Thursday, March 20, 2014

How to Make an Essential Oil Reed Diffuser

A couple fairly new developments, resulting from Christmas gifts I got a couple months ago:

One -- I'm kinda sorta falling in love with essential oils. I mean, I've dabbled in essential oils for the last couple years, but this past Christmas my mother-in-law gave us the Family Physican Kit from doTERRA and it's AMAZING. I've used every oil in that kit (except for oregano - I'm a little scared of that one.) and love them. Even my skeptical husband has become a bit of a believer. Balance (the oil pictured above) isn't in the kit but I love it (and I used it for the project I'm going to describe). Though I'm still an essential oil novice, I'm really impressed by how much punch these oils pack and the many, many ways they can be used.

Two -- For the first time in my life, I'm in possession of a bottle of vodka. My brother and his wife gave it to me for Christmas and everyone had a good a laugh about it when they gave it to me. Why? I'm a life-long Mormon and I've never so much as tasted a drop of the stuff, let alone owned a whole bottle. (It was a big deal for me when I bought my first can of beer at age 30 -- to kill snails, of course.) It's actually a really thoughtful gift because my brother remembered me mentioning that I wanted to try making my own vanilla extract and to do that you need vodka. Seeing as I don't frequent the liquor store and all, I've never gotten around to buying a bottle of it. So, for the last few months, I've had it up in my cupboard, next to all the jars of homemade jam and salsa.

So besides the fact that the essential oil and the vodka were Christmas gifts, what do they have in common? They're two of the things needed to make an essential oil reed diffuser.  

I first came in contact with reed diffusers about eight years ago when I was working at Pier 1 Imports. I mostly waddled around the place because I was pregnant with my oldest at the time and just working to fill some hours since I'd quit my full-time job at Barnes & Noble. Granted, the diffusers weren't always so pleasant with the pregnancy-induced superhuman sense of smell I had, but I thought they were cool. Instead of spraying chemicals into the air or using those scenty disks you plug into the wall, the scent of the oil emanated from these skinny sticks that you dipped in them. Who knew?

A few months ago, I noticed that my doctor's office had an essential oil diffuser that was pluged into the wall and I wanted one -- I loved the way it made the room smell! Turns out, the diffuser he had in his office costs over $100. I'd love to have one still and there are all sorts of benefits to diffusing essential oils into the air, but that's pretty expensive. Then I got to thinking about the reed diffusers from my days at Pier 1.

Of course I consulted Pinterest and found out you can make your own diffusers with essential oils. There are a bunch of different methods and ingredients people use. One big difference I found: some use alcohol and some use a carrier oil (like almond or safflower). I opted for the alcohol version because I happened to have some on hand and I like that if this diffuser gets spilled (or knocked over by a kid or cat), it won't leave a big oil stain behind.

After some reading and experimentation, I've found the recipe I like and I'm going to share it with you today!

To make your essential oil reed diffuser, you'll need:

  • a small glass jar or vase; the smaller the opening, the better
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2-3 Tablespoons vodka
  • essential oil 
  • bamboo skewers (how many you use depends on how many fit in your jar)

I scrounged around my house trying to find a container that would work well. It can be as fancy or plain as you like. I was planning on just reusing something from my collection of saved jars. I couldn't decide between a spice container from Ikea, a bottle from some yummy organic cream, and an old baby food jar (I don't know where that came from, to be honest), but then I remembered a little vase my mom gave me last summer. Though all the others would have worked all right, I liked the vase because it had the smallest opening; the smaller opening keeps the liquid from evaporating as fast.

Fill your jar/vase with the 1/4 cup water. 

Next, add the vodka. The purpose of the vodka is to help emulsify the water and essential oil. I started with two tablespoons but ended up adding a little more when I saw that the oils were still separating from the water.  (Photo credit: my seven-year-old actually used my DSLR and took this photo for me. I was pretty surprised that he got a clear picture!)

Add the essential oils. I started with 10 drops and then gradually added more until the scent was as a strong as I liked. 

Stick the bamboo skewers in the jar/vase and you're done. I read that some people think that you should opt for the actual reed sticks for your diffuser (and I think they're pretty inexpensive) because they work better, but the bamboo skewers work, too. It's what I had on hand so I went with them. So far, so good. Every few days or so, flip the diffusers to refresh the scent.

After I made mine, I was feeling pretty proud and I put it in a corner of my kitchen. Not the best idea -- the scent that is put out by this diffuser is subtle and seemed to be pretty easily overwhelmed by the various other aromas and smells that come out of the kitchen. So I moved it to my living room (it seemed like a good spot by that painting, in particular). I could smell it a little but not as much as I'd liked. I was totally bummed -- had my experiment totally failed?

Still not willing to accept defeat, I took it up to my room, thinking a smaller and more enclosed space would be better. Sure enough, that was the ticket. I put it on my dresser and gives off a nice, subtle smell. I'm sure if you used a bigger vase/jar, doubled the recipe, and used more skewers (or actual diffuser reeds), you could use this homemade diffuser in a bigger room. But to use what is pictured here, I suggest keeping it in a smaller, more enclosed room -- like a bedroom or bathroom.

Skip the chemical (and toxic) air-fresheners that don't really smell like anything anyway. Try out this simple air-freshener to give your home a pleasant and aromatic lift.

Note: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. 

{This post is linked up to The Homestead Barn Hop.}


Erin said...

What a great idea! I recently started dabbling with essential oils myself(made scented bath salts for Christmas gifts). I've been looking for other ways to use the oils I have (peppermint, lavender and rosemary), so was super-excited to see your post. Thanks!

Lucy Heartfilia said...

We all love nature right? i usually use Essential oil diffuser for my house. it's really good for my health. Thank your idea. i'll try at this weekend

Jr. Williams said...

Where can we get information relating to oil diffuser hq?
Smoke Free

Melissa C.Styer said...

Thanks for sharing this. I will try this essential oil diffuser. We love our oils! They really work, they save us money and they rock my world. I am interested in learning how they work and and how people use them.

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