Maybe you've just gone to the store for something to freshen up the air in your home. Keeping windows closed over the winter can make a house start to smell a little musty or stale, so naturally you want to make it smell better for guests, as well as your own pleasure.
You may have picked up some scented candles, which are perfectly safe as long as you keep them away from flammable materials, right? Unfortunately, most candles aren't as safe as you think. Scented sprays contain chemicals that can irritate your lungs and even cause exacerbations in people with COPD or other chronic lung diseases.
People who do not have chronic lung diseases shouldn't be breathing the things in most home air fresheners, and they aren't good for the environment in general. Luckily, there are other things you can use as healthy alternatives to common home air fresheners.
Almost have of the scented candles on the market have wicks that contain lead in the centers to keep the wicks stiff. Some aromatherapy candles contain paraffin, which puts off carcinogenic soot when you burn the candle – very dangerous for lung health in general.
Look for candles with labels that say “lead free wick”. If the candle manufacturer does not specify, don't buy them. Candles made from completely natural materials are the best way to go. Look for cotton wicks and candles made from 100% beeswax, or candles made from vegetable wax, like candles made from soy or palm wax. To prevent any type of candles from putting off even the slightest amount of soot, trim the wick down to ¼-inch-long before you light it.
Fragrance and Disinfectant Sprays
Disinfectant sprays that give your house a “fresh” small afterward do get rid of the odors, but will leave behind trace toxins in the air. Some of these sprays contained CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), which were found to cause damage in the ozone. Manufacturers may have removed the CFC agents, but they still contain chemicals that you don't need to be breathing.
You can make your own simple disinfectant spray with a solution of water and essential oils that are known to be antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal, like tea tree essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil and lavender essential oil. Mix these ingredients together and put them in a clean spray bottle. Give the bottle a few good shakes before you use it.
Other types of air fresheners can put off chemical fumes that aren't good for your lungs. In 2002, the EPA came to the conclusion that the chemicals from plug-in air fresheners reacted with indoor pollutants to create cancer-causing agents, and cause asthma attacks.
Dip some cotton balls into the essential oils of your choice and place them in a glass jar. When you want to release the scent, remove the lid from the jar, or drill holes in the jar to release the scent constantly.