It seems a whole lot counter-intuitive, but commercial air fresheners do not, in fact, freshen the air - they poison it. The last thing that anyone intends to do when they purchase an air freshener is to fill the air they breathe with dangerous toxins, but that is exactly what many of these products that promise to clean and purify actually do. People with the MTHFR mutation have an especially difficult time flushing toxins from their systems, so eliminating a product that consistently fills the air they breathe with harmful toxins, such as in their car or home, can be a huge step towards restored health.
So, what is it in these air fresheners that is toxic? Let's start with formaldehyde, an extremely dangerous carcinogen. Formaldehyde is especially linked to cancer of the nose and throat, as well as worsening symptoms of asthma, nosebleeds, and other respiratory ailments. Another compound commonly found in air fresheners are phthalates. Phthalates are dangerous hormone disruptors that are linked to everything from allergies and asthma to infertility. Other dangerous toxins commonly found in air fresheners include VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and benzene. Anything with the word "volatile" in the name sounds like something that should probably be avoided!
If you decide you don't want to "freshen" your air anymore with formaldehyde, phthalates, benzene, and volatile organic compounds, what options do you have left? Besides ditching the air fresheners altogether and focusing on better ventilation (not always possible, depending on your climate), you basically have two choices: purchase a non-toxic air freshener or get crafty and create one yourself!
Option #1: Purchase a non-toxic air freshener
There are many great air fresheners on the market that are not hazardous to your health. One popular option is to purchase an essential oil diffuser or spray. I enjoy diffusing lemon essential oil, making for a very bright and fresh scent. Diffusers can come in many forms and sizes, meaning they can be perfect for your home or car. One word of caution with essential oil is that certain oils are dangerous to use while pregnant, and it is sometimes recommended to avoid altogether during the first trimester. Be sure to check in with your physician regarding use of essential oils during pregnancy.
Soy or beeswax candles are another great choice for the home. Just be aware that not all candles are created equal - most commercial candles are just as toxic as air fresheners, so it's crucial to make sure they're made from soy or beeswax and don't use lead wicks.
Option #2: Create your own air freshener
If you love all things DIY and don't mind getting a little crafty, there are many options to freshen the air in your home or car without compromising your health. Rather than purchasing an essential oil spray, try creating one yourself! There are many recipes and resources online to do just that. You can also create bags of potpourri, made from your favorite dried flowers, spices, and herbs. A few drops of essential oil can be added to further enhance the aroma.
You can also take the approach of creating an odor absorber. Try a project that involves baking soda to absorb those unpleasant smells. You can place a bowl of baking soda in your home, for instance, to neutralize the stink. You can also place a small container in your car to do the same.
Finally, if you have a green thumb, plants literally freshen the air by releasing tons of oxygen. There are many plants to choose from that don't require tons of upkeep. The snake plant boasts an impressive production of 1/6 of your oxygen supply! To put that in perspective, six of these plants in a room without oxygen would be enough to supply the oxygen you need to survive. Amazing!
Have you noticed that commercial air fresheners make you sick? Have you made the switch to non-toxic alternatives? Tell us about it!