Aromatherapy sticks, also known by the less pugnacious term ‘reed diffusers’, are in essence a simple, effective way to bring the aroma of essential oils into your home without the need for expensive equipment. Cheap, safe, and fully customizable, reed diffusers are fun to make, easy to use, and a guaranteed conversation-starting centerpiece to any living space!
The invention of the reed diffuser 30 years ago is credited to the perfumer Alessandro Agrati, who added reeds to a bottle of fragrance while experimenting with ways to increase the longevity of aromas in different living spaces. But the happy marriage of wood and aroma has lasted since at least the third century BC, when various ancient cultures burned incense (usually outdoors) in prayer rights, rituals, and meditation. Incense sticks, or ‘joss’ sticks, enjoyed their western heyday in the 60s and 70s, as part of a yoga-fueled counterculture with an appetite for eastern ‘exotica’; as funky and ‘right-on’ as they were, these sticks also filled the indoor air with pungent, eye-watering smoke!
Thankfully, the reed diffuser is a smokeless delight. All you need is a glass bottle or mason jar with a cork stopper, a quarter cup of thin, odorless carrier oil, such as safflower or almond, a few drops of pure alcohol (this will help the oils combine and travel up the reed), half a dozen rattan reed sticks (these porous reeds are the best for diffusion) and 25 drops of essential oil. If you’d rather use distilled water instead of the carrier oil, you’ll need to replace the liquid more regularly, but you can also use bamboo sticks instead of rattan, as the density of bamboo absorbs water more readily.
Simply drill a centimeter-wide hole in the cork stopper, fill the jar with the carrier oil, alcohol and essential oils, replace the stopper, and place your reeds through the hole into the jar, so that half the sticks sit in the jar, and the other half are fanned out above the stopper.
You’ll need to swirl the oil and flip the sticks every dew days until the sticks are fully saturated and need replacing. Reed diffusers are perfect for smaller living spaces as they gently and slowly diffuse aromas into the room without overpowering the air. And they make fantastic gifts – you can customize your bespoke reed diffuser to your loved one’s taste and needs!
Stuck for inspiration? Not to worry –we’ve started you off with ten of our favorite aromatherapy blend recipes below. Now pick up them sticks!
This light blend of Lavender, Basil, Lemon and Peppermint essential oil refreshing top notes will fill the air with the zing of spring.
This earthy essential oils blend of Sandalwood and Frankincense, with the added aromatic edge of Ravensara, will bring the countryside to your living room.
This soothing blend of fragrant Lavender and sweet Cardamom essential oils will transform your bedroom into an oasis of restful slumber.
This blues-busting blend of Melissa and Patchouli essential oils will bring the sunshine into your home’s darkest corners.
Banish your exhaustion with this uplifting blend of Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Orange and Bergamot essential oils.
The woody, mountain-fresh essential oils of Birch, Wintergreen and Frankincense will transport you to an alpine wonderland.
An airy, balanced blend of citrus and floral essential oils can center us in nature and mollify the spirit.
Need a citrusy tang in the air to keep that home office productive? Keep this blend of crisp, fruity essential oils close to your desk.
Noticed any mosquitoes yet? As much as we love the aromas of Citronella and Cardomom, they are fragrant kryptonite to our flying, blood-sucking summer nemeses.
We’re all due a joyful summer after everything we’ve just been through! Start your vacation early with this delicately floral, herby essential oils recipe.
Need a more intense diffusion of your essential oils? You can learn all about the different kinds of diffusers here.