good for the budget. For those with MCS or very polluted air one might need to consider an air purifier as well.
Those are my ideas for actually freshening the air. If what you really want is to change the scent of the air — try simmering a bit of either cinnamon or lemon or cloves or vanilla — you get the idea — in a pan of water — way cheaper and way healthier. If you really want the house to smell great and be a popular mom/dad like the commercials are always throwing in our faces — you could go with burning the toxic candle laced with synthetic fragrance made to smell like a gingerbread house possibly resulting in one of the 25 symptoms of MCS being exhibited by your child OR you could actually bake a batch of chocolate chip or gingerbread cookies. Somebody with kids let me know which choice your kids would prefer — and let me know if I’m wrong but I’m going with the cookies as top choice — and I think the cookies would be cheaper too. And can I come over just to smell them while they are baking?
Real flowers can make your home smell very nice — and in season cost little to nothing. I do treat myself occasionally to a new plant for my garden like some women treat themselves to a new dress. However, most of the flowers in my garden were joyfully given to me free by other friends. When I thin my plants, I often toss the plants onto the compost because I don’t know who to give them to. I’ve had neighbors ask me and I’ve gladly shared. I not only bring cut flowers into my home but I share with friends and family as well.
In the winter you can bring in some evergreen needles or a branch into you home (if not allergic) or use the money you would have spent on synthetic fragrances and buy a bouquet of flowers — both the sight and smell of flowers will help alleviate any winter blues.
I’ve never tried it but ask where they sell flowers and maybe they would give you any flower petals that are either loose or flowers that aren’t pretty enough for a bouquet that they are going to discard — put them in a dish — the petals would be pretty and fragrant and free. (And of course since businesses need to make money to stay in business — be nice and buy from them when you can.)
As always please share if you have any great nontoxic and cheap solutions. And please ask questions. Sarah started this whole series by asking a question. Yesterday, she asked a question under the laundry post. Sonda’s reply hopefully will save her money. By using vinegar instead of fabric softener, she may be able to save on fabric softener, tablets to remove hard water deposits from her washer and having to buy another new washer from the hard water destroying her washing machines.
I’ve got really great followers on this site and those suffering from environmental illnesses know how to detox a home and many are on limited incomes. So ask — I’d like to learn new stuff too.