Natural scents

I think I’m turning into one of those people. The people who are afraid their scented candles are giving them cancer and vow never to burn one of these toxic-releasing agents in the living room again.

I’ve said before that if I can get through life without getting cancer or shot, I’m doing pretty well for myself. Both happen WAAAY too often and I’d like to do everything in my power to avoid them. I know I won’t live forever, but I would like to be healthy while I do.

So yesterday, after seeing that one of my Yankee candles is done for, I did some research on natural scents for the home. It’s not just about potentially hazardous chemicals in our house, but also about money. And how I’d like to save it while still having a fresh-smelling home.

Here’s what I found:

  • An easy-to-read article about toxins found in certain candles. Summary: Some candles release toxins that can cause respiratory problems, damage to the nervous system, as well as other issues. Cheap candles and ones with metal core wicks should be avoided. Beeswax and soy candles are good, non-toxic alternatives.

I’m no expert on this stuff and I’m not saying I 100% agree with the article above, but I do think that we add so much stuff to our products and cut so many corners to save money that I wouldn’t be surprised if that sea breeze scent was killing brain cells or something.

Reading the article then made me wonder if my beloved Yankee candles are harmful. I adore them and sometimes get them as gifts, so I looked into it.

  • photo (66)The Yankee Candle site says its candles are made with “fragrance extracts and real essential oils.” I can’t find an ingredients list and there isn’t one on the bottom of my candles, so while they sound OK to use, I wish the company would be more specific. I know their candles are high quality (and not cheap!), so that makes me feel a little better.
  • I also found this article about Yankee candles. It says that Yankee Candle is part of the National Candle Association (I checked), which monitors the candle making industry in the U.S. (I had no idea there was such a thing ’til yesterday.) Yankee Candle does not use lead wicks and does use refined paraffin, which, according to the NCA, is non-toxic. The NCA also says the soot produced from burning candles is not harmful and that, although some natural scent ingredients can be toxic to some, members of the NCA use ingredients that are considered safe. So basically, you decide.

I’m keeping my remaining Yankee candles for now, but they are getting low so I also looked into making my own. Again, I’d like to save money, too. I have a bunch of glass jars that could easily become candles if I melted some beeswax and put a wick inside them. I found a pound of beeswax for less than $9 on Amazon (I think that will make a few medium-sized candles), and I found a bag of 25 cotton wicks for $4, also on Amazon. The smell of beeswax has a hint of honey, but you can add essential oils for a different smell. That’s what I would do.

I also looked into other ways to scent the home besides candles.

  • This blog suggests “simmering waters infused with spices, herbs and fruit.” She has some great ideas, and they all sound delicious. The downside for me is that I don’t want to have to warm something up on a stove and I don’t have a mug warmer or potpourri pot. Maybe I should invest in one, but I feel like if I had to plug something in, I might forget about it. An actual flame is harder to forget about. I would also like something that lasts a long time, and with the jars she mentions, I’m not sure I would use them in time or often enough to take advantage of their full potential. Still, they are beautiful and a great idea. Perhaps I will try it and see how it goes.

photo (64)In other news, but on a similar topic, I made my own scented plug-in last week. I had some Wallflower holders from Bath and Body Works, so I used my own essential oils (lavender and eucalyptus mint) mixed with water to make a new, natural scent. I got the essential oils at Michael’s for $4 or $5 each.

Here are the instructions I followed. The plastic ring around the wick wasn’t as hard to get off as I thought it would be. I really liked the scents for the first couple of days after I plugged them in, but Pete wasn’t a huge fan of the lavender and now I can’t smell either of them. I’m wondering if it would last longer if I filled the bottles with essential oil only and didn’t add water. I’m going to try that when the bottles are empty.

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One thought on “Natural scents

  1. You are such a good homemaker – I am so proud of you! Apples and cinnamon sticks, cloves and or orange slices make a great simmering smell on the stove. Also you can dry them and twine them up together which makes a beautiful fresh potpurri to hang in the kitchen. Also, dryer sheets in the drawers help. Cinnamon brooms to hang in the kitchen smells good too.

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