There are many ways to use essential oils in your home for a natural way to freshen up your home and improve your mood. Aromatherapy is the use of aromatic essential oils derived from plants to enhance your well-being or psychological health. Below we'll cover some simple ways to get started.
What is an essential oil?
Essential oils are derived directly from plant matter. They are either cold-pressed (mostly citrus), or steam distilled from the plant matter. Their synthetic counterpart, fragrance oils, are made in a lab with chemicals. Fragrance oils are generally sold as a proprietary blend of chemicals, only the producers actually know what is in them. These methods we describe below are intended for use with essential oils, not fragrance oils.
Essential Oil Diffuser
Why worry about all of the phthalates or whatever other chemicals are in fragrance oils? Essential oils can effectively freshen up your home, and smell great at the same time. They can also have some therapeutic value. We like to use a diffuser with our essential oils on a regular basis.
An essential oil diffuser uses ultrasonic vibrations to emit a cool mist that also carries the scent of the essential oils throughout the air. You simply add in a cup of water or so (they generally come with a measuring cup) and add in a drop or two of essential oils. They will run for a few hours and automatically shut off when they get low. Ours does light up like the one above, which makes for a gentle night light. The color can be set to change automatically, or even to off if that is your preference. There is a wide variety of options available, we recommend picking one that fits your style. We find that a diffuser like the one above can easily scent a room, but will probably not freshen up the entire house. This depends on the size of your home and its air flow. It is probably best to think of a diffuser as appropriate for a single room if you haven't tried one out for yourself yet. Your mileage may vary, and we often move ours around as needed.
Diffusers aren't that expensive. You can pick a good one up for less than $30, but you really don't even need one. You could simply add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil on a cotton ball and place these around your home as needed. This will not scent your whole home, or even a room, but may be effective in a smaller area like a cabinet, or next to your night stand or favorite chair where you spend a lot of time. Using a cotton ball with some peppermint essential oil is said to repel spiders as well as mice. Along the same lines, you could add a drop or two of essential oils to a clothes pin and then you can clip that where you would like the scent to be released. Placing a few drops in the furnace filter will send the scent around your entire home each time the fan clicks on. A bowl of uncooked rice would also be something that is commonly available, and a cheap alternative to absorb, and eventually release the essential oil scent.
You could also put a few drops of essential oils in a small spray bottle with some water. The essential oils will float to the top of the water, but as long as you give the bottle a good shake before you spray it, this would also be an effective way to use essential oils in your home.
You can also use a tart warmer, just add some water to it, and put 1 drop of essential oil in that. Many essential oils have a low flash point. The flash point is the temperature when a substance will give off vapor that can be ignited. Its possible that using an essential oil in the tart warmer directly could allow the essential oil to release a stream of vapor that is flammable. The water drops the temperature the essential oils experience, and helps to spread the scent of the oil through the air.
Essential oils are excellent at cleaning. They are all generally strong solvents, and will dissolve most oils. Orange oil in particular is well know for its grease cutting ability. Not only are they good at cutting grease, but many of them also have disinfecting properties to help disinfect your home. You could make a simple cleaning solution by adding a few drops of essential oil to a watered down liquid castile soap.
When vacuuming your carpet, you could mix some baking soda and a few drops of essential oil in a bowl. Stir well, and then sprinkle on the carpet before you vacuum.
Wool dryer balls can be used as an all-natural alternative to dryer sheets. The wool balls bounce around in your dryer and help to lift and separate the wet clothes to increase circulation of hot air. You could also add a few drops of essential oil to the ball before starting the dryer to add some scent to your clothes while they are drying.