Let the Negativity In!

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 the 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 acts 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 breathe 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 happens around a waterfall or after a hike to the  peak 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.

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 the air is highly polluted, and when the 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 houseplants 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 your 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 micro-mist of the oils into the air, which will 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, 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 environments.  There are so many excellent articles and recipes for clean, green, and effective cleansers out there. Care2’s website is one that has great ideas for healthy cleaners.

Read more from the Spring Cleansing Series, here!