Fragrance sticks are absorbent sticks which have been placed in a jar of fragrance oil. The stick draws up the pure, intense oils and their scent evaporates into the room when they hit the air. Due to the fact that they do not need to be lit, they are considered safer than an unattended scented candle. The byproducts of burning incense sticks are not an issue with fragrance sticks either.
The best oils to use for fragrance sticks are pure oils undiluted by water or harsh solvents. If the sticks dry out, they can be turned upside down so the end that was standing in the oil is exposed to air and a fresh wave of fragrance is released. There are many oils which can be used from those with aromatherapy properties to those with a purely perfume function. Refills of the oil are available, but a standard 8 ounce (240 ml) jar should last a few months.
Home fragrance has become a billion US Dollar industry with consumers spending as much on home fragrance products as on household cleaning products. Technological gadget diffusers have become one of the most popular items but the more passive reed diffusers such as fragrance sticks are also in demand. Having a pleasant smelling home year round is now seen as routine and consumers are willing to spend money on such products either for themselves or as a gift.
The constant use of such fragrances in a closed environment such as the home is not always desirable, especially when there are children or pregnant women in the house. Fragrances can be made up of hundreds of ingredients and about a quarter of them have been found to contain toxic substances. According to the environmental group Greenpeace, at least 36 popular perfume brands contain chemicals which are harmful to both health and environment. These chemicals accumulate in the body and adversely affect DNA and sperm production in men. Natural ingredients as well as man made ones can be harmful and result in adverse effects such as asthma and other respiratory problems, headaches and even cancer.
There is a particular danger when home products such as scented candles and incense sticks are lit as the perfume is released via a chemical reaction with the burning wick. This produces smoke which can produce carcinogens, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide. These are then taken into the lungs, are absorbed through the skin and irritate the eyes, nose and throat. Fragrance sticks have the advantage that no such reaction is necessary as the fragrance is released due to exposure to the air.