Posts Tagged ‘Essential oil’

Are Air Fresheners Really Fresh?

By the time I got home from a ride in my friend’s car one day, my lungs felt tight and I was coughing.  I knew immediately the air freshener in the car was the culprit, one of those new clip on air fresheners filled with a “scent” to eliminate car odors like food, dirt, and cigarette smoke.  I decided I must post about this on my blog!

Car air fresheners have gone from pine-scented cardboard cut outs of trees that dangle from the rear view mirror to the new plastic (more plastic!) containers filled with chemical scents.  They clip on the air vent and are activated with the airflow.  There are several brands with enticing names like Meadows and Rain, Hawaiian Aloha, or Linen and Sky complete with adjustable dials to control “freshness”.  The Febreeze ad says, “In just a few moments, you and your passengers can all breathe happy.” I was not happy!

A basic gel fragrance air freshener.

The chemicals used in air fresheners are anything but fresh and do nothing to improve the quality of the air.  They just mask the odors and in fact can be quite toxic.  The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that most air fresheners contain phthalates, which are at the center of a large debate about their negative health affects.  High exposure to certain phthalates, also found in cosmetics, nail polish, paint and other everyday items, can cause cancer, developmental and hormonal abnormalities and can affect fertility.  One of the active ingredients found in mothballs, 1,4 dichlorobenzene, is also found in some air fresheners.  The EPA lists this ingredient as toxic since its vapors can affect respiratory function.  There seems to be a correlation with air fresheners and asthma, according to the U.S. National Institute of Health Sciences. Other known ingredients that cause serious health issues are formaldehyde, acetone and terpenes.  According to, “These chemicals contain pollutants that, when mixed with ozone, cigarette smoke or dust can cause breathing complications, headaches and damage the central nervous system.”  What’s worse is that companies aren’t required to list the ingredients if the product is labeled a “fragrance”.

Air fresheners are everywhere – in the home, office and car.  It is estimated that around 75 percent of American homes use some form of them, which amounts to more than $1 billion in profits for the industry. The best air freshener for your car however, is rolling down the windows. You can also easily make your own– a sachet with natural potpourri or dried lavender flowers, baking soda poured into an old sock and placed underneath the seat, or a piece of felt scented with a pure essential oil.  You control how much scent you want!

Play it safe and do away with air fresheners!

Information compiled from,,


How Safe Are Baby Wipes?

I was recently chatting with one of my readers who mentioned that both her daughter and her daughter’s baby had painful eczema, especially on her fingers and the baby’s bottom; she wondered if the baby wipes had anything to do with it.  I remembered that I had terrible bouts of eczema on my fingers when I had babies and ended up making my own wipes because of it.

Most baby wipes contain a common preservative known as Bronopol, or 2-BROMO-2-NITROPROPANE-1,3-DIOL, which according to the Environmental Working Group has the highest hazard score possible and is a known human immune system, lung and skin toxicant.  It is listed by the European Union as a toxin affecting wildlife and the environment.  Bronopol is used in baby wipes in place of alcohol and other preservatives and because it is a highly effective antimicrobial ingredient.   Wipes can also contain phthalates (a group of synthetic chemicals that act as a softening agent but are also known endocrine disruptors) and other skin irritating chemicals.  While eczema can be hereditary, people with it usually find that chemical irritants can trigger an outbreak.

Whether you and your baby have eczema or not, I recommend erring on the side of caution (small, developing bodies are more susceptible to the dangers of toxins than adult bodies) and encourage you to buy one of the purer, alcohol and fragrance-free brands like Seventh Generation or Tushies, make your own, or try the “waterfall” method recommended by a French pediatrician in Manhattan. He encourages new moms to set up a changing station near the kitchen sink and hold the baby under the faucet to clean them.  It cleans better than wipes and cuts down on diaper rash.

For those of you who want to save money and have the time to make your own baby wipes solution, I have listed a basic recipe below.  You can also find many recipes using a variety of essential oils or specific anti-fungal recipes on-line.

The Environmental Working Group site offers baby product suggestions, including shampoo, soap, wipes and diaper cream that are safer alternatives to conventional brands loaded with toxic chemicals. Go to

Basic Wipes Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons chemical-free baby shampoo or wash
  • 2 tablespoons oil (almond, olive, or jojoba)
  • 2-4 cups hot water
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

Shake will in a jar or mix with whisk and then pour over wipes (soft wash cloths, tee-shirt or cotton squares) quickly before oil begins to separate.

Information compiled from and



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On Christmas Eve, my husband came down with a violent, highly contagious stomach bug, which of course ruined his holiday eating.  My daughter succumbed to it the next day and was even sicker. Fearing it would spread to the rest of us, I sprayed Thieves Oil around the house.  “What on earth is Thieves Oil and where did you find that?” my husband asked.  Having grown up with my “weird” remedies, my son piped up in his no nonsense way,  “She didn’t.  It just finds her.”  And I’m glad it did.

Thieves Oil is a powerful blend of germ-killing essential oils – clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary – that help eliminate airborne bacteria and boost the immune system. Research conducted at Weber State University, as well as other documented research, shows that most viruses, fungi, and bacteria cannot live in the presence of many essential oils. When bacteria cultures were sprayed in an enclosed area, Thieves Oil had a 99.96% success rate against airborne bacteria.

The name comes from the legend of four thieves who were captured and charged with robbing dead and dying victims during the bubonic plague, which killed so many people in Europe for about 600 years, peaking around 1300.  In exchange for leniency, the magistrate wanted to know how the thieves escaped from contracting the plague.  They confessed to rubbing themselves with a special concoction of aromatic herbs, including garlic, cloves and rosemary.   Hence, the name Thieves Oil.

There are a variety of Thieves® antiseptic products such as household cleaners, soaps, hand sanitizers, toothpaste, and mouthwash, formulated from the essential oils mentioned in the legend, that help fight against bacteria, fungi and viruses and ward off disease.  With more virulent and antibiotic resistant germs around, consider adding Thieves® products to your natural, wellness medicine cabinet, especially during cold and flu season.

I can’t say for sure whether it was the Thieves Oil or not that kept my son and me from getting the bug, but whatever the reason, it certainly didn’t hurt to spray this sweet smelling, non-toxic antiseptic around the house.

Information compiled