I used to love burning scented candles. I almost always had one burning in at least one room of my home. Concurrently, I also suffered from severe allergies that robbed me of quality of life, asthma, and frequent respiratory infections. And dammit if I wasn’t irritable ALL THE TIME!
Around about the same time I learned to clean up my diet, I also learned about the dangers of environmental toxins and the prevalence of chemicals in our cleaning products, personal care products, air fresheners, scented candles, etc and I did a clean-sweep of my home. One of the things that I had learned was that my toxin overload had made me EXTREMELY chemical sensitive.
Fast-forward a few years after I had healed my body and was feeling great. One chilly late-fall night while out shopping after a long work day, when decision-making capabilities were severely impaired, I came across a great sale on scented candles from a popular candle company. I began to reminisce about the fall scents warming up my home and the Christmas scents to follow.
Between the reminiscing and decision-fatigue, I didn’t stand a chance. I left that store with at least ten new candles and fantasies of their delicious fragrances filling my cozy winter home. Within five minutes of the 20 minute car ride home, my nose began to run like a faucet, my eyes began to itch like mad, and I began sneezing and coughing uncontrollably. I was so caught up in the excitement of my impulse buy that I didn’t put two and two together. Not right away at least.
As soon as I arrived home, I placed some of the candles in different rooms and stored the remainder in a cabinet, all while wiping at my dripping nose, sneezing, coughing, and scratching at my itchy eyes. I still didn’t put two and two together.
The a-ha moment came later that night while I sat soaking in the tub with a candle burning inches from my face. The luxurious experience of tub soaking was replaced by wiping furiously at the river flowing from my nose and trying not to gouge out my itching eyes.
And then it hit me…Oh…my…sneezing, itching, nose-running head…THE CANDLE! I had not burned scented candles in my home for a few years at that point, and within minutes of introducing them back into my life, I began experiencing symptoms that had previously plagued me for YEARS!
You can probably guess what I did next. The candles that had already been lit, were immediately deposited into the garbage where they belonged, and the ones that had not been lit were loaded right back into the car to be returned to the store the following day.
The drive to work the next day (and for several days afterwards) was sheer misery as my car was permeated with the chemical fumes from the candles.
Sometimes setbacks in life are great teachers to remind us about what we already know. I had known prior to purchasing these candles about the dangers of synthetic fragrances, but my emotional brain took over my logical brain when my decision-making capacity was on overload.
If I can offer you one solid piece of advice for taking charge of your health RIGHT NOW, that would be to immediately go through your home, car and office and get rid of every synthetically scented candle and air freshener that you have. The candles, the plug-ins, the sprays, the ones you dangle from your rear-view mirror. Every last one of them! I don’t give a SH!T how much you paid for them or that there’s still ¾ remaining! This is your health we’re talking about! Your family’s health!
You might be thinking, “But Tamy, I burn candles all the time and I have scented air fresheners and they don’t make my nose run or my eyes itch.”
Here’s my response. You love your candles and your air fresheners. I get it. But let me ask you some questions. Have you, or someone you loved been affected by cancer? How about an autoimmune condition? Or maybe migraines or chronic headaches or hormonal issues such as infertility, miscarriage, PMS, acne, sleep issues or thyroid disease? I can’t imagine that a single person reading this blog can answer no to the above questions. ALL of us has, in some way, been impacted by these issues of modern health.
It SUCKS losing someone you love to cancer and watching them go through the battle. It SUCKS to watch someone you love suffer with the debilitating effects of autoimmunity or any other chronic health condition. And it SUCKS to be the person suffering from them. These conditions rob you of joy and quality of life. And there is no replacement for a lost loved one!
These products are loaded with chemicals that have been classified as carcinogens (cancer-causing) and endocrine disrupting (hormone-disrupting). Perhaps you don’t notice immediate and spectacular effects of these chemicals on your body like I do. But this does not mean that the chemicals you are exposing yourself to are not causing insidious damage to your internal tissues little-by-little.
And if you don’t care enough about your own health to consider making this change, please…think about the health of your children. Your spouse. Is their long-term health worth the risk of having a synthetically fragranced home? Think about the quality of life that you could be missing out on down the road when the insidious effects catch up to you or that of a family member. Think about your family having to watch you suffer or having to watch a family member suffer. Is it really worth it?
We live in a world today where we are constantly bombarded with chemical exposure. Our bodies are exposed to more synthetic chemicals today than ever before in the history of our species, and our body’s detox mechanisms are not equipped to handle it!
We can’t avoid all exposure to these synthetic chemicals. But what we CAN do is minimize our exposure as much as possible by limiting the synthetic chemicals that we allow into our homes. By making this one small change, you will be creating a safer, healthier environment for yourself and for your family.
If we have our own long-term health and the long-term health of our loved ones in mind, we MUST be willing to sacrifice the immediate gratification of pleasures now. The effects of some of these chemicals are not immediately noticeable, but that doesn’t mean they are not causing problems that will show up down the road.
If you have tears of sorrow running down your cheeks at the horror of giving up your smelly chemicals, here are a few alternatives to candles and synthetic air fresheners:
- Burn unscented beeswax candles.
- Replace your synthetically scented candles with those scented with essential oils only. These can be harder to find, and will definitely be more expensive than the ones you’re used to buying, but trust me, it will be worth it!
- Use an essential oil diffuser and essential oils instead of air fresheners and plug-ins. Essential oils have health benefits and make your space smell wonderful. You can check out DoTerra diffusers and essential oils here. Yes, they’re more expensive than you’re accustomed to paying. Your health is worth it. Your family’s health is worth it.
- Use essential oil room sprays. Make sure that the only ingredients are pure essential oils and water!
Here is my call to action to you:
Put down your phone or whatever device you’re reading this on, get out of your chair, walk through every room in your home and get rid of every last scented candle, air freshener, room spray, etc. Do the same in your car and at your place of work. Do it right now before you lose the urgency or talk yourself out of it! I know that this will be very hard for some of you, but you can do it! If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your family! Prevention is everything!