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The Best Carrier Oil for Reed Diffusers: A Complete Guide

Essential oils have had a long history in home fragrancing. In ancient cultures, such as in the ancient Egyptian civilization, home fragrances derived from the essential oils of jasmine and lavender were symbols of luxury. With time, the use of fragrances became more practical and commonplace, with aromatic oils being used to mask foul odors.

In the modern day, there are several options to make your home smell great, from candles and sprays to several types of diffusers, such as electric and reed. These come in a wide selection of fragrances to choose from, offering endless options to perfume your home with.

Among the many kinds of home fragrances available, reed diffusers have recently gained traction for their incredible convenience and cost-effectiveness. Reed diffusers are incredibly easy to assemble, consisting only of three components: the reed sticks, a base oil, and a vessel to place the reeds in. 

If you’re starting out with using reed diffusers, this guide has all the information you need to have your house smelling good all the time with minimal effort.

How Do Reed Diffusers Work?

essential oil diffuser on silver tray with pink flowers

Reed diffusers consist of reed sticks, a base oil, and a container vessel. All three components are customizable, allowing for a high degree of control over the scent. Many types of diffuser bases are readily available, from ready-to-use scented ones to unscented ones that you can add your own essential oils to. If you want to create a base oil using your own essential oils, you can use an unscented base oil and add your chosen mix of essential oils to it. 

Reed diffusers work by capillary action: the base oil soaks into reed sticks, traveling up the sticks and then dispersing into the environment. The amount of oil dispersed into the environment can be controlled by the number of reed sticks you use and how you position them 

Benefits of Using Reed Diffusers

Reed diffusers are a purchase you simply cannot go wrong with because of their versatility and convenience. They are perfect for individuals with a busy lifestyle, parents of small children, and pet owners as they are low-maintenance yet make a big impact on the home environment.

Reed diffusers are generally safe for households with small children and pets as they don't use a heat source or electrical outlet. This minimizes the risk of any burn-related injury or electrical hazard, allowing parents the convenience of placing reed diffusers around the house as they like. 

Additionally, this also means that reed diffusers don’t have to be constantly attended to and kept an eye on, as they are not a fire hazard if left unwatched. In this regard, reed diffusers are a safer option than candles for home fragrancing. Reed diffusers can also be used to add fragrance to spaces that don't allow open flames, such as college dorms, offices, and shared living spaces. 

A benefit that is often overlooked when deciding between options for scenting is that reed diffusers require virtually no upkeep and are light on the pocket. Depending on the amount of base oil used and the size of your reed sticks, your reed diffuser may last for months without needing a refill. 

An aspect that greatly adds to the appeal of reed diffusers is that they can double as decorative pieces. You can use a container vessel for the reeds as elaborate as you would like, or as minimal to suit the aesthetic of your room. 

How Do I Set Up My Own Reed Diffuser?

As diffusers allow for a great deal of personalization, it can be difficult to decide how to assemble them. You may have several questions, such as which base oil to buy and which reed sticks are suitable for your use. Depending on your lifestyle and use, picking out the wrong base oil or reed stick may compromise your experience. 

The following sections expand on how to put together your reed diffuser by helping you tailor components to your liking and requirements. 

Selecting the Right Vessel

You will first need a vessel or container to place your base oil and reed sticks in. You can choose to match the aesthetic of the vessel to your home environment; for instance, if you prefer a minimal interior design style, you can opt for clear glass containers or wooden containers. You may also repurpose old tins or mason jars to place your oil and reed sticks in.

Apart from aesthetics, there are several other factors to keep in mind when selecting your container:

  • Porosity. Containers that are made of a porous material, such as unglazed clay or untreated wood, may absorb all the oil and alter the fragrance
  • Container Size. The size of your container should correspond with the size of the room you want to scent. For larger rooms, you will need a larger vessel, or else the oil will need to be replaced often
  • Container Opening Size. Ensure that the neck of your container is wide enough to accommodate reed sticks without crowding. If the reed sticks are too close together, it can interfere with dispersion 
  • Container Stability. Check that your oil container is stable and is not at risk of tipping over

  • Types of Reed Diffusers

    Another part of your reed diffuser equation is selecting the right type of diffuser stick. Diffuser sticks vary in the material they are made of and their size. Longer and thicker reed sticks absorb more oil, and hence disperse more oil into the air. They are ideal for larger rooms where you need to make sure that a sufficient amount of oil is dispersed to scent the room. Shorter reed sticks with a width of less than 3mm are more suited for small rooms. 

    The material of the reed diffusers also affects the absorption and dispersion of the base oil. The most popular types of reed sticks are discussed ahead.

    Rattan Reed Diffusers

    Rattan reed sticks are made of a renewable rattan plant native to Indonesia. These sticks are very commonly used for reed diffusers as they contain small channels or passages that allow the oil to travel up easily. Rattan reeds can last between a month to half a year, depending on the size of the sticks and the room.

    An advantage of rattan sticks is that they don’t clog up too easily as they don't contain any blockages. This means that they last longer than other types of reed sticks. 

    When using rattan reed sticks for the first time, leave them to soak up the base for the first hour. Make sure to flip the reeds so that both ends are coated in the oil. Rattan sticks can be used with any kind of scent, ranging from citrus scents to ones with woody undertones. 

    Bamboo Reed Diffusers

    A widely used option is bamboo reed diffuser sticks, also known as bamboo skewers. Bamboo reed sticks are readily available and are a reliable budget option. However, they are not as favored as rattan diffuser sticks as they need to be replaced quicker. This is because the channels in bamboo skewers contain nodes that can trap oil and cause the stick to become easily saturated and clogged. 

    It is advisable to use bamboo skewers with thin, low-viscosity oils to prevent quick saturation. Overall, bamboo reed sticks are eco-friendly and affordable, and you probably already have them in your pantry!

    Fibre Reed Diffuser

    Fibre reed sticks are made of polyamides, usually mixed with cotton. These ensure an even distribution of oil throughout the reed channel and are hence the most efficient out of all the reed options. Since fibre sticks are not naturally occurring, their manufacturing process is costly, leading to a higher price tag. 

    A challenge associated with fibre reeds is that they need to be replaced often as they absorb base oil quite well. On the flip side, this makes them ideal for when you want to quickly scent your room before guests arrive or as part of event preparation. 

    Fibre reed sticks can also add decorative value to your surroundings as they are sleek and come in several color options. Match them to your decor to enhance your ambiance further. 

    Best Reed Diffuser Carrier Oils

    The carrier oil you use in your reed diffuser can significantly affect your aromatherapy experience. It is important to note that the base oil should be thin in consistency and liquid at room temperature. This affects the oil’s ability to travel up the reed stick, increasing the chances of saturation.

    Base oils come in several color and scent options. A heavily scented oil may alter the fragrance profile of the essential oils you combine with the base. You can also use this to your advantage by choosing a scented base oil that complements the notes in your chosen essential oils. 

    Some carrier oils are particularly well-suited to be used as base oils as a result of their neutral scent profile and moderate viscosity. 

    Sweet Almond Oil 

    Sweet almond oil is perhaps the most widely available and budget-friendly base oil option. It is derived from cold-pressing sweet almonds and has a mild, nutty scent. The oil appears a pale yellow to brown in color, ideal for natural and minimalist decor aesthetics.

    The oil has a thin consistency, allowing for efficient wicking and dispersion in the environment. However, sweet almond oil is quicker to spoil when compared to other base oils. To slow the spoilage of almond oil, use a vessel with a small opening to minimize oxidation. 

    Fractionated Coconut Oil

    Another neutral-scented, easily accessible base oil is fractionated coconut oil. This is a little different from the coconut oil we usually have in our pantries. You’ll have noticed that regular coconut oil solidifies at room temperature, making it unsuitable as a base oil. 

    Fractionated coconut oil is distilled to remove the long-chain fatty acids, leaving behind medium-chain fatty acids that help it stay liquid even at colder temperatures. Beyond its functional advantages, fractionated coconut oil has a clear appearance, making it a versatile addition to any room decor. 

    Grapeseed Oil

    Grapeseed oil is extracted from leftover grape seeds, a byproduct in the wine-making process. The oil has a mildly fruity scent, allowing it to complement many essential oil fragrance profiles In terms of color, grapeseed oil is a pale green to yellow, harmonizing with spring and summertime aesthetics. 

    In comparison with other oils on the list, grapeseed oil has a thicker viscosity, making it last longer. This means that you will have to replace it less often than other base oils. 

    Safflower Oil

    Safflower oil is derived from a plant related to sunflowers. The oil has a thin consistency and has a clear appearance. It has a bland aromatic profile, making it a good base not for do-it-yourself reed diffuser blends. In addition to these characteristics, safflower oil also absorbs well into the reed stick, allowing it to disperse scent efficiently into the environment. 

    Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Reed Diffusers

    If you are just beginning your journey with reed diffusers, here are answers to some common queries you might encounter regarding their maintenance and use.

    How Do I Make My Reed Diffuser Last Longer?

    You can reduce maintenance effort significantly if you take the following steps to increase how long your base oil lasts:

    • Do not flip the reeds too often
    • Add a fewer number of reed sticks
    • Use rattan reeds

    Adhering to these steps will reduce the rate at which your base oil is absorbed into the reed sticks, slowing dispersion. 

    How Do I Make My Reed Diffuser Smell Stronger?

    You can control the intensity of the scent dispersed by your reed diffuser using the laws of physics to your advantage. Firstly, you can place your reed diffuser near the entryway of the room. As people move in and out of the room, it will propel the scent into the rest of the space quickly. 

    Another option is to control scent intensity by varying the number of reed sticks. The more reed sticks present to absorb oil from the vessel, the more intensified the scent would be. The simplest way to refresh your diffuser’s scent is to flip your reed sticks. 

    How Often Should I Flip the Reed Sticks?

    Flipping the reed sticks refreshes the scent in the room. When you feel that the reed diffuser is not diffusing scent adequately, flip the reed sticks. The base oil should travel up the end of the dry reed stick, leading to quicker absorption and diffusion. A good time frame to flip the reed sticks is after every 15 days or so.

    Can I Use Water as a Base in My Reed Diffuser?

    While not recommended, water can be used as a substitute for base oil when in a pinch. The downside of using water as a base is that it requires a higher amount of essential oil to achieve sufficient fragrance. For about a quarter cup of water, you will require about 30 drops of essential oil. In addition, water travels up the reed sticks slower than oils, making for slow scent dispersion. Hence, when using water as a base, add a larger number of reed sticks to the container. 

    Can I Use Reed Diffusers Around Pets and Children?

    Reed diffusers present a relatively low risk if you have pets and children around the house. The diffusers have no open flame or smoke, making them safe to leave unattended. However, reed diffusers should be kept out of reach of children and pets as the reed sticks may be a choking hazard. 

    Additionally, it is important to note that certain essential oils, such as tea tree and eucalyptus, are toxic to pets. Hence, if you have pets in your living space, you will need to carefully select which essential oils to add to your reed diffuser. 

    Maintaining Your Reed Diffuser

    Caring for your reed diffusers is essential to ensuring a consistent scent experience. If not properly maintained, reed diffusers can become clogged and saturated, deteriorating their capacity. 

    Firstly, make sure that you place your container in a well-ventilated room, in a shady spot. Placing your diffuser in direct sunlight can break down the essential oils quicker, making them lose their potency. 

    Next, you’ll have to take steps to ensure that the scent stays fresh. This can be achieved by periodically flipping the reed sticks. Depending on how long you have had your reed sticks, you may also trim the ends of your reed sticks to get rid of the clogged portion. 

    When not in use, make sure that you tightly seal the reed diffuser vessel to avoid oxidation and breakdown of the fragrance oil. 

    Enjoying the Best Carrier Oil for Reed Diffusers

    woman's hand putting reeds in essential oil diffuser on table with oil supplies

    Reed diffusers are a reliable, easy-to-assemble home fragrancing method that you can customize to match your home decor and ambiance. You can get creative and use different base oils for different occasions, such as elegant woody fragrances for a fancy dinner, and bright, fruity ones for an afternoon tea party. 

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