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5 Candle Alternatives That Won't Make You Sick

ProfessorGorgeous founding_member

Candles are CANCELLED.

I didn’t realize that I was allergic to scented candles until last year when I was getting sick very often and not understanding why. I would be getting a sore throat nearly every month, and always testing negative for covid. It wasn’t until the fall that I made the connection– every time I did a deep clean of my apartment, I would get sick about 2 days later. Many sensitive people (like myself) are used to feeling kinda shitty after doing a deep clean of their homes, especially when dust gets kicked into the air and the airflow of the apartment is subpar, but this seemed like a true irritation that was coming from something I was genuinely reacting to. For some reason, I had the idea to stop using scented candles in my home to see if that would make a difference. I haven’t gotten sick since.

Why are scented candles so irritating? Turns out, if you’re like me and you’re sensitive to everything, the cheap fragrances in certain formulas can cause allergic reactions and enough irritation to cause illness. I know, huge bummer… but I’ve searched far and wide for alternatives that can keep my home smelling fresh and clean without putting me out of commission for days or weeks on end, and I gotta say, I prefer them over the scented candles anyway. Some of them, like incense, for example, might sound harsher than a candle due to the smoke generated, but incense is typically made with higher quality ingredients and therefore doesn’t cause the same type of irritation to the body (on the whole). But I’m getting ahead of myself! Take a look at my favorite home fragrance solutions that are made with more natural ingredients (and are exceptionally gorgeous!).

Paper Incense

Like the average stick or cone incense that you can buy somewhat easily/ locally, paper incense is a little different. This leaf-shaped paper incense includes a non-flammable felt mat that you can arrange them on. Light one, lay it down flat, and delicately arrange the rest among the mat to create a beautiful, ambient display that leaves your home feeling and smelling cozy. The fragrance in this incense is all made of essential oils to ensure a less-irritating and potentially non-irritating bouquet.

Wax Melts

I used to see wax melts in stores and get confused. Why burn the wax with no flame if the flame is such an integral part of the mood-setting experience? It’s kind of silly when you think about it, until you have a few experiences where you accidentally leave a candle burning for an evening (or a weekend…yikes). At that point, it’s best to choose something that doesn’t have any flame involved. The lack of flame also helps to create a clean fragrant atmosphere instead of a situation where you’re left with stinky smoke when the candle is blown out. I was, however, DELIGHTED to find that wax melts are no longer just weird little disks or beads that you toss into a warmer. The creatives of the world have designed wax melts that look exactly like food. They look and smell good enough to eat, but you know… please don’t.

Flower Stem Diffusers

Diffusers are so elegant. Growing up I’ve seen the sticks in the jar of oil and was always confused at their function. How could a bunch of moist pieces of wood effectively make a space fragrant? After touching them one time you realize that the concentration of those diffusion oils is no joke. Still, the stick design always kind of struck me as too minimalist for my liking. While I’ve grown to like the arrangements, I’ve discovered that these diffuser sticks now come in gorgeous flower bouquets– GENIUS! Not only do they stay beautiful for way longer than a floral arrangement, but they really do fill your space more so than a candle ever could. The oils last longer, too.

Essential Oil Mister

These are way more common than the above examples, but don’t sleep on them! When we think of these diffusers, most of us probably imagine a small white orb that changes colors like a college dorm room, and while that’s not the worst course of action for something ambient that also fills your space with delightful and gentle fragrances, they also come in more interesting and mature styles that suit every design scheme. I’ve always wanted to splurge on a taller, more elegant design, but I don’t have the expendable income at the moment. Someday…

Slow-Cooker Potpourri

This one is very new to me. I’ve heard of mulled wine and how effective it can be when setting the mood during a holiday gathering, but the idea of hot wine is viscerally abhorrent. Then, one of my best friends taught me a recipe for his stomach-soothing ginger elixir that he uses to soothe his Crohn's Disease. It calls for a shocking amount of ginger, cinnamon, lemon, cloves, and star anise. No measurements, just feel it out. We throw everything into a pot of water and let it simmer for about a half hour. I’ll tell ya- that mixture leaves a scent print on my home that lasts a week minimum, and it’s entirely natural. You can drink it, of course, but if that recipe sounds like too much for your stomach to handle, you can always just use it as ambient perfume. Experiment with different fresh aromatics to develop your own natural potpourri.

#candles #home #potpourri #allergies #diffusers #design #incense #fragrance