As the essential oil craze continues to grow and buyers seek safer, more natural alternatives to health and home care needs, diffusers are likewise rising in popularity. Just how safe are the partners-in-crime of these naturally-scented solutions, and how are they effecting your indoor air quality?
The Pros & Cons of Essential Use
The pros and cons of essential oil use depend largely on the type of aromatherapy oils used with your diffuser….
Used correctly, essential oils can safely supply a host of benefits, from purifying the air and reducing mold and harmful microorganisms, to boosting the immune system, helping you destress and relax, and providing safer, more earth-friendly cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing solutions. However they must be chosen and used with care.
Essential oils are frequently confused with ‘fragrance,’ ‘perfume’ or ‘nature identical’ oils by those not in-the-know. What’s the difference? These artificially-scented oils are comprised entirely of synthetic chemicals, and negatively impact air quality and your health. These include fare like commonly found grocery store plug-ins, diffusers and aerosol sprays. And products advertised as ‘green,’ ‘natural,’ and ‘organic’ emit as many hazardous chemicals as standard options. 100% pure, therapeutic grade essential oils offer a better option – though not one that is 100% safe.
What’s in a Name?
When selecting an essential oil, research its intended purpose thoroughly. Oils do more than simply smell good. Find the exact botanical name of the oil best-suited for your needs, and correct methods of use. Do you want Lavender Angustifolia for its sweet, calming scent? Or Lavender Latifolia for its camphorous, nasal-clearing capabilities? For that respiratory ailment, do you know Eucalyptus Smithii and Radiata are safe for children and infants, but Eucalyptus Globulus has been noted by experts as dangerous? Kissing cousins are not the same. Each component - leaf, stem, bark, or flower - has a specific use. Know what you are buying and what it can do. Your family’s health and safety may depend on it.
Always research essential oil brand quality and note ingredients carefully. Many more inexpensively priced options include a ‘carrier oils’ – meaning the product has been diluted, may include undesirable ingredients, and you may not be getting exactly what you think you’re paying for. Look only for ‘100% pure’ – but still read the tiny type and seek an ingredient label. Avoid fake fragrance products entirely, opting for 100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Low to medium steam distillation is preferable over chemical or alcohol distillation. Gas chromatography and mass spectrography testing ensures purity and quality.
Don’t Neglect Your Diffuser – or Your Reaction to Oils
Regularly cleaning will prolong the lifespan of your diffuser - and prevent oils from mixing to produce unexpected results. This is especially important for diffusers utilizing water, which can harbor bacteria that can effect indoor air quality, making you sick. If you suffer asthma or allergies, you should also take note: Some 100% essential oils may still result in respiratory symptoms in allergic or asthmatic individuals. Again – do your research - if you have an allergy (ragweed), diffusing an oil from that same family (chamomile) may not be in your best interest.
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