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Let the Negativity In!

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Negative ions, that is.

Spending so much time in our houses, especially during the winter months, gives us good reason to be concerned about chemicals that pollute our indoor air.  Out gassing from carpet and furniture, vapors from indoor ovens and stove tops, and fumes from our cleaning products are main sources of indoor air pollution.

Scientists have found that high levels of negative ions in the air are extremely beneficial to our health.  A negative ion is simply a molecule that is negatively charged.  This is good because most airborne pollutants are either neutral or positively charged.  The negative ion act like a magnet and draws the pollution to it.  Once they bind together they become heavy and fall to the ground (no longer airborne)…which means we breath them in less, and they get whisked away with every vacuuming. 

But we don’t need scientists to convince us that negative ions are so beneficial.  Most of us have had our own experience with this.  Did you ever wonder why it feels so good to be walking in a forest or on a sandy beach?  Have you ever experienced the intensely good feeling that happen around a waterfall or after a hike to the top of a mountaintop?  I am certain there are many reasons those experiences infuse such deep and healing feelings, but one reason is that those are all places negative ions are found in abundance in nature

And negative ions have been shown to lift the mood, alleviate depression and mitigate the impact of SAD (seasonal affective disorder).  

Just like high levels of negative ions are desirable, high levels of positive ions are not desirable.  We find an abnormally high amount of positive ions near computer screens, when the air is too dry, when air is highly polluted, and when air is forced through ducts like in heating and air conditioning units.  These are all scenarios most of us find in our homes.   

 

So how do we shift the balance toward more negative ions?  Here are some ideas to get us started.
Bring green inside
  • Bring green plants into your home.  Not only do green house plants consume carbon dioxide and pump out oxygen, they work toward alleviating pollution by replacing negative ions into the air. 
Freshen Up 
  • Essential oils are loaded with negative ions when diffused into the air.  It is my favorite way to use them.  Here are 3 ways essential oils can help cleanse our air.
  1. Make an essential oil spritz that can be sprayed in each room a couple times a day or as an odor fighting spray for garbage cans.  Here is a recipe for a Negative Ion Spritz that brings the power of nature inside.   Mix one or more of the following essential oils (about 20-30 drops of each) together with about 1/2 cup of water in a spray bottle: Cypress, Cedarwood, Orange, Lemon, Sandalwood, Pine.  Shake and spray around.
  2. An inexpensive way to diffuse essential oils is to put a few drops on a cotton ball and put the cotton ball in the vents where forced air comes through like the heating or air conditioning vents, in fans or in the vents of your car.
  3. Diffusers for essential oils can also be purchased (I have one in three different rooms in my house) at places like here or here. These diffusers will send a micromist of the oils into the air, which keep them in the air for much longer since they can float and circulate in the air instead of falling quickly to the ground.
Double Duty 
  • I love this trick.  Fill a glass jar 3/4 of the way with baking soda.  Put 10-15 drops of essential oils in.  Shake it up.  Then sprinkle all over your carpets.  When you vacuum through the essential oils will be circulated through the room.  If you do this for the first vacuum after changing to a new bag, the smell will continue each time after. 
Pump The Negative Ions In
  • A great investment would be to purchase an air purifier or filter that works by putting negative ions into the air.  I rotate our purifier into different rooms every couple days to give each room a good air cleaning.
Clean Up Your Act
  • Finally we know that keeping pollutants out in the first place is one of the best ways to clean our indoor environment.  There are so many excellent articles and recipes for clean, green and effective cleansers out there I thought I’d just leave you with a few links. 
  • The whole Care2 website is a treasure trove of information about healthy living, but their Non-Toxic Cleaning section has great ideas for healthy cleaners.
  • Green Mom’s Carnival about Spring Cleaning can be found here and there are some great posts that include simple, inexpensive and effective cleaners you can make at home. 

Have you been able to fling open the windows and celebrate the change of season in your neck of the woods, yet?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Leslie

Thank you for some great, refreshing ideas and another viable reason for the existence of my “pet” houseplants! I heard once that spider plants are particularly effective at cleansing the carbon monoxide in the air.
Would peppermint oil work as a spritzer, too? Someone suggested to me that it deters mice, so I have a number of cotton balls soaked with peppermint oil throughout our home.

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