Whether or not we’d like to admit it, air fresheners are a must-need for most households. Especially ones that house pets and children! Things get a little messy and a little smelly every once in a while, and air fresheners are there to help pick up the slack for moms, dads, college students and other adults who are on the go. There’s just one problem with most air fresheners on the market — they contain chemicals that could seriously hinder your health.

Many air-freshening products contain phthalates — hazardous chemicals that are known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Phthalates are used in many common consumer products, including children’s toys, nail polish, perfume and air fresheners. When air fresheners containing these chemicals are used, they release phthalates into the air, where they may either be inhaled or absorbed through a person’s skin.spray

Once these chemicals enter the bloodstream, they can alter hormone levels and cause several other health problems. Phthalate exposure in an indoor environment has also been associated with allergic symptoms and asthma. When the Natural Resources Defense Council tested 14 common air fresheners – none of which listed phthalates on the ingredient list – they found that 86% (12 out of 14) of them contained these harmful chemicals.

These included:

  • Air Wick Scented Oil
  • Citrus Magic
  • Febreze NOTICEables Scented Oil
  • Glade Air Infusions
  • Glade Plugin Scented Oil
  • Lysol Brand II Disinfectant
  • Oust Air Sanitizer Spray
  • Oust Fan Liquid Refills
  • Ozium Glycol-ized Air Sanitizer
  • Walgreens Air Freshener Spray
  • Walgreens Scented Bouquet Air Freshener
  • Walgreens Solid Air Freshener

Air fresheners that contained the highest level of phthalates were Ozium Glycol-ized Air Sanitizer, and all three air fresheners from the Walgreens brand.

What About Candles?

If you’re thinking about switching to candles, not so fast. Most candles are made from paraffin – a petroleum waste product that has to be deodorized and chemically bleached before it can be made into wax. The paraffin wax creates highly toxic benzene and toluene when burned. Both of these substances are known carcinogens. The toxins released from paraffin candles are the same as those found in diesel fuel fumes!

If you’ve found a more natural candle, be sure to check the wick. Many candles have wicks that contain heavy metals such as lead, and within a few hours of burning, they can unsafe create levels of airborne heavy metals. Artificial scents and dyes can also be the source of additional chemicals.candles-492171_1280

Natural Alternatives

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to give up that little extra help that candles and air fresheners give you at home, work or in the car. A great natural alternative to a scented candle is a beeswax candle. You can also make your own safe and natural candles at home!

Here’s more good news: making your own natural air fresheners is cheap and easy to do! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A mason jar with a lid
  • A hammer
  • A fork
  • An empty candle container
  • A screwdriver
  • Baking Soda ( click here for International products )
  • Essential oils

Check out the video below for a tutorial on how to make two different versions of your own safe and natural air fresheners. Enjoy!

h/t: sun gazing