This question comes up often and creates enough confusion that it merits a blog post.
When I am asked questions about the safety of a product, I get online and I research. I consider the opinions of all sources, both pro and con, and take what information they offer and further dissect it.
Because most of the products in question are on the market for human use, there is precious little out there that is directly relative to birds. This means looking hard at not only the ingredients and their processing but also manufacturing practices – they all have a hand in the safety of the final product (and for the very conscientious, consideration to any negative impact on ecology.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the Scentsy products, it is an air freshening system using scented wax cubes that are melted using a low wattage light bulb. The claim is that they are the safer, non-toxic alternative to scented candles or plug-in air fresheners.
It is true that this system eliminates the zinc and lead released from burning wicks and there is no oily, sooty smoke resulting from the burning oils in the wax. BUT is that safe enough for a bird? Does eliminating some of the dangerous aspects of a product allow it to qualify as “safe” – or only less dangerous?
In the course of my research, I came across Scentsy bloggers and “directors” that, while well written, were unable to lay to rest my concerns about the product’s safety. One common thread that ran through all of their articles was a distinct lack of “what is” and lots of discussion as to “what is not” found in Scentsy products.
In fact, the website does not disclose the ingredients of their products– something I immediately regard as suspect. When I visited their site six months ago, it said that their wax bricks were made of “food grade” paraffin. Paraffin is a petroleum based product whether it is “food grade” or not. It is a by-product of the processing of crude oil.
When I searched today the verbiage had changed to “food grade wax” and a couple of their sales “directors” claim there are no petrochemicals in their products – which means no paraffin. I take this as an out and out lie based on two things:
1) Their use of paraffin wax has been the most notable complaint of their detractors, whom they could shut up by announcing a change in their wax of choice. But it is easier for them to be LESS forthcoming and just eliminate another fact that can be picked apart.
2) That would nullify their claim that they use paraffin as opposed to non-toxic soy or beeswax because it doesn’t hold their scents as long (a fact is technically nullified by the many companies who use plant based scented waxes successfully in their products).
And speaking of scents, theirs are referred to as a “secret combination of ingredients “. They state that they use 15-18% fragrance oils in the products. What constitutes the remaining 82-85%? Since they are not open to discussion about the contents and quality of the fragrances they use, we can only speculate as to what laboratory concoction resulted in the fragrances they call “Blueberry Cheesecake” or “Business Casual” (for the Scentsy man)!
I was not alone in my frustration. I wound up on several different blog sites all with the same list of complaints as I have and who reached the same conclusions. This is a company with something to hide and not the all-natural and non-toxic alternative to air freshening they would have us believe.
I am not a chemist but I am a practical person who has been around birds for a long while. I have seen needless suffering and death for many companion birds which have been exposed to things that are seemingly innocuous.
A bird’s respiratory system is not a delicate flower – it is extraordinary and dynamic and that is why we must be very careful about what they inhale. Every breath they take is more efficiently utilized and distributed than our own inhalations are and that puts them more at risk when toxins are in the air.
Don’t use Scentsy products with birds in the house. There are parrot safe alternatives.
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.
I don’t raise birds, but a friend of mine has a cat that was made very sick from breathing in fragrance used in her Scentsy pot. Was constantly scratching itself, tearing out fur, vomiting. We must remember that our animals can be sensitive to fragrances that may not bother us.
Thanks so much for the info. I love my babies too much to take a chance
Best trick I’ve found for keeping things fresh around my conures is pure essential oils….found in any health food or holistic store…few drops on a cotton ball in a little jar out of their reach and the whole apartment smells like fresh oranges or whatever oil i have bought. No burning wicks, no heating, no aerosols, no chemicals….i also use it as a cleaner…water, vinegar, lemons and essential oils
Well done. I have been trying to convince many companion bird owners that even these things are not sace.
I have been using Young Living essential oils around my 15 parrots for two years now. Stopped my 60 year old Hahn’s macaw from the neurological effects he was having from PDD. I had three months where He and I were able to sleep through the night by diffusing an oil all night long in a cold,water diffuser. Because I did it each night, all night long, I did a mild concentration on lowest setting. My birds have all had blood work and thorough physicals from one of the best avian vets. They have no ill effects. I was afraid to try the oils at first. I have always used vinegar and water around my birds. I am grateful I tried them. I do not use an oil burner around my birds. Only a cold water diffuser.
Please quit trying to slander a product. I am a Independent Scentsy Consultant. I’ve had some customers order the system and left me know that their dog or cat got a hold of the wax and never got sick. The one girl was a bank teller and the other was my sons cat who he was finding out licking the heated wax out of the plug in. The dog ended up eating a whole Scentsy bar and was fine. I’m not saying make it a regular diet for animals. As with any other household product, try to keep it out of the reach of children and pets. I know a cat, dog and bird are different. Use your best judgment and go from there, but don’t try to slander something if you don’t have all the details. There are products in question I don’t use, but I don’t go around saying don’t buy them because I said they are bad.
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