If you need alternatives to burning candles, these kitchen techniques serve a dual purpose — you make delicious foods or drinks, and your home smells delectable.
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homemade chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.
Credit: Esther Chou/Getty Images

With daylights savings upon us, and the holidays approaching, candle use is flaring. Those flickering flames add more than just ambiance to a room, though. People who use candles for aromatherapy — and when they come in every scent from wild arugula to scratched vinyl, why wouldn't you? — may not realize that some scented candles give off chemicals that are essentially indoor air pollutants.

"It has been studied and confirmed that candles do produce particulate matter and volatile organic compounds, but the amount is very small, almost as similar to living in a city or taking a long walk outside," says fragrance expert Matthew Milèo.

There can also be issues with lead wicks, which are illegal in the U.S. but my slip through in cheap imported products and certain fragrances. Although the International Fragrance Association ensures that the chemicals used to scent candles are safe and nontoxic for human use, some segments of the general population, including children, asthmatics, and adults over age 65, are advised to avoid scented candles, air fresheners, and even oil diffusers, Miléo says.

If you're a diehard fan of a lighted wick and melted wax, you can follow Miléo's example and buy unscented candles — according to testing done by The National Candle Association, all waxes are equally safe from a health standpoint — and add your own essential oils for aroma. He likes spice notes like cardamom, clove, and ginger before a meal to help stimulate appetite, or clove, orange, and cinnamon for a Christmasy vibe. Or try these other non-wax-based alternatives:

1. Bake some cookies.

A trick from home-staging experts, baking cookies or a quick bread makes your home smell wonderful and cozy — and it lingers.

2. Brew some coffee.

Even faster than cookies! "Brewing coffee has traditionally been a way to keep all unpleasant smells out and make home feel like home," says Puneet Nanda, a certified Ayurvedic practitioner and aromatherapist and founder of Guru Nanda.

3. Toast some nuts or spices.

A little dry heat enhances the natural oils in pecans, almonds, and walnuts, as well as any dry spices. And as a bonus, you'll have them ready to go for your next recipe.

4. Simmer some cider.

Add apple cider to a slow cooker (cinnamon sticks and cloves, optional). Plug in, set to low, and enjoy.

5. Roast some garlic.

A little controversial, maybe, but the smell of roasted garlic is heavenly to some. Oil a bulb, wrap it in foil, and toss it in the oven. Then try not to salivate while you inhale.

6. Fry bacon.

This sizzle has staying power — cook some in the a.m., and the smell will linger until dinnertime.

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