Most people think about spring cleaning as the time to de-clutter and clear out unwanted items from the home, but it is also time to clear out the house from stale, stagnant air from being closed up all winter long. A deep clean during this time is beneficial for getting rid of stuff and refreshing your home as well, getting your space and your body prepared for the renewal of spring.
Clean air in the home can help improve the lives of those with allergies and asthma, as well as promoting a calmer, more peaceful setting. Pollution from outside and inside the home can come from many sources, including cars,and environmental pollutants, body care and cleaning products, dirty vents, and flame retardants on furniture, can be very problematic for people with compromised immune systems or other health problems. Your home has its own microbiome, so any product or chemical that compromises the balance of beneficial microbes in the air can have a negative effect on health. This is especially important for those who have health conditions and need to be as free from chemicals as possible.
Forget about Febreeze and stinky scented candles that actually make the air less pure by putting toxins into the air. Anything with artificial fragrances will contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals like parabens, having the opposite effect that you are going for. Purifying the air in your home naturally, instead of with chemical cleaners and fragrances, will actually make you and your family healthier.
For today's Friday Five, here are 5 natural ways to purify the air in your home or any space where you spend a lot of time. This will help you to breathe fresh, clean air and enjoy being in your home even more.
1. Himalayan Salt lamp: Himalayan salt lamps emit negative ions into the ambient space in the room. Negative ions are associated with improved health, better mood, and even protection from electromagnetic fields (EMF's) from computers and cell phones. The salt lamp attracts moisture (salt loves water), and the warmth of the lamp causes it to evaporate, emitting those negative ions. The use of salt lamps has been linked to improvement in symptoms of allergies and asthma as well. As a bonus, they are also very relaxing due to their warm glow. Their light is on the red/orange end of the light spectrum, as opposed to harsh fluorescent lights that emit blue light, which can be more calming and less disruptive to sleep. Here is a great article all about the science of the salt lamp for a more in-depth look at how it works.
2. House plants: Bringing the outdoors inside can have many health benefits, including air purification and improved mood. Plus, if you are re-potting your plants as they grow, you will get the benefits of earthing and a microbiome boost from having your hands in the soil. Here's a list of ten of the best house plants to use for purifying the air in your home, most of which can be found at any greenhouse or store that sells house plants.
Indoor house plants help to balance the humidity in the air and purify it from toxins. Aloe vera, snake plant, and peace lilies are all known to help remove impurities in the air, making breathing easier and healthier in the home. Plus they bring a sense of peace and calm into the room as well. I am starting to see more indoor plants in public spaces, too, and this trend not only looks great and makes a space more tranquil, but the health benefits are becoming more mainstream, too. Try to have some in as many rooms as possible in your own home and give them away as awesome housewarming gifts to others.
3. Beeswax candles: Conventional candles are typically made with petroleum-based paraffin and hormone-disrupting fragrances, which put off toxins in the air. These fragrances and additives can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive individuals as well. Beeswax candles, on the other hand, actually work as air purifiers, having the opposite effect of their commercial counterpart. Beeswax candles can release negative ions, like a salt lamp, and can pull allergens and toxins out of the air, helping those with allergies and asthma. Beeswax naturally smells wonderful and is much better for the environment than soy or petroleum-based candles, benefiting the space even outside of your home. Much like the salt lamp, the glowing light emitted from candles is superior to artificial lights that fall on the blue end of the light spectrum, creating a calming effect. Check out this post from Empowered Sustenance for more information on why to only use beeswax candles in your space.
4. White Sage: Smudging your home with white sage is a helpful way to purify the air. The smoke from the burning sage clears the air and doubles as incense because of the wonderful natural fragrance. Traditionally used in Native American ceremonies for rituals of purification and cleansing, white sage is still used today for similar purposes. Be careful if you or someone in your home has asthma or allergies, however, as some can be sensitive to the smoke of the burning sage. Try a small amount if you think you or someone in your home may have a sensitivity before introducing it on a regular basis.
5. Essential Oils: Diffusing essential oils into the air is often thought of as a way to add pleasant fragrances without harsh chemicals. Though this is true, many essential oils also act as air purifiers as well. Made from the distillation of plant materials, these concentrated oils can be warmed in an oil warmer or diffused to be released into the air. This study showed that certain essential oils, including eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and peppermint, can be beneficial in treating upper respiratory infections. They may also be useful for those will allergies and asthma as well. Be careful when using essential oils, as they are extremely concentrated, and consult a doctor before using if you have medical conditions or are sensitive to smells.
In addition to using these natural solutions to purifying the air in your home, one of the best ways to clear the air is often overlooked: open your windows! Closed windows prevent natural air flow through the rooms that would naturally help to clean out toxins and allergens in the air. This can even be done during the fall and winter months by taking advantage of any sunny or even slightly warm days that you may have. During the warmer hours of the day, try to open at least one window to get the air moving. It is so ingrained in our culture to be closed up in our homes and use heating or cooling to regulate our temperatures inside, so we don't often let the windows stay open to let the sun and air do their natural job of purification. Don't be afraid to let in a little chilly air when it isn't warm outside, especially if it's clean air.
In addition, be sure to clean out the ventilation systems regularly in your home and make improvements needed to get cleaner, better air flow in the home when windows cannot be opened. As much as all of these suggestions can be used to purify and clean your air, you will still need to do regular cleaning of these systems as a preventative measure. Keeping pollutants out of your home in the first place is also important in keeping the toxic load inside your home low. Use low toxin paints, natural fabrics, organic cleaning products and body care products to prevent adding these toxins in the air. Decrease the frequency of new furniture and cosmetic remodeling in your home, as many of these things can produce off-gasses, which is a form of indoor pollution often overlooked, whic can very negatively affect your health. It is very important to get rid of carpet and stick to hardwood or tile, as carpet can not only off-gas, but can also trap dust, mites, mold, and all sorts of other allergens that can act as irritants. Regularly dust and sweep, clean ducts and get mold treated as soon as possible. Be sure to get a professional to remove lead pain or asbestos--don't try to do it yourself--to improve the air quality of your home. These natural air purifiers are wonderful, but you have to get rid of toxins in the home as well to truly improve your air and health. Of course, if you have serious allergies or asthma, adding air purifying machines or humidifiers/de-humidifiers may also be needed to maintain balance and healthy air for you, in addition to natural air purifying solutions.
Brine & Broth
I am a nutritionist in Southwest Wisconsin, focused on traditional, nutrient-dense foods. My goal is to provide you with simple and delicious recipes that fit into real life, and information for choosing healthful real foods. Enjoy!