DIY Gel Air Freshener: {Smelly Jelly}


Make Your Own Color & Smell Combinations With These Easy Air Freshener Recipes

Make Your Own Color & Smell Combinations With These Easy Air Freshener Recipes

2 cups water
4 packages Gelatin (plain)
15 to 20 drops Essential Oil (adjust to personal preference)
1 to 2 TBS salt
Food Coloring


  • In a small pot, mix 1 cup water, essential oil and food coloring. As soon as it starts to boil, remove from heat.
  • Completely dissolve gelatin and salt in the hot water then add the other cup of water (cold)–stir well (gently so it doesn’t foam).
  • Pour into jars and set aside for a couple days before using so the gelatin has a chance to completely set (you can refrigerate to speed up the process). Once cooled, cover with lids that have a few holes punched in them to allow fragrance to escape.

The salt in this recipe is used to help combat mold, please make sure to add it.

Alternate Recipe:

  • Follow the recipe above but substitute the 2 cups of water and the essential oil with 2 cups of concentrated liquid potpourri. As above, heat 1 cup first with the food coloring, remove from heat, dissolve the gelatin and salt then add the other cup.

Super Smelly Jelly

  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 pkg of 4-serving jelly powder (ie. box of instant Jello)
  • 1 Tbsp. vodka
  • 1/4 tsp dish soap
  • Essential Oil or Fragrance

Combine & set in a jar with holes poked in the top. The vodka is to help prevent the jelly become moldy.

Source: (update: original webpage no longer active)


  • Add embellishments (embedded items) similar to the gel candles embedded items ideas (listed at the bottom of the page).
  • You can layer the colors, simply allow one color to set completely for a few days before pouring the next layer of color.


  • Make sure the jars are completely clean before pouring in the hot liquid.
  • You could cover the top with lace or netting instead of jar lids. Tie decoratively with ribbons, raffia, whatever you fancy.
  • Any heat proof glass jar will do. Collect jam & jelly jars, mason jars or even baby food jars can be used for the Smelly Jellies.

More ides for homemade air fresheners, see: How To Make A Reed Diffuser, 12 Easy DIY Air Fresheners and 13 Simmering Pot Recipes.

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What Readers Are Saying: 43 Comments
  1. Diane Hofheins says:

    These are wonderful ideas! I love the reeds and smelly jelly. How about using a clean container like the Chef Boy Ar Dee 7.5 oz. microwave foods? (like spaghetti and meatballs, etc., come in.) Their lids already have holes in them and you could decorate the container and the lid!

    • dmk says:

      In my experience, jars that held tomato sauce retain the tomato scent. Maybe it would wash out, or maybe you could use hat to your advantage — mmm, a “Sunday Morning” scent would bring back memories of Mom’s sauce on the stove!

  2. E B says:

    plain Gelatin- is it sugar gelatin, nonsugar, or the packets of gelatin (Knox for example).

  3. dmk says:

    I can’t wait to try this! I hate most of the commercial scents, but love the variety of oils available at my local yuppie-hippie grocery.

  4. Art Vandelay says:

    Seems like you would want to put the essential oils in after you’ve added the cold water. Boiling essential oils…essentially gets rid of a lot of their potency.

    • Jennifer says:

      I agree, I would add it just before the setting process as true essential oils are volatile in nature and evaporate quickly with heat.

  5. naturegal1212 says:

    Now I don’t have to send the empty scented candle jars to the landfill anymore, this is a great help, thanks!

  6. Lolo says:

    Can we use fragrance (/perfume/aftershave) like a Chanle N°5 as a scent or will it destroy the setting of gelatin, or be dangerous, or not smelling good?

    I wish to make my room smell of Hugo Boss perfume…

  7. luxy says:

    Do you think I could replace the gelatin with agar agar? Also if you use the recipe with the alcohol you can dissolve the oils in it beforehand so you don’t have to heat the oils in the water. The vodka should break up the oil content.

  8. Tracy says:

    Just a hint about removing smells from jars; use some baking soda and vinegar and let sit for a hour or so and viola no more smell. The vinegar smell does not stay in the jar 🙂

  9. danny6114 says:

    Glad-Ware makes little 4 ounce reusable Mini Round containers that would work quite well.

  10. Gladys says:

    Won’t these mold?

  11. Aaron says:

    I’m going to do this with BaconSalt instead of oils/salt. I want my house to smell like BACON all the time.

  12. ian says:

    would gelatin not go moldy? it is from an animal.. can u use veggie gelatin and would this mold too?

  13. blu says:

    ya can we use veggie gelatin?

  14. ryan says:

    Could you tell me for how long the jars usually keep their scent?

  15. Amy says:

    Would you be able to place these on a candle warmer or are they to be used room temperature only?

    • Jennie says:

      I would avoid a warmer. The gel will most likely melt.

    • Joni says:

      You can place on candle warmers, but like she said, it will liquify, and the water evaporates quick. With experience, an 8 oz jar will last you about 24 hours, but if you continuously add water, of course the scent waters down as well, but will last a couple days or more. On the shelf, the scent goes away quickly and I put alot more oil in than the recipe called for however, does not shrink down completely for 30 or more days.
      I did not add any alcohol or salt to my recipe, and believe it or not, I live in MN and made cases of these for flea markets, a few years ago, and to this date, with those jars in the outside shed are still there. Tough to get the caps off since they were actually left out in the snow one winter ( I know, talk about lazy :> ) a few have liquified due to freezing, but most are in jel form as of this date. And no, they do not mold.
      The only one I had problems with, I wanted coffee scented, and couldnt get a coffee scented oil, so I went with Watkins coffee flavor. DO NOT do that, those actually mold within a couple days

  16. maki says:

    my gel freshener melted.. Why???

  17. Wackygoose says:

    Hello There! First thanks for the wonderful site!

    When you say 4 pkg of gelatin, how much grams per pkg do you have? I bought one that has 24g is that enough? Also 2 cups of water = 400 ml?

    Thanks again!

  18. Lynn Bishop says:

    I wonder if you took this further and added backing soda, if you would have and air-freshers jelly… I’m going to try this as a Christmas gift. Thank you.

  19. Michelle Ferris says:

    This made me really sad. I made a bunch for christmas, and they molded after a short while. I wasn’t even able to give them as gifts, and now I just look like a bad, giftless relative.

    • Rita says:

      I made a set of these using the exact recipe and they worked wonderful..I put it in jelly jars…the really small ones…they lasted about a month and they just dried up…

  20. Sheryl says:

    I made these for gifts too and they turned out nice. Which recipe did you use? The salt or vodka should be enough to prevent mold, I used the one with the salt.

  21. Carol says:

    I made these a few years ago using the vodka recipe and they molded within 2 weeks. I haven’t tried the salt yet, but it should work (in theory).

  22. Adrienne says:

    Can I use these on.a warmer?

  23. Debie says:

    if you’re having a problem with the vodka molding, you might try checking the proof of the alcohol content. be sure you use 100 proof, instead of 80 proof. this might be the problem.

  24. Meghan says:

    Do you think this would work the same if you took a wall flower and used some of the liquid? I found a fragrance I really like from Bath & Body Works but I’m a little skeptical about keeping them plugged in all the time and would rather have something that I can just set out

  25. Julie happy says:

    Can you make ahead, keep lid on tiight and frig or freeze til ready for giving?

  26. Katie says:

    What size containers do you use?
    Is 8 oz jars too big?

  27. Carey says:

    I first made these with 2 Tbsp of salt like the recipe says, but they got moldy within a couple weeks. I tried it again, but added 4 Tbsp of salt the next time and they lasted for months. Eventually the gel will start to shrink up and not smell anymore, but they never got moldy after increasing the salt.

  28. sandy says:

    To bad gelatin couldn’t be recycled so you could add a new fragrance and use again.

  29. Frankie A says:

    I will try one of these — probably the one with the salt (why waste 100 Proof Vodka? hehe). But here’s the thing. Like you guys, I LOVE to be greeted by a great warm, friendly aroma when I walk into my apartment; believe me, I have plenty of great scented candles will a multitude of great scents, but what I am looking for has been elusive. I want the scent of BAKING, like when my mom baked breads and pies and filled the house such a great scent and filled us kids with such a loving emotion that you didn’t want to be anywhere else. Anyone and everyone who I have ever spoken to says they love the scent of bread baking in the kitchen. So if this is so universally loved, how come nobody has essential oils that actually smell like that? How come Messieurs Johnson and Johnson haven’t gotten on the ball to put this Home Baked Scent into a Glade freshener plug-in thingy? If there were an essential oil made to mimic oven baked bread, I would scoop it up in a second and use it in this recipe. If I baked, I would have dough in the oven all the time, but with my kitchen skills, I’d have the place burned down in a week. I need some artificial help here. Or maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough. If anyone has seen essential oils that have the aroma of oven-baked bread, PUH-LEEEZE point me in the right direction.

    Thank you.

    • a says:

      You are looking for FRAGRANCE oil, which can be fabricated into almost any scent imaginable by people who work in labs. ESSENTIAL oils are extracted from NATURAL plants and cannot be fabricated into scents that mimic baked goods. However, you can blend different essential oils to create other pleasant aromas. For example: cinnamon, clove, vanilla, cardamom essential oils all can all be blended with various top notes like orange (only one example of many) essential oil to create a smell reminiscent of someone baking.

      Fragrance oil and essential oils are very different in character. I hope that this is helpful.

    • Joni says:

      Wellington fragrance has some, along with alot of other wholesale oil companies, but most have a minimum purchase requirement, have you tried Ebay?

  30. Tessa says:

    I used flavored veggie gelatin.. it smells good but it doesn’t spread across my small room.. i used plastic container btw, does that change anything?

  31. josie says:

    Hi, do you know how I can remove them after they have hardened. for example I have straight candle glasses and will like to make a mould of the air refreshener. how can I remove them safely?

  32. Stacy says:

    with the Alternative method. I have 2 questions. 1) My Gelatain from the Health Store calls for me to dissolve the powder in to COLD then add hot. Should I put 1 CUP concentrated potpourri in the refrigerator till it’s ice cold then put the 4 Tablespoons into it then add 1 CUP of hot concentrated potpourri? Afterwards should I still add the salt? I would imagine so. Please help making for valentines day!

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