Now that the weather is cooler and we are spending more time indoors, our indoor environment can get positively odiferous. From cooking smells to wet sneakers, pet odors to musty carpets, the way our home smells to visitors says a lot about us, even when we don’t notice it ourselves.
The grocery store shelves are loaded with products claiming to remove odors, freshen the air and even improve our mood with the scent of Hawaiian breezes, lavender fields, pumpkin pie spice and evergreen mist. But, what their labels don’t tell us is the list of chemicals used to create, preserve and disperse these manmade scents that are manufactured to replicate those from nature. What their labels do show are hefty prices that can put a dent in an already stretched household budget.
So why not DIY? If you want to give your home a pleasing scent to welcome your family and friends, you can make your own, natural air fresheners quickly, easily and inexpensively. The fun of it is making it up as you go and creating your own signature scents to suit your mood, reflect the season, or conjure up cherished family memories. Scent has a powerful affect on our emotions, so why not give it your own personal touch to make your home feel more like, well, your home.
Make your own simmering home scent. You’ll need a pot for simmering, water, a mason jar for storage, and any of a number of possible ingredients listed below. The following are a few scent combinations that you can try or you can mix and match and make up your own fragrance combo.
Tangy, Vanilla Spice: 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary, a teaspoon of vanilla extract and one sliced lemon.
Fall Wonderland: 1 sliced orange, 5 cinnamon sticks, 2 tablespoons of whole cloves
Orange Amaretto: 1 sliced orange, 1 tablespoon almond extract
Sweet Mint: 2 sliced limes, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Gingerbread: 5 slices (1/4 inch think) of ginger, 1 tablespoon almond extract, 3 cinnamon sticks
Orange Creamsicle: 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 sliced orange
Cordon Bleu: 1 lemon, 1 tablespoon of peppermint extract, 4 sprigs of rosemary
Italian Backyard: 1 lemon, 1 tsp black peppercorns, handful of basil
Forest: Cedar twigs, by themselves
Regal Cream: Bergamot tea (Earl Grey), 1 tsp vanilla extract
Blueberry Tea: Bergamot tea, 1 sliced orange, 1 tsp almond extract
Coconut Bay: 1 tablespoon coconut extract, 1 sliced lime
Instructions for simmering scent: 1. Cut any fruits and place in water, add spices, extracts and herbs. 2. Fill your pot with water about 3/4 full, and boil. 3. As soon as it reaches the boiling point, reduce to low heat and simmer.
You can let the pot simmer (attended) for hours on end, continually adding liquid to prevent the ingredients from burning.
When you have had enough, you can store your concoction in the refrigerator (once it has cooled) and use it a few more times. Keep in mind some fruits and herbs hold up better than others for prolonged periods of time. Most mixtures can keep about a week when refrigerated.
Make your own room scent spray. Another quick and easy way to create your own home scent is using essential oils. Start with a clean spray bottle filled with 3 parts water, to 1 part vodka. Add 10-20 drops of essential oil (or a combination of two or three). Now you have a homemade room spray that won’t send toxic chemicals into your indoor air. These are great for bedrooms and bathrooms to replace a product like commercial air freshening sprays. A few popular essential oils for home scents are: lavender and eucalyptus, lemon, vanilla, rose, sandalwood, spiced apple, geranium, tea tree oil, sweet almond, cinnamon and orange.
Go green and clean your air the natural way. If you are more interested in cleaning the air in your indoor environment, there is nothing better than green plants. They will absorb your exhaled carbon dioxide and will manufacture oxygen, making them perfect partners for your home’s human inhabitants.
When NASA scientists studied plants as a way to purify the air in space facilities, they found that plants remove up to 87 percent of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the air every 24 hours. VOCs include substances like formaldehyde (present in rugs, vinyl, cigarette smoke and grocery bags), benzene and trichloroethylene (both found in man-made fibers, inks, solvents and paint). Benzene is commonly found in high concentrations in study settings, where books and printed papers abound.