Introduction: Cheap Reed Diffuser Based on Essential Oil

Chemical air fresheners are the simplest way to make a room smell ''good''. But they come with a price: in addition to cost money they have a great ecological impact and according to studies, the volatile organic compounds released by these chemicals produce formaldehyde (a carcinogen) when mixed with the oxygen in the air.

That's why a lot of people prefer natural Reed Diffusers instead. These diffusers consist of a pile of sticks that have one end immersed into an oil-based mixture and the other end in the air. Thanks to the capillarity, the oil travels up and emits good smell from the tip of the sticks. The only action needed to keep these diffusers working is the rotation of the sticks once a week.

Those diffusers are also sold in Amazon and home improvement stores and cost generally between 20 to 35 dollars. But that seems a bit over-priced... Luckily, it's actually very easy to make your own cheap, nature-friendly Reed Diffuser, based on your favourite essential oil. And there are good chances, that you already have most of the materials needed laying around.

For the lazy people, here's a quick video I made about the project (you can also view it on the top of this chapter). If you're in a hurry, you can learn all the basics you need from this video in two minutes. But if you want more details, I suggest you to continue reading. Let's go!

Step 1: Supplies

Here's what you'll need:

  • a Glass Bottle*
  • Reed Sticks or Skewer Sticks
  • Essential Oil
  • Mineral Oil for the base (you can find it at IKEA for pretty cheap)

Yes, that's all you need. Remember when I said, that those 30$ diffusers are over-priced... In my case, I ended up paying even less than a dollar, as I used a recycled bottle and I used skewer sticks, that doesn't even really cost anything.

NB: I suggest you to use a bottle with a narrow neck, as it will prevent the mixture from evaporating. It's also esthetically neater because it keeps the reed sticks tightly together and prevents them from falling apart in random directions. When choosing the bottle, keep in mind that some essential oils will attack plastics, so a glass bottle is always a safer choice.

Step 2: Prepare the Bottle

If you already have a clean and shiny bottle with no stickers that you consider suitable enough, you can skip this step (more info about the requirement of the bottle in the chapter about the supplies).

Personally, I find paying for bottles stupid, because I throw dozens of them away every month and paying two bucks for basically the same object wouldn't be very rational. Plus I always prefer to recycle things if possible, and here I have a perfect opportunity to give an old vanity bottle a new life.

As I said earlier, the narrower the opening of the bottle is, the better. A narrower bottle keeps the mixture from evaporating and is thus more effective. It also looks nicer, while a beer/soda bottle would look very cheap.

In my case, I used an old lotion water bottle. Most of the perfume bottles would also work, but I didn't have any on hand. First I removed the sticker - it came off pretty easily, all in one piece. As you can see on the photos, the sticker left a pretty awful looking stain of glue. To remove it, I used some acetone based nail polish remover. Don't use a paper towel, as it will suck all the acetone into it, use a piece of cloth instead.

Finally, I washed the inside of the bottle with some more acetone.

After a few minutes of cleaning, I got myself a nice shiny bottle, that looks very elegant and cost me literally nothing!

Step 3: Prepare the Reed Sticks

If you want to make the ultimate diffuser, you should buy a set of diffuser reeds from Amazon. They aren't very expensive, about 10 bucks for a set. But for the tightfisted people like me, there's also a cheaper and much more practical option: you can just use bamboo skewer sticks. A lot of you might already have these laying around, and everybody knows, that a 1$ DIY diffuser is a lot better than a 10$ half-bought one.

My skewers had a dull and a pointed tip. To hide the fact, that I used skewers, I cut the pointed tip off. In addition to hiding the true nature of these sticks, a dull tip also makes them looks friendlier and less aggressive. When cutting, you just need to make sure, that the scissors are well sharpened.

Now, of course, special factory made reed sticks will perform better, because that's what they're designed and made for. A skewer must be durable and conducting oil isn't it's primary purpose. It's your choice, for me, skewers worked out fine. I guess I had to add more essential oil to make the diffuser work...

Step 4: Make Your Reed Diffuser

With all the components ready, it's now time to assemble everything.

First, I made a miniature funnel from a post-it to prevent any dripping. Then, I made a mixture of mineral oil and lemon essential oil with a ratio of 1 to 5. That being said, not all essential oils have the same strength, so feel free to add more essential oil or mineral oil, depending on your needs.

After briefly stirring the mixture, it was time to add the reed sticks. In order to set them up in that teepee shape you need to make sure that they have enough space, but at the same, they should be together tightly enough to keep their place when set up.

I suggest you to stuff as many sticks in the opening as you can, and then remove one or two. But again, it all depends of the size of the bottle and the reeds...

Once you figured out, how many sticks should be in your bottle, let them absorb the oil for at least 10 minutes. After that, rotate the sticks and reput them back in the bottle, so that the other ends are now in contact with the oil.

By doing so, the sticks should now be fully ''humidified'' and the capillarity will work much better now. The sticks change colour if they've absorbed oil, so if you still see dry spots in the middle, keep rotating the sticks or use an oily cloth to apply oil on the dry parts.

Step 5: Conclusion

Here you have it! A homemade reed diffuser that doesn't destroy the environment and costs less than a dollar. When using this diffuser, try to rotate the reed sticks at least once a week to prevent the tips that are exposed to air from drying out.

To get the maximum out of your diffuser, place it into a warm and well-ventilated area.

I suggest you to keep using the same essential oil, but if you want to switch, change also the reed sticks, as they'll be soaked with the old scent.

NB: Some essential oils are toxic for pets!!

Oils that are toxic for cats include Peppermint, Teatree, Citrus, Pine, Eucalyptus and Cinnamon oil (but there are more).

Those that are toxic for dogs include Tea tree, Ylang ylang, Cinnamon and Pine oil (but there are more).

So please do some research before using an essential oil based diffuser in your household, in order to make sure, that it's going to be safe for your pet.

If you have any comments, suggestions, critics, etc, please leave them in the comment section down below. I would like to see photos of your homemade Reed Diffusers too!

Thank you for reading so far. Have a good day!

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