Nontoxic Home Fragrances: DIY Recipes & More!

Nontoxic Home Fragrances: DIY Recipes & More!

Written By: Kristi Caruana

Today, let's talk about something that's everywhere but often overlooked – synthetic fragrances. You know, those scents that make our lotions smell like vanilla cupcakes or our rooms like a “summer breeze”? Behind those pretty scents hides a mix of chemicals that can mess with hormones, trigger breathing problems, and lead to serious health issues in the future!

Synthetic fragrances often contain an array of hidden chemicals. It's not uncommon for a single fragrance to contain dozens, even hundreds, of individual chemicals. From phthalates and petroleum-based compounds to synthetic dyes and parabens to sodium laurel sulfate, the list can be quite overwhelming! It’s no shock as to why they typically don’t include them all on product labels! 

Have you ever paused to think about the number of products in your daily routine that contain synthetic fragrances? From perfumes and lotions to household cleaners and laundry detergents, these scents have permeated our lives.

A research study conducted by the Environmental Working Group unveiled a surprising reality – the average American adult uses 9 personal care products daily, which collectively contain a staggering 126 distinct chemical ingredients.

Remarkably, this study also highlighted a gender difference, showing that women tend to use double the number of products compared to their male counterparts. The study emphasized that the average American woman exposes herself to approximately 168 chemicals each day, as these substances become integrated into her routine. With every instance of makeup, lotion, and perfume the American woman unknowingly welcomes these chemicals into her day-to-day life.

Although the idea of "fragrance-free" products might immediately make us think about catering to sensitive skin or allergies, it's important to widen our viewpoint— The consequences of synthetic fragrances aren't confined to a select group, their effects touch each and every one of us.

Luckily, there is still a way to get aromas without the harmful effects of synthetic fragrances! Think about customizing your very own scents! No hidden tricks, just pure nature. You can do this through essential oil diffusers, simmer pots, homemade room sprays, and quality natural candles. 

Essential Oil Diffusers:

Essential oils are like nature's aromatic gems. Each oil carries its own unique scent and potential benefits— So whether you're seeking relaxation, focus, or a boost of positivity, there's an essential oil for every occasion! When it comes to scenting products or enhancing our surroundings, essential oils offer a natural and holistic alternative to synthetic fragrances. Unlike their synthetic counterparts, essential oils are derived from plant sources and have been used for centuries for various therapeutic and aromatic purposes. Essential oils are extracted from plants, flowers, herbs, and other botanical sources. This means that their aromatic compounds are actually derived from nature itself, rather than being synthesized in a laboratory.

Homemade Simmer Pots:

If you're seeking a charming and natural way to infuse your living space with lovely aromas, then homemade simmer pots are the perfect solution! Imagine walking into a home filled with the inviting aroma of simmering spices and herbs. That's the beauty of simmer pots! By utilizing kitchen scraps like citrus peels and herb cuttings that might otherwise go to waste, homemade simmer pots embody an eco-friendly mentality, helping to reduce food waste and inspire resourcefulness! So whether you desire a cozy, winter-inspired blend with cloves and orange peels or a refreshing summer concoction with mint and lemon slices, creating your own simmer pot allows you to experiment with various combinations of ingredients to match your preferences!

Homemade Room Spray:

Add another layer of coziness with homemade room sprays! Simply combine water, essential oils, and a dash of rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle for an instant burst of aroma! For a charmingly rustic approach, repurposing herb and citrus peels offers a unique way to add natural fragrance to room sprays. The natural oils found in ingredients like citrus peels, rosemary, and woody spices can infuse the spray with a gentle and subtle aroma!

Natural Candles (from beeswax or coconut wax)

Looking to add a cozy touch to your surroundings? Unlike traditional candles made from paraffin, opt for candles crafted from natural wax sources, like beeswax or coconut. When they burn, they release a warm, subtle fragrance while avoiding the harmful chemicals found in petroleum based commercial candles.

Tap for The Freedom Guide Simmer Pot Recipe

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  1. Phthalates: Phthalates are commonly used in fragrances to make scents last longer. Unfortunately, they're also known endocrine disruptors. Exposure to phthalates has been linked to hormonal imbalances, potentially causing reproductive and developmental issues. Certain phthalates, such as diethyl phthalate (DEP), can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled. They’ve been strongly associated with allergic reactions, asthma exacerbation, and potential effects on neurodevelopment, especially in children. Some studies suggest connections between phthalate exposure and adverse outcomes in fetal development and fertility in both males and females.

  2. Parabens: Parabens are widely used as preservatives to extend the shelf life of cosmetics and personal care products. However, they can mimic estrogen in the body, disrupting hormonal balance. They’ve been strongly associated with reproductive abnormalities, developmental issues, and have even been found in breast tissue, raising concerns about their connection to breast and other hormone induced cancers.
  3. Synthetic Dyes: Synthetic dyes are added to personal care products to achieve vibrant colors, oftentimes inside of lipstick/gloss, foundation, concealer, lotions, perfumes, body washes, and many more products. However, synthetic dyes are derived from coal tar, which contains potential carcinogens. Some synthetic dyes, like Red 40, have been linked to hyperactivity in children and triggering allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. There is also valid concerns about skin absorption of certain dye compounds and contaminants, many of which are heavy metal based, which can lead to unintended health effects (particularly in products left on the skin for extended periods: self tanners, lotions, perfumes, etc).
  4. Petroleum Jelly/Mineral Oil: Derived from crude oil, petroleum jelly and mineral oil can create a barrier on the skin, preventing moisture loss. However, they commonly contain trace impurities such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens. Moreover, these ingredients can clog pores, leading to acne and skin irritation.
  5. Sodium Laurel Sulfate: Sodium laurel sulfate (also known as SLS) is a strong detergent and foaming agent used in many personal care products, soaps, and cleansers. While it can effectively “cleanse”, it also strips the skin of its natural oils, leading to dryness, irritation, and potential disruption of the skin's protective barrier. Additionally, SLS is often contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a potential human carcinogen. It can easily penetrate the skin and is particularly harmful when inhaled, which becomes trickier as this additive is used inside of fragranced products (which are inherently inhaled). 
  6. Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs): One of the significant contributors to indoor air pollution and a key reason why indoor air quality is oftentimes be worse than outdoor air quality. VOCs are emitted as gases from a variety of sources, including household products like cleaning agents, paints, varnishes, air fresheners, and fragranced items. These compounds have been linked to respiratory issues, exacerbation of asthma, and even some neurological symptoms. Indoor environments tend to have limited ventilation compared to the outdoors, which means that VOCs released from everyday products can become trapped and accumulate indoors. Long-term exposure to high levels of VOCs can have serious health effects, including respiratory cancers, infertility, organ damage, neurological conditions, and more.
  7. Benzene: Benzene is a common VOC contaminant and known carcinogen that can be present in trace amounts in fragranced products. Prolonged exposure to benzene through inhalation or skin absorption can increase the risk of various cancers, including leukemia and other blood-related cancers. Since fragranced products are often used frequently and in close proximity to the body/thyroid/lymph, the risk of exposure to benzene in any respect should be taken seriously!
  8. Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives: Formaldehyde is a volatile organic compound (VOC) that can be released as a result of chemical reactions occurring in certain fragranced products. While formaldehyde itself is not an ingredient deliberately added to fragrances, it can be generated as a byproduct from certain preservatives such as  DMDM Hydantoin, Diazolidinyl Urea, and Quaternium-15. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives are more likely to release formaldehyde gas when they come into contact with air or are exposed to heat— This can happen when you open a fragranced product, such as a lotion or perfume, and the preservatives interact with the air and warmth from your skin. 
In the pursuit of our health and the well-being of our environment, it's essential to scrutinize labels, research ingredients, and advocate for safer alternatives. Through this collective effort, we can transform our fragrance routines into conscious acts of self-care, ensuring that the scents we choose truly enrich our lives without compromising our health.
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