Many of them are especially hard on people with allergies and asthma. One more thing to stay away from.
But, the air in my house gets stale sometimes. Or, the day after I've cooked with garlic, that aroma that was so appealing when I was cooking becomes very unpleasant. I want to walk into my house and have it smell pleasant. Nothing overpowering or even that noticeable. Just pleasant.
There is a simple, all natural, truly lovely solution. That is to fill the air in my home with subtle scents of spices, herbs, and fruit. All I have to do is simmer some sweet smelling ingredients in water. The steam fills the air with a pleasant scent. Truth is, I did this many years ago on the advice of our realtor when we were selling our house. Realtors often advise sellers to bake cookies or boil cinnamon water right before a potential buyer drops by. That inviting aroma goes a long way to leave a good first impression. Why I didn't continue scenting the air in a similar way for our own enjoyment, I don't know. I've now got a simple routine going that keeps our house smelling pleasant without staleness or day-after garlic odor.
Keeping the supply list simple. I only used items available at the grocery store or in my yard for these scent recipes. I want this to be easy and inexpensive so that I can set up a sustainable routine of pleasantly scenting our home. These recipes are simply guidelines and don't have to be followed exactly. In fact, I change them up all the time based on what I have on hand in my kitchen or yard.
How to Make Natural Room Scents
Fragrant items for naturally scenting your home:
- citrus -- I've tried other fruits. Some of them smell good initially, but they don't hold up for more than one use. Citrus is sturdier, longer-lasting, and gives these scent recipes freshness. Lemons and oranges are particularly fragrant and have the best staying power in these scented waters.
- herbs -- Any herb can be used for making a room scent, but the ones that are sturdier and on woody twigs hold up the best. My favorites for room scents are rosemary and thyme.
- pine or cedar twigs/needles -- There may be other fragrant trees that will work, too; pine and cedar are the two I've tried for their appealing, fresh fragrance.
- extracts -- A touch of vanilla or almond extract improves most room fragrance mixtures. Mint extract has a nice fresh scent. You can also use whole vanilla beans instead of vanilla extract; pricey but amazingly fragrant.
- spices -- You can use ground or whole sweet spices. The whole spices look prettier, if your scented water will be in a location where it will be seen. I have found that cinnamon sticks and whole cloves have the most scent staying power. Cinnamon sticks can be rinsed off and reused several times. They keep on giving.
Five Natural Room Scent Recipes
These are all scents that my nose likes. But, scents that are pleasing to one person may not be to someone else. Consider how many different scents of perfumes, soap, and candles there are in stores in an effort to appeal to the masses. So, use my recipe combos as guidelines that you can tweak and customize to suit what your nose likes.
General procedure: Combine the ingredients in a 2 cup (pint) jar or container, or in a pan on the stove top. Cover them with water and heat. I'll explain different heating options further down.
Scent #1: Oranges, cinnamon & cloves (allspice and anise are optional). This is my favorite, both for it's wonderful aroma and for it's staying power. This scent carries into multiple rooms better, and it can be reheated to scent your rooms for several days.
Scent #2: Lemon, rosemary, & vanilla. A similar scented water is often simmering in Williams-Sonoma stores. It has a lovely freshness to it.
Scent #3: Lime, thyme, mint & vanilla extract. This combination has such a fresh, pleasant scent. I initially made it without the mint extract, but have found that it really kicks up the aroma.
Scent #4: Orange, ginger (fresh or powdered), and almond extract. This is a sweet, delicious scent.
Scent # 5: Pine or cedar twigs (or other fragrant twigs), bay leaves, and nutmeg. These scents combine for a complex aroma. If you have whole nutmeg, use a microplane to grate off the outer surface--this will release the scent. Add the whole nutmeg piece along with the gratings.
Make ahead and...
- ...store in the fridge. Uncooked jars of scented waters will keep in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks, so you can make these ahead to have on hand. I recommend adding all of the ingredients, including the water, to the jars before refrigerating them. I've tried refrigerating the fruit/spice/herb combos in jars without the water, but they don't last as long that way.
- ...freeze them. I've tried freezing them both with and without the water added, and both ways work fine. I haven't tested them in the freezer longer than 2 weeks, but I'm confident that they can be frozen for a month or longer. Make sure you use freezer-safe jars.
How to heat the scented mixtures
I've tried a variety of methods, and all of these work to varying degrees. Some of them provide a more powerful scent than others. Just like the air fresheners you buy, none of these will scent a whole house; but I'll show you some ways to set up individual scent sources in multiple rooms. Hopefully you already have what you need to try out one or more of these options.
Stove top method. This is by far the best way I've found to get the most powerful scent that will spread to more rooms the fastest. It's easy as can be. Simply combine the ingredients in a pot on the stove, bring them to a boil, and then lower the heat to a simmer. They will immediately begin to scent your kitchen and spread to other rooms. How far the scent spreads depends on the size and layout of your house. A simmering pot like this makes all four rooms on our first floor smell good. The only drawback of this method is that you have to keep a close eye on the water level. If the pan dries out, you'll be smelling burned citrus instead of sweet, fragrant citrus. NOTE: For a stronger scent, simply double or triple the recipe in a larger pot on the stove.