The other day, a business associate (Charlie) happened to be in our neck of the woods (which is definitely a neck of the woods!). Naturally, I invited him to stop by the candle factory. “Well, I have some bad news…” he replied. “My wife and I actually have a ‘fragrance-free household.’ We are so sensitive to scents that we only receive magazines that offer a fragrance-free version, we only use certain fragrance-free skincare products, and so on. Scented products give us migraines (or worse) and if we go into a store that sells Brand X candles, we instantly have to leave.”
Me too, Charlie! Me too! The claims that are so often repeated by other brands (‘naturally scented’ or ‘pure aromatherapy’) end up leaving sensitive people wary of ALL scents, and understandably so.
So rather than talk about it, I said “Charlie, we’re different. But all I’m asking is that you come to the factory. If you can’t come in the door or if at any point find that you’re experiencing any irritation/sensitization, the tour will be over.”
Charlie tentatively got out of his car. We came through the entrance and he trailed behind, slowly waiting for the assault on his senses that occurs while flipping through magazines in the waiting room at the dentist’s office, or walking down the cleaning products aisle at the grocery store. After a minute or two, I asked him how he was doing. “Fine?” he answered incredulously. “I can smell a fragrant aroma, but it’s not like I expected…”
I could tell he was having a hard time processing the fact that he was surrounded by thousands of candles, drums of essential oils and indeed, a present and very real aroma; yet he couldn’t identify any of the usual negative effects. Headache? No. Watery eyes? No. Respiratory irritation? No. And then, a smile of enlightenment appeared. These candles are unlike any others he’d experienced. And then he started having fun! Charlie eagerly smelled each of our 30+ candle aromas and happily exclaimed things like “These are so clean!” and “It really smells like the plant!”.
For the next hour, we had the pleasure of explaining the differences between synthetic fragrances and unadulterated and completely intact pure botanical essences. I showed him our small essential oil distilling apparatus (for fun, not for actually meeting our supply needs!). I showed him a 55-gallon drum of Lavender essential oil and explained the premium we pay for our ingredients, as opposed to synthetic fragrances.
We talked about “unscented” conventional products that actually contain synthetic fragrances to mask other chemical scents. We talked about “trade secrets” and the lack of labeling when it comes to mainstream personal care and cleaning products. We discussed intentionally vague words like “parfum” or “fragrance” that can mean any combination of petrochemical and phthalate-laden toxic ingredients.
We talked about health. We talked about the need for labeling requirements. We talked about how revolutionary it is to create truly authentic products in a world where chemicals are the norm. So, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks to the plant world; thanks to plant-based purity and thanks those who stick to their guns to create products with integrity. There are some real heroes out there (Dr. Bronner’s, Urban Moonshine, Badger, Pangea, Weleda, Mountain Rose Herbs and more!)
And to all those who are chemically-sensitive, be proud of your bodies’ recognition of poison. Just because the majority of the population is slowly becoming chemically desensitized doesn’t mean that the products on store shelves are safe.
To continue reading about this topic:
Dr. Aviva Romm recently wrote a great article about body burden and ways to reduce our exposure to toxins. (“Body burden refers to the total amount of toxic chemicals in your body at a given time, or the amount of a single chemical, for example, arsenic, lead, mercury, or PCB, to name just a few.”) http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-7689/5-tips-to-reduce-your-exposure-to-toxins-and-lose-a-few-pounds-in-the-process.html
February 2013 report from Women’s Voices for the Earth about how fragrance allergens harm public health: http://www.womensvoices.org/science/reports/secret-scents/
We’ve also written about our dedication to essential oils on our website: