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Michelle Warner

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Using Sense With Scents

Posted on February 7th, 2011

Monday Morsel

sometimes random.
sometimes deep.
just a little something
to begin your week.

I love the smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen, apple cider simmering on the stove, and roses growing in the backyard. Oh, if only all fragrances could be as natural and harmless. As I wrote in last week’s Monday Morsel, certain “fragrances” in products often contain many chemicals that can negatively affect our health. In light of that information, I want to share how to add healthy fragrances into our lives through candles, air fresheners, and perfume. After all, it would not the same without sweet-smelling aromas wafting through the house.


To my surprise, I learned most candles are made from paraffin which comes from petroleum sludge. I read that inhaling the smoke from paraffin wax candles is like inhaling the smoke from a diesel engine. Yikes! What’s more disturbing—there are actually pollutants like toluene and benzene (also found in toxic nail polish) that are emitted when the candle burns. The other drawback to most candles on the market is that they contain toxic synthetic fragrances as explained in more detail last week.

I found two alternatives to using paraffin candles:

  • Beeswax candles clean the air when they burn and have been compared to an air purifier candle.  Candles that are made of 100% beeswax obviously ensure good quality. I have been able to find these types of candles at the farmer’s market near my house in the summer and I can’t wait to pick one up when spring finally lands in Chicago (which may be a while!).
  • Organic soy candles are also gaining popularity. Similar to beeswax candles, 100% organic soy candles (which means the soy is not genetically modified), are the most healthy. Soy candles produce much less soot than paraffin candles which improves the air quality. It also is important to make sure that soy candles contain pure, essential oils instead of synthetic fragrances to eliminate needless chemicals being released into the air.

Many stores are selling soy and beeswax candles including Whole Foods. I also noticed you can buy these candles on

Air Fresheners

Okay, let’s be honest: many times the reason I have used air fresheners is to mask a smell in my house. However, as I researched about air fresheners, I was reminded of the Morsel I wrote about air quality; the most important action step we can do to ensure clean air in our homes is to locate the root of the smell in a room instead of masking it. Once we have dealt with the smell and still want to enjoy a pleasant aroma, here are some healthy suggestions to aid us in accomplishing that goal:

  • Make your own aroma diffusers. It is important to note that you should use pure essential oils. I buy mine from Whole Foods so that I can be sure that they are of good quality and healthy for me. I bought my reeds from Bed, Bath, and Beyond for only $1.00 a package.
  • Heat essential oils on a heater designed for essential oils. (I found my electric one at Bath and Body Works though I do not use their oils because they are made with synthetic fragrances.)

Click here for more helpful information on healthy air fresheners.


My husband gave me perfume for our wedding, and every time I smell the scent it takes me back to our special day on the beach. I still wear the perfume when we have a special occasion but on the other days, I have found healthier options. Some of which I have listed below.

  • Buy Essential Body Oils. I have to say that almost every time I wear my body oil, I receive many compliments—even more than when I wear my wedding perfume. The scent truly stays with me throughout the day and hydrates my skin in the process. (I also noticed that many vendors on carry similar products.)

  • Make your own perfume at Aveda. I was able to choose which scent I was drawn to most, making this a wonderful option.

Click here for more information and a list of more perfume options.

One particular word of caution: Although it pains me to write this, I encourage you to look into the toxicity of Bath and Body Works products. I used to wear them every day and love all of their amazing scents. However, when I looked them up at, I was surprised to find out that they rank highest on the toxicity scale. After doing all of this research, I realize this is because their products are scented with synthetic fragrances.

It is encouraging to me to find that with a little research and effort, we can still enjoy great scents but with much healthier results. Now that makes perfect scents and perfect sense!

(PS If you have found any healthy, fragrant products that have worked for you, please share your findings in the comments section below.)

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