Don’t get me wrong, I really like the smell of those little tree car fresheners. New Car Scent, Traditional Pine, and Pina Colada are all huge improvements to the gym bag smell that often inhabits my car. The problem, was I started noticing that when I cut those delicious smelling trees open, I am consumed by coughing fits (I have asthma). As much as I enjoy a nice smelling car, breathing is a nice luxury too. I had been assuming over the years that it was just an overpowering scent that got the coughing started. It had never crossed my mind that it was more likely to be caused by an airborne chemical.
Phthalates. Ever heard of them? I hadn’t either, until I went searching for what makes air fresheners so enticing. Phthalates are plasticizing additives that give your little trees their award winning longevity (to be fair because the ingredients are proprietary, the company does not disclose phthalates in its air fresheners. To learn more, check out their statement in this newspaper). Phthalates is the same material that helps pvc pipes maintain a certain degree of flexibility and is also used in many air fresheners as a dispersing agent. If the thought of inhaling PVC chemicals makes you nervous, just wait until you find out what health conditions these guys are linked to! Breast cancer, allergies, asthma, endocrine disruption, and even a tentative link with obesity. Overall, not stuff that I (and I’m sure you too!) want to be breathing in, even if it does carry that delicious pear scent throughout my car.
Even if phthalates is not an option any more–I still have a problem. Something must be done to counter, what my wife calls, “the man smell.” Essential oils can be a great natural alternative car freshener! Essential oils not only cover the smell, but can actually work to eliminate its source. Here are a few ideas for overcoming your smells, or to just get a nice fresh scent!
Terra Cotta Pendant
A Terra Cotta Pendant is my favorite alternative to the little tree. Terra cotta is essentially a little piece of pottery that has been kilned, yet remains unglazed. This is especially useful in diffusing essential oils. Put a few drops of your favorite oil or oils onto the terra cotta and the clay will soak it right up. Then, through a delayed period of evaporation, the oils are naturally diffused into the air. And, not to be overlooked, the adornment will have the added plus of your rear view mirror not feeling naked!
As soon as I found out about terra cotta, I was anxious to try it immediately. However, I didn’t have any on hand, and did not want to have to wait for my amazon order to arrive to try it out. If you are in the same predicament I was in, don’t fear! There is a solution while you wait for the terra cotta to arrive. Break out your cotton balls! A few drops on a cotton ball wedged into the air vents of your car will do wonders of quickly dispersing your new, chemical free, scent. Be careful though, don’t press the balls too far into the vents. The last thing you need is an a/c filled with cotton!
If you are fresh out of cotton, direct application is always an option. A few drops straight into your vents will also help spread the natural freshness throughout the vehicles. Although, this method is often short lived, as there is no medium like the cotton or clay to slowly release the oils into the air.
My favorite part about the oils has been and probably will always be their great smell. So pick your favorites. Here are a few of my favorite blends to give you some ideas.
Blend #1 – “Peeling Out”
Lemon 2-3 Drops
Orange 2-3 Drops
Grapefruit 2-3 Drops
Bergamot 2-3 Drops
I especially love this blend because on top of having a clean crisp scent, all of the citrus oils have antibacterial and antiviral properties that eliminate odor at the source.
Blend #2 “Drive into the Woods”
Frankincense 2 Drops
Vetiver 2- Drops
White Fir – 1 Drop
This blend is a great cool down blend. Frankincense and vetiver are known for their calming properties and are great for unwinding on the way home from work. Plus it has a manly woodsman vibe then makes me feel a little less “wimpy” when I drive my little Hyundai.
Cinnamon – 1 drop
Cassia – 1 drop
Orange – 3 drops
This is my “mix it up” car scent. Both cassia and cinnamon are “hot” oils so be careful–a little goes a long way. Nothing knocks out odor and germs like these two oils, and the wild orange rounds it out nicely to prevent the smell from being too spicy.