I’m a big fan of fragrance diffusers. They’re less messy and risky than candles or aromatherapy oil burners. They’re far more natural than one of those synthetic plug-ins with the fluorescent-coloured gel fillings. Best of all, you don’t need to do anything to make beautiful fragrance fill your home – the reed sticks take care of that naturally, absorbing the perfumed oil and diffusing it throughout a room when they get warm.
The only catch, perhaps, is that fragrance diffusers often come at a high price – buying cheap ones is a false economy, and you’ll end up with something that smells indistinguishable from washing-up liquid diffusing around your home. Not ideal. Beautiful exotic fragrances can be very expensive, particularly if you go for a good brand. And what to do when your diffuser finally runs out? If you’re anything like me, you can’t bear to throw those pretty bottles in the bin.
Fortunately, there is a solution: fragrance diffusers are very cheap and easy to make, once you’ve got the basic equipment. If you already have an empty bottle from an existing diffuser, even better (mine in the photo belonged to an old diffuser, and was too pretty to throw away, especially as I’m a bit obsessed with elephants…). If not, you can pick up lots of lovely bottles from charity shops, vintage kitchen shops and markets. You need one with a narrow neck, so all the fragrance doesn’t evaporate into the air but travels up the reeds instead. You could even decorate your bottle further by adding a little charm or some beads around the neck, as with mine.
You can buy diffuser reeds from craft shops, but here’s a sneaky cheat: use supermarket barbecue bamboo skewers instead! Finally, you need your liquid, which consists of a base oil into which you mix your chosen fragrance(s). There are various options for this, including vodka (!), but I like to use sweet almond oil, which is more natural than synthetic alternatives. However, you can also use dipropylene glycol. Both this and sweet almond oil can be bought easily on the internet (or you might find the former in aromatherapy shops).
As for your fragrance, this is where you can get creative. Again, you can buy aromatherapy oils fairly cheaply on the internet, and there is a huge variety of scents to choose from. Websites like Aromaweb are excellent for suggesting different blends for different purposes (fear-fighting blends, anyone?) I like to use a variety of citrus oils: bergamot, grapefruit, lemongrass, tangerine and lime is a lovely combination, or you can just use a single oil (I sometimes like to use just cinnamon oil, or jasmine oil, on their own). Stock up on a few and enjoy experimenting – in the long run you’ll save a fortune on fancy shop-bought diffusers, and they make wonderful gifts for friends and family. Everyone will be extremely impressed.
First, measure how much liquid your bottle will hold by filling it around ¾ full with water, then pouring into a jug. Discard the water and make a note of the capacity.
Next, mix up your chosen fragrance. You want approximately 85% almond oil and 15% fragrance. So, if your bottle holds 100ml, pour 85ml almond oil into the measuring jug and add your fragrance oils until it reaches 100ml.
Stir well to mix the oils, then pour into the empty bottle. Add the skewers. Turn the skewers every few hours for the first couple of days to distribute the fragrance evenly.
Put your diffuser somewhere fairly warm, out of the reach of children, pets, etc, and enjoy!