The first sight of falling leaves can inspire us to transform our homes to welcome Fall. One of the most tempting ways to embrace the season is by filling our homes with the warm scent of pumpkin spice candles–but wait! Before you reach for the matches, have you thought about how you could be affecting your health?Unfortunately, most scented candles and air fresheners contain harmful chemicals known as VOCs, which are released into your air once the candle is burned. VOCs can sometimes come in scary packages–like Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Acetone. Once these chemicals are released in your air, they can easily travel into your lungs and, eventually, blood stream.
Short-term side effects of VOCs include headaches as well as itchy eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Too much exposure to VOCs has also been linked to eczema flare-ups, acne breakouts, hives, allergies, asthma attacks, and cancer.
Don’t worry! There are plenty of natural alternatives to candles and air fresheners that can help you achieve a cozy, fall-festive home. Here are a few of our favorite tricks:
1. Add Fall Spices to your Cleaning Routine
Baking soda is safe and effective alternative to harsh cleaning products, and if you choose to use baking soda in your cleaning routine, we recommend mixing in a dash of cinnamon, pumpkin spice, or cloves--this mix will leave your house sparkling and ready for the season!
2. Hang a Rosemary Wreath
Tying together a few Rosemary sprigs with floral wire to create a wreath will help fill your home with this popular seasonal scent.
3. Create the Smell of Fresh-Baked Pumpkin Pie
This trick from Martha Stewart's blog can become a fall favorite after adding a quick healthy-air update! Here are the instructions from Martha's blog:
- Cut off the pumpkin's top and scrape out the innards; carve round vents with an apple corer.
- Rub cinnamon or pumpkin-pie spices onto the lid, or push cloves into it.
- With a lighted tea light candle inside, the pumpkin will give off a lovely fragrance for about six hours.
The only change that needs to be made to this DIY pumpkin pie scent is to swap out the tea light candle for a small beeswax candle. Candles made of beeswax don't emit harmful chemicals in your air and burn longer than typical paraffin candles. Small beeswax candles are available on Amazon.com, Etsy, and more!
Press Cloves into Fruit
This is an age-old trick for filling your home with the perfect smell of fall--and even winter. While this recipe calls for an orange, we recommend trying pears, pumpkins, and more to create a custom scent:
- Pierce the skin of an orange with a wooden skewer to create a small hole.
- Place a clove in each hole of the orange. Wrap a rubber band around the orange to help guide you to create even lines and designs.
- Display the oranges and let them naturally freshen your home!
4. Create a Healthy Simmer Pot
Simmer pots are a great way to fill your home with a comforting and warm fall scent. Most simmer pot recipes suggest heating the ingredients in a pot over a gas stove--however this can add harmful fine dust to the air throughout your home.
We recommend swapping out the stovetop simmer pot for a crock pot or slow cooker--it may help the scent last longer, and it can also help add additional humidity to your home during these cold, dry months. To create your own, simply heat water, cloves, apple slices, orange peels, and cinnamon sticks in a crockpot and let your home be transformed into a cozy fall haven.
Be More Aware of Your Indoor Air Quality
You don't have to sacrifice your health to create the perfect fall-ready home. Unfortunately, many of us don’t realize the air in our homes can be filled with chemicals and other toxins that can threaten our safety.
If you want to really know what’s in the air you’re breathing, you can get started with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air and provides personalized recommendations to help you stay safe and healthy.