Just Breathe…

Living on Canada’s west coast surrounded by trees, I was more concerned about daughter’s year-round hay fever and the air quality in my home. I thought about outdoor air quality in the abstract, but never about how it directly affected me or my family. It is so easy to get caught up in our own lives.

This past summer was a wake-up call. It was B.C’s worst wildfire season on record and many communities have been impacted. The smoke affected the air quality near the fires but it also affected air quality in different areas throughout the province.  One day this past summer, I was outside in the middle of the afternoon, everything was hazy, the air felt thick, & it was hard to breathe.

I have never thought much about breathing other than if I had a chest cold or sinus congestion. From the moment of our birth, our body’s  “autonomic nervous system” controls our breathing; we don’t even have to think about it. Adults breathe anywhere from 12-20 times per minute. If you do the math, (which I did), that adds up to 17,280 – 28,800 breaths per day (depending on your fitness and/or stress levels). While we can’t-do a lot about outdoor pollution personally (well other than voting in governments that have strong environmental protection plans, writing letters/ petitions to your MP or MLA, and recycling! Sorry that was just a little rant), we can do something about the air quality in our homes.

Things you can do:

  • Get rid of chemical cleaners, laundry detergents, fabric refreshers, and Synthetic Room Sprays/ Plugins.
  • Avoid using Incense & candles with synthetic fragrances, or at least limit their use and get some ventilation into the room. (I am finding that these 2 things really bother me.)
  • Go more natural with your Personal Body Care Products. There are a lot of products available, but educate yourself & read the labels to find the best ones. (No one in my house is allowed to use a certain type of Body Spray because it affects my breathing.)
  • Air out your home frequently. Many manufactured items in your home will continue to off-gas to some extent. Older homes were drafty so this wasn’t as much of a problem, but newer homes are more airtight so it is important to open some windows periodically, especially during the winter months.
  • Consider getting some plants in your home. NASA calls plants part of “Nature’s Life Support System”. Peace Lilies, Spider Plants, English Ivy & Weeping Fig plants are a few to consider; they are fairly hardy & are thought to help with air quality due to the photosynthesis process.

And you can also use Aromatherapy in your home. When using essential oils, cheaper isn’t better, quality is. It is important that you find a reputable supplier that sell pure, hopefully, organic &  unadulterated oils; that your suppliers know where their oils come from & they share all the important information with you. (And if someone wants to sell you “100% pure therapeutic grade essential oils, know that this is a registered trademark of the company. There is no organization that oversees the quality of essential oils.) At a minimum you need to know:

  • The Latin name & Chem type of the oil that you are using
  • The country of Origin
  • Distillation process
  • Contraindications of the Essential oil.

*** You also don’t want to use any Essential Oils from endangered plants or trees, like Spikenard, Rosewood & Indian Sandalwood. There are other oils with similar scents & properties to choose from.

Ways to use essential oils in your home:

Cleaning: For more ideas on cleaning check out my blog “Spring Cleaning & Essential Oils 

Diffusing: a simple, effective way to enjoy essential oils.  According to Author & Aromatherapist, Robert Tisserand  “(inhalation) from a safety standpoint presents a very low risk to most people”. Try using an:

Ultrasonic diffuser: 

  • Try 3 – 4 drops of your blend to the water of your in your machine and diffuse for 15 – 30 min, to see how you like the scent, but more importantly, to see how you feel.
  • When using your diffuser, Author Robert Tisserand (2014) says, “Don’t diffuse for long periods of time, 30 – 60 minutes is good”. You can do this 2 -3 times per day.  For younger children & elderly family members, use your diffuser for 15 – 30 minutes.

Tea Light Candle Diffuser: uses water & essential oils; gives off scent & ambiance, but it doesn’t cover a large space. It is best to find one that has a large enough bowl so you don’t have to keep refilling the bowl with water. ***Never leave a candle unattended

Try these Essential Oils: Balsam Fir, Cajeput, Cedarwood, Eucalyptus radiata, Geranium, Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lemongrass, Niaouli, Palmarosa, Pine, Ravintsara, Rosalina, Sweet Orange, Sweet Thyme, Spruce, Tea Tree…

Essential oils are highly concentrated substances that should be used carefully. Even the most beneficial oils can be harmful under certain conditions. 

*** If you are under the care of a Doctor or Naturopath for a medical condition, always check with them before using essential oils. If you have respiratory conditions know what your triggers are before diffusing essential oils.

My Blog is for Information Only & is not meant to diagnose or replace Medical Advice.

Essential Oils should not be ingested & always need to be diluted before topical use.


Battaglia Salvatore. (2003) The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy. 2nd edition, The International Centre of Holistic Aromatherapy, Australia,
Photo from Canstock.com/focalpoint

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