‘Tis the season for pumpkin spice, apples, and brightly colored leaves. Fall is the favorite season for so many people I know. As summer comes to an end we welcome the cooler nights and breaking out the sweatshirts, sweaters, and boots. As a born-and-raised Upstate New Yorker living in Phoenix, Arizona, I miss the changing leaves, chillier temps, apple picking, and the crisp smell of Fall. Memories of my mom canning tomatoes, applesauce, and pears while my brothers and I raked up leaves to jump in is something I associate with this wonderful time of year. What’s not to love about Fall?
My biggest pet peeve about the commercialization of Fall is the flood of knock-off, artificial, and poisonous scents and fragrances available. Our sense of smell is the strongest sense in memory recall and has great affect on our mood so it’s no wonder that as we ramp up for the holiday season we want to bring fragrances into our home that elicit feelings of warmth, coziness, and happiness. But not at the expense of our health.
Pumpkin Spice Latte, Apple Cinnamon, and Iced Cranberry wax melts, candles, room sprays, and plug-ins are not at all as wonderful as they seem. Clever marketing leads us to believe that we are buying an experience and a feeling. A perfect example of this is a phrase taken from the Glade website: “Slip away and dream of simpler times as the warm, rich aroma of McIntosh apples, mixed berries and apple cider surround you. The spice of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove mingle with sweet vanilla and cream for a scent as recognizable as a loving call from the back porch. Turns out you can go home again.” Seriously? But has it ever crossed your mind as to what these products are made of? Hint: It isn’t mixed berries, sweet vanilla, apple cider or cream.
“Only a small proportion of most products are actually made of fragrance – usually less than 2%. And yet that small amount contains many tiny ingredient molecules that must be expertly combined. A typical oil-based fragrance could have as many as 50 different ingredients; a complex fragrance might mix 50 to 200.” (SC Johnson)
Did you catch that? 50-200 ingredients. Have you every wondered what those ingredients are? These ingredients are synthetically created in a lab to chemically mirror that which is in nature.
I have done some research on the ingredient lists of many of these home fragrances. I looked them up individually to examine the risks and dangers associated with them. I was horrified at what I discovered. In a very popular brand of home fragrances, the wax melt “Apple Cinnamon” contains a chemical called 2-t-butylcyclohexyl acetate. Upon further investigation there is a lengthy list of precautionary statements which includes: avoid heat, (isn’t this placed in a heat element?), avoid contact to skin, avoid breathing (isn’t that the point?), use only outdoors and in a ventilated area (don’t most consumers buy these to use in their home?), if inhaled, remove victim to ventilated area. This insinuates that you are a “victim” if you inhale this chemical. This is just ONE of the ingredients mentioned for this product. What about all the other ingredients? Can we agree that even ONE toxic lab-produced chemical is too much?
As a consumer you should be aware of the dangers associated with the products you choose to buy with your hard-earned money. We seem to blindly trust what is thrown at us in the grocery store and on commercials. I assure you there is no hint of pumpkin in your pumpkin spice room spray. There is zero apple in your apple crisp plug-in. And what in the world is in “Autumn Nights” or “Cashmere Woods”? I know most people buy these products for their scent alone with no thought to what ingredients make up the product, but these factory-created, chemically-induced scents are CHEMICALS that you are breathing into your lungs. What goes into your lungs also enters your bloodstream. Alarmed at all? What happens to these toxins when they are in our bodies? Most of them pose an incredible risk to not just the obvious respiratory system, but our nervous system, endocrine system and integumentary system (skin, hair, nails, teeth, eyes, ears, and sweat glands). They can cause asthma and allergic reactions. Why? Because they are chemicals and our bodies treat these manmade chemicals as foreign invaders and work very hard to get them out of our body.
It’s no secret that I advocate for NEVER purchasing these products. I believe they are poisonous and pose serious harm to us. My aim and great passion is to inform and raise awareness of these hidden dangers. If you find it hard to believe any of the facts above, please do some research and check it out for yourself. Don’t take for granted that just because it can be easily obtained or it’s what you’ve always purchased or it’s something that “smells good” that it means it’s safe. I believe we should be cautious, aware, and knowledgable consumers. As parents, does reading this cause you to be more vigilant for your children? I fear that the majority of the population is passive or unaware. Before I began my “granola life” you could find me sniffing EVERY candle and room spray out there so I can relate and I understand how hard all of this might be to hear. It’s my belief that we should all be informed and proactive about the things we allow into our homes and bodies.
Am I saying we shouldn’t have these wonderful Fall scents in our homes? Absolutely not! I LOVE the smell of apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, and other yummy fragrances. We can still have these without posing a threat. Essential oils, sliced fruit and kitchen spices can safely fill the air in our homes without compromising the air quality or put our health at risk. Not only do these provide a safer alternative, but they add benefit. There are no health benefits to using synthetic rooms sprays, plug-ins, candles, and wax melts. Alternately, essential oils are not only safe but they specifically have a number of advantages: safely fragrance your home, freshen your home, deodorize your home, and support health and wellness. Why not choose a safe and natural means to create ambiance in your home? Why not choose something that will add value to your health instead of hinder it? The choice is absolutely yours. Not every company is going to willingly share this information with us. It’s up to us to do the research and be our own health advocates in order to create the healthiest home we possibly can.
Celebrate Fall with these essential oils: Cinnamon Bark, Nutmeg, Clove, Ginger, Cardamom, Orange, Cedarwood, Coriander, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Abundance, Light the Fire, and Thieves.
Create your own room spray: Combine 1/3 cup distilled water, 1 tablespoon witch hazel, and 20 drops of your favorite essential oil(s) in a glass spray bottle. Shake well before spraying.
Diffuse Diffuse Diffuse! Add your favorite oils to your essential oil diffuser.
Gently simmer a saucepan filled with water, sliced apples, lemons, oranges, sprigs of rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, wholes cloves and/or vanilla.