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Dangers of Chemical Air Fresheners and Why Incense Is Better

Dear Mama,

Are you spraying chemical air fresheners in your home?  Do you use fake fragrances? How often do you use Lysol spray to clean your air? 

You like enticing scents, and we get it, you're trying to be extra sanitized in the current world.  But all of these synthesized chemical cleaners, fragrances, and products bring a host of other issues with their use.  These commonly used household items have negative health impacts from hormone disruption to being cancer causing.

There is a much better and cleaner way to keep your house smelling fresh while also removing harmful elements from your air - Incense, along with other natural aromatics like smudge sticks and essential oils.

But before we get into how wonderful incense is, lets cover the nefarious nature of artificial fragrances.

The Dangers of Chemical Cleaners, Air Fresheners, & Artificial Fragrances

Chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and anything with artificial fragrances should be avoided.

Artificial scents are almost entirely petroleum-derived (crude oil) and full of cancer-causing chemicals, endocrine disruptors (mess with your hormones), and even linked to central nervous system disorders (Alzheimer's & Parkinson's).  There are even chemicals known to cause birth defects in these products Air fresheners are full of chemicals and artificial fragrances that will disrupt your hormones, give you cancer, and even cause birth defects.  

Companies can put nearly anything they want in a product under the general terms "fragrance" or "parfum" on a label.  The FDA considers 'fragrance' and trade-secret formulas exempt from ingredient laws.  And when tested, these products continually come back with benzene-derivatives (cancer), phthalates (hormones), and more. 

Unscented vs Fragrance-Free Products

Do you buy unscented or fragrance-free products?

Good thought, but "unscented" means the company added fragrance chemicals to cover up the aroma that is present in all the other ingredients.  

Yes, your 'unscented' products have many of the above health-wrecking chemicals that are captured under the fragrance label.  Basically, the products contain a 'neutral' fragrance to make them smell less instead of no fragrance.

For example, phthalates are used in plastics to make them more flexible, but also mask unpleasant orders fairly well.  Therefore they are used in unscented products.  The Environmental Protection Agency has even issued a statement warning against phthalates.

EPA is concerned about phthalates because of their toxicity and the evidence of pervasive human and environmental exposure to these chemicals.  Phthalates are used in many industrial and consumer products, many of which pose potentially high exposure. 

-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Fragrance-free is another option you may see.  These should in theory be better than unscented as they shouldn't contain any of the fragrance chemicals that Air fresheners are full of artificial fragrances that can wreck your health despite trying to appear cleanare in scented & unscented products.  However, studies on 'fragrance-free' products continually show that a high percent of them do contain these chemicals.  

The linked study showed almost 50% of the 'fragrance free' products tested came back with significant amount of fragrance chemicals in them.

The use of legally ambiguous terms like "fragrance-free", "Unscented", "natural", etc. is so prevalent that it has its own name, "Green-Washing".  

How do Unscented & Fragrance-Free Products Contain Fragrance Chemicals?

In short, the terms "unscented" and "fragrance-free" are not legally defined. Air fresheners try to link their chemical scents to truly natural scents.They fall under the same category as calling something "natural".  Since it isn't legally defined, there is a lot of leeway given to companies on how they choose to use it on labels.

And companies naturally (pun intended) decide to overuse the terms to try to convince you that their products are healthy. 

Additionally, the advertising uses natural fruits and plants and tries to link those health-promoting plants and natural scents to the product.

Alternatives to Chemical Fragrances

What are the alternatives to all these chemical air fresheners?

Incense , essential oils, and smudge sticks

Incense, smudge sticks, and essential oils contain actually natural ingredients.  Incense uses the roots, bark, flowers, berries, and resin of of plants to get their aromatics.  Smudge sticks use whole plant material and aromatics.  Essential oils distill these same fragrances into an oil. 

Additionally, the natural plant materials in these 3 aromatics can actually cleanse the air of pathogens. 

For example, burning sage has been proven to remove 94% of bacteria in the airFrankincense & Myrrh both have been shown to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal effects when used in incense or essential oils.  The list goes on and on for many of the commonly used aromatics.

Incense, Smudge Sticks, & Essential Oils Also Provide Spiritual & Emotional Support on Top of Being Healthier for the Body

The benefits of choosing incense, essential oils, and smudge sticks over Lysol sprays and Glade plug-ins goes beyond the physical health benefits.  Spiritually and emotionally, there is a huge benefit to your mental health by incorporating these aromatics into ceremonies.  

Not to mention, incense, smudge sticks, and essential oils smell significantly better than the fake stuff.

[Interested in learning more about incorporating incense into your daily ritual?  We have an introduction to incense post here.

Want to learn how to use smudge sticks?  We walk through smudging for Moms in this post.]

You can achieve a better smell, cleaner air, and a calmer energy in your living space, just from making the switch from artificial fragrances and cleaners to a solution that has been used across cultures for thousands of years.

Conclusion - Incense is Better than Artificial Fragrances

Incense gives you all the benefits of chemical air sprays without all the cancer, autoimmune issues, endocrine disruption, and birth defects...

Incense (and other natural aromatics like smudge sticks and essential oils) also smells significantly nicer than any artificial smell can ever hope to achieve.

Lastly, there is a spiritual and emotional wellness that comes from incorporating incense into a daily ritual.  There is a reason people seeking enlightenment and peace don't sit in front of a Glade Plug-in when meditating...Seriously it is a funny thing to imagine, a monk sitting in nature and instead of using incense, he is using some artificial fragrance spray.

There is no spiritual or emotional well-being that comes from chemical fragrances like there is from incense, smudge sticks, and essential oils.

Do yourself a favor, and get some non-chemical aromatics today.

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