Indoor air pollution is a bigger problem than you realize. We tend to think of hazardous chemicals as something that nuclear facilities handle, but the truth is that we are exposed to hazardous chemicals everyday in the form of oven cleaners, aerosol sprays, and detergents that are heavily marketed to us.
No matter how we try to prevent it, the indoor air quality of our homes is under assault. Using aerosol sprays only mask the smells and adds more chemicals to the mix. Try these ideas to create air fresheners that help your home and the environment at the same time.
1. Use potpourri. Potpourri is eye candy that is actually beneficial. Using seasonal botanicals brings some of the outdoors inside and you can use plants and herbs that are in season locally. Using a few sprigs of fresh mint or sprinkling dried mint on the potpourri not only adds fragrance but mint is a natural ant repellent.
Be cautious, however, with store-bought potpourri. It usually has synthetic dyes and fragrances that can give you headaches and add to poor air quality. Making your own with natural essential oils is much better for the indoor environment.
2. Use hydrosols to scent the home. Hydrosols are the by-product of the distillation process of essential oils. Put it in a spray bottle to spritz potpourri and other natural arrangements in your home like a leaf garland or pine cones. They can also be used as room sprays. Their uses vary according to the flower they are distilled from, but common uses include:
- Animal flea spray
- Breath freshener
- Cosmetic ingredients
- Face moisturizer
- Fresher for sheets and towels
- Fruit rinse
- House plant spray
- Ironing spray
- Room freshener
- Sore throat spray
- Spay disinfectant
3. Fruits make a great smelling wreath for the home. In Victorian times, oranges were such a rare commodity that they were given as Christmas gifts. Oranges with cloves stuck in them were a common way to scent the home and it still works. Of course you can use other fruit. Cut an apple, orange, and lemon into thin circles. Allow the fruit to dry on a cookie sheet. Overlay the fruit to create a wreath design.
It can be attached to a wooden framework or some wire. To preserve the fruit, cover with a bit of shellac or floor wax. They last for several weeks and can be hung on any door to freshen the room. Some people even use whole fruits and pierce the top to let the smell come through.
4. Beeswax candles are a natural air freshener. The candles give off a honey flavored scent that burns clean with no mess. Beeswax candles can be purchased, but why not try making your own? It’s not difficult and will make a nice family activity–as well as save a little money. If you do buy beeswax candles, avoid any color but the natural one if you want to remain eco friendly.
5. Combine all the above in a to make a centerpiece. Use some pine branches, pine cones, fruit,and candles so they are visible to everyone. Get imaginative and add some fresh dried herbs like mint, rosemary, or thyme. For a more seasonal smell, try some cinnamon sticks, fresh nutmeg, and some ground clove. Sit some beeswax pillar candles flat in middle.
If you do decide to buy ready-made instead of making your own, look for these eco friendly words on the packaging–
- Chlorine free
- Water based
- Citrus based
- No Dyes or perfumes
If all the above fail, you can always bake as a last resort. Nothing smells better than the scent of an apple pie or Christmas cookies wafting through the house.