Keeping your house clean is the best way to ensure it smells good, but sometimes pesky odors linger even after a good cleaning.
Whether you are trying to create a mood with a scent or mask the smell of a lovable but stinky pet, it’s easy to make your own air fresheners using essential oils.
Central Oregon Community College aromatherapy teachers Carin Cundey and Elyse Williams recently shared their favorite ways to infuse a home with scents that can clear the air and boost your mood at the same time.
Besides being a certified aromatherapist, Cundey practices massage therapy and ayurvedic medicine and teaches yoga. “I help women who are overwhelmed and want to relax,” she said.
Aromatic spritzers made with water and essential oils are an easy-to-make alternative to aerosol air fresheners found in grocery stores. Essential oils should be diluted to about 2.5 percent, which equals about 15 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of water. It’s important to use filtered water to avoid any bacteria that could proliferate over time.
Williams is a certified nutritional specialist and holds a Master’s of Science in herbal medicine. She has been working with essential oils in her clinical practice for more than 10 years.
She suggests placing cotton balls soaked with several drops of essential oils in air vents as a quick and inexpensive way to diffuse scent around the house. Or you can make your own reed diffuser with bamboo skewers, a carrier oil (she recommends sweet almond or fractionated coconut oil because they won’t go rancid quickly) and 10-15 drops of essential oil in a glass jar or vase.
Essential oil diffusers come in a variety of different types. Some plug into the wall; others use a candle to heat water and oil. Williams recommends using a cold air diffuser, which doesn’t heat the oils and is more appropriate for therapeutic applications of essential oils.
Don’t want to buy a diffuser? Essential oils can also be diffused in a humidifier, or even in a pot of water on the stove.
“Bring the water to a gentle boil and turn it down and put the essential oils in there,” Cundey instructed. “You have to stick around though, because the water will boil off and you could burn your pan. In a pinch though you could do that.”
Part of the fun in making your own air freshener is creating a personalized scent. But which oils to use?
Traditionally, perfumes are created with a blend of top, middle and base notes. Top notes like lemon, orange and grapefruit are lighter. They are the first smell you’ll recognize, and the first to dissipate. Middle and base notes are heavier scents that linger longer. Commonly used middle notes include lavender, geranium and jasmine. Patchouli, sandalwood and vanilla are common base notes. But the most important thing is to choose scents you love.
Citrus essential oils, like orange, lemon and bergamot, have strong scents that neutralize unpleasant odors. Orange and lavender is a nice, all-purpose combination for air freshening, Cundey said. In the winter she uses eucalyptus for it’s usefulness in soothing head colds, and lavender makes a good sleep aid. When she has difficulty calming down or is feeling overwhelmed, she uses a combination of frankincense and sandalwood.
“It will get you out of your head and back into your body,” she said.
Williams likes to blend lavender or geranium with a woodsy scent like cedar, fir or pine.
Lavender in particular is a good middle note addition to “funky” blends that need some balance, Williams said. Patchouli gets a bad rap when used on its own, but is transformed when mixed with lighter scents like lemon or lavender.
“If there’s something you love, use it — there’s no wrong way to do it,” Williams said. “The main trouble people run into is using all top notes, like lemon, and the smell goes away too soon. It’s a small, quick-moving molecule that disperses quickly, so usually you want to ground it with a heavy molecule like lavender if there’s too much top note.”
Most essential oils are safe to use, but it is important to use high-quality oils that have been appropriately diluted. Do not eat or drink essential oils, and increase the dilution if using while pregnant or around children (or avoid them completely).
Those who want to learn more about aromatherapy will have an opportunity to take classes this winter through COCC’s Continuing Education Department.
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