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Whether you are practicing aromatherapy or simply trying to freshen up your home, using a reed diffuser is a great way to enjoy your favorite scents. Reed diffusers are quite easy to make at home by putting reed sticks within a jar containing an essential oils mix. The oils are effectively “sucked” up the channels in the reeds, and when they reach the top of the reeds, the scent is dispersed throughout the room. As long as you have your essential oils and base oils, all you need are reed sticks as well as a long vase or similar container with a narrow opening.


[Edit]Choosing the Materials

  1. Find a container with a narrow opening. Begin assembling your reed diffuser by finding a suitable base container for the reeds. Look for a container that is about five to ten inches tall with a small opening made of ceramic, glass, stainless steel, earthenware or wood. Do not use a plastic container, as essential oils can react with plastic.[1]
    • A small opening at the top of the container ensures that minimal evaporation occurs. If too much water evaporates, the percentage of essential oil becomes higher, and the scent can become overpowering.
    • If you have a jar with a cork top, you can also drill a hole in the cork. This is one of the best options for minimal evaporation.
    • You can get creative by matching your diffuser container to the colors of your room or even decorating the outside of the container.
    • Craft stores often have cheap glass bottles and vases in a variety of sizes.
  2. Purchase reed sticks. Purchase rattan reeds meant for oil diffusal, either online or in specialty health stores. Use new reed diffusers, as old reeds lose their effectiveness once they are over-saturated with oil. [2]
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    • The reeds must be tall enough to stand well above the vase or bottle you chose. The reeds should stick out several inches or centimeters from the top of the container. Increase the scenting ability of the diffuser by using reeds that are double the height of the bottle or more.
    • Ready-made reeds are usually sold in 10-, 12- and 15-inch (25-, 30- and 38 cm) lengths.
    • You can also use bamboo skewers, but rattan reed sticks tend to disperse scent more effectively.
  3. Choose an essential oil. Pick your favorites. Make sure the oils are of a 100% concentration, or else they will not have a strong enough scent. You can use just one oil, or pair two or more oils whose scents complement one another.[3]
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    • Some classic essential oil pairings are lavender and peppermint, orange and vanilla, spearmint and patchouli, and chamomile and lavender.
    • Lavender, jasmine, neroli and geranium are calming scents.
    • Peppermint, rosemary, tea tree, lemon, basil, and ginger are energizing scents.
    • Chamomile, orange, sandalwood, lavender, and marjoram are great for combating anxiety.[4]
  4. Choose a carrier oil. A carrier oil is a neutral oil that combines with an essential oil to dilute it so that the scent of the essential oil isn’t overpowering. Safflower oil and almond oil are common carrier oils. If you don’t want to purchase a carrier oil, you can also use plain water mixed with a splash of alcohol that is at least 90% concentration.[5]
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    • You can use rubbing alcohol, perfumer’s alcohol, or vodka to mix with water as a substitute for carrier oil.
    • Common carrier oils include sweet almond, safflower, rosemary, sandalwood, star anise, clove, cinnamon, orange, or grapefruit oil.[6]

[Edit]Assembling the Reed Diffuser

  1. Measure out ¼ cup of carrier oil. Pour ¼ cup (59.14 ml) of your carrier oil into a measuring cup. If you are using water and alcohol, pour ¼ cup (59.14 ml) of water and add 1 teaspoon (4.92 ml) of the alcohol of your choice, then mix.[7]
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    • You can slightly alter the amount of carrier oil if you are using a small container, but keep in mind that the ratio of carrier oil to essential oil should be about 85 to 15. For instance, for a small container you could reduce the ratio to 17:1. If you want a strongly scented reed diffuser, make the ratio around 75 to 25.
    • Keep in mind that the water and vodka mixture evaporates at a faster rate than carrier oil, so you will have to refill it more.
  2. Add 25 to 30 drops of essential oil. Add 25-30 drops of the essential oil or oils of your choice into the measuring cup. If you are using two different oils, add 15 drops of one oil and 15 drops of the other.[8]
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  3. Stir to combine the oil. Gently swirl the oil mixture within the measuring cup to blend the oils by moving the measuring cup in circles, or use a spoon to stir and blend the oils together.[9]
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  4. Pour the oil mixture into the container. Carefully pour the oil mixture into the container with the narrow opening that you purchased. If your measuring cup does not have a spout, you may want to use a funnel to help transfer the liquid into the container.[10]
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  5. Add the reed sticks. Add about 4-8 reed sticks into the container. Fan the reed sticks out instead of leaning them all to one side of the rim so that they can work more effectively.[11]
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[Edit]Using the Reed Diffuser

  1. Flip the reed sticks after an hour. Allow the reed sticks to sit in the oil for an hour, then take them out and flip them over so that the dry ends sit in the oil mixture. This will saturate both ends and quick-start the process of releasing the scent of the essential oil.[12]
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    • You should start to notice the scent of the essential oils after a day or so.
  2. Swirl the oil every week. Make sure that you gently swirl the oil inside the reed diffuser about once a week to ensure that the oil mixture is adequately mixed. If you are using water and vodka as a base, swirl the mixture twice a week.[13]
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  3. Flip the sticks every few days. After the first flip, get in the habit of flipping the reed sticks every three or four days. Flipping the sticks stops the sticks from drying out so that the scent of the oil can continue spreading.[14]
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    • You can flip after swirling the oil, or at a different time.
  4. Add more oil when the scent diminishes. After a month or so, you may notice that even though you are regularly flipping the sticks, the scent of the essential oils seems to be diminishing. At this point, look inside the jar or vase and see how much of the oil mixture is left. Replace any of the oil mixture that has evaporated, keeping in mind the 75-85/15-25 ratio of carrier oil to essential oil.[15]
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    • If you are using water and alcohol as your base, you may have to replace the mixture inside the base more often than once a month. Stick to a ratio of 85/15 water and alcohol to essential oil.
  5. Replace the reed sticks once a month. After about a month, you may also notice that the reed sticks have become completely saturated in oil. Replace the reed sticks every month or when you see that they have become saturated.[16]
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    • The oil should slightly darken the color of the reeds, so when the entire reed is darkened you can tell that it has become completely saturated.
    • Once the reed has become saturated, it does not diffuse the scent of the oil, which is why it is important to regularly replace used reeds.


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  • If you are using the reed diffuser for aromatherapy purposes, consider the attributes of your essential oils to decide what oil or oils to use in your diffuser. For instance, oils like lavender and jasmine are relaxing, while peppermint and lemon are energizing.
  • Remember to be diligent about flipping the reed sticks and swirling the oil, or else the diffuser may not work as well as desired.

[Edit]Things You’ll Need

  • Non-plastic container with narrow opening
  • Essential oil or oils
  • Carrier oil such as almond oil
  • 90% rubbing alcohol or vodka
  • Rattan reed sticks
  • Measuring cup


[Edit]Quick Summary

To make your own reed diffuser, mix 25-30 drops of your favorite essential oil into 1/4 cup of a carrier oil like safflower or almond oil. Stir gently, then pour the mixture into a container with a narrow opening. Insert 4-8 tall rattan reeds into the opening of the container and fan them out. After about an hour, flip the reeds so the oil can saturate the whole stick, then flip them again every few days. The oil will travel up the reeds and diffuse the scent into the air. For ideas of essential oil combinations you can try, like lavender and peppermint or orange and vanilla, keep reading!

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