Although essential oils are potent antiseptics, most are too expensive for the average homemaker to use freely for such purposes as one would normally use household disinfectant, so the best way to ensure that your home is fragrant and germ free is to make good use of the vaporiser. However, there are several other ways to enjoy ambience in the making, as you are about to discover.
Although the effect is short-lived compared to that achieved by using an electric diffuser or nightlight vaporiser, the mobile aromatic spray is especially convenient should you wish to freshen the house from top to bottom in a thrice.
The method is simple; fill a small house plant mister with water, then add the essential oil. Exact quantities are not at all crucial, but as a rough guide, add up to 18 drops or essential oil to 125 ml of water (tap water is fine for this purpose). Remember to shake well each time before use to disperse the oil droplets. Just in case you are stuck for blending ideas, here are a few possibilities lo inspire you.
For imparting a light and airy fragrance to the whole house.
4 drops peppermint
6 drops lavender
5 drops clary sage
5 drops lemon
5 drops bergamot
3 drops petitgrain
3 drops geranium
5 drops cedarwood
5 drops juniper
8 drops pine
The following extra-strength blends will help break down stale cooking odours as well as the lingering smell of cigarette smoke. Spray several times within two hours or, better still, use the same combination of oils in the vaporiser, in which case, you will need to halve the quantity of essential oil.
10 drops eucalyptus
8 drops lavender
5 drops lemongrass
5 drops thyme
17 crops rosemary
8 drops pine
Any of the following sprays will help keep you alert whilst driving. Incidentally, the same combination of essences can be used in the vaporiser for study purposes.
8 drops rosemary
5 drops pine
2 drops peppermint
6 drops bergamot
5 drops lemon
4 drops coriander
5 drops rosemary
4 drops Iime
6 drops bergamot
For spraying around a hotel bedroom, for example.
3 drops rose otto
4 drops clary sage
4 drops neroli
4 drops geranium
8 crops lavender
5 drops petitgrain
4 drops chamomile (Roman)
4 dropsclary sage
6 drops lavender
It is said that women of the night perfume their light bulbs with patchouli essence! However, there is no need to be engaged in the oldest profession to enjoy the delights of light-bulb perfumery, for it has become quite a respectable practice. You may be able lo obtain a fragrance ring which is usually a ceramic, robust plastic or heavy cardboard disk that balances over the top of the light bulb. The essences are dropped on the ring and the warmth from the bulb releases the aromatic vapour. Alternatively, simply rub a few drops of essential oil on to a cold light bulb (a desk or table lamp with a fairly low wattage bulb works well), then turn on the light. Voila! A scented room.
The only drawback with these methods is that the fragrance ring or light bulb will eventually become very sticky. Plastic or ceramic fragrance rings can be wiped with an alcohol-based substance such as surgical spirit which will dissolve the essential oil residue. It is important to wash the ring with hot soapy water afterwards to remove every trace or surgical spirit whose harsh odour will intermingle with the essential oils. But do ensure that the ring is thoroughly dry before replacing it over the light fitting, otherwise you could get an electric shock. As for sticky light bulbs, it is safer to leave well alone. It should also be mentioned that essential oil is highly flammable.
Scented Pine Cones
A delightful way to perfume a room is to drape over radiators bunches of scented pine cones tied together with cotton thread. They could also be hung on doors and walls, suspended from ceiling beams, or secured so that they hang over the edge of the mantelpiece. However, do remember to keep the cones a safe distance from the fire itself, whether gas, electric or solid fuel, as essential oils are highly flammable.
The cones need to be soaked for at least one hour, preferably overnight, in 150 ml of water with up to 25 drops of essential oil. Choose highly odoriferous essences such as ginger, clove, cinnamon, geranium or patchouli. Another good choice is cedarwood, which is long lasting, but less odoriferous. To keep the cones redolent with fragrance, you will need to soak them again every seven to twelve days. Any leftover aromatic soak-water can be used in the nightlight vaporiser. It will probably contain debris from the pine cones, but this will not affect the fragrance.
Keeping Moths at Bay
Bunches of fragrant cones can be hung in the wardrobe as a moth repellent. Choose from the following essences: cedarwood, clove, lavender, lemongrass, patchouli, rosemary. Alternatively, you could place on the bottom of the wardrobe a little dish of essential oil impregnated dried flowers or woodshavings. Dried plant material suitable for this purpose (not that which is already perfumed with synthetic pot pourri oil) can be purchased from good herbal suppliers. Wood shavings can usually be obtained free from any carpenter’s workshop.
Simply put a handful of dried flowers or woodshavings into a polythene bag, then sprinkle with about 20 drops of essential oil and mix well. Seal the bag tightly and allow the aroma to permeate the base material for at least 24 hours before use.
Aromatherapy for Your Carpet
8 oz bicarbonate of soda
35-45 drops essential oil
Put the bicarbonate of soda into a polythene bag, then sprinkle with the essential oil and mix well. Seal the bag tightly and allow the aroma to permeate the soda for at least 24 hours. Sprinkle over the carpet, leave for at least half an hour before vacuuming. As a bonus, if the dust bag does not need changing immediately, fragrance will waft from the air vent each time you use the vacuum cleaner; aromatherapy while you work!
Here are a few fragrant possibilities to transport you from the mundane.
10 drops clove
15 drops orange
15 drops lavender
10 drops patchouli
10 drops vetiver
20 drops lime
25 drops cedarwood
10 drops coriander
10 drops lemon
In the past, aromatic plants such as lavender and woodruff were placed between freshly laundered linen sheets and clothing to impart their sweet fragrances and to deter fleas and moths. Another way is to make an aromatic spray using refreshing essences such as lavender, lemon, bergamot, geranium and rosemary. You will need about 15 drops of essential oil to 125 ml of water. Spray a fine mist over cotton and linen fabrics (synthetic fibres may become stained by the oils). Put in the airing cupboard to dry. You may also discover that the rest of your laundry has become faintly aromatic too.
Scented Drawer Liners
To keep musty drawers fresh, line with essential oil impregnated wallpaper. Cut the wallpaper to size, then spray the underside of the wallpaper (to avoid possible staining of clothes) with a strong aromatic solution: up to 40 drops of essential oil to 50 ml of water in a house plant mister.
The longer lasting essences are those in the base note range such as patchouli, cedarwood and vetiver. But if these are too earthy-smelling for your own aromatic good taste, choose lighter essences such as coriander, geranium, lavender and citrus oils. The drawer liner will need a refresher spray every three months or so, depending on the odour intensity of the oils.
Aromatherapy for Your Furniture
Beeswax, linseed oil and plant essences blended together make a superb furniture polish, imparting a lovely scent and a satiny finish. Blocks of natural yellow beeswax can be obtained from antique furniture dealers, beekeepers, herbal suppliers and craft shops. Real turpentine (as used in the second recipe) and linseed oil can be obtained from most hardware shops.
Beewitched Furniture Pomade
30g yellow beeswax
125ml linseed oil
8 drops cedarwood
6 drops rosemary or sandalwood
Grate the beeswax, then heat with the oil in a heat-proof basin over a pan of simmering water. Stir well, then remove from the heat. As soon as the mixture begins to thicken, stir in the essential oils then spoon into a glass pot. Use like ordinary wax polish, rubbing it on with one duster and buffing it with another.
Traditional Lavender Furniture Cream
30g yellow beeswax
15 drops lavender
Grate the beeswax, then heat in a basin over a pan of simmering water until completely melted. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the turpentine, before the wax begins to set, ensuring that it is thoroughly mixed. Turpentine can easily burst into flames, so never add this to the basin whilst on the stove. Pour the polish into a glass pot. Use like ordinary wax polish.
Aromatic Wood Fires
In rural areas, the old practice of fumigating rooms by burning aromatic plant material on the hearth fire continued right up to the early part of the twentieth century, Most of these aromatics were obtained from the countryside at little or no cost. Dried aromatic herbs, roots and seeds were found to perfume a room if placed directly on an open fire when the flames were low.
ff you are fortunate enough to have an open fire and a garden full of herbs, then you too can indulge in the delights of fireside perfumery. A wood fire is best, as wood imparts its own scents to those of the herbs. However, if you are able to collect fallen branches or thinnings of aromatic woods such as apple, pear, cherry and laurel, savour these for their own sake. Once seasoned, they burn bright and clear and their scents are truly divine.
Here is a partial list of suitable aromatic plants which smell delightful when burned on a low fire, though do remember to use dried plant material, otherwise it will not burn properly.
Angelica (seed heads)
Lavender (flower spikes)
lnula conyza (roots)
Juniper (twigs and branches)
Lovage (seed heads)
Rosemary (leaves and twigs)
Sage (leaves and twigs)
Most of the ‘aromatherapy’ candles available in gift shops are perfumed with harsh synthetic scents. Unlike natural essences, aroma chemicals are much more likely to trigger allergic reactions such as wheezing and sneezing. Even when genuine essential oil candles are available, the choice is usually limited to a handful of modestly priced essences such as lavender, rosemary, geranium or pine.
While candle-making kits can be obtained from craft outlets, it is much easier to buy one very fat candle and a few of your favourite essential oils. Before we consider the method for scenting candles, it should be mentioned that most are made from paraffin wax, though beeswax candles are also available. Beeswax candles are much more expensive than the usual kind, but for special occasions they are well worth considering. The beeswax imparts its own delicious honey scent into the room. Nonetheless, the aroma can be enhanced by adding a few drops of a floral or woody essence such as rose, sandalwood or ylang ylang.
The method for scenting candles is simple. First light the candle, wait a few moments for the wax to melt around the wick, then blow it out and immediately add a few drops of essential oil to the molten wax (the fatter the candle, the bigger the pool of wax) before re-lighting.
Important: Essential oil is highly flammable, so never try to add this whilst the candle is still burning, as it will flare up, leaving in its wake a puff of black smoke. It is also important to keep the wick trimmed very short, otherwise the flame will be too big and the aromatic vapour relatively short lived. If the pool of wax is big enough and the flame low enough, the aroma will continue to diffuse for at least an hour. Once all the oil has evaporated, you may wish to ring the changes by adding a different essence or a blend of two or three (extinguishing the flame first).
Vaporising Whole Spices
If you own a nightlight candle vaporiser with a good sized reservoir, you can perfume a room using dried whole spices such as doves, ginger, black pepper, juniper berries, lemongrass, coriander seed, pieces of cinnamon stick or snips of vanilla pod. Simply add about one teaspoonful of plant material to the water-filled reservoir (tap water is fine for this purpose). The aroma will gradually develop, reaching maximum intensity after about one hour.
The aroma can be made more aromatic and interesting with the addition of a few drops of essential oil. For special occasions, instead of vaporising the spices in plain water, you could use orange flower water or rosewater, or perhaps an equal quantity of each. A touch of citrus peel imparts an interesting note to most spicy blends. A little sugar (about half a teaspoonful) added to almost any blend seems to enhance the aroma; try it and sec.
Room Scents Using Whole Spices
Here are some aromatic suggestions for the nightlight vaporiser just to inspire your creative instinct. Exact quantities are not at all crucial, so just follow your nose.
- Whole cloves, cinnamon stick, orange peel
- Vanilla pod, lime peel
- Ginger root, cinnamon stick, dried lemongrass
- Coriander seed, juniper berries, black peppercorns
- Rosewater, vanilla pod
- Orange flower water, coriander seed, dried lemongrass
- Orange flower water, rosewater, cinnamon stick
- Orange flower water, whole cloves, lavender essence
- Vanilla pod, lime peel, ylang ylang essence
- Rosewater, coriander seed, sandalwood essence