Welcome! I’m Suzanne, the author and photographer of this blog. I hope what you find here informs and inspires you, and brings beauty and calm to your day.

Clean the air in your home and make it smell good

Clean the air in your home and make it smell good

We want our homes to look good, feel good and we want the air we breathe inside our homes to be healthy and have a pleasant smell.

I have a very sensitive nose and I'm quite finicky about bad odours. Stinky shoes, the smell of fish that lingers in the air after cooking or of onions I chopped the night before, and unpleasant pet odours unsettle me. I'm not at ease until they're gone. I simply feel better when our home smells clean and fresh.

Of course, to remove bad odours it's best to deal with them at the source; get rid of the cause of the offending odour. Change the kitty litter, empty the garbage, do a thorough cleaning and open windows to let the fresh air in. But sometimes we need to call in extra help.

No matter how bad the smell I never reach for conventional air fresheners and odour eliminators. It seems these products only cover up smells, mostly with artificial scents. I feel queasy and suspicious of products like Febreeze and Glade, and rightly so: environmental groups repeatedly warn against using many of these air fresheners. Most of them contain toxic chemicals such as naphthalene and phenol, and artificial perfumes. These chemicals and artificial fragrances can trigger breathing difficulties, headaches and irritate your eyes. Many of them are especially hard on people with allergies and asthma.

Most of you know an open box of baking soda is a cheap and effective remedy for deodorizing smelly rooms. I also read a bowl of vinegar placed in a room with an especially stubborn odour can get rid of it completely. And there are lots of non-toxic options to help our homes smell pleasant on the nose. You can make one using citrus peel, cloves and cinnamon, or one that uses green tea. This website has great advice on safe ways to have your home smelling fresh in no time.

My go-to way to eliminate odours and make our home smell clean and fresh is a little more high tech.

Several years ago I was introduced to the Lamp Berger. It's a fragrance lamp that disperses scented oil ( isopropyl alcohol combined with essential oils) using a heated stone attached to a cotton wick. The catalytic combustion wick was originally developed in the 19th century for use in hospitals and mortuaries by Maurice Berger, and now the company he founded is the oldest worldwide manufacturer of the device. While no longer considered effective for use in hospitals, the lamps remain popular as air fresheners.

The lamps are sold on the premise that molecules that cause bad smells are inherently unstable and the lamp's flame-less, low-temperature catalytic combustion converts odour molecules into harmless substances (such as carbon dioxide and water).

First you light the stone burner seated at the mouth of the lamp. You only need to let it burn like this for a couple of minutes and then you blow the flame out. The heated burner remains active and diffuses the aromatics throughout the room.

One of the by-products of these fragrance lamps is low-level ozone, which has been attributed to the purification process of the lamps in eliminating odor.

The Lampe Berger is available in a variety of styles, designs and materials, and there are about 50 different scents to choose from. My favourites are lavender and peppermint. There's also a neutral option, one with no scent whatsoever, if you prefer that.

Another effective way to improve overall air quality is by burning beeswax candles. Beeswax burns with a bright, golden halo, exudes a natural aromatic honey essence,  and offers the cleanest burn of any candl. It cleans the air, too. With its healthful negative ions beeswax candles act like indoor air purifiers.  Pollen, dust, dirt, pollutants, and any other junk carry a positive charge and get suspended in the air. The negative ions released from burning beeswax are said to negate the positive charge of air contaminants and the neutralized ions are sucked back into the burning candle or fall to the ground.

Hundreds of years ago, most candles were made of beeswax. Over the centuries, beeswax was gradually replaced by tallow (animal fat) candles, and then in the last century by paraffin candles, the kind most of us have in our homes right now. Who can resist all those cheap pillar candles or tea lights by the bag from IKEA!

In case you didn't already know, paraffin is made from the sludge at the bottom of barrels of crude oil, which is then treated and bleached with benzene and other chemical solvents for use in candles. Paraffin candles put out soot and smoke when you burn them along with toxins and carcinogens.

But beeswax candles are so expensive compared to paraffin, I hear you say. True, but consider the fact they are longer burning than any other candle, including vegetable or soy wax candles, and cost only pennies an hour to burn. That's because beeswax has a high melting point, the highest among all known waxes, which results in a significantly longer burn time. This offsets their higher cost. They also drip very little, if any at all.

Last but not least, one sure way to improve the quality of air in your home is to have house plants. Not only do they add living beauty to the inside of our homes but indoor plants add oxygen and clear the air of carbon dioxide and other chemicals. Some are better at cleaning the air than others. The good ones include palm plants, snake plants and aloe vera to name only a few. Luckily, they're easy to keep alive, even if you don't have a green thumb.


Simplifying someone else's life

Simplifying someone else's life

A stubborn old Irishman and rum cardamom fig chocolate truffles

A stubborn old Irishman and rum cardamom fig chocolate truffles