I don’t know about you, but I am a smell person. I LOVE when shit smells good and I can detect an off-putting smell in another country, OK? That’s how keen this nose is. So, when I realized I had to cut out all synthetic fragrances in my life, I wasn’t necessarily upset- you can’t say cutting out heavy pollutants and carcinogens is upsetting- but acclimating myself to a more natural smelling environment was…an adjustment.
So after I sat shiva for my Bath and Body Works candles and my packs of Nag Champa incense that I tossed into the garbage as if they were Marlboro Lites, I began to realize that not only do the strong scented products I used to use now smell like rat poison (I literally can’t breathe in most people’s laundry rooms), there’s real joy in finding new products and new ways to make your house smell good.
And I’m not talking about the soy candle that’s still loaded with phthalates or the Tide Free & Clear detergent that’s actually still 95% toxic, I’m talking about the truly natural options to elevate the scents in your house, like…*DRUM ROLL* a simmer pot! Have you ever heard of a simmer pot?
WELL NOW YOU HAVE! A simmer pot is the most wonderful, (actually) natural way to fill your house with scents without having to pay such a high price towards your health and your finances (we all know those candles ain’t cheap).
It’s basically a collection of herbs, spices and fruits that you add to water, bring to a simmer and let do its thing. And the best part (aside from how FREAKING GOOD it smells) is that you can change what’s in your pot based on what you have in the cupboards/refrigerator, what’s growing in your neighbourhood or what kind of vibe you’re after. This lends itself to supporting local, seasonal and upcycling leftover bits and bobs in your kitchen.
For example, in the spring (and summer if you can hack adding heat to your home) I tend to lean into bright fresh scents with fresh mint from my garden, eucalyptus, lavender and leftover lemon peels. And in the colder months I use apples, cranberries and orange peels with warmer spices like cinnamon, cloves and star anise and fresh earthy foliage like fir tree sprigs (just a snip snip from the ol’ Christmas tree).
So, this year, see if you can sub your usual Febreeze/Candle/Incense plan of scent attack with a simmer pot, I bet you never look back! And to help you get there, here’s my favourite December mix.
Festive Simmer Pot recipe:
6-8 dried orange slices (if you can’t be bothered to dry them, you can use fresh slices or just the peel of two whole oranges).
3 cinnamon sticks
3 small pine or fir branches
10 whole cloves
½ cup of fresh cranberries
1 or 2 springs of thyme or rosemary
Toss your ingredients into a large pot, add 2-3 cups of filtered water, bring to a simmer and ENJOY.
Happy simmering fam.