Homemade Reed Diffusers: How-To & Tips

Reed diffusers are decorative air fresheners for the home that work with scented oils and reeds. The oil travels up the reeds to release their fragrance into the air around them. No need to use aerosol sprays, light candles or plugin air fresheners, the process handles itself naturally.

They’re very popular since you can choose from an endless amount of fragrances, have no open flames (candles) to worry about and they don’t plugin so no dangling cords to hide or fuss with. If you’d like to try making your own (a perfect way to customize your favorite scents), here are some tips and recipes showing you how to do that.

Make Your Own Reed Diffusers And Oils With A Few Simple Ingredients

Make Your Own Reed Diffusers And Oils With A Few Simple Ingredients

  • Choose glass bottles and vases that have a small opening at the neck and that compliment the room you are placing it in. You can use a clear glass container or one that’s decorated, the choice is yours. The reeds you use should be at least double the height of the glass container.
  • You can purchase a package of reeds 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 in 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 oil, this will help speed things up.
  • Position the reed diffuser 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 reed diffuser with fragrant oil, give the reeds a chance to soak up the oil, soon you’ll be able to enjoy their light fragrance.

That’s all it takes to make your own!

Making Your Own Oils

You can make a homemade version of reed diffuser oil with just a few simple ingredients that you can easily find locally.

  • Mineral Oil, Sweet Almond Oil or Safflower Oil: Select a combination of your favorite essential oils and add as many drops to the carrier oil (Mineral Oil, Sweet Almond Oil or Safflower Oil) as you need to achieve the fragrance you’re after (a good amount to start with is about 12 drops of EO per 1/4 cup of oil). Next add a splash of vodka to help the oil travel up the reeds better. You could also mix the carrier oil with your favorite perfume instead of essential oils (no addition of vodka will be necessary if using perfume).
  • Vodka, Essential Oils & Water: Mix approximately 12 drops of essential oils with 1/4 cup of water then add a splash of vodka. The alcohol helps the essential oils bind with the water. This method will evaporate faster than using oils, but still works.
  • Liquid Potpourri: 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).


  • Rotate the ends of the reeds or skewers once a week to refresh and prolong the fragrance.
  • 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).
  • Once you find a favorite recipe for the scent, 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.
  • 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 evaporating up through the neck.

Print Print    Email Email

What Readers Are Saying: 31 Comments
  1. Nancy Jacobs says:

    I had blogged about this back in Feb. and love to make my own reed diffusers. You can get the reed by searching for basket weaving supplies and purchase #6 round reed. Just one pound of reed will make many diffusers for pennies! I’m a basket weaver so making these just uses up my scraps. I posted the link to the specific blog page above and it shows a picture of one I made.

  2. pmhenry67 says:

    I find it fun to buy already packaged ree diffuser kits at wal mart or a dollar store and continue to use these bottles, refilling with your own oils or the liquid potpourri oils and new reed diffusers when needed. Thank you for the tip,

  3. pmhenry67 says:

    Does anyone know of another item or product besides Vodka I could use to carry the scent up the reeds? I cannot always find the scents I like at the store and so want to make my own.

    Since I don’t drink, I wonder of something like rubbing alcohol would take the place of Vodka. Thank you

  4. briana says:

    These are great ideas but I wanted to reply to pmhenry67’s comment. I don’t know if you can use something other than vodka but I do know that there are so many uses for vodka that even if you don’t drink I think u would find it useful to have around. Some of the uses are found here on tipnut 🙂

  5. Christine says:

    Bamboo is non-porous and cannot transfer the oils like reeds can. Just buy the reeds; they’re not all that expensive. Bamboo skewers are not going to work — the oil cannot travel through them.

    Also helpful: replace your reeds every few months. They can clog up with oil and stop diffusing.

  6. Elisa says:

    This was great info on making your own, I had to empty bottles and reeds and used some vanilla and pomegranate oil with water and a splash and vodka. It smells lovely and I am glad I could recycle my old bottles.

  7. Bev says:

    I love the idea of making your own (anything actually). LOL
    I will be saving my used diffuser bottles from now on for future use. Thank you so much for the ideas. They are wonderful

  8. Alla says:

    In fact, bamboo skewers work quite well. I know, because I was using “reed diffusers” before they were chic and hip and popular and whatever. My mother in law, though born in the US, was still very “Japanese”. She always used these in her home, and she taught me how, as well.

    As for the vodka, you can purchase the little tiny “two-drink” bottles, hip flasks, or even an ordinary bottle, and make up a lot of scent, or different scents at the same time. You can, as one other person noted, find a bunch of different uses for the vodka right here on Tipnut.

    One of the things we do is put tiny glass marbles, or glass beads, into the bottom of the bottle, or sometimes even tiny rocks or stones. This adds a bit of weight and also gives you a place to stick the skewers into, so they hold an arrangement. Why’s that important? Because, you can decorate the tops of the skewers/reeds – You know, like cocktail picks, only cooler.

    Around the holidays, I use vanilla extract (no vodka with this, obviously) or peppermint extract, along with the mineral oil. I’ve also used cinnamon oil. Gives you that “yuletide” smell around the house, and is ultra-cheeeeep!

    • vicki says:

      Thanks for the Tip …..you sound like you know what your talking about, so I’m with you, gonna give your tricks a try, Thanks

    • curious mom says:

      I have been trying this for a couple of weeks now, and I’m getting disappointed. How do you get yours to work? I use the 1/2 c water with 2 healthy splashes of 91 percent rubbing alcohol and 24 drops of lemon and 24 drops of sweet orange… this which I thought should give my home a nice citrus scent. However, we can’t seem to smell it. We have to pick up my diffuser and hold it up to our faces only to receive and very faint scent…. please help! I love my homemade diffuser and want to use it soooo badly… but I’m having no luck…. pleas, any suggestions?

      • curious mom says:

        Also for the reeds I’m using regular bamboo skewers

      • Gingerbread says:

        If you are having a difficult time with smelling the scent, look to the citrus scents you are using. Are they PURE essential oils? Often the essential oils are diluted with alcohol, hence the cheaper price.

  9. Betsy says:

    Would castor oil be able to be used as a carrier oil? Because that’s what I have on hand! 🙂

  10. Sheila says:

    My liquid turned milky and seperated and I don’t have the smell I thought I would get. I used saflower oil, vodka, essential oil.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Basket making reed can be free and easily found around your home. Do you have an old basket you can take apart and use? You can straighten pieces by wetting and weighting down or steaming with an iron.
    As for vodka as a delivery agent, don’t forget that alchohol can be interchangable with vodka also.

  12. tina says:

    can virgin coconut oil be used as carrier oil?

    • Michele says:

      I’d guess no unless your house is very warm (the melting point of the oil is 76F) and you’d also have to fight against the coconut scent of the oil.

  13. Susan says:

    I’ve been searching, and learning about making my own fragrance for diffuser purposes. I know the “essential oils” I may want to make my “recipe”, but I am having a hard time finding the best prices for the “ingredients” (bottles, bases, oils, reeds, etc.), and I’ve been kicked all over the internet,(why should this project be different?)like crazy!!

    If you have any sites you could recommend to me, that would be great! When I do something, I like to, and will do it right! This project means a lot to me. I plan, not only to try to put my “scents” into home-based production, but am sponsoring some fund-raisers for Autism, Homelessness, and Environmental issues coming up in the near future. I hope I can really make a good contribution for them. I am disabled, and I very much need to give other folks a hand, the
    Golden Rule” lives very much in my world. Can you lend me a hand? The less I spend on my expenses, the more I can raise for other folks in need. It helps to take my mind off of my problems! Sitting here all day, etc., makes for “idle” hands, looking for a way to distract me by helping others.

    Much Obliged!
    Susan Mary G.

  14. Dorothy says:

    Thrift stores, dollar stores and yard sales is where I look when I’m doing projects. I am going to try this. I’m alcohol free as well and I don’t want it around either. People with alcohol addiction issues need to be careful. Use the alternatives above. There were some good ones.

  15. malia says:

    For those who had their fragrance separate: keep in mind that oil and water don’t mix. So, if you use vodka, make sure it’s 180 proof (90% alcohol, with very little water content). Or else use 99% rubbing alcohol. Pure alcohol will mix with your base oils and your essential oils. You will end up with a clear liquid after mixing that will not separate.

  16. christine says:

    can i use gin instead of vodka

  17. Jo says:

    I saw a reed diffuser at a yard sale that had only one reed. It was much thicker than the normal reeds and looked very nice in the small bottle. Does anyone know where these thicker sticks can be purchased? Thanks.

  18. Kim says:

    Could l use sesame oil,l have a large bottle it’s organic and light in colour.

  19. D.T. says:

    how if i replace all the liquid with PERFUME? will it work??

  20. laura salvadori says:

    where can I buy then in Northern Italy?

*Comments Are Moderated