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One way to make your home feel extra inviting and cozy is by making a stovetop potpourri. The delicious scents from these simmers fill a room quickly and can be made in a variety of ways. Plus, you can switch out the ingredients to accompany the seasons—like using apples and oranges in the fall and cranberries and rosemary in the winter.

Unfortunately, most people tend to reach for candles, plug-ins, or air fresheners instead of making their own stovetop potpourri. While those commonly used products might make your space smell fresh, many of them can actually make the air toxic.

Why Fragrances Can Be Harmful

There are large amounts of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that are emitted from products containing fragrances. In one study, the average number of VOCs emitted from products containing fragrances was 17. Each product emitted 1-8 toxic or hazardous chemicals and close to half (44%) generated at least 1 to 24 carcinogenic hazardous air pollutants such as acetaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, formaldehyde, or methylene chloride.

According to the EPA, hazardous air pollutants, also known as toxic air pollutants, are pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer. They’re also known to cause other health effects like damage to the immune system, as well as neurological, reproductive, developmental, and respiratory issues. The EPA also states that, “these hazardous air pollutants have no safe exposure level.” It’s no wonder why so many people get an immediate headache when they light a candle, plug in an air freshener, or expose themselves to strong fragrances.

An allergist and immunologist from the University of Texas Health Science Center echoes this research by stating, “products intended to keep homes smelling fresh can set people up for a lifetime of chemically induced illness, and repeated exposure to small amounts of household chemicals can trigger symptoms to previously tolerated chemicals.”

Too many products are heavily scented these days, making it tough to avoid these harmful fragrances if you’re not careful. “I’ve noticed that when my kids come back from playing at some friends’ houses, they smell like walking air fresheners,” one of my followers mentioned. I’m pretty sure we’ve all been there.

Luckily, an easy way to limit this type of exposure in your own home is by swapping out your candles and air fresheners and opting for a stovetop simmer instead. It might seem like more work at first, but the smell is so lovely and it’s surprisingly easy to put together. Here’s my favorite concoction for fall:

Fall Stovetop Potpourri

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 apple, sliced in half
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • 1 tsp of fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp of whole cloves

Instructions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan and heat on simmer. Add extra water as needed throughout the day.

Tips to Consider

  • You can actually use this simmer for a couple of days. Just keep adding water to it!
  • If the idea of leaving your stovetop on simmer makes you nervous, try making it in a crockpot.
  • Don’t have one of the ingredients listed above? One of the best parts about these stovetop simmers is that you can really use anything you want. Try a lemon if you’re out of oranges or a sliced grapefruit if you don’t have an apple. Just use whatever produce you have around!
  • Try adding Thieves essential oil or nutmeg to make your blend extra appealing in the autumn.

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