Healthy Air | Wellness |

Himalayan Salt Lamps and Air Quality

2 minute read

Do salt lamps really work? Himalayan salt lamps have grown in popularity in the United States in recent years. They are often marketed as natural air purifiers that can also help with respiratory issues, mood, and sleep.

Salt has been used in treating ailments for centuries, especially in “halotherapy”, which involves breathing in salt-rich air.

Few scientific studies have been done on the subject of in-home salt lamps, but research into some of the claims made by salt lamp producers has been mixed.

Here’s an overview of the reported benefits and some studies that have looked at the claims associated with Himalayan salt lamps. This information can be helpful to consider when thinking about adding a salt lamp to your home.

How Do They Work?

When heated, salt is a natural ionizer. It changes the electrical charge of the air around it. Other natural ionizers include waterfalls, waves, and storms, though these produce much larger numbers of negative ions than salt lamps can.

The idea is that as salt blocks are heated, they release negative ions into the air, which “attract particles of pollution and give them a negative charge, making them seek an electrical ground and causing them to fall harmlessly to the floor.”¹

Salt is also naturally hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs water molecules from the air. Some salt lamp producers claim that the water molecules that are trapped by the salt block contain harmful impurities that are then removed from the air.²

Benefits and Evidence

Air Purification

The claims about benefits for people with respiratory issues, like asthma, probably come from the use of halotherapy, which has been shown to improve respiratory health in some cases

However, the concentrations of salt used in halotherapy are much greater than those found in common salt lamps. And no studies have focused directly on Himalayan salt lamps and respiratory health.

Other claims about removing impurities from the air are based on hygroscopy, which is a known process. But it’s unclear if common salt lamps are capable of removing significant amounts of contaminants like dust, pollen, smoke, and mold from the air.

Mood

Research has shown that people report improved feelings after exposure to large concentrations of negative ions.

It’s unclear how many negative ions salt lamps can produce when heated by a light bulb, and if those levels of concentration would compare to what was shown in the study.

Beyond negative ions, salt lamps look nice in a room and can make it feel cozier. This can help improve your mood, and make your environment more relaxing for others.

Bottom line, the Himlayan salt lamps can add a calming presence to any room in your home.

Sleep

At this time, there have been no studies that analyze the effects of salt lamps on quality of sleep. And there is no known association between higher levels of negative ions and better sleep.4

However, the lamp’s warm, inviting glow is a great alternative to glaring overhead lights as you wind down at the end of the day. And this may help you fall asleep faster.

Conclusion

Salt lamps are not a proven method for air purification, but can improve mood and make it easier to sleep.

Salt lamps have not been adequately tested. But their potential to improve your mood and the comfort of a your home environment can make them beneficial for you and your family.5

Sources

1 Solay Wellness, Inc.: http://www.natural-salt-lamps.com/howdosaltlampswork.html

2 Mind Body Green Lifestyle: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/the-health-properties-and-benefits-of-himalayan-salt-lamps

3 Journal of Medicine and Life: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4391365/

4 BMC Psychiatry: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23320516

5 Harvard Health Publishing: https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/mind-and-mood

Live Science: https://www.livescience.com/59328-himalayan-salt-lamp-faq.html

Ask Nurse Kate: Managing Winter Allergies

Healthy Air | Wellness |

Ask Nurse Kate: How to Overcome Winter Allergies

3 minute read

Most people associate allergies with the summer heat or the blustery days of fall. But for many of us, wintertime can cause a sore throat, itchy eyes, and other allergy concerns.

The good thing is, there are plenty of ways to manage and overcome winter allergies. We asked Nurse Kate some questions on the topic, and we hope her expertise can help guide you to a happy, healthy winter.

Question #1: Every year I’m fine in the summer and fall, but when winter rolls around I start sneezing and I end up with a sore throat. What could be causing my allergies in the winter?

When the cold weather rolls around, we inevitably spend more time indoors. While this tendency helps us to stay warm and cozy, it also causes us to be exposed to more indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and molds.

Question #2: It’s annoying, but I’ve just accepted that I’m going to get sick at some point during the winter. How do I tell if my symptoms are from allergies, cold, or flu?

Good question! Cold and flu symptoms tend to be short lived, lasting only a few weeks. Allergies, on the other hand, tend to last longer.  Sneezing and itchy, watery eyes often accompany allergies as well. The National Institute of Health has a great chart to help you determine if allergies, a cold, or the flu might be causing your symptoms.  If you think you might have a cold or the flu and aren’t sure what type of treatment you need, or feel you aren’t getting any better, be sure to contact your local healthcare provider for more assistance.

Question #3: I seem to sneeze whenever the furnace turns on in my house. What’s going on with that?

When the furnace turns on, air begins to circulate around the house, which kicks up those common allergens. If you are prone to allergies, you might find yourself sneezing more when this happens. A few ways to combat this issue is to dust and vacuum your home on a regular basis. Then check to make sure your furnace’s filter is rated to filter out common allergens.

Question #4: We don’t like to keep our dog outside when it gets really cold, so he spends most of the winter inside with us. Is that alright?

Of course! Our furry friends are prone to getting frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather just like us. It’s great that you are bringing your dog inside. The Humane Society has a great article on ways to protect your pets during winter months. If you find that your allergies are acting up since bringing your dog indoors, try some of the techniques described above.

Question #5: When I try to work out inside, it can be hard for me to breathe. How can I fix that, and when is it safe to exercise outdoors in the winter?

If you are having a hard time breathing at any point during exercise, stop what you are doing. Take a moment to catch your breath. If you are still struggling to breath after stopping the exercise, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you catch your breath after stopping the exercise, consult with your doctor for further evaluation. He or she will be able to help you determine what might be causing your symptoms.

After coming up with a treatment plan, your doctor may give you the green light to exercise outdoors. This can be especially refreshing during the winter months, when we are otherwise cooped up inside. If you aren’t sure when it is safe to exercise outdoors during the winter, the Mayo Clinic offers excellent guidelines for keeping yourself safe and healthy when pursuing wintertime fitness.

Disclaimer:

The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All content is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk.

Handling the Winter Blues

Healthy Humidity | Wellness |

Healthy Ways to Handle the Winter Blues

2 minute read

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s associated with the changing of the seasons. It can happen any time of year, but here we’re focusing on wintertime SAD (aka the winter blues).

With colder temperatures and less sunlight, it’s natural to feel different in the wintertime. But there are ways you can overcome the negative feelings that are caused by your environment.

Strategies for Dealing with SAD

Let’s look at some steps to take if you’re not feeling like yourself when winter comes around.

Light Therapy

A lack of sunlight is a major contributor to SAD. Adding more light to your day seems like a smart option. Light therapy has been used for decades, and it typically takes the form of sitting in front of an artificial light each day. For more information on the specifics of this method, check out the Mayo Clinic’s guide to light therapy.

Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that attempts to treat SAD by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. One of its goals is to identify negative thoughts and replace them with more positive thoughts. Whether that means having a more positive attitude towards getting outside in the winter, or discovering new activities to do indoors, being intentional about finding ways to feel better can be a major help. Here’s more information on cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Create a Comfortable Environment

When you go outside, it’s cold and raining or snowing. Your heating systems dries our your air. It can feel like you can’t get comfortable anywhere.

One way to make your home or apartment more inviting is to be aware of humidity levels. The ideal range is between 30-50%, and it can help with overcoming illness and preventing dry skin. You can find more specifics with our guide to humidity.

Find a Sleep Schedule That Works

Reduced sunlight can impact your sleep cycle, making you constantly tired or unwilling to get out of bed. Don’t worry if you are getting closer to 8-9 hours of sleep. What’s important is to find a sleep schedule that works for you and to stick to it. More and better sleep can help you fight illness and provide stability during the winter months.

Sources:

  • The National Institute of Mental Health
  • The Mayo Clinic
  • Psychology Today

Note: The information contained on the Aprilaire website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. All content is for informational and educational purposes only and any use thereof is solely at your own risk. If you’re experiencing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder or any other negative emotions, please contact a mental health professional.

Healthy Home |

The Best Indoor Plants for Winter

2 minute read

Ready to hunker down for the winter? Don’t forget about those green members of your household. Indoor plants are perfect for wintertime. They help freshen up the stuffy air, bring some color to your surroundings, and studies show that they can improve your mood, which is especially relevant during the dreary winter months.

When deciding what indoor plants are right for your home, consider a few things:

1. Find something that’s hardy and able to make it through colder months without much sunlight
2. Choose plant types that are safe and non-toxic for pets and children
3. Don’t be scared of plants that need a little pruning or managing. Having something to care for is a great way to beat the winter blues!

Top Indoor Plants for Winter

Spider Plant

This probably won’t be the only spider you see in your house this winter, but it’s definitely the least creepy.

It requires only moderate amounts of water and indirect sunlight, so it has a good chance at making it through the winter.

Plus, it’s non-toxic! A good thing, since kids and pets may be intrigued by the unique look and feel.

Lavender

Wouldn’t it be nice to breathe in the soothing smells of lavender all winter long?

Buy several pre-potted lavender plants and place them throughout your house. They don’t want much water in the winter, so not much care is needed. Just put them in a porous pot material like clay to avoid damp soil and root rot.

Palm Tree

If you dream of your snowbird future, spending the cold months in the sunny tropics, this is the plant for you.

Try out a pygmy date palm or bamboo palm. They do require some pruning as they grow, but that’s the perfect project for staying active indoors all winter long. Also, keep them in warm areas of the home, not too close to drafty windows.

Cactus

So you’re more into Arizona than Florida, that’s ok. Plant the seed for your future free from blustery winds and snowy sidewalks with a few cacti around the house.

There are so many varieties available, and most require very little water and maintenance. Try out a mini cactus in a terrarium to keep away curious fingers and snouts.

Rubber Plant

Nothing bounces back quite like a rubber plant.

These hardy plants keep their large green leaves without much water and marginal sunlight. Give them a little water when the soil gets dry, and they’ll be alright throughout the winter and ready to thrive when summer arrives.

In the warm summer months, rubber plants can grow quite tall. You may need to trim them to keep them manageable, and that gives you a great opportunity to propagate the rubber tree for sharing with family and friends. It can be simple to do and makes for a great winter activity.

Archive |

2019 New Year’s Resolutions: Achieve a Healthier Home

2 minute read

It’s the same thing every year: you set goals to eat better, get more exercise, maybe even get more sleep. You want a healthier you. But what if you could do something for 2019 that improves your health and the health of your family? Make 2019 the year for a Healthy Home!

Healthy Home Resolutions for 2019
The air quality in your home—the place you spend more time than anywhere else—is a major factor when it comes to your overall health.

So for a healthier home and a healthier you in the New Year, here are five picks for Healthy Home Resolutions:

1. Clear the clutter
This isn’t something that can happen overnight, but resolving to clear out a different room every month is a great way to make this goal a reality.

Start with the most-used room in your house and work from there. Whether it’s your kitchen, living room, or bedroom, rid it of anything that you don’t love or use often.

Clutter is nothing more than a dust collector and excess dust means poor indoor air quality.

2. Add some greens
This might be one of the easiest resolutions to keep because it doesn’t involve getting rid of anything.

Plants are amazing for improving indoor air quality. Adding some green plants to your home can not only help you breathe better, but it adds major style points, too.

To purify air, think one large plant for every 100 square feet in your home, or two smaller ones for the same effect.

3. Change the filters
Regularly cleaning or changing your air filters will make a huge difference for your indoor air quality.

Resolve to check your filters on the schedule that’s recommended by the manufacturer. (Aprilaire filters should be changed once a year, so with our filters, this resolution is pretty easy! )

4. Green Cleaning
Replacing your toxic, chemical-filled home cleaners with eco-friendly, non-toxic cleaning supplies will improve your air quality and save you money.

Get a group of friends together and make some of these DIY natural cleaning products.

Then you can use those products to keep your home clean throughout the year! This is a great activity to get kids involved with, and you don’t have to worry about them being exposed to harmful chemicals.

5. Invest in an air purifier
Here’s a shortcut to improved indoor air quality. Consider investing in an air purifier to help reduce airborne pollutants, allergens, odors, and more.

Having clean air in your home environment is vital to the health of your family. And air purifiers help reduce the concentration of air pollutants all year long, whether it’s allergens in the spring or stuffy heated air in the winter.

Wherever your New Year’s journey takes you, Aprilaire is here to help with Healthy Home tips and professional support so you can create a better home environment for your family. Here’s to a happy and healthy 2019!

Family |

Try This Simple, Kid-Friendly Christmas Wreath!

2 minute read

It’s the season of giving and there’s no better gift than something homemade by you and your kids! One of the easiest and most festive projects to make is a Christmas wreath. The fun part is how many different ways you can make this classic Christmas decoration:

● Handprint Wreath
● Tissue Paper Wreath
● Ribbon Wreath
● Fine Motor Focused Wreath

Below, we have a simple wreath that’s perfect for using any extra bows and ribbon you have this time of year. Follow the easy steps, and find ways for your child to help out!

christmas-wreath-kids

Materials Needed

● Circular wreath form
● Tissue paper for backing (optional)
● Tape
● Lots and lots of bows (any color combination you like)
● Ribbon or string for hanging

Instructions

Step One: Wrap the wreath with tissue paper first just to make sure none of the green would be peeking through the bows. This is optional but highly recommended for a more polished look. Secure the tissue paper with tape and you’re good to go!

step-one-christmas-wreath-kids

Step Two: It’s time to bring on the bows. Depending on the age of your kid, you will want to back your bows with tape before you start this step. In this case, our helper Roman, is 18 months old. If all your bows are brand new, just peel the backing off. We used recycled bows that needed a little help sticking.

step-two-christmas-wreath-kids

Step Three: Let your little one go at it and stick on as many bows as they can fit, or until they want to get back to playing with all their toys. You can fill in any gaps once they’re done so the wreath form is full and covered.

step-three-christmas-wreath-kids

Step Four: We added some curled silver ribbon, and just like that we had a Christmas wreath that was ready to be displayed or gifted!

step-four-christmas-wreath-kids

Healthy Home |

Cut Energy Bills This Winter

3 minute read

The holiday season is one of the most joyful times of year, but what about the extra expenses it can bring? Not so jolly… When the shopping, traveling, gift giving, and party hosting start to add up, it’s time to look at ways to save. One of the biggest areas you might be overlooking is your energy bill.

Energy Savings for the Holidays

Buy LED Lights

LED lights use 70% less energy than traditional bulbs. They last up to ten times longer, they’re brighter, eco-friendly, and are safer for young children because they remain cool to the touch. Easy savings!

Get a Fiber Optic Tree

You can’t get more energy efficient then fiber optic trees and decorations. They use a single LED bulb to light the entire decoration which gives the same look for much less energy consumption.

Limit Usage

It can be tempting to leave your decorations on all day during the holiday season, you know, so the dog can enjoy the lights while you’re at work. But one of the simplest ways to cut energy bills is to limit usage. Use a timer to turn on the lights when you’ll get the most enjoyment out of them, and then off when you go to bed. Aim for six hours or less per day.

Candles and Creative Decorating

Candles are a beautiful and efficient lighting alternative for holiday decorating. Just make sure to properly ventilate areas with candles, and don’t let them burn when you’re not around. Ribbons, wreaths, garland, tinsel, and reflective ornaments are also festive, electricity-free options for your decorating delight.

Buy Energy-Free Gifts

Consider buying only gifts that don’t require electricity or batteries. In this age of technology that might sound impossible, but think of all the energy you’ll be saving!

Purchase Rechargeable Batteries & A Charger

If you do buy or receive gifts that require batteries, purchasing rechargeable batteries and a charger is a cost-effective alternative to disposable batteries.

Buy Energy Star Electronics

Energy Star Certified electronics use up to 60% less electricity than other non-certified brands. So, if electronics are on your family’s must-have list for the holiday season, be sure to invest in Energy Star.

Run a Humidifier

You may be able to save on your heating bills by running a humidifier in the winter months. Humidified air actually feels warmer than dry air, so you can be comfortable at lower temperatures. This is due to the fact that when there’s more water in the air, our sweat evaporates at a slower rate, leaving us feeling warmer without having to crank up the thermostat.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Programmable thermostats can lead to big energy savings by automatically lowering your thermostat while you’re at work for the day. You won’t have to pay for heat that you aren’t using and you can save between 5-15% on your heating bills for the year. Also, be sure to lower your thermostat when hosting large groups. The body heat alone will be plenty to keep everyone in your home comfortable.

Save on Fuel

Fuel costs quickly add up with the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Make sure to unload your vehicle after each trip to eliminate any extra weight. You can also reduce fuel consumption by walking around the neighborhood to see all the lights this year, instead of driving.

Be Savvy in the Kitchen

Your kitchen can account for as much as 15% of your home’s energy use. To keep those costs as low as possible:

  • Bake multiple dishes at a time
  • Utilize smaller appliances
  • Make sure your pots are the right size for your stove’s burners and
  • Keep lids on and ovens shut when cooking to allow foods to cook faster

Winterize Your Home

Check out these tips on how to make sure your whole home is as energy efficient as possible, from your windows to your fireplace.