Turns out that indoor air can often contain more toxins and chemicals than outdoor air. Everything from mattresses to pots/pans to kids PJs can contain harmful chemicals in indoor air.
It’s best to reduce chemical exposure in any way possible, but in today’s world, it is practically impossible to completely avoid harmful chemicals. For the remaining chemicals in indoor air, there are some natural ways to help reduce your family’s exposure.
I’ve mentioned houseplants before and they are a great option for improving indoor air (read my full list of recommended plants here). We have about eight indoor plants and I’m hoping to add more soon. For those who don’t want the upkeep of indoor plants or can’t have them due to pets/kids/etc, there are some other natural options.
Besides indoor plants, these are my top three natural air cleaners (and I use all three):
Regular paraffin candles are petroleum derived and can release chemicals like benzene, toluene, soot and other chemicals into the air. These types of candles do more harm than good for indoor air quality and should be avoided.
Pure Beeswax Candles on the other hand burn with almost no smoke or scent and clean the air by releasing negative ions into the air. These negative ions can bind with toxins and help remove them from the air.
Beeswax candles are often especially helpful for those with asthma or allergies and they are effective at removing common allergens like dust and dander from the air. Beeswax candles also burn more slowly than paraffin candles so they last much longer.
I personally only use beeswax candles in our house. We buy them by the case and our favorites are:
Salt lamps are another natural way to clean indoor air. They are made from himalayan salt crystals and just like the beeswax candles, they release negative ions in to the air to help clean it. They are also a beautiful light source. The only downside…. my kids like to lick them!
“The Himalayan Natural Crystal Salt Lamp also works as an air purifier. When lit, the lamp emits negative ions that fight against positively charged particles that cause you to feel stuffy and sluggish. The lit salt crystal clears the air naturally of allergens like smoke, pet dander, pollens, and other air pollutants. It dilutes odors so that you can breathe easier. People with asthma often find it helpful in reducing their symptoms. You can keep the lamp lit for as long as you like to maintain this purifying effect.” (from this description)
We don’t do night lights in our kids rooms, but if we did or if we need a light source at night for reading, we use salt lamps. The natural orange glow doesn’t disrupt sleep hormones like fluorescent or blue lights do and I find it very relaxing.
We have an 8-inch salt lamp that we use regularly (it is also the most cost effective for its size, as the bigger lamps can get very pricey).
Another natural air cleaning option I recently discovered is bamboo charcoal. I’ve talked about one of my unusual uses for charcoal before and we use a charcoal block water filter to remove toxins from our water.
Charcoal can have the same toxin-removing effect on the air. We use bamboo charcoal in burlap bags in our house. They work wonders for odor removal and removing toxins from the air:
“Moso air purifying bags, made of linen and filled with bamboo charcoal, absorb unpleasant odors and dehumidify the air. The porous structure of the high density bamboo charcoal helps remove bacteria, harmful pollutants and allergens from the air and absorbs moisture, preventing mold and mildew by trapping the impurities inside each pore. The Moso air purifying bag has been scientifically proven to reduce the amount of formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, and chloroform gases emitted from everyday items such as paint, carpeting, furniture, air fresheners, chemical cleaners, rubber, and plastics. Toxin free, the bags are safe to use around pets and children. The bamboo charcoal rejuvenates when the bags are placed in sunlight once a month. You can reuse the bags for two years, after which the charcoal can be poured into the soil around plants to fertilize and help retain moisture. (source)
I’ve found that these are also great for removing odors from cars or from the bathroom (especially if you have recently potty-trained boys who don’t always have perfect aim!).