i try to be mindful about what chemicals i bring into the home. for example, the majority of cleaning products i use i make myself. most involve some combination of water, vinegar, baking soda and essential oils. i add essential oils because the scent cuts through the sharp vinegar smell (i really don’t like the smell of vinegar), and also because some essential oils have antiseptic properties.
i’m far from perfect though (see “baby oil” below) and there’s always more i can do. one of these days, i’ll share my list of what i use, what works and what conventional products i use because i simply haven’t found a good enough alternative yet. maybe you could share your suggestions with me then.
but today, i want to talk about reed diffusers. i’ve seen these in stores over the last couple of years, and they basically look like a bunch of bamboo sticks in a pretty glass jar. aesthetically pleasing things.
the idea behind them is that the sticks carry the fragrance from the jar up to the top where they “diffuse” into the air. they are touted as being a safer and cleaner alternative to burning scented candles, because there is no flame, and no soot is released.
(as an aside: i like soy-based or beeswax candles, with lead-free wicks. these waxes don’t have petrochemicals and burn cleaner than conventional wax candles.)
i like a pretty smelling house just as much as the next person, but i’ve always hesitated to buy these. most of them have a long list of ingredients, many of which i can pronounce but only thanks to my years of taking organic chemistry through university! others have only a few ingredients listed, like “alcohol, essential oil, fragrance.” but all manners of sin and toxicity can be legally hidden under the term “fragrance.”
i decided to try making my own version of these reed diffusers. to work, they need the following:
- a scent (i used pure essential oil.)
- something for the fragrance to “stick” to (mineral oil is a good choice; i only had baby oil on hand, which is essentially mineral oil but alas with some “baby powder” scent added. you could also use a light vegetable oil.)
- something to transfer the fragrant oil up out of the jar (any porous stick or twig will work, as will tightly rolled up pieces of paper; i used bamboo skewers from the dollar store with the sharp tips cut off.)
- something to help emulsify and carry the oil up the stick. (pure vodka is a good choice; it is stronger than rubbing alcohol, and it makes people wonder what you’re up to.)
- some vessel to hold this all together; preferably with a narrow opening (i used a vintage milk glass bud vase that i got at the thrift store for 49 cents; the narrow opening helps keep the alcohol from evaporating.)
here are the steps, they’re very complicated so read carefully. you may want to bookmark this page for future reference…
- fill the vase about half-way with the oil.
- add a splash of vodka
- add a few drops of essential oil
- put the sticks in the vase
that’s it! (i was joking about it being tricky.)
it takes a little time for the reeds to carry the fragrance up. i got a little impatient and flipped the sticks upside down so the whole length of bamboo was saturated with the oil. i do this periodically anyways when i find the scent is waning, to expose the oil-infused reeds to the air.
i’m going to play around with other essential oils and quantities. now that i look at it, i could have fit more sticks into the vase, which would help carry more scent upwards, as well as help keep the alcohol from evaporating.
so why could i not have just used essential oil? why add mineral or another “carrier” oil? well, pure essential oils are expensive, and i’d need a large quantity of it to saturate the reeds. but also, a little essential oil goes a long way in terms of fragrance. mineral oil helps dilute the scent.
so that’s it. although the ingredients are more natural than those found in most store-bought diffusers, these are still chemicals that can be dangerous to pets and children. so i display mine out of reach, on the mantle…
if you make this, let me know how it turns out. happy sniffing!
i shared this how-to on house of hepworths. thanks for the chance to share my creation, allison.
i also shared this at it’s so very cheri. thanks cheri!
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