life, the universe, and everything

Make your home smell pretty 14 December 2008

Filed under: crafts — creativecat @ 11:52 am

With three cats, sometimes my house can seem like there’s the faint aroma of cat litter lingering in the air.* Not the best scent. I’ve tried many methods of enhancing my home’s scent: scented candles, incense, plug-ins air-fresheners, ceramic light bulb rings, placing scented dryer sheets in my vents, simmering potpourri and oils . . . all work to a certain degree.

None work nearly as well as reed diffusers. I’d heard about them before but didn’t want to pay $20 for something that I couldn’t smell before purchasing. So when I found one for $5, I figured it was worth trying. Within a half hour, my house smelled amazing! I’m definitely a convert. I still love candles for atmosphere but will stick with unscented from now on.

After discovering the wonder that is the reed diffuser, I thought, how can I make my own? I want something that works as well as this diffuser yet looks more interesting than a boring clear glass bottle. Can I use any kind of bottle? What kind of fragrance do I use? Do I have to use reeds?

I wandered upon and learned quite a bit–all of which I’m taking with a grain of salt considering they make their money selling reed diffusers. They claim that you can’t make your own scents but others have tried with varying levels of success. Personally, I’m not a chemist and am happy to buy ready-to-use fragrances. I experimented once with making my own perfume with maple leaves and it just ended up smelling like dirt.

I found a very limited selection of colored reeds: natural, black, red, blue and green. I will try using candle dyes and food coloring to color the oil and reeds. Yes, you must use reeds and not bamboo or wood. The reeds work because of their natural make-up: little bitsy straws running up and down them–kind of like celery. Bamboo and wood may be cheaper but don’t have the same properties. They won’t suck up the fragrance and diffuse it around the room like the reeds. Reeds should be at least twice the height of the bottle they’re in and can be cut to size. About once a week, flip the reeds so the end that was exposed to the air is now in the oil. It’s best not to reuse the reeds because the old scent will still linger in their straws–unless you want to combine the scents.

The best kind of bottle to use is one with a narrow neck so the oil doesn’t evaporate in the air but through the reeds. Although if you have a bottle you’d like to use with a larger neck, a lid with holes big enough for the reeds to fit in would work as well. The best materials for your bottle are glass and glazed ceramic. Unglazed ceramic will suck up the scent so it’s best to make sure even the inside of the bottle has been glazed. You could add little marbles or stones to the inside of the bottle or maybe some complementary herbs or dried flowers.

*Side note: Different cat litters work better than others for covering up litter-box smells. However, many cats are picky about what kind of litter they like. Unfortunately for me, my cats prefer just the plain old clay litter. Pine litter is great for masking smells–but only if your cats like it.