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It's All Coming Up Roses


There are as many types of air fresheners as there are perfumes.  Some people (like myself!) have spent years, and lots of money trying to find the one that works for them.  Walking into friends’ homes and being greeted with warm spicy scents or being uplifted by the light floral scents always had me leaving trying to replicate it in my home with varying successes.Air fresheners have been around forever, and there is a type out there for almost everyone. Incense and scented candles, oils and fans and motion detecting air fresheners, there will be one to fits your lifestyle and wallet.

Nowadays, who wants to waste the time, money and let’s be honest; have to smell some of the choices out there?? I decided to stick my nose into the world of air fresheners and how they have evolved!

People have attempted to mask foul air since the beginning of time, think back to the lack of conveniences and you can understand why.  Many items were used to try make the surrounding smell more pleasant, essential oils, incense, and flowers.  Nosegays were pinned to a gentleman’s lapel for this very reason!

In 1948 the military developed the technology to emit a pressurized mist using a chlorofluorocarbon propellant to release insecticides.  The mist could remain in the air for hours.  With the addition of aroma compounds instead of insecticides, air fresheners hit the shelves.

Doing the Bunny Hop into the 1950s, companies travelled the research and development road, adding substances intended not just to cover odors but annihilate them altogether.  Most only neutralized some of the unpleasantness.  In early 1980s, environmental concerns led manufacturers to looking into alternatives to aerosols.  In the years since we have seen rapid growth in air-freshening options, from old fashioned potpourri to set and forget timed-release sprays.

With the advancement in air fresheners they no longer just mask unpleasant smells.  While now being environmentally friendly, there are also fresheners available to sanitize the air, acting on airborne microbiological organisms.  These air fresheners are great to put to use during flu season!

There are the air fresheners from our childhood.  They are still on the shelves and will likely be there years to go. Traditional air fresheners containing a gel that evaporates over time will not transport you to an orchard of Japanese Cherry Blossoms, but they do what they are intended for.  They are inexpensive and small, just remove the seal and put the air freshener in a discrete spot like the shelf of your closet or in a bathroom cabinet and replace as needed.

Aroma beads can be fun and easy to use.  Place them in your favourite fragrant oil until it’s absorbed and stick them in a bag and use them to freshener the air wherever you want — a closet, dresser, or even your vacuum bag.  If you are creative type, use the beads to make great smelling home decor and gifts.  Be cautious around heat, the beads may melt and make a mess!

A Potpourri is a combination of herbs and spices, in natural and synthetic varieties. Potpourri is visually appealing as well as aroma therapeutic.  It is available ready-made, or you can easily make your own.  It is inexpensive and natural potpourris do not contain harmful chemicals, if you opt to make your own it can take some experimenting to reproduce your favourite fragrances but so worth it in the end!

Some find burning incense to be relaxing, others find the scented smoke too strong. I find the quality of the incenses makes an incredible difference in the experience. Ignited the cone, stick, or coil, blow out the flame and the incense will disperse aromatic smoke for up to an hour before self-extinguishing. 

Scented candles are incredibly popular because they come in a variety of scents and colors, shapes and sizes.  Some may find that they leave a bit of black, sooty residue on nearby surfaces or the air heavy and smoky when they are extinguished, somewhat counter active to lighting the candle to begin with.

When candles aren’t allowed, or preferred candle-warmers are an option.  Like little fondue pots for your favorite scented wax.  They are plugged in with the scented wax place on top or inside, as it warms, and the wax melts the scents wafted through your home. Scented candles and waxes often contain synthetic compounds, which can cause issues for those with allergies or asthma, look for natural alternatives if you have concerns.

Essential oils have been the hot topic of the last few years from diffusers to roll-ons and bracelets. Essential oils are lovely smelling plant extracts that have different properties and can be combined.  If you want to relax, lavender can help you do that.  If you are working from home and having trouble avoiding distractions, other oils can give you the energy you need to stay motivated or help you concentrate on the tasks at hand. Combining different essential oils that compliment each other can bring out notes that may not have been sensed using only a single oil.

There are essential oil diffusers that release aromatherapy with and without heat.  Dispersing the oils with heat breaks them down in a way that may release harmful chemicals into the air.  There have been studies showing adverse effects on pets when essential oils have been heated in a home. While the oils themselves don’t contain harmful substances, there is a chemical reaction that occurs during heating the dispels the chemicals into the air. Be informed, check with the manufacturer or your vet if you have concerns.

Getting a bit more hi-tech, there are fan air fresheners (usually battery-powered) that look and operate like little fans.  The aroma comes from scent cartridges available in a wide selection to suit your personal sniff preferences.  There are a few styles of these available, and no two are exactly alike.  You learn that quickly when you go to buy replacement scent cartridges; Was it this one? No, kind of looked like this I think…? They also vary from ones that deodorize a single or your entire home.  Some models that release fragrance for a month or others that will be empty in a week in high traffic areas.

Evaporative diffusers run on a quiet fan to disperse essential oils through a filter.  They don’t tend to release all the components of the oils concurrently, so you may not get the total aromatherapy experience with these diffusers.

Ultrasonic diffusers are one of the most popular when it comes to diffusers as they use a metal plate to quickly dispense essential oil particles.  These are considered one of the better options as they are quiet enough to be used in a bedroom at night and serve as both diffuser and a humidifier.  They do have smaller water tanks making their aromatherapy capabilities less intense than other types of diffusers.

Plug-ins seem to be omnipresent in homes.  Some people can turned off by the strength of the scent from plug-ins, but they can usually be adjusted to suit your preference of fragrance intensity.  These fragrances are usually made of synthetic chemicals, so again, check labels if you have need for concern.

Plug-ins contain a warmer that circulates the fragrance usually through a single room or smaller area. Plug-ins last for weeks, are relatively easy to use and give you a good value to your dollar.  The package will come with at least one fragrance refill, remember the brand when you go to buy refills, they are usually quite specific!

Many air fresheners cannot be tolerated by people with allergies and asthma as they contain carcinogens. Some of these chemicals can be especially harmful to babies, young children, and pets.  Read labels carefully, look for all-natural options, such as essential oil diffusers and products that are free of compounds that could potentially be dangerous.

The scent you disperse through your home is as personal as the perfume you wear.  Create an atmosphere that relaxes or invigorates – cinnamon and vanilla, eucalyptus and mint, or hibiscus and roses - it’s a matter of personal taste, or um, sniff!

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