Friday, October 26, 2012

How's a Fragrance Junkie Supposed to Get a Fix?

flickr user: Dennis Wong
Eucalyptus spearmint, pearberry, brown sugar & fig

These are words that fill my heart with glee. Why? Because to me they mean one thing: yummy smells. I love things that smell good.

Plus, when you live with three cats and a boy, well, sometimes there are bad smells that need to be dealt with. And I'm sorry, but opening a window rarely cuts it. Plus, in my neck of the woods that's only a plausible solution about 20% of the time; it's usually too hot or too cold.

But if you've taken, or read about taking, even the smallest steps to free your life from toxic products, then you know that the vague term fragrance is a big, bad no no. It's code for toxic, carcinogenic chemicals.

I made what I consider to be major progress. I weaned myself off my favorite dealer, Bath & Body Works. No more plug-in air fresheners, spray or candles. My lotion is Burt's Bees and my shower gel has natural fragrances. I even stopped buying candles and switched to natural form of fragrance: essential oils. And everything was working pretty well actually.

Then I begin to see the cracks in my plan.

The Burt's Bees and Say Yes products I like (not love) may be 97-98% natural, but they still list the ever vague fragrance. Whhhyyyy?

And then the real kick to the gut. My beloved essential oils, that I've been using in everything from my homemade all-purpose cleaning spray to diffusing, are (may be?) toxic to cats. At least according to some sources. Toxic as in kill them if a drop gets on them. And even having them breathe in the diffused oils can be dangerous.

If you have cats in your home and are an essential oil lover, did you know about this? And if so, what did you do next? Now my choice is between killing the cats quickly with natural oils, killing us all slowly with synthetic fragrances, or dealing with a stinky house? Ugh.

I'm already jonesing to smell something good and it's only been a few days.


  1. I used to be a total fragrance junkie but gave it up for a variety of reasons similar to the ones you mentioned (add in skin reactions because of allergies.) Now I don't use anything that's scented, even if it's "natural." It's funny, but I think my nose did a bit of a reset. The other day I stumbled upon some old bottles of lotion & shampoo when cleaning out the bathroom. I gave them a sniff and was totally blown over by the smell! And the funny thing was they didn't really smell good to me... they actually smelled a bit toxic. I think that's a good sign.

    My general tactic is to try to fill my world with real smells... like if I want the smell of brown sugar & vanilla, I bake. In the summer I bring in cut flowers from the garden (although I have to be careful there because one of my cats will try to eat them.) I collect real pine cones & bring in real pine branches for the holidays - and I totally LOVE the smell of clean laundry that's been washed in unscented detergent and hung out to dry in the sunshine.

    1. Baking is a good one, but then I'll just eat the baked goods, which isn't a good option for me right now. :) Sadly I'm still wired to my concentrated smells. The real and subtle scents just don't quite do it for me in the face of some of our smells.

  2. My ex-unlce is a vet who used to use essential oils in his practice, and as far as I know, unless ingested in high quantities, there's nothing to be worried about. As for another fragrance option, you can put some vanilla watered down in a spray bottle and spritz or heat up some orange peel and cinnamon/cloves/whatever on the stove. Good luck :)

    1. Yeah, I'm thinking about asking the vet on this one, but I'm afraid they'll wonder what the crazy cat lady is doing to her poor felines now. I have no desire to put essential oils on my cats; I just want to diffuse them.

      The heating real stuff on the stove trick is a good one that I haven't done in forever. In fact, I have pot boiling away now and at least this is a use for the tangerines that are sitting in the fridge since the boyfriend says they taste terrible.

  3. I find not having carpet helps. When we had carpet, even baking soda could not get it to smell fresh. Get the windows open, 1x a week at least. I clean with baking soda and vinegar and I use bees wax candles. I think we have been taught to expect un-natural smells. I can't remember my mom or my grandmother using anything to make the house smell (insert scent) fresh. Even laundry just smelled like outside.


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