According to The Environmental Working Group, “Ingredients commonly used in fragrances in air fresheners include phthalates, which make fragrances last longer and are linked to male reproductive system birth defects and hormone disruption, and synthetic musks, which are linked to allergies and hormone disruption. Last year, a University of Washington study found that eight unnamed, widely used U.S. air fresheners released an average of 18 chemicals into the air. On average, one in five of these chemicals were hazardous substances highlighted in federal and some state pollution standards. Fully half the air fresheners tested released acetaldehyde, a likely human carcinogen according to the EPA.”
You can make your own safe and natural air fresheners with essential oils. The amount used varies for different applications:
- Air Fresheners Spray: 35-70 drops essential oil to 1 ounce of water
- Home Diffusion: 5-20 drops of essential oil
- Car Diffusion: 3-5 drops of essential oil
Choose fragrances you enjoy. Those with a top note have a fresh, light quality that is immediately apparent due to the fast evaporation rate. The middle note is the heart of the fragrance, which usually forms the bulk of the blend, whose scent emerges some time after the first impression. The base note is a rich, heavy scent that emerges slowly and lingers. It also acts as a fixative to stop the lighter oils from dispersing.
Examples of the dominant character:
- Top Note: eucalyptus, lemon, basil
- Middle Note: geranium, lavender, marjoram
- Base Note: patchouli, jasmine, myrrh
Each essential oil blends well with members of its own family or group, or with members from a neighboring group, e.g. Citrus and Floral, or Spicy and Woody.
Some examples of each group:
- Woody: cedarwood and pine
- Herbaceous: rosemary and clary sage
- Citrus: bergamot and lemon
- Floral: geranium and rose
- Resinous: frankincense
- Spicey: ginger
A word of caution when using essential oils. They are highly concentrated and most should not be applied neat to the skin. During pregnancy use essential oils in half the usual amount and avoid basil, cedarwood, cinnamon leaf, citronella, clary sage, clove, marjoram, myrrh, and nutmeg. In cases of high blood pressure avoid rosemary, sage, hyssop and thyme. Avoid fennel, hyssop, rosemary and sage in case of epilepsy due to their powerful action on the nervous system. And in case of diabetes avoid angelica.
Source: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. The Complete Guide to the Use of Oils in Aromatherapy and Herbalism by Julia Lawless