Most of us spend about 90 percent of our time indoors, so minimizing the use of harmful chemicals in our homes, offices, and schools is important to keep the air we breathe healthy and the constructed surfaces we live on free of irritants and toxins.
But there are trade-offs, as proper maintenance of most types of flooring requires that occasional waxing to protect the finish beneath our feet. Among the worst chemical offenders commonly found in mainstream floor wax are:
- Cresol, which can cause liver and kidney damage if inhaled over extended periods of time
- Formaldehyde, which has been linked to everything from asthma to reproductive problems to cancer, is also a key floor wax ingredient that should be avoided whenever possible.
- Other hazardous ingredients in traditional floor wax are nitrobenzene, perchloroethylene, phenol, toluene, and xylene.
Floor Wax for a Healthy Indoor Environment
Luckily for the eco-conscious homemaker, a number of forward-thinking companies have risen to the green challenge by manufacturing floor waxes that help maintain a healthier and pure indoor environment:
Environmental Home CenterSeattle's Environmental Home Center, one of the country's foremost green building product retailers, recommends and sells BioShield's all-natural Furniture and Floor Hardwax for wood floors. The beeswax, carnauba wax and natural resin paste that make up the basis of BioShield's formula produce a dirt- and dust-resistant final coat to protect floors without compromising your health or indoor air quality.
Eco-House Inc.Based in New Brunswick, Canada, Eco-House Inc. manufactures a similar formulation for wood floors called #300 Carnauba Floor Wax. It contains beeswax, carnauba wax, refined linseed oil, rosemary oil, and a mild citrus-based thinner, and natural resins. It can be ordered directly from the company or through various green-building retailers across North America.
Sensitive DesignThis green architectural firm based in British Columbia, Canada, recommends that its clients maintain their wood, cork or open-pored stone floors with BILO floor wax. Made by the German company, Livos, which manufactures home care products that contain only biologically and environmentally responsible ingredients grown without pesticides.
Finally, for the do-it-yourself crowd, the free online Guide to Less Toxic Products (from the Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia) recommends concocting your own all-natural wood floor wax by warming up a combination of olive oil, vodka, beeswax and carnauba wax in a tin can or glass jar in simmering water. Once the concoction has been mixed and allowed to harden, it can be rubbed directly into wood floors with rags.