Homemade reed diffusers make a unique and appealing option for scenting your home. Whether you’re seeking a personalized fragrance, looking to save money, or striving for an eco-friendly approach, these DIY air fresheners offer a delightful and customizable solution.
With just a handful of simple ingredients and a splash of creativity, you have the power to curate a symphony of scents that perfectly complement your mood and style.
What are they? A reed diffuser consists of a decorative vessel filled with a specially crafted blend of scented oils which are then wicked up through thin sticks, releasing their aroma into the air. The diffuser acts as a gentle and continuous source of fragrance, transforming your home into a haven of delightful scents.
From soothing lavender to invigorating citrus, there is a scent to suit every preference. No more worries about harsh chemicals, messy candles, or unsightly cords!
In this master reference sheet, I’ve compiled and organized tips and tricks for maximizing scent diffusion, recommended carrier oils, share some fragrance blend recipes, ideas for decorative vessels that are suitable to repurpose, and much more.
General Usage Tips Before Getting Started:
- Choose vessels with a small opening at the neck that compliment the room you are placing them in.
- You can use a clear glass container or one that’s decorated; the choice is yours.
- For best results, the reeds should be at least double the height of the glass container.
- You can purchase a package of sticks that are marketed for reed diffusers (they’re fairly cheap) or try thin bamboo skewers; they work just fine too.
- Pour a liberal amount of scented reed diffuser oil into the glass container, then stick the reeds or bamboo skewers inside.
- After about an hour, turn the reeds over so the other end can wick up the liquid; this will help speed things up.
- Position the vessel in a location that is not near electrical appliances (in case of spills) and won’t be in danger of being accidentally knocked over.
- After first filling the vessel with fragrant oil, give the reeds a chance to soak it up and soon you’ll be able to enjoy their light fragrance.
That’s all it takes to get started! Now let’s take a more in-depth look at things (along with plenty of tips).
How To Make Homemade Reed Diffusers
- Suitable container: Select a vessel that complements your decor. See the tips below for ideas.
- Reed sticks: These act as wicks to draw the scented oil from the container and disperse it above into the air.
- Essential oils (EO) or fragrance oils (FO): Choose your favorite scents or experiment with blends to create a unique fragrance profile (recipes below).
- Carrier oil: Dilute the EOs or FOs with a carrier oil to ensure optimal absorption and diffusion. See suggestions below.
- Prepare container: Clean and dry your chosen container thoroughly before use. Ensure it is free from any residue or dirt to maintain the integrity of your scent.
- If you’re dealing with an oldie but goodie that needs a little TLC, here’s a helpful guide to clean it up well: How To Clean The Inside of Bottles & Vases.
- Choose your scent: Select your desired fragrances based on the mood and ambiance you want to create. Lavender and floral scents are popular choices for relaxation, while spicy or woody options add warmth and depth to a room.
- Dilute with a carrier oil (CO): In a separate bowl, combine your chosen essential or fragrance oils with a CO (such as sweet almond). Use a ratio of 12-30 drops of EO or 20-40 drops of FO per 1/4 cup of CO. Adjust the amount based on your preference for a stronger or milder scent.
- Mix well: Stir thoroughly to ensure they are evenly blended. This will help to achieve a consistent and balanced fragrance throughout the diffuser.
- Fill the container: Pour the oil into your prepared container, leaving a small space at the top to avoid any spills when inserting the reeds.
- Insert the reeds: Take a bundle of reed sticks and carefully place them into the container, allowing them to soak in the scented liquid. After a few hours, flip the reeds to ensure both ends are nicely saturated.
- Diffusion and maintenance: Find the perfect spot for your reed diffuser, ideally in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight or heat sources (see more tips below). The reeds will gradually draw up the oil and release the fragrance into the room. For optimal diffusion, periodically flip the reeds every week or whenever you desire a stronger scent. If the oil level becomes low, simply refill the container following the previous steps.
Create Your Own Signature Diffuser Oil Blends
You can make a homemade version of reed diffuser oil with just a few simple ingredients that you can easily find locally.
- Carrier Oils Method: See recommended oils below
- Select a combination of your favorite EOs and add as many drops to the CO as you need to achieve the fragrance you’re after.
- A good place to start is about 12 drops of EO per 1/4 cup of CO, but it can be as high as 30 for a heavier scent.
- Fragrance oils can be used, but they will require more drops. Keep in mind that FOs are synthetic.
- Perfume can also be used instead of EO, but it will not be as long-lasting & isn’t normally recommended for use during extended periods.
- (optional) Next, add a splash of vodka to help the oil travel up the reeds better.
- No addition of vodka will be necessary if using perfume instead of EO.
- Perfumer’s alcohol can be used instead of vodka.
- Vodka & Water Method: Mix approximately 12 drops of EOs with 1/4 cup of water, then add a splash of vodka. The alcohol helps the EOs bind with the water.
- This method will evaporate faster than using carrier oils, but it still works.
- Liquid Potpourri Method: Liquid potpourri can be used in place of reed diffuser oil; you should be able to find this in the candle or crafts section of a department store (like Walmart).
It’s important to choose high-quality ingredients and ensure the proper number of reeds are used to achieve the desired scent throw.
Good Carrier Oils For Your DIY Diffuser Blends
|Mineral Oil (unscented)
|Apricot Kernel Oil
|Fractionated Coconut Oil (MCT)
|Sweet Almond Oil
Recipe Blends For Everyday Use (Essential Oils)
It’s important to note that EOs can be overwhelming if used undiluted or too strong. Diluting them with carrier oil ensures safe and effective diffusion through the reeds.
You can experiment with some recipes from my notes (see below); all are based on starting with 1/4 cup carrier oil of choice. If you find the results too strong, add more (1 TBS at a time). Too light, increase EO amounts.
10 drops Lavender EO
5 drops Vanilla EO
5 drops Orange EO
5 drops Lemon EO
3 drops Grapefruit EO
6 drops Rose EO
4 drops Jasmine EO
3 drops Ylang Ylang EO
Once you find a favorite blend recipe, double or triple the batch and keep the excess in a sealed glass jar until needed. This will save time as well as keep a ready supply of diffuser oil on hand.
Sleepy Time / Relaxation Blends
Feel free to adjust the number of drops according to your scent preference. Remember to start the diffuser about 30 minutes before bedtime to allow the fragrance to disperse and create a serene environment conducive to restful sleep.
6 drops of lavender EO
4 drops of chamomile EO
2 drops of vetiver EO
5 drops of lavender EO
3 drops of bergamot EO
3 drops of cedarwood EO
4 drops of ylang-ylang EO
4 drops of frankincense EO
3 drops of clary sage EO
Office / Productivity Blends
These blends can be diffused in your workspace, living area, or any other room where you desire a refreshing and stimulating atmosphere.
5 drops of lemon EO
3 drops of grapefruit EO
2 drops of peppermint EO
4 drops of eucalyptus EO
4 drops of rosemary EO
2 drops of spearmint EO
Fresh Herb Garden
4 drops of basil EO
3 drops of lemongrass EO
3 drops of lavender EO
Fresh, Crisp & Clean
These blends can be diffused in various areas of your home, such as the kitchen, bathroom, or any other space where you desire a clean and bright atmosphere.
6 drops of lemon EO
4 drops of tea tree EO
5 drops of lavender EO
3 drops of eucalyptus EO
2 drops of bergamot EO
4 drops of grapefruit EO
3 drops of lime EO
2 drops of peppermint EO
Entertaining / Dinner Parties
When it comes to creating an inviting and memorable ambiance for dinner parties and entertaining, here are three blends that can enhance the atmosphere.
4 drops of orange EO
3 drops of cinnamon EO
2 drops of clove EO
4 drops of basil EO
3 drops of rosemary EO
2 drops of thyme EO
4 drops of lavender EO
3 drops of bergamot EO
2 drops of cedarwood EO
Experiment with different scents, and when you find a favorite combination, keep notes of the amounts of essential oils and carrier oil used so you can duplicate it next time. These make nice gifts, too (with attached “recipe” card).
Troubleshooting Tip: White, Cloudy Oil
Cloudy white diffuser oil may not be the most visually appealing but don’t worry; it’s still perfectly safe to use!
Several factors can contribute to the cloudiness: it could be due to the carrier oil solidifying, essential oil emulsification, or even the presence of water-based ingredients. While it may not look as pristine as you’d like, rest assured that it can still work its magic in releasing those lovely fragrances into the air.
Here’s the catch: the effectiveness of the diffuser oil may be compromised if the EOs and COs aren’t properly blended or if they have separated over time. This means the fragrance might not disperse as evenly or as potently as you desire. If you find yourself less than thrilled with the performance or the cloudy appearance of the mixture, consider giving it a fresh start by remixing the ingredients with care and ensuring a thorough blend.
Keep an eye (or rather, a nose) out for any unpleasant odors or signs of spoilage accompanying the cloudiness. If you detect anything funky or suspect that something may be amiss, it’s best to bid farewell to the cloudy concoction and start anew. Always trust your senses and use your discernment when evaluating the quality and usability of your homemade blend.
Information For Pet Owners
It’s important to be mindful of the scents we expose our furry friends to, as some fragrances that humans enjoy can be harmful or even fatal to cats, dogs, and even birds.
Certain essential oils, including cinnamon, eucalyptus, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree, and ylang-ylang, can be toxic to pets. So, if you have a diffuser at home and share your space with animals, it’s crucial to prioritize their safety and well-being.
The problem arises when droplets of the diffusion find their way onto your pet’s fur, and they, in turn, bathe or lick this up. The EOs are well diluted, but there is debate about how toxic repeated consumption might be. It’s best to check with your veterinarian to be sure.
To ensure a pet-friendly environment, it’s recommended to thoroughly research the oils you plan to use in your diffuser.
Opt for ingredients that are known to be safe for pets and avoid those that pose a risk. Alternatively, you can explore pet-friendly products specifically formulated with safe ingredients to freshen up your space while keeping your furry companions healthy and happy.
Vessel & Container Ideas
Get creative and have fun repurposing everyday objects to add a personal touch to your diffuser.
Remember to clean, sterilize and thoroughly dry any repurposed vessel before using it to ensure the best scent diffusion. It’s also important to ensure that the container is stable, leak-proof, and allows for easy insertion of reeds.
Additionally, consider the aesthetic appeal of the container, as it can contribute to the overall decor and ambiance of your space.
Recommended: The smaller the opening at the neck of the glass container, the better; this will force the oils to travel up the wick to diffuse their scent rather than evaporate up through the neck.
Although it’s advisable to use containers with small necks since this helps prevent the liquid from evaporating too quickly (and helps to contain spills better), it’s certainly possible to use shallow, open vessels as well.
For shallow containers, use shorter sticks and place them in locations where they won’t easily be knocked over or disturbed by pets.
Decorative & Reusable Container Ideas
|Vintage Perfume Bottles
|Candle Jars & Votives
|Bamboo Bud Vases
Ideas For More Masculine Spaces:
|Concrete or Stone Container
What To Avoid:
- Plastic: This can react with essential oils & break down the plastic (HDPE is fine).
- Porous Materials: Unglazed ceramics & pottery, etc., since these will absorb the oils. Ensure at least the inside of the container is glazed before using.
- Transparent Glass: Clear glass can certainly be used, but keep in mind that light will degrade the oils & diminish their scent. If you are planning on refreshing the batch frequently, there’s no concern.
Did you know: You can soak wine corks in your DIY blend, allow them to dry completely, then arrange a few in a small bowl or hang them individually from a ribbon, and they will scent the surrounding area for several weeks. Keep in mind that they are infused with EOs, so be careful what surfaces they touch.
Reed Sticks 101
Rotate the ends of the reeds or skewers once a week to refresh and enhance diffusion. Once set up, they continue to release fragrance for weeks, making them a convenient and long-lasting option.
- Rattan Reeds
- Bamboo Skewers
The general rule of thumb is to use sticks that are about double the height of the vessel being used. This helps diffuse the scent to a wider area.
Remember to use shorter sticks when using shallow vessels to protect against “tippyness” and spills.
Store Extra Reeds Properly: If you have a big bundle, store them in a sealed plastic bag or airtight container to preserve their freshness and prevent them from absorbing moisture or odors. This way, you’ll have spare reeds ready for future use.
How Many Reeds To Use
To avoid wasting product, the amount of reeds does matter! You also don’t want to overwhelm a room with heavy fragrance. Here’s a general idea of what to shoot for:
(up to 200 sq. ft.)
(up to 500 sq. ft.)
(up to 800 sq. ft.)
|Start with 2 or 3
|Start with 6
|Start with 10
Note: Factors such as ventilation, room layout, ceiling height, and personal sensitivity to scents can influence the coverage area.
You can control the amount of fragrance released into the air by adding or removing reeds from the diffuser. If you desire a more subtle scent, remove a reed or two; for a stronger aroma, add more. This allows you to fine-tune the fragrance to create the perfect ambiance in your space.
Quick Tip: Trimming the reeds a bit shorter can also help reduce the scent throw.
If you have a larger room or prefer a stronger fragrance, you might consider using multiple medium-sized reed diffusers strategically placed around the space. This can help ensure a more consistent and satisfying scent experience.
- Clean your reed diffuser every month or whenever you notice a decrease in scent throw or when the fragrance begins to smell stale.
- Dump any remaining oil, wash well & refill when thoroughly dry.
- Regular cleaning prevents residue buildup and ensures that the reeds can effectively diffuse the scent.
- Place the diffuser in a central location within the room for even distribution.
- Keep in mind that the specific blend of oils used can also influence the scent throw. Experiment with different combinations, reed quantities, and placement to find the ideal balance for your space.
- Is the batch evaporating too quickly? Some factors to look for: ceiling fans, air vents, open windows, and direct sunlight will all contribute to rapid evaporation.
- The ambient temperature of the room can affect the diffusion rate of the oils. Warmer rooms will disperse the scent more quickly, while cooler rooms may require more time to release the fragrance.
- Some essential oils, such as patchouli, vetiver, or cedarwood, act as fixatives and can help anchor the scent, making it last longer. Consider adding a small amount of fixative oil to your diffuser blend for improved longevity.
- Keep Out of Reach of Children: The EOs may be harmful if ingested or cause skin or eye irritation when spilled. Keep them out of reach of children to prevent accidental contact.
- Discontinue use if you notice any adverse reactions such as headaches, respiratory discomfort, or allergic symptoms.
- Stain Removal: If spilled on fabric, blot with a clean cloth or paper towel, trying to absorb as much of the liquid as possible. Avoid rubbing.
- Mix a small amount of mild dish soap or laundry detergent with water, then use to blot & dilute the stain (test first to make sure it won’t cause damage to upholstery).
- Rinse with water, then repeat as needed to lift the stain residue completely.