This whole thing started when I saw a post on the Insta about an air purifier, and I thought to myself “I should get one of those, clean air sounds legit.” And from there it sent me down this research hole where I learned SO much about our air quality in our homes, and why air quality in our homes is so important. As a health coach, I truly believe that your home environment is equally as important to your health, as the food you choose to nourish your body with, and the thoughts you feed your mind. Your home environment should be your oasis, your place that feels calming, refreshing, happy, and comforting. A huge part of this is the air you breathe. Now that the cooler months are here for awhile, I wanted to know, how can I keep my air clear and healthy during this time where we naturally spend more time indoors? To start, ya gotta get down with ions, and learn what they are all about…
Positive & Negative Ions
I had to read a lot about these two types of ions to understand how they impact our spaces (shoulda paid more attention in high school chemistry). Positive ions are CO2 molecules that have been stripped of an electron. They tend to have a negative impact on our bodies, in particular, our lungs, respiratory tract, and immune systems. Positive ions are so small that they can be absorbed into your bloodstream. If you have an excess of them in your environment, you can often feel them through symptoms of tiredness, lack of energy, tension, anxiety, or irritability. In nature, they are formed by high winds, dust, and pollution. In our modern day homes, positive ions are formed through air conditioners, fluorescent lighting, electric and computer equipment, printers, and photocopiers. Unfortunately, a lot of our modern conveniences output huge amounts of positive ions. Not to fear though, there are ways to lessen the load.
Negative ions are created when a molecule gains a negatively charged electron. These ions are statically attracted to airborne particles, such as dust, mold, allergens, and other pollutants in your air. When they attach to these particles, they become negatively charged, and grounded, and fall to the floor. Fresh air, plants, Himalayan salt lamps, warm showers, humidifiers, (and more), all produce negative ions that help bind with these harmful particles. Negative ions are particularly abundant in nature, in forests, beaches, and most intensely near waterfalls. This is why these places feel so calming to be near. Thunderstorms also produce a huge amount of negative ions. You can actually taste them in the air after a thunderstorm.
Today, most new homes are constructed, painted, floors are finished, then filled with furniture. Heating systems, and central air means that we can have perfectly controlled temps all year round. We have been told to close our windows in the Spring to keep the pollen out, to reduce allergies. And we are OBSESSED with sealing our homes to a ridiculous degree so that we can be as energy efficient as possible. We have cords, plugs, multiple computers, cell phones, tablets, TVs, speakers, printers, scanners, laptops, and lights probably in almost every room in our houses. But then where does all that off gassing from the furniture go? Where do those positive ions go? Where do those electromagnetic waves go? Where do all of those chemicals go? Not to be all Debbie downer here, but we actually inhale and absorb them. We absorb much of the particulates, positive ions, and pollutants. Personally, I NEVER considered this before. But the more I thought about how I feel when I am in different environments, (think, how do you feel after a long walk outside, vs how you feel if you’ve spent a huge portion of your day sitting at a desk, or watching tv?) the more I could see, and literally feel, the relation. The solution to creating a cleaner environment in your home is WAY easier than you think too (and totally adds to the zen, calming atmosphere you know you want in your home).
Creating Clean Air
Windows: Ditch your AC in the summer, and overheating your house in the winter. You have windows in your home, use them! I all too often see homes where the windows are literally never opened. (Thanks to our heating and cooling systems that regulate air temps). Windows let in fresh air, and help carry out positive ions. They help to flush out those particulates and pollutants that our homes are filled with. It is easy to keep your windows open in the summer, so if you live in a colder part of the world during winter, what do you do? Obviously you won’t throw open the windows on a 20 degree day, but on days when the temps spike occasionally, or even during the warmest part of the day when it hits 40-45 degrees out, simply crack a window or two in your home, to let in some fresh air. Anytime we get a day where the temp rises near 60, I first turn down my heat, and open all the windows in my house for about a half hour to get the stale air movin’ on out. The house always feels clean and fresh after I do this. It’s an easy ritual you can do even once a month. In Spring and Summer, there is no doubt that my window stay open all the time. I personally hate central air, and any air conditioning, so this is not a problem for me. Your body will adapt to cooler temps in the winter if you keep your house moderately heated, and if you allow your body to get used to warmer temps as the season progresses.
Himalayan Salt Lamps: My sister gifted me my first salt lamp. I thought I was sooo yogi and zen. Fast forward to now, and I have now bought another bigger salt lamp, because I realized they do more than just look pretty. Salt lamps can be useful in producing negative ions, although it is a very small amount, they do produce some. Salt lamps are best placed in rooms where you have the most electronics. Since it’s impossible to keep electronics out of every room in this day and age, just do your best to counteract the positive ions that your electronics emit. I have one in our office room, since this is where we keep our computers, printer, and speakers. And one in our living room, where our TV is. Salt lamps are also great for those who suffer from seasonal depression, as the light they give off mimics the warm light of the warmers months.
Get Outside: This is so easy, it’s free, and you will feel the BEST from doing this. Get yourself outside at least once a day. It can be for any amount of time, but aim for at least 30 minutes. If you can take a nature walk, that’s even better. Getting outside in the fresh air, (especially walking in a forest) is a potent source of negative ions, and mood boosting, lung cleansing epicness. Especially in the winter months, when we are inside a lot more, getting outside is downright refreshing and energizing, and don’t forget super stress relieving, even despite the cold. Don’t let the cold stop you either-dress right, and aim to get out during the warmest part of the day-midday. And once you are out, just keep moving. Your body will stay warm through the movement.
Take a warm shower: Moving water emits negative ions. Have you ever wondered why a shower feels so good, refreshing, and relieves stress? I think of a shower to have a similar effect as a waterfall, which emits the most negative ions, it’s just a mini version. I prefer to shower at the end of everyday, being that I’ve been inside a lot, and as a way to wash away the day to go to bed clean and fresh. It allows me to relax, and unwind. Next time you are feeling stressed, or in a mood funk, try a warm shower and watch your happiness come back.
Vacuum: Those positive ions, once they become charged, naturally fall to the ground. By vacuuming, you are not only picking up animal hair, dust bunnies, and dirt, you are clearing your air of positive ions. Make sure you have a vacuum cleaner that has an air filter on it, and remember to clean it once a month (or more) depending on how often you use it.
Plants: The best for last-Nasa calls plants, “nature’s life support system.” That’s an incredible statement. I have always had plants in my house, but never knew the extent to which they purified the air. Different species of plants have the incredible capability of removing harmful chemicals, dust, and pollutants from the air, as well as reduce levels of CO2, increasing humidity, regulating air temperatures, and relieving stress (just by looking at them). Plants literally clean the air. And they are way more effective than an expensive air purifier you can buy at the store. Stay tuned for Part 2: The Plants Post, an in-depth look at specific plants you need for your space, and exactly what pollutants they filter out of your air.
In the meantime, be well, and breathe easy.
*Main photo: Pinterest.