Good Scents

Featured Article, How-To, Relish Style
on April 1, 2010
Mark Boughton

Scented candles sometimes can be too strong, so I make my own lightly scented bamboo reed diffusers. Concoct your own favorite scents using essential oils and kitchen pantry items like vanilla and lemon extracts, cinnamon sticks and other spices. Small recycled glass bottles and reed diffusers purchased very inexpensively online are the only other items needed.

What You’ll Need:

  • Medium to small glass bottles (beer bottles, old perfume bottles, or new ones purchased at craft stores), washed, rinsed and dried
  • Reed diffuser sticks. You can buy 100 (12-inch) sticks for about $12 at
  • Scents. Essential oils (sold in small glass bottles at most craft stores and in some groceries and pharmacies); lemon or vanilla extract, almond oil, liquid potpourris from craft stores
  • 100 proof vodka or mineral oil


To Do:

  • For oil-based diffusers, fill a glass bottle two-thirds full with mineral oil. Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil or a combination of more than one oil to make a more unique aroma. Try grapefruit and lemon grass or lemon and tea tree. If you’re using almond oil as the base, try adding a few drops of lavender oil for a great combo.
  • For water-and-vodka-based scented room diffusers, fill a bottle two-thirds full with water. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons vodka to the bottle. (The vodka helps the essential oils blend.) Add a few drop of your favorite extract or essential oils or a combination. Try vanilla extract, 2 cinnamon sticks and a few whole cloves or lemon and orange extracts added to the water-vodka mix.
  • For both kinds of diffusers, add 8 to 12 diffuser sticks to each bottle. Allow the sticks to “soak” up the liquid for about 15 minutes, then remove the sticks and turn them upside down, inserting the dry ends into the bottles. Place your diffusers anywhere in your home to add wonderful light scents. Every few days, turn the reeds to refresh. Note: In a pinch, you can use bamboo skewers instead of diffuser reed. The reeds work much better, as they have tiny holes in them to help “wick” the scents up. You can cut reed diffuser sticks to fit the height of your bottle using scissors or garden clippers.


By Teresa Blackburn, Relish Prop and Food Stylist.