Room Reed Diffuser

The most challenging part of this recipe is finding the main ingredient – a pure alcohol. Otherwise, making this customisable reed diffuser is a perfect project for beginners, because it doesn’t require extra knowledge about preservatives and solubilisers.

It’s easy to find a high-proof alcohol online, but it may prove more difficult to find in physical shops. Your local pharmacy is most likely to have pure ethanol, and if they don’t, they probably have everything else needed for this recipe.

Fragrance Blend Ideas

  • Clean linen: Lemon, lavender and lemongrass.
  • Happy dreams: Lavender, chamomile and sandalwood.
  • Spring meadow: Rose geranium and pine needle.
  • Fresh morning: Peppermint, sweet orange and vanilla.
  • Romantic date: Rose and vanilla.
  • Cosy winter: Sweet orange, vanilla and cinnamon.

Where only two essential oils are listed, blend them in equal parts. Where three essential oils are included, blend them in the following ratio in the order that they are listed: 3 parts, 5 parts, 2 parts. Let’s take the first one as an example. For the clean linen blend, you’d blend 3 parts lemon, 5 parts lavender and 2 parts lemongrass.


You can replace everything, except the high-proof alcohol. Just keep the quantities of my recipe the same, and it will still be self-preserving.

Essential Oils
You can use any essential oils for the fragrance blend, or synthetic fragrance oils.

Vegetable Glycerine
You can exclude the glycerine and just increase the water content instead.

Deionised Water Substitutions
You can also use distilled water, or a botanical hydrosol or floral water instead (eg. rose water). You cannot use infusions like tea, because it will compromise the shelf-life.

Alcohol Substitutions
You can use other high-proof alcohols like:

You cannot use rubbing alcohol, because it has a strong fragrance that will overpower anything.

You cannot use consumable spirit alcohols like whisky with this particular recipe. If you want to use a low-proof alcohol like vodka (45%), you’re going to have to include a preservative and solubiliser as well, and that just makes things complicated. If you want the simplest method with the fewest ingredients, then the high-proof alcohol is necessary.

Only high-proof alcohol can preserve the product, and only high-proof alcohol can solubilise essential oils to prevent separated layers. This formula has been carefully calculated to contain over 65% alcohol, which effectively makes it a self-preserving product.

To be creative, you can replace the plain ethanol with a botanical tincture instead. You can make a homemade tincture with any clean botanical. Just ensure that the final tincture contains a minimum of 90% alcohol for this recipe. If you use a homemade tincture, you will have to decrease the quantity of water to 11g, and increase the tincture to 73g.

For example, I often substitute the plain ethanol with my homemade jasmine tincture. To make a strong enough tincture at home (that’s 90% v/v), you can infuse 5g of herbs or flowers in 95g of Ethanol 95% for about 1 week, and then strain. This will add another subtle dimension of fragrance or colour to your base.

This recipe allows you the flexibility to be creative – you can basically create your own fragrance blend and alcohol/ tincture combination.

Cost & Shelf Life

Cost Price
The cost can vary greatly depending on the essential oils you use and the price of your ethanol. The recipe will be cheapest with standard ethanol and one cheap, perfume-grade essential oil.

For example, using standard ethanol and Windrose lavender oil, the cost of this recipe is R32 per 100g.

Whereas, if you use perfumer’s alcohol and SOil organic lavender essential oil, the cost of this recipe is R108 per 100g.

That’s how much the price shoots up if you use perfumer’s alcohol and just one high-quality, therapeutic-grade, organic essential oil. Even then, it’s still significantly cheaper than buying a retail equivalent.

This is based on the retail prices of ingredients at the time of writing in 2023.

Lasted me about: 2 months until the scent faded and product mostly evaporated.
Shelf life: 1 year if stored in glass, away from direct sunlight, and made with sterilised equipment.


Time to make fragrance blend: This recipe requires you to make the fragrance blend first, instead of just mixing ready-made ingredients. You will need an extra hour while you wait for the fragrance blend.

If you love your fragrance blend, then I suggest making a bigger batch next time which you can store for a quicker process in future.

Cherry on Top

  • Plant-based & vegan recipe (even my ethanol is made from sugar cane).
  • Preservative-free.
  • No aerosols.
  • Simplest method & ingredients.

Ingredient Information

  • Ethanol 95%: is a pure natural alcohol which acts as the solvent, preservative and solubiliser in this recipe. (buy here)
  • Deionised / Distilled water: is a purified, pharmaceutical grade of water that contributes to a longer shelf life of your product. Since pure ethanol evaporates quickly, the water in this recipe delays evaporation for longer lasting fragrance. You can findĀ distilled water at most pharmacies. (buy here)
  • Essential oils: provide the natural fragrance in this recipe. (buy here)
  • Vegetable glycerine: helps to delay the evaporation of the alcohol and fragrance. (buy here)

Recommended Retail Option

If you don’t want to make it yourself, then consider buying Earthsong Diffusers. The reviews are positive and their diffuser base is made with 100% essential oils, which is fantastic, but it definitely reflects in the price tag.


I better just mention a few words of warning for those who are unfamiliar with working with alcohol. High purity alcohols, including natural alcohol like ethanol is toxic when ingested. Most pure alcohols that you buy are also denatured to discourage consumption (i.e. made poisonous to consume). Please avoid this product if you have young children at home who may accidentally ingest it. Do not apply this product to your skin as a body spray or perfume. It has been formulated as a room fragrance, and may irritate / damage your skin if applied topically. Please remember that alcohol is highly flammable! Keep this product away from your kitchen, flames, candles, heaters, electrical outlets etc.

Which essential oils did you use to create your fragrance blend? Let me know in the comments below.


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