Cleaning The Air The Natural Way

By Mary Oquendo

How are you keeping your grooming facility smelling fresh and clean? Is it formaldehyde, ethanol, phenols, and petroleum-based artificial fragrances in a can with flowers on it? Those aerosols use neuro-chemicals to numb that part of your brain that controls your sense of smell. What they don’t do is eliminate the source of the odors.

But, what if Mother Nature provided us with a natural way to clean the air in our grooming facilities? All without changing air filters and incurring little to no added electrical costs.

Well, she did. In fact, here are six easy and safe ways to clean the air:

1) Himalayan Salt Lamps

Crystal salt was created millions of years ago when ocean beds dried up. Salt lamps are hygroscopic, meaning they attract water from the air. Heat from a 15–watt bulb, candle tea lights, or even humidity attracts moisture in the air and condenses on the lamp. It’s why salt lamps drip and flake and should be kept on saucers or plates.

When heated, salt lamps speed up the evaporation process when the salt ions separate due to extra moisture. This results in more airborne negative ions, which in turn changes the charge of the surrounding air. This negatively charged air attracts the positively charged dust particles, allergens, bacteria, virus, smoke, and pollutants. The neutralized pollutants are heavier than the air and fall to the ground. Ozone air cleaners work on the same principal, but without pumping harmful ozone in our environments.

When choosing a lamp, make sure it is a Himalayan Salt Lamp. These salt crystals come from the Himalayan Mountains and contain therapeutic trace minerals. There are man-made versions that imitate the look, but not the effects. They range in color from pink to orange to reddish. The redder it is, the higher the trace mineral content is.

“I’ve found my salon smells better with my salt lamps. Once when my bulb burnt out I didn’t replace it for 3 months. I could tell a huge difference once that bulb was replaced. I now
keep spare bulbs on hand.”–Lara
Gordon Latshaw

2) Beeswax candles

As they are purported to emit negative ions when lit, they work in the same way that salt lamps do. These candles are all natural and non–toxic. Beeswax candles do not emit paraffin or other volatile organic compounds. Plus they smell yummy. In addition, you also support small honeybee farms. However, the con is that they are an open flame. Shop cats may knock them over or dog hair floating over them may ignite.

3) Bamboo charcoal

It is made from bamboo plants that are at least five years old and burned at temperatures in the 800-1200 degree range. The charcoal is placed into biodegradable bags. Bamboo charcoal absorbs odors, pollutants, bacteria, and allergens. In addition, it removes moisture, preventing mold and mildew. When you are finished with it, you can recycle it in your garden.

4) Plants

Spider plant, English ivy, lady palm, peace lily, boston fern, snake plant, golden pothos, wax begonia, and red–edged dracaena removes benzene and formaldehyde (components of paint and many cleaning supplies), carbon monoxide, and electronic radiation. In addition, it adds more oxygen into the workplace reducing overall tiredness. In fact, Spider plants are recommended by NASA to improve air quality. And lets not forget plants are visually appealing to our clients.

These plants are very resilient. Tough to kill even for us black–thumbed folks. However, some of these plants are poisonous to cats.

“Not only do live plants help oxygenate & purify the salon air, spaces containing house plants have been found in studies to increase attentiveness and increase both mental & physical healing and overall positive mood.

“For me, having house plants in the salon helps make my space feel unique and inviting. As well, I feel that healthy greenery conveys to clients that I am an attentive caregiver and appreciate our natural world.”–Christein Pearson

5) Diffuse essential oils

Not fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are the chemical equivalent of the corresponding essential oil. If the label says may contain essential oils and/or fragrance oils, assume they are fragrance oils. Fragrance oils are much cheaper to manufacturer.

Good essential oil choices include lemon, tea tree, eucalyptus, ravensara, rosewood, and blends such as Thieves TM and OnGuard ™. Essential oils should be diffused in a water–based diffuser. Hot plates denature the oil and may even release toxins into the air. As a general rule, essential oils diffused in the air are safe for cats providing the cat does not have respiratory issues. As it may be hard to determine if any given cat has undiagnosed respiratory issues, I err on the side of caution and do not use them when I’m working on cats.

6) Circulated fresh air

Circulated air flow regulates temperature, removes impurities, bacteria, viruses, dander, and toxins, as well as prevents mold. The most effective way is to utilize cross–air circulation. Use two window or vent fans; one set on intake and the other on outtake.

The reason these six methods work better is because they neutralize the source of the odors rather than trick your brain into thinking it smells nice. ✂