The Truth About Scented Candles

I love candles! I just find them so comforting and my friends and family just know if there is any type of event in my home, you will find candles burning all over the place. Not only do they make your home smell delicious, but they just have that inviting, relaxing, cozy charm about them. In the past, I always searched for the strongest smelling candles too. During the holidays, I would get so excited for Bath & Body Works and Yankee Candle to come out with their new pumpkin, cinnamon and pine scented candles. I would even stock up so that I always had back up on hand. But the truth is, these and most conventional candles are toxic!

Recently I started to hear more and more about the dangers of fragrance and candles so I did my research and that’s what I’m sharing with you today. If you are a candle lover like myself, it’s not the most fun news to hear, but there are some great non-toxic, yummy smelling alternatives out there that I will also share.

So what is in most candles that makes them so toxic? Most candles are made of paraffin. When you look up paraffin on Wikipedia the first thing it says is… Paraffin may refer to the following list of chemicals. Chemicals…Not a good start. Paraffin is actually a petroleum by product, a wax-like solid that is a mixture of saturated hydrocarbons and is typically used in candles, cosmetics and polishes. When burned, paraffin releases carcinogenic chemicals and soot.

Two toxic chemicals that are commonly found in the soot and residue from these candles are benzene and toluene. Human exposure to benzene has been associated with a range of acute and long-term adverse health effects and diseases, including cancer and aplastic anaemia. Acute intoxication from inhalation of toulene is characterized by rapid onset of central nervous system symptoms including, dizziness, confusion, headache, and vertigo just to name a few. Both of these chemicals can also cause developmental issues which is particularly important for me to be aware of currently while pregnant.

Another big problem with scented candles is the scent or fragrance itself. From EWG’s Skin Deep Database, the word “fragrance” or “parfum” on a product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system. And when the fragrance or chemicals are heated it’s just amplifying these effects.

Other toxic chemicals that may be present in the paraffin mixture candles and that are released through burning include: Acetone, Trichlorofluoromethane, Carbon Disulfide, 2-Butanone, Trichloroethane, Trichloroethene, Carbon Tetrachloride, Tetrachloroethene, Chlorobenzene, Ethylbenzene, Styrene, Xylene, Phenol, Cresol, Cyclopentene. If you rarely burn candles, obviously your risk is lower when being exposed to these chemicals, but think about your friends and family members…the ones that burn candles daily and even worse in a house that doesn’t have open windows. For some people the effects are immediate and severe like getting a headache or feeling short of breath, but for others, they may not realize they are being affected until they gradually develop health issues and will most likely not think that candles could be the culprit.

Better options:

Beeswax and Soy candles burn clean without harmful fumes. Make sure to look for 100% beeswax or soy  as some companies mix beeswax and soy with paraffin and label them as beeswax or soy candles. They never make it easy right? Always read in between the lines, read all ingredients and do your research on anything you don’t recognize. Un-dyed or naturally dyed candles are best and when it comes to scents, only use naturally scented candles, typically made with pure essential oils. Beware of companies like Glade advertising aromatherapy on their candles. Just because you associate aromatherapy with health and typically with essential oils doesn’t mean they are using natural scents. These are still made with synthetic chemical fragrances. Sneaky!

Great brands to check out:

Natura Soy Candles

Over the past 12 years, Natura Soylights has evolved to become one of the leading candle companies to offer handcrafted artisan candles free of toxic and unsustainable ingredients without sacrificing scent quality.

With every purchase, we guarantee you’ll enjoy a product that is:

  • made with pure plant-based ingredients safe for people and the environment
  • naturally scented with essential oils using tested recipes
  • long lasting and clean burning with no wax left on the sides
  • biodegradable and easy to clean up any spilled wax with soap and water
  • Minimal packaging,it’s what’s inside that counts, right?

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Carefull Candles

CarefullCandles is the home of scented soy candles made with 100% non-GMO soy wax, 100% non-toxic fragrances and essential oils: carcinogen/phthalate-free/non-synthetic and handmade with love. These candles are chic with a rustic touch perfect for any space in your home or office.

With every purchase, we donate $1 to the Hearts2Honduras foundation to help children in need. Our jars and metal lids can be recycled or repurposed because we love the planet.

15% off with the promo code PUMPKIN

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Bee Organic – Organic Beeswax Candles

100% Organic Beeswax Candles are great for cleaning the air when your family is sick while giving off the pleasant aroma of honey. Beeswax candles produce negative ions when burning that remove dust, dirt, odors, viruses, mold, and other pollutants from the air.
Beeswax candles are great for asthmatics or anyone who is allergic or sensitive to scents. We add nothing to our candles at all, just unbleached cotton wick and organic beeswax. Our candles are Non-carcinogenic and Nontoxic and they don’t give off soot like other candles do. Beeswax is the only naturally existing wax in nature, so there are no chemicals needed at all, at any phase to produce our candles.

Everything at Bee Organic is handmade, hand poured, and hand labeled. We take pride in knowing that every product we produce here at Bee Organic is made with care and reaches a quality standard that is unsurpassed in this industry.  Bee Organic only uses renewable and post-consumer US made materials such as glass, paper, and cardboard for all product packaging. We source Fair Trade materials, and we are cruelty free.  We do not use chemicals in any step of our process, nor do our USDA Organic suppliers.

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Especially approaching the holiday season, candles are such a common thing to be around and a common item to gift. Spread the word by using or gifting non-toxic candles and explain the “why” behind it. Knowledge is power, but it’s also important that we spread awareness any way we can.

Lots of love and good health,

Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie

 

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I’m Pregnant!

I’ve been anxiously waiting for the right time to share…that I am pregnant! We are expecting our first child in April 2017 and couldn’t be more excited! Now I can also share more about the true reason behind why I started this non-toxic journey of mine. Of course I wanted to go non-toxic and natural for many, many beneficial reasons, but a huge part was for my future baby that we were trying for and hoping we would be blessed with soon.

I just know there are other soon-to-be and wannabe moms out there that feel the way I did… hoping to clean up their health and the products they use daily in order to be the healthiest for their future child. It’s a bit overwhelming, but something I am super passionate about and feel is so important. I hope I can help other moms and mamas-to-be with awareness and jump starting their non-toxic journey.

With that being said, a lot of my posts in the coming months will follow along with my pregnancy and the non-toxic, organic and natural pregnancy and baby alternatives I discover along the way. Thank you for reading and for your support.

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Lots of love and good health,

Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie

Ten Tips for a Happy & Healthy Move

I have been missing in action on social media and the blog because… we have been moving! On my Instagram, I’ve mentioned a few times that I live in Arizona. We are staying in state, just moving from our first home in Scottsdale to our new home in North Phoenix. We closed on our new home on September 22nd and the house has been and is still undergoing renovations since. We created buffer time and had our renters scheduled to move in to our old house on October 15th so we had to have everything out of there and moved to our new house by then even though it’s still not quite ready. Thankfully our new house has an attached “casita” or tiny guest house so we are currently living there with half of our stuff, the other half being stored in the garage. It’s chaos, we don’t have a kitchen and we can’t find half of the things we need, but we are making it work! With all of that being said, I’ve put together 10 tips for a healthy and happy move based on my experiences. Some of these I definitely used this time around and some I learned along the way for next time 😉

  1. Stay hydrated and bring snacks that will give you energy between meals. Some of my favorites I kept in my purse were Mamma Chia Squeeze Vitality Snack- Green Magic, Health Warrior Chia Bars, Lara Bars, and almonds. All of these will give you energy while you are moving, but also help keep you feeling full since you might not always know when your next meal will be. Organic coconut water is great in between regular waters to give you an extra boost of potassium and electrolytes.
  2. Speaking of meals, it’s so easy to just give in to unhealthy fast food options during a move because it’s fast, convenient and cheap. If you do go that route, make sure to balance your meals. If you do eat fast food that’s unhealthy, make it a priority that the next meal has some greens, lean protein and overall hearty nutritional value. At the end of the day know that if you do go for unhealthy fast food, you are just going to be hungry sooner and it won’t give you much energy due to its lack of nutritional value.
  3. Moving is stressful and chaotic enough in general. Make it a little less stressful by labeling boxes and setting aside the ones with important items that you will need right away. This will save you from the stress and time of trying to find that one item that you need right now that got lost in the shuffle. Also, the more packing and organizing you do ahead of time, the less likely you are to just throw a bunch of random stuff in a box last minute which will cause headaches when trying to find those random items.
  4. Whether you are moving with roommates, family, a significant other or your husband/ wife, it’s so important to communicate when packing and moving things. If you are packing each other’s things and not just your own items, communicate items that need extra care and are extra valuable. Also communicate items that you don’t want packed or want to pack yourself so you avoid the non-stop “have you seen my…” conversations once the move has started. And again, LABEL and organize those boxes.
  5. Prepare and think ahead. Try to complete all laundry before moving so you aren’t running out of important things like underwear during transition time when you are either not yet living in your home or don’t even have a washing machine yet. Set aside any other necessary items or paperwork needed for your move so that it doesn’t get accidentally packed away.
  6. Pack a travel first aid kit with you in your car or purse. I can’t tell you how many times I looked over and saw that my husband had cut his hand on something and we couldn’t find any bandaids because they were all packed away.
  7. Ask for help from friends or family, but don’t expect it. You are setting yourself up for failure and disappointment if you expect all your friends and family to be available to drop everything they are doing and help you move. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt to ask and to take up any offers if they come your way. Every little bit helps even if it’s just moving or packing a few boxes. And of course, show your appreciation for the help and offer yours in return in the future.
  8. Find a green cleaning service if you are hiring help for move out/ move in cleaning that uses non-toxic cleaning supplies. These are starting to pop up more and more. You may be tackling the cleaning yourself, but if you do decide to hire someone, do your research and search for eco-friendly cleaning services. If you have to paint your previous home or your new home, be sure to do it in advance of moving in or out. Open windows and turn on all fans to alleviate the toxic paint fumes from lingering.
  9. If possible, do not pack toiletries and cosmetic/personal care items. What I mean by this is, when possible, put these in an open box and hand deliver in your car. I can’t tell you how many times when moving in college, I packed these items only to open the box later to a complete mess of different bottles that had opened somehow and gotten all over everything. It will save you a lot of grief and cleaning time if you just set these aside and hand deliver yourself to your destination.
  10. Take breaks. I know very well that sometimes you just want to go go go just so that you can be done done done, however it’s important to listen to your body and your mind and know when it’s time to take it easy. Take a break, a moment to just sit, eat a snack, have a conversation and more importantly soak in how much work you have gotten done so far. Positivity is key to keeping your sanity during a move, big or small.

Bonus Tip: When packing, take time to soak in all the fun memories when looking at old items or photos. Packing is even better when doing it with someone you care about so you can both share your memories when you come across certain items.

Lots of love and good health,

Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie

 

What you should know about common sleep aids and how to sleep better naturally

Do you have trouble sleeping? Have you ever taken sleeping pills or supplements? Ever wonder how safe they are? Well, I hope so! Awareness when it comes to whatever we are putting in our bodies is very important. I’ll admit, I used to take sleeping pills regularly until I did a little more research.

I have also tried natural supplements like melatonin, but truly when I stopped taking all pills and really looked to other things I could adjust in my lifestyle to help with my sleeping, that’s when things started to get better for me.  It is very common in today’s day and age for most people to just want that quick fix, something to mask the problem instead of taking the time to get to the root of it. I’m guilty! Trust me.

Below I break down some of some common sleep aids and then cover some other adjustments I have made to help me sleep better at night. I personally feel that it is so important to look at the underlying issues that may be disrupting your sleep and try to make adjustments to your lifestyle first before looking to medication.

Tylenol or Advil PM

Tylenol PM and other related nighttime pain relievers contain acetaminophen (pain reliever) as well as diphenhydramine (antihistamine). I’ll never forget when I was looking in my medicine cabinet one time and realized that my Benadryl allergy pills contained the same exact ingredient as my sleeping pills. I was so confused, but it does make sense when you think about it because Benadryl and related antihistamines typically make you drowsy. Ibuprofen also has potential side effects, so it’s best not to take it in a sleep aid unless you also need pain relief. Common side effects of ibuprofen especially with long term use include nausea,  gastrointestinal ulceration/bleeding, diarrhea, constipation, nose bleeds, headaches, dizziness, rash, salt and fluid retention, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Continue reading for more on diphenhydramine.

Unisom or ZzzQuil

Unisom, ZzzQuil or the generic versions of these are similar to Tylenol or Advil PM, just without the pain reliever with the main ingredient being diphenhydramine. High doses of diphenhydramine have side effects including dry mouth, confusion, blurred vision, constipation, difficulty urinating and increased blood pressure. Antihistamines are also known to interfere with normal sleep structure and are mainly used to cause drowsiness and help you fall asleep rather than help with overall sleep quality. Tolerance to the antihistamine’s sedative effect can develop fairly quickly, so it’s recommended not to take it for more than three or four nights in a row.

Ambien

Ambien also known as Zolpidem is a common medication used to treat sleep problems (insomnia) in adults. If you have trouble falling asleep, it helps you fall asleep faster, so you can get a better night’s rest. Zolpidem belongs to a class of drugs called sedative-hypnotics.

“Ambien works by activating the neurotransmitter GABA and binding it to the GABA receptors in the same location as the benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium. The extra GABA activity triggered by the drug inhibits the neuron activity that is associated with insomnia. In other words, it slows down the brain. Ambien is extremely effective at initiating sleep, usually working within 20 minutes. It does not, however, have an effect on sustaining sleep unless it is taken in the controlled release form.” – Huffington Post

This medication is usually limited to short treatment periods of 1 to 2 weeks or less. Side effects include dizziness, weakness, feeling “drugged”, nose and throat irritation, nausea, upset stomach and headaches. Ambien is also known to become habit forming in some individuals. This article by the Huffington Post on The Disturbing Side Effect of Ambien is very interesting and a bit scary if you want to read more on this drug.

Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body made by the pineal gland , a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of it are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. You can also buy it as a supplement. In most cases, melatonin supplements are safe in low doses for short-term and long-term use.

“The FDA doesn’t require supplements to include warnings of overdose risks on their labels, as is mandatory for drugs and hormones. Perhaps even riskier, the classification allows companies to sell melatonin in varying dosages. In 2001, researchers at MIT concluded that the correct dosage for melatonin falls between .3 and 1 mg. Yet, walk down the pharmacy aisle and you’ll see stacks of sleep aids packing as 10 times that amount. It’s easy to take too much, and most of melatonin’s side effects are the result of just that. While there’s no evidence that too much melatonin could be fatal, or even remotely life-threatening, exceeding the proper dosage can upset the body’s natural processes and rhythms.” -Huffington Post, The Dark Side of Melatonin

Side effects may include: sleepiness, lower body temperature, vivid dreams, morning grogginess and small changes in blood pressure. There are also studies that show that long-term users experience depression and increased irritability.

A potential side effect of all of these I have covered so far is the possibility to cause daytime sleepiness and headaches which can start to interfere with life more than the original sleeping problem. I experienced this with both Unisom and Melatonin. Drug therapy to manage insomnia for most individuals is meant for short term use, however many people create a habit merely from fear of what will happen when they stop taking them even if they aren’t helping much in the first place.

Magnesium

Magnesium is known for its ability to assist with sleep. One study found that it helps decrease cortisol, the “stress hormone” that can keep you awake at night. It also helps muscles relax, to give you that calm “sleepy” feeling and help you unwind after a long day. On top of helping you get a good night of sleep, it also shows potential as a therapy for depression and other mood disorders. This is the only supplement I currently use and stand behind to assist with sleeping, but I do not view it as an overall one and done quick fix and instead combine its use with my lifestyle adjustments below. I have been using Natural Calm Magnesium plus Calcium drink before bed if I begin to have sleepless nights or if I am feeling stressed or anxious.

Lifestyle Adjustments That May Help With Sleep

A lot of these helped me first hand so I can stand behind them. Definitely worth a try!

  1. Create a bedtime routine. Sounds juvenile yes, but your body will start to remember the “turn down service” and the mind will follow knowing that when you go through this routine it means you are shutting down for the day.
  2. Take a relaxing, warm bath before bed. Throw in some Epsom salt and that’s even better!
  3. Try to keep your bed for sleeping only… reading, watching TV and working on the computer should be done in a different area of the house.
  4. Don’t nap or drink coffee late in the afternoon. I love my coffee so if you are a coffee lover too, please don’t hate me for also saying that it may be worth a shot trying to eliminate coffee altogether for awhile to see if that helps. If you are a 2-3 cup drinker, cutting back to 1 cup a day is a good start.
  5. Give up drinking alcohol close to bedtime. A glass of wine with an early dinner may be okay, but alcohol definitely affects sleep patterns. It may cause sleepiness at first, but it will also cause restlessness and wake the body up later.
  6. Try a white noise machine that will drown out other noises.
  7. Sleep at a comfortable temperature. This is different for everyone so it may take some trial and error to discover a temperature as well as proper bedding that keeps you at an ideal state… not too hot, not too cold 😉
  8. Drink a cup of non-caffeinated chamomile or sleepy time tea before bed.
  9. Stop computer or phone use at least an hour before bed. The blue light is known to disrupt our natural ability to shut down our brain when we begin to feel tired. Your phone also might have a nighttime setting that isn’t so bright.
  10. Keep a nightlight in your bathroom so if you do wake up and have to go, you don’t have to turn on a bright light that will wake you up.
  11. Try yoga or meditation to quiet your mind if you find it racing. Journaling is great for this as well.
  12. Regular exercise is great for your sleep, but don’t do it too close to bedtime as it will also give you a burst of energy and endorphins shortly afterwards.

This post is to get you thinking and to launch your further research on the topic. There will always be conflicting studies and experts weighing in with different thoughts so read more and find out what works best for you. There is so much evidence, however, that shows how important getting good sleep is to our overall health and how a lack of it can cause havoc on our bodies. If you are or have experienced trouble with sleeping, I hope this post was informative, helpful and steers you in the direction of getting some more and better quality Zzz’s.

Lots of love and good health,

Tasha, The Non-Toxic Newbie