1. Simmer Fragrant Fruit and Spices
Cut up fruit and place in boiling water, along with desired spices. My favorites are oranges, lemons, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and pieces of vanilla bean or vanilla extract. I add more water when it gets low. I simmer on and off for a day or two and then throw it out. The fruit looks pretty worn out by the time I'm done with it.
2. Simmer Essential Oils
Essential oils are totally natural compounds extracted from parts of plants, flowers, and trees. They have been used throughout history for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. Most essential oils have anti-microbial properties so they help purify the air while I'm enjoying their nice aroma. They can be found at health food stores, Amazon, and Mountain Rose Herbs. Don't mistake them for fragrance oils, which most likely contain narly chemicals.
To simmer essential oils, I add a few drops to a pot of boiling water. They are very concentrated so a little goes a long way. My favorite essential oil scents are orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, vanilla absolute, cinnamon, and peppermint. Use one essential oil by itself or blend them to create a unique scent!
3. Refill Plug-In Air Freshener with Essential Oils
After I saw this tutorial, I had to try it. It's not as simple as it looks. It was so hard to get the plastic thingie off that holds the wick (the cigarette looking thing that soaks up the oil). I had to pry it with a tiny little screw driver. Finally it popped off, spraying chemical-laden fragrance oil all over the place. The whole process left my kitchen smelling exactly like what I was trying to avoid. It's a week later and I can still smell whiffs of Bath & Body Works Eucalyptus Mint Oil. Boo.
I filled the bulb with 1/3 essential oil and 2/3 distilled water like the website recommended. The scent was hardly noticeable and the water evaporated so quickly, it was gone in a couple of days. With all the work involved and having to deal with the nasty fragrance oil, this is my least favorite idea of the bunch.
4. Warm Essential Oils or Extracts on an Oil Burner
Usually, I put a few drops of my favorite essential oils onto the plate and dilute it with water. It works well, but you have to replace the tea light candles every so often and be careful of the open flame. (A commenter suggested using unscented wax with the essential oils instead of water, since water evaporates so quickly. Genius!)
One time I squeezed juice from a lemon and an orange onto the warming plate to see what would happen, but I could hardly smell anything. Then I tried vanilla extract, with happy results!
5. Use an Electric Diffuser
I've been wanting an electric diffuser for awhile, so when I saw this one on Mountain Rose Herb's website for $20, I just had to try it out. You know, for blog research. It's super simple. I apply 6-8 drops of essential oil on a pad that goes inside the diffuser. After I plug it in and turn it on, I can smell the essential oils after about 5 minutes. It recommends applying fresh essential oil every 2-3 hours, or as needed.
This diffuser is meant for a small room so the scent isn't terribly strong in my open living room/kitchen/dining room. But that's perfect because I can't stand when the smell is too strong. And I can always add more essential oil to the pad if I want the scent to be stronger. It's small and doesn't make any noise. The downside is having to buy replaceable pads. It only comes with five and the directions recommend using a new pad for each different oil or blend of oils. Of course they say that so you'll buy more pads.
6. Make Your Own Essential Oil Air Freshener Spray
I found this idea here. I fill my spray bottle half-full with filtered water. Then I add 8-10 drops of my favorite essential oils. The website warns against spraying near polished wood. Label and store in a dark cupboard.
7. Make a Homemade Reed Diffuser
Check out my super simple and inexpensive DIY reed diffuser tutorial. All you need is a vase, reed diffuser sticks, water, and essential oil. It cost me less than $2 compared to the $15-40 reed diffusers I saw at the store last weekend.
Do you know of any other ways to naturally freshen the air without harmful chemicals? What are your favorite essential oil scents?
Lists of Essential Oils that Help Improve Mood:
Aromatherapy Mood Blends
Oils That Can Ease Unpleasant Emotions
More Info on the Dangers of Commercial Air Freshener:
How "Fresh" is Air Freshener?
The Toxicity of Plug-In Air Fresheners
Toxipedia: Air Fresheners
Air Fresheners, Are They Really Freshening Your Air?
Many Cleaners, Air Fresheners May Pose Health Risks When Used Indoors
Wikipedia: Air Freshener
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