Make your own essential oil reed diffusers for a natural fresh scent in your home! They’re cheaper and safer than the commercial diffusers, and you can customize your own fragrance blends with essential oils.
Many years ago I was completely obsessed with commercial air fresheners. Spray fresheners, plug-in fresheners, scented candles…you name it. Every room in our home had some sort of air-freshening device that left a strong, fruity, cheery scent in the air.
Now that I know better (thank God!), commercial air fresheners have become a thing of the past. And now that we don’t live with the constant strong scents in our home, it gets pretty overwhelming when we’re at a friend or family member’s house and all we can smell are those strong chemicals wafting through the air!
One of my favourite inventions are those nifty reed diffusers – you know those little jars of scented oils with all the sticks popping out of them? They’re wonderful and always look so pretty in a room, but the artificial fragrances in those scented oils are not so wonderful, and definitely not something I want my family to be inhaling day in and day out.
So today I’m going to show you how easy it is to make your own essential oil reed diffusers right at home!
Homemade Essential Oil Reed Diffusers
There are five items you’ll be working with here and all of them can be sourced pretty inexpensively.
Also, there are two ways you can make these – with water or with oil – so I’ll be referring to both of these methods below.
I picked up these jars from the thrift store for $1 each. I didn’t know what I’d use them for but I knew I just had to have them, and I’m so glad I got them because they’re perfect for this project!
When choosing your jars, look for small, short jars with a narrow opening at the top. The smaller the opening, the slower your oils will evaporate. My jars had somewhat large openings but luckily, they came with cork tops, so I just drilled about a 1″ hole into the cork and voila! Smaller opening!
Examples of jars you can repurpose for this project include old perfume bottles, small oil bottles, small vases, spice jars and shakers, etc.
Carrier Oil or Water (Base)
From what I’ve read online, it seems the most common carrier oils to use are safflower oil and sweet almond oil, as they are lighter oils that will travel up the reeds more easily. You DON’T want to use regular vegetable oil as it will be way too thick and won’t work at all.
You’ll use about 1/4 cup of oil for each diffuser, depending on your jar’s size, so try to source inexpensive oil, even if you have to order it online.
If you can’t find these oils, or don’t want to use oils as your base, you may also use plain water as the base. Distilled water is best, as it will last much longer since it’s purified. Using previously filtered and boiled water should be ok, but always check your diffuser; if it looks or smells “off” then toss the liquid, wash the jar, and make a new one.
If you use water, however, your diffuser liquid will evaporate much more quickly than an oil would. Some people have more luck with the oil, and others with the water, so see which one works best for you!
You’ll also add a small amount of alcohol to the oil mixture to help thin the oils and bind them all together so they can travel up the reeds more effectively. You want as high a concentration of alcohol as you can get – at least 90%.
You can use either perfumer’s alcohol, rubbing alcohol (also called surgical spirits), or plain old vodka (which I hear works best). I’ve also read that you might be able to use witch hazel for this, though I haven’t tried it.
I just used 95% rubbing alcohol I picked up from the drug store.
Essential Oils (Fragrance)
This is where it gets fun! You can either play it nice and simple with one or two essential oils, or you can get creative and experiment with different oil blends to create all kinds of lovely aromatic concoctions. Here’s a great list of essential oil blends that you can try.
For your 1/4 cup of carrier oil, you’ll use about 25-30 drops of essential oil. I blended 2 oils for each of my diffusers – cinnamon and lavender in one, and spearmint and rosemary for the other.
The Reeds (Sticks)
The commercial diffusers usually use reeds made from rattan because they contain small channels that help the oil travel up the stick to scent the room.
If you’re using water as your base, you’ll be fine with using simple bamboo skewers. They’re less porous than traditional reeds, so they won’t get oversaturated (and clogged) with the water.
But if you’re using a carrier oil, you’ll want to use something like these traditional reeds, as they’re more porous and better for the thicker consistency of the oil. If you use bamboo skewers with an oil base, the oils just won’t be able to travel up the sticks.
Make sure your reeds/sticks are about twice as tall as your jars so they can distribute the scent well.
- Small jar with small opening
- 1/4 cup carrier oil (safflower oil or sweet almond oil. Or you can use distilled water.)
- 5-6 reed sticks (if using oil). Or bamboo skewers (if using water).
- 25-30 drops essential oils
- 1-2 tablespoons perfumer's alcohol, or vodka (whatever you use, make sure it's at least 90-95% alcohol)
- In a glass measuring cup, add 1/4 cup of your carrier oil or 1/3 cup distilled water.
- Add about 25-30 drops of essential oils
- Add the alcohol and stir thoroughly to help it bind with the oils. Be sure to keep stirring until it's all incorporated well.
- Add the mixture to your jar.
- Insert the sticks into the jar.
- After a few hours, flip the sticks over and insert the dry end into the jar to saturate the other end.
- Continue to swirl the jar and flip the sticks over about every week or so until the scent has diminished. Then, you can just add some more essential oils to the mix, swirl, and start again!
- Once the sticks become completely saturated with oil, they lose the ability to diffuse and will need to be replaced.
- If your liquid starts to look or smell "off", dump it out, wash the jar, and make a new batch.
Some final notes:
- These essential oil reed diffusers release a very light, subtle scent and do not compare to the very strong, overpowering scent that’s released by the commercial reed diffusers which use artificially scented oils.
- One of these diffusers will work well in a small, enclosed room, like a bathroom. Anything larger, and you won’t really notice the scent. You could try placing several of them in a larger room for more scent.
- You’ll need to flip the reeds every few days to a week to refresh the scent. Once the reeds are completely saturated, you’ll need to replace them with new reeds. You will also need to replace your oil once it starts to lose its scent or if it starts to smell “off” – usually after a month or so.
- If these diffusers are not for you and you need something with more scent, especially for a whole room, look into buying an ultrasonic essential oils diffuser like this one or this one. These are great for aromatherapy, especially during cold and flu season!