Make Your Own Non-Toxic Essential Oil Diffuser

wooden cutting board with various diffuser ingredients

Treehugger / Jenn Parker 

This DIY project is cheap and easy, and ensures that you won't have a room full of synthetic fragrance.

The purpose of an essential oil diffuser is to spread the aroma of essential oils throughout a home, deodorizing and purifying the air, making a room smell great, and lifting the mood. Some require electricity to heat the essential oils, while others use reeds to diffuse the aroma. Many diffusers, unfortunately, contain artificial fragrances or carrier oils whose phthalate-laden fumes are less than healthy and defeat the purpose of creating a sweet-smelling, purified, and energizing space.

It’s best to away from commercial versions and to make your own essential oil diffuser. That way you’ll know exactly what’s in it. It is quick and easy to assemble, using household materials that you’ve probably already got. There are a few different versions for the base liquid:

1. Alcohol + Water + Essential Oil

various alcohol diffusers with reeds
Treehugger / Jenn Parker 

Alcohol evaporates faster than water, which makes it a good option for drawing the scent up through the reeds. It also won’t make a greasy mess if it gets knocked over, unlike the oil-based version below.

Pour 1⁄4 cup of hot tap water into an attractive jar or container. Add 1⁄4 cup alcohol (I used rubbing alcohol but apparently vodka works, too) and 20-25 drops of whatever essential oil you want to use. Swirl to mix.

2. Carrier Oil + Essential Oil

essential oils and carrier oil jar plus lemon
Treehugger / Jenn Parker  

A ratio of 30% essential oil to 70% carrier oil is recommended. Avoid mineral oil, as it’s a petroleum-based product. Try sweet almond or safflower, which are oils with minimal scents. Add essential oil and swirl to mix.

3. Carrier Oil + Alcohol + Essential Oil

water alcohol essential oil carrier citrus diffuser
Treehugger / Jenn Parker  

Use 1⁄4 cup carrier oil (sweet almond or safflower) with 2-3 tbsp vodka and a generous quantity of essential oil (that 30%:70% ratio again).

Pour any of the above combinations into an attractive glass or ceramic vase. Add bamboo skewers (cut off the pointy ends first), special diffuser reeds (order online), or some kind of dried plant material, i.e. twigs, woody stems, reeds, that will draw the liquid upward.

Soak the ends for a couple hours, then flip around. Do this a couple times a week. Top up the mixture with more essential oil as needed.

Wondering which essential oil to choose? Here are a few ideas.

Lavender, lemon, and thyme essential oils have good antibacterial activity.

Lavender, bergamot, and sandalwood help combat depression, while yuzu helps to inspire a positive mental state.

Lavender, geranium, roman chamomile, and ylang ylang can reduce tension.

Peppermint can energize.

View Article Sources
  1. Why Does Rubbing Alcohol Evaporate Quicker Than Water?.” University of California Santa Barbara.

  2. Rawlings AV, et al. “A Review On The Extensive Skin Benefits of Mineral Oil.” Int J Cosmet Sci, vol. 34, 2012, pp. 511-8., doi:10.1111/j.1468-2494.2012.00752.x

  3. Man, Adrian, et al. “Antimicrobial Activity of Six Essential Oils Against a Group of Human Pathogens: A Comparative Study.” Pathogens, vol. 8, 2019, doi:10.3390/pathogens8010015

  4. Sánchez-Vidaña, Dalinda Isabel, et al. “The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review.” Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, vol. 2017, 2017., doi:10.1155/2017/5869315

  5. Dagli, Namrata, et al. “Essential Oils, Their Therapeutic Properties, and Implication in Dentistry: A Review.” J Int Soc Prev Community Dent, vol. 5, 2015, pp. 335-40., doi:10.4103/2231-0762.165933

  6. Ali, Babar, et al. “Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy: A Systemic Review.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, vol. 5, 2015, pp. 601-611., doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

  7. Meamarbashi, Abbas, et al. “The Effects of Peppermint on Exercise Performance.” J Int Soc Sports Nutr, vol. 10, 2013, p.15., doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-15