What do air fresheners and malaria have in common? Well, those sickly aerosol room sprays your grandmother loved back in the day are the evolutionary end point of some much less fragrant military hardware. During WWII, with the allies fighting campaigns on a host of mosquito-friendly fronts, and Japanese forces having occupied quinine plantations in the South Pacific, the US Military needed a portable dispersal device for its new insecticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). Like many a modern invention, the spray can is a war child.
But what a dangerous, unruly child it was. DDT was subsequently found to be a highly toxic endocrine disruptor that has devastating effects on wildlife (except mosquitoes, who with characteristic deviousness developed DDT resistance). Meanwhile, scientists discovered that the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) used as propellants in aerosol cans were causing a degradation in the ozone layer (remember when the ozone layer was the biggest of our worries? Those were the days!). CFC sprays were eventually phased out, but many of the commercial air fresheners on the market today still contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as acetone, ethanol, d-limonene, pinene, and acetate, which are also known to be extremely harmful to the environment.
It’s a curious irony that human beings ever felt the need to make the natural air in their living space more ‘fresh’ by filling it with chemicals, instead of using the tools of aromatherapy. Before 1948, all the way back to pre-history, rooms were perfumed with – you guessed it – natural essential oils. If it ain’t broke…
It’s fun and easy to make your own room sprays, and an opportunity to get really creative with your recipe combinations. You’ll need:
· An 8oz recyclable spray bottle
· Your choice of essential oils
· Distilled water
· A clean, unflavored and unscented alcohol, such as vodka; OR witch hazel
The alcohol / witch hazel will help the essential oils and water mix together in an even spray; use distilled water unless you want to disperse tap water minerals all over your room. A 3:1 ratio of water to alcohol / witch hazel works perfectly – add the alcohol to the bottle first, then your drops of essential oil. Let the oil dissolve in the alcohol for a moment, add the water, shake - and you’re ready to liven up any room with the natural, DDT / CFC / VOC-free perfume of essential oils. Not one evil acronym in sight!
Need some ideas to get started? Even your grandma will love these. The mozzies won’t – we’ve also included our favorite insect repellent recipe. Ready, steady… spray!
How about a versatile, room-refreshing, herby blend of Juniper, Basil and Peppermint essential oils for starters?
· 10 drops Juniper essential oil
· 7 drops Basil essential oil
· 3 drops Peppermint essential oil
Who doesn’t love a fruity kitchen? This citrusy blend of Lemon, Sweet Orange, Bergamot, and Lime essential oils will make your cooking area orchard-fresh.
· 7 drops Lemon essential oil
· 5 drops Sweet Orange essential oil
· 5 drops Lime essential oil
· 3 drops Bergamot essential oil
Bathrooms should never smell like… bathrooms. Give yours the scent of spring instead with this crisp, clean blend of Lemongrass, Peppermint and Eucalyptus essential oils.
· 8 drops Lemongrass essential oil
· 6 drops Peppermint essential oil
· 4 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
There’s nothing better than looking forward to hitting that pillow after a long day, especially when your bedroom smells this good. This warm, relaxing blend of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Marjoram essential oils will reward you with a deserved, restful sleep.
· 8 drops Lavender essential oil
· 6 drops Marjoram essential oil
· 6 drops Roman Chamomile essential oil
Aromas create certain moods, and certain moods lead to… well, you know. This is a complex, sensual blend for delicious nights (or days!) in everybody’s favorite room.
· 2 drops Anise essential oil
· 3 drops Rosewood essential oil
· 3 drops Geranium essential oil
· 3 drops Clary Sage essential oil
· 3 drops Jasmine essential oil
· 2 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
· 2 drops Vetiver essential oil
· 2 drops Sandalwood essential oil
Essential oils can help you focus, and make those long hours at the books more productive. Spray your study with this fog-clearing blend of Rosemary, Bitter Orange, Ylang Ylang, and Eucalyptus essential oils.
· 5 drops Bitter Orange essential oil
· 5 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
· 5 drops Rosemary essential oil
· 5 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil
Make sure your guests are hungry when they sit down for your new culinary masterpiece. This tasty blend of Ginger, Oregano and Tangerine essential oilsis perfect for the dining room.
· 8 drops Oregano essential oil
· 6 drops Tangerine essential oil
· 4 drops Ginger essential oil
Oh no! Muddy wellies and wet dog are not the odors you really want lingering in your hallway. Deodorize your home’s threshold with this blend of Tea Tree, Lime and Fir essential oils.
· 7 drops Lime essential oil
· 7 drops Fir essential oil
· 6 drops Tea Tree essential oil
Your party room doesn’t have to smell of booze and peanuts all night. Give it a refreshing spritz with this joyful blend of Honeysuckle, Grapefruit, Vanilla and Palmarosa essential oils.
· 6 drops Honeysuckle essential oil
· 5 drops Palmarosa essential oil
· 5 drops Grapefruit essential oil
· 4 drops Vanilla essential oil
You may have beaten DDT, mosquitoes, but you won’t be messing with this bug-scaring blend of Eucalyptus, Citronella and Peppermint essential oils.
· 8 drops Citronella essential oil
· 6 drops Eucalyptus essential oil
· 6 drops Peppermint essential oil
Would you like to know more about how aromatherapy makes a big contribution to protecting the natural environment? You can listen to one of our podcast episodes about plant conservation here.