Reed diffusers are a safe, hassle-free way to make your home smell fantastic and allow you to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of essential oils. But sometimes, even with effort and patience, DIY reed diffusers aren’t guaranteed to give you the results you’re looking for.
Often the problem doesn’t lie with the essential oils, as most people suspect, but with the carrier, they are working with. Perhaps the reeds have gotten clogged because the carrier oil you chose was too thick for them to absorb the oil, for example.
To help you get those effects you’re looking for, we’ve come up with the ultimate guide to choosing the best carrier oils for a reed diffuser. Plus, we have some tips and tricks that help you improve your diffuser’s scent and longevity along the way.
What is a Reed Diffuser?
A reed diffuser is a glass vessel containing fragrance or essential oils mixed in a base solution. Rattan reeds or sticks are inserted into the mixture. These reeds have tiny capillaries that soak up fragrance like straws. The scent travels to the top, evaporating and emitting a pleasant aroma into the air.
Ultrasonic Diffuser vs Reed Diffuser
There are several ways that reed diffusers can make better choices than ultrasonic ones. These include:
- Reed diffusers require no fans, heat, electricity or machines, etc.
- Where ultrasonic diffusers require regular cleaning to protect their plastic parts from corrosive oils, reed diffusers are low-maintenance and straightforward to remake and design as needed.
- Reed diffusers provide a consistent stream of aroma; of course, they are not needed to turn them on or off. As long as the oil is in its container, it will continue to give off a scent.
- Typically, a 100ml reed diffuser will last for up to a month. However, with a few tricks up your sleeve, you can extend its lifespan up to 3-4 months.
- Last but not least is the price. A good-quality ultrasonic diffuser can be pricey. Cheaper alternatives may not diffuse well, a waste of good quality oil.
DIY: How to Make a Carrier Oil-Based Reed Diffuser at Home
There is very little difference between expensive commercial reed diffusers and DIY ones. Get creative; half the joy is experimenting to find a bespoke fragrance that fits your home, event, or occasion. So let’s move ahead to a step-by-step guide to making a DIY reed diffuser. But first things first:
What Ingredients Does A Reed Diffuser Oil Need?
There are three components to a natural reed diffuser oil.
- A base carrier oil or fragrance grade Dipropylene glycol
- Perfumer’s alcohol to thin the diffuser oil and promote better “wicking.”
- Essential oils or some kind of synthetic fragrance oil to provide the actual aroma.
- The vital part of creating a fragrance blend but we will address them separately at the end.
Once you’ve gathered the ingredients, you need to arrange:
Choose a glass jar or bottle. Opt for a one with a narrow opening to guarantee slow evaporation, which will make your reed diffuser last longer. Sunlight oxidizes both carriers and essential oils, so while clear glass can look very pretty, it’s a better choice for alcohol-based blends than carrier oils. Colored glass is not only lovely; it can be appealing and functional in prolonging the life of your combination.
Top Tip: Avoid metal or plastic containers. Essential oils eat through plastic and buckle them, leaking oils all over the place and ruining your lovely sideboard.
Oil Diffuser Sticks/Reeds
Rattan reeds are the most commonly used material to make reeds, but you could also experiment with bamboo skewers if you have some lying around. They can make great alternatives to buying reed diffuser sticks.
Both contain hollows to store the liquid, but rattans have more structured channels than those of bamboo. In addition, the bamboo reed’s porous interior eventually clogs, minimizing or even stopping it from distributing scent.
The number of reeds you should use depends on where you place the diffuser. Larger spaces like living rooms or entry halls might need 6-8 reeds to fragrance the entire area correctly. For smaller spaces such as bathrooms or guestrooms, 4-6 reeds are enough to see the good results. Always start with a lower number and increase per your needs or desires. Remove a reed or two if it feels too strong to your sensitive nose.
Reed diffusers rely on air circulation to emit the scent. Therefore, they work best in high-traffic areas. Place them into entryways, your bathroom, or a hallway where people move about a lot. You’ll notice a considerable difference in the performance of a reed diffuser in a busy room to one that sits in isolation.
It’s worth considering the size of the diffuser concerning the space it's for too. Larger diffusers in smaller spaces can be overpowering, even if you reduce the number of reeds. Similarly, smaller diffusers often give disappointing results in smaller rooms.
The key to project success is understanding that essential oils evaporate quickly. They are supposed to do that. But instead, nature created this fragrant volatiles to leave the plant, to travel up and tempt pollinators and then disappear. That doesn’t bode well for how long your reed diffuser will last, though.
So, to keep them in the diffuser longer, you need to choose precisely the right consistency of carrier oil, choose the suitable essential oils, and add a fixative. Of course, the best fixative to do this is alcohol.
If you add them together gradually and slowly, the oil and alcohol are miscible and will combine. Alcohol is the key to making the reed diffuser last longer. Go 50/50 mix.
Do Fragrance Oils Work in A Reed Diffuser?
They do, and if you are only looking to use your reed diffuser for the scent alone, these might be your best option. They are cheap, tend to have close likenesses to the actual fragrances of the botanical, and they will last much longer than essential oils.
That said, fragrance oils won’t offer therapeutic benefits as essential oils do.
Choosing The Best Carrier Oils For Reed Diffuser Projects
Selecting the wrong carrier oils can compromise many things in your journey of enjoying the reed diffuser. Replacing the reeds sooner than expected, reeds’ oil-wicking speed inhibited scent diffusion, to name a few. So, to make the best choice, there are several factors to consider:
- First, the carrier oil must be thin enough to travel up the reeds easily. Then, that means the oil needs to be liquid at room temperature. This would rule out some coconut oils or jojoba oil.
- You will not want the carrier oil to have too heavy a fragrance in its own right. Otherwise, it will degrade your scent design. So choose ones with little or no fragrances of their own.
- Carrier oils can be clear or colored, so you might also want to consider the color of the oil in the scenario you’ll use it in. Do you have a dominant color scheme in the room? Our mind sees colors in relationships with scents. Green rooms with roses can be a little odd! Your brain expects to smell green! Try to see the project as a whole experience, rather than simply how it will look alone.
What is the Best Carrier Oil for Reed Diffuser
Top of our list of best carrier oils for reed diffuser projects has to be grapeseed with the ideal absorption characteristics. As you might guess, the oil has a vaguely fruity aroma, coming, as it does, from the seeds of deliciously sweet grapes. It blends well with citrusy essential oils like Orange, Lemon, Grapefruit, etc. However, be advised that citrus essential oils do tend to evaporate faster.
The oil’s fruity green color is reminiscent of nature, so if the appearance of your reed diffuser is your primary concern, perhaps choose green-colored essential oils such as Juniper Berry (Hungary) and Scotch Pine essential oil, etc. Match it; love it!
Long-lasting essential oils like Peppermint, eucalyptus, and Spearmint go very well with Grapeseed oil. These would be gorgeously cooling on a hot summer’s afternoon. Peppermint and Eucalyptus oils, in particular, also become part of the best essential oils for humidifier use because of their ideal longevity characteristic.
Safflower oil has a thin consistency and is scentless. Therefore, it won’t interfere with the fragrance of your chosen essential oils, allowing you to enjoy the natural aroma of your blend. In addition, it has a slightly yellow to clear appearance, barely impacting the color of its container.
Generally, Sesame oil comes in two varieties: light and dark Sesame oil. The former one is the purest form with a slight golden color. The dark variety, as the name suggests, is darker in color. Therefore, when picking the Sesame oil for your reed diffuser, always go for the ‘light’ variety.
Plus, the dark kind has a more pungent scent so the lighter Sesame oil would win the battle. However, its luscious richness combines gorgeously with essential oils like sandalwood or myrrh to give romantic and sultry effects.
Marula oil has a clear, light yellow color with a nutty fragrance, but not so strong that it would overpower your essential oils. Despite having a medium-level thickness, the oil does flow quite quickly.
For a bit of extra info: marula oil contains amino acids and has anti-aging functions. So, if you are not going to use all of it in your reed diffuser, keep a little aside to heal damaged skin, spots and blemishes.
Safety: Marula oil is a nut-derived oil, so people with nut allergies should handle it carefully.
Apricot Kernel Oil
This golden-colored oil has a slight apricot scent and a light consistency. It flows easily and fills up the reeds with oil quickly. However, its long shelf life is Apricot Kernel's main advantage over some of the other best carrier oils for reed diffusers. The oil stays true and clears much longer than other oils.
We recommend pairing it with Ylang Ylang essential oil. Madagascar's “Flower of Flowers” is clear with a hint of yellow, so their combination looks delicious in the diffuser. Ylang Ylang essential oil’s seductive scent improves bedroom moods and is one of the best aromatherapy essential oils. Put the diffuser onto the bedside table and we’ll leave you to guess that!
Safety: Since Apricot kernel oil is a nut-derived oil, people with nut allergies should handle it carefully.
Moroccan Argan Oil
Moroccan Argan oil has long been renowned for its skin rejuvenation properties. But, perhaps you have a little left coming to the end of its life? It’s called the ‘liquid gold of Morocco’ because of its golden color, and it has a natural, nutty fragrance. Nutty and herbaceous-smelling essential oils like Clary Sage go well with this carrier oil.
The golden hue of Rosehip oil and its relatively thin consistency makes it one of the best carrier oils for reed diffuser, but it is costly. Perhaps add just a teaspoon to enrich grapeseed and luxury and the Rosey vibration to romantic blends.
Rosehip oil has an average shelf life of 12 – 18 months.
Fractionated Coconut Oil (MCT)
From a fragrance perspective, coconut is not one of the best carrier oils for reed diffusers, but it does have a desirable clear color and is a good consistency for the reeds.
Unlike regular coconut oil, the fractionated variety is liquid at room temperature and has a low viscosity.
If you have any spare when you’ve finished the diffuser, storing it for future diffuser refilling is a good idea. But we guess you might not do that once you find its benefits for your skin and hair. Great for skin moisturization, the oil is known to be an excellent natural hair conditioner, and you can use it for removing your makeup.
Safety: Since coconut oil is a nut-derived oil, people with nut allergies should handle it carefully
In the list of the best carrier oils for reed diffuser, glycerin isn’t supposed to be here. You’re right.
Oil is not strictly speaking, but it is a cheap yet effective alternative from the pharmacy. It is thin enough to travel up the reeds and also benefits from a certain fixative quality for the essential oils.
Avoid Making Mistakes Choosing The Best Carrier Oils for Reed Diffuser
Almond Oil: Why You Shouldn’t Use it in Reed Diffusers
Almond oil spoils faster than the other best carrier oils for a reed diffuser. If your diffuser allows more air into your carrier oil-essential oil mixture, Almond oil will go rancid quicker. However, the issue isn’t that severe with a diffuser bottle having a small, tight opening of a diffuser bottle. If you still plan to use Almond oil, you’ll have to change it more frequently than other carrier oils.
Safety: Since Almond oil is a nut-derived oil, people with nut allergies should handle it carefully
Why Organic Jojoba Oil Is Not One of The Best Carrier Oils for Reed Diffuser Success
Jojoba oil isn’t a liquid oil. Instead, it’s a vax and is solid at room temperature. Hence, it’s hard to absorb in your DIY reed diffuser. That’s why we didn’t add it in the best carrier oils for the reed diffuser.
Baby oils are usually mineral oil-based. Their thin consistency means they travel up the reeds fast and so will fragrance your room almost instantly. However, the mineral oil tends to leave a film on the insides of the red channels, quickly clogging them and rendering your diffuser inept.
Make Sure Your Essential Oil Choices Don’t Scupper Your Choices of Best Carrier Oils for Reed Diffuser Projects. – Blend Like A Pro!
Choosing the essential oils that fit your mood and the season is gorgeous, however, understanding a little bit about how oils move through the air will help your blending enormously.
It helps to think of them in terms of “notes.” A little like notes on a piano, how some go together and some sound dreadful, the same can be said about scents. However, the note refers to how fast the essential oil will evaporate, how quickly you discern it, and how long it will stay around.
Think about a time when you have tried some perfume or cologne in the department store. The first whiff is often light and sharp. Come back to it fifteen minutes later, and you notice the fragrance has changed. It has become more affluent, lower, and full-bodied.
These are what are called fragrance accords.
You notice the top notes first because they are pills with the smallest molecules. They are fleeting and disappear quickly. We want to weigh them down with middle notes or base notes.
Base notes act as fixatives in a blend. They have giant molecules that are too heavy to fly away quickly.
Alternatively, you can also use fragrance oils instead of essential oils, but they will not be as decongestant, uplifting, relaxing, etc., in the same ways as essential oils.
Recipe: Creating A Kick-Ass Reed Diffuser
- Pour ½ cup of any of the best carrier oils for the reed diffuser into the container.
- Add 30-50 drops of essential oil for each ½ cup of the base oil. Increase the amount of the liquid while maintaining the proper ratio. Most importantly, don’t fill the container full. This will prevent the liquid from spilling over the top when you put in the diffuser reeds.
- Mix the oils well.
- Stick in 4-8 reed diffuser sticks or skewers. Ensure they are a couple of inches taller than the containers, so they carry the scent out and into the air.
- Flip them after one hour or when half-saturated. It may take several hours for the liquid to wick up the reeds’ total length and emit the scent. So, be patient.
- For the best results, flip the reeds every once a week and replace the liquid once a month.
- Enjoy a diffuser that sparks joy!
I’ve Got The Best Carrier Oils for Reed diffuser success, But The Fragrance Still Isn’t Lasting Long…
Are you sure?
The brain is a clever thing. It is very good at prioritizing. It will only assess what it needs to gauge for a particular time. For example, smell receptors are often looking for danger or information around your environment.
After about an hour, it decides there is no more it needs to tell you about situations connected to the odor and will no longer perceive it. Instead, it will concentrate its efforts on another function.
Try leaving the room for an hour. Often you’ll find your reed diffuser is scenting perfectly fine. You’ve just gone nose blind.
How Can I Improve the Scent of My Reed Diffuser?
Have you ever noticed a hardly noticeable scent while a reed diffuser is appropriately placed in the room? If so, you’re not the only one who faces this issue. Sometimes, there are some essential things you have to keep in mind while using a reed diffuser. So apply these clever and practical tricks and tips to improve your reed diffuser's scent.
- Place the diffuser in a high-traffic space such as a living entryway or bathroom.
- Avoid putting your reed diffuser anywhere that’s too warm, especially in direct sunlight. Higher temperatures will evaporate the fragrance much faster.
- Avoid placing the diffuser beside an open window. Air flowing in and out depletes the fragrance and weakens its scent.
- For larger spaces, use two diffusers (of the same scent) instead of increasing the number of reeds in one diffuser.
- Flip your reeds once a week, especially before leaving for the weekend or an extended stay, so you’ll be welcomed with a pleasant scent instead of a stale one when you’re back. Though flipping seems a good idea, doing so too often can cause the fragrance oil to evaporate more quickly.
- Don’t refill the fragrance oil. Instead, let it be depleted completely; wash the container with soap and water. Let it dry fully before you refill it with the liquid.
Note: Protect Your Stuff!!!
Place the diffuser on a cardboard or a decorative plate to catch any oil drips and prevent damage to the surface underneath.