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.