Before we went “green” a few years ago, I think it’s safe to say that 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 is those strong chemicals wafting through the air! Ughh, I still can’t believe we ever used those things, but as we’ve removed them from our home, our sense of smell has become much more sensitive to all those chemicals. I can barely make it through the cleaning and laundry aisle at the supermarket without getting a headache or watery eyes or a very irritated nose.
Homemade air-fresheners is an area that I’ve dabbled in only slightly because until now I was just in the “no smell is a good smell” camp. And that’s still very much true, but sometimes you just want a gentle, light scent to tickle your senses and lift your spirits. 🙂
I’m going to be experimenting with a few different options over the next few weeks, and today I’ll show you how easy it is to make some homemade reed diffusers – you know, those little jars of scented oils with all the sticks popping out of them? Yeah, those…
There are five items you’ll be working with here and all of them can be sourced pretty inexpensively.
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.
The Reeds (Sticks)
Technically, you’re supposed to use reeds made from rattan because they contain small channels that help the oil travel up the stick to scent the room. I used regular bamboo skewers the first time, which didn’t really work so well. So I ordered some of these reeds online, and they’re doing much better. Just make sure your reeds are about twice as tall as your jars so they can distribute the scent well.
Carrier Oil (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’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. However, your diffuser base will evaporate much more quickly. Also, you’ll need to add some alcohol to help the essential oils bind to the water (see note below).
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 10-15 drops, depending on how strong or light you want the scent. I blended 2 oils for each of my diffusers – cinnamon and lavender for the living room, and spearmint and rosemary for the bathroom.
You’ll also add a splash of alcohol (about a teaspoon) to the oil mixture to help the oils 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, or vodka. I used 95% rubbing alcohol I picked up from the drug store.
- In a measuring cup, add about 1/4 cup of your carrier oil.
- If using alcohol, add into the cup and stir thoroughly to help it bind with the oil.
- Add about 10-15 drops of essential oils and swirl the mixture to blend well.
- Add the oil 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.
How do you keep your home smelling and feeling fresh all year long? What are your favorite scents to have around your home?
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