Fragrant environmental safety

by Lysa Barry


 ach year, millions of consumers gently scent their homes with aero- sol sprays that smell of rain, pine trees, flowers, cinnamon or spring flowers. While Lysol promises the scent of an antiseptic environment and potpourri sprays are generally reminiscent of fragrant memories, the ozone layer is increasingly depleted with each push of a button on a can.

The environmental use of fragrance has a long history. In ancient Egypt, the resins of frankincense and myrrh were ritually burned. Perfume also shares this vaporous lineage, being derived from the Latin root "per fumum", which means "through smoke".

As civilizations evolved, the domain of fragrance wafted from sacred ceremonial use into the design of more appealing personal and public environments. The Romans scented their boudoirs, banquets, theater and affairs of state with incense.

Until recently, however, the modern urban nose has been in a state of olfactory renaissance. Aromatherapy research in essential oils and the behavioral impact of fragrance is proliferating.

According to Aromatherapist, Michelle Levan at Capitol Drugs in Sherman Oaks, "There has been a resurgent effort by both men and women to purchase aroma oils and diffuse them for tranquillity and relaxation. We live in a time where everything moves so fast and the softer scents from lavender and other relative oils soothe their home environment. Many people also utilize the sensual enhancement scents that aromatically arouse a spiritual awakening in their sensuality, offering a stimulating sense of well being from their immediate environment."

Diffusion, a process in which the oils are released into air through a fine mist offers the consumer an opportunity to utilize specific scents for specific treatments and therapies.

"Diffusers nebulize the oils into very fine particles that remain in suspension in the air for long periods of time as opposed to canned particles which are heavier and fall quicker," says John Steele, Aromatic Consultant, Archeologist and Author.

Aromatherapy fragrance devices take several forms including ceramic candles and charcoal burners, pneumatic pump and air stream diffusers. In the near future, electronic vaporization technology will soon become available.

Whether you are an aromatherapist or an informed lay person who loves scent, through environmental fragrancing you can rediscover a sensory dimension which has always been right in front of your nose.