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Home Fragrance Guide: How to Use Essential Oils to Scent a Room

As the homecare market continues to thrive, a new trend is emerging in the space of odor care solutions. Reaping the benefits of scented candles, air humidifiers, and air purifiers in a single product, essential oils are the perfect option to scent a room.

Essential oils offer a range of scents and therapeutic properties that homeowners can choose from, allowing them to create a customized experience. These oils can be used in a multitude of ways, ranging from sophisticated nebulizing diffusers to simple reed diffusers.

With so many essential oils and essential oil diffusers available, it might be difficult to determine where to start. This article will guide you through the best scents to use for each room and the different methods you can use to diffuse them. 

What Is Aromatherapy?

diffuser and essential oils by bed

Aromatherapy, also known as essential oil therapy, is a form of complementary or alternative therapy that uses essential oils for health benefits. Aromatherapy is not meant to replace clinical or medical treatment, but rather assist in relieving physiological and psychological symptoms.

Aromatherapy can be used in two main ways: inhalation and topical application. When essential oils are inhaled, the molecules travel through the olfactory system to the brain and affect regions involved with emotion and memory. As a result, inhaling essential oils can influence conditions such as stress, anxiety, and insomnia. Essential oil therapy can also be used topically. Essential oils are absorbed through the skin and are proven to potentially help with physiological conditions, such as inflammation and pain. 

However, aromatherapy cannot be used orally as essential oils are not meant for consumption. 

Essential Oils vs. Fragrance Oils

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) defines essential oils as plant oils that give off “strong pleasant aromas.” Essential oils are taken from various parts of the plant, such as roots, flowers, bark, seeds, and even fruit rinds. They are highly concentrated plant extracts derived from steam distillation and cold pressing. Essential oils are recommended to be used for aromatherapy as they contain the medicinal and biological properties of plant components. 

Fragrance oils, on the other hand, are a man-made blend of aromatic chemical compounds. They are commonly used in homecare products, such as air fresheners. There are two main types of fragrance oils, namely synthetic fragrance oils and natural fragrance oils. Synthetic fragrance oils are made in labs using artificial compounds, or compounds that don’t exist in nature. On the other hand, natural fragrance oils are still made in a lab, but their scent is derived from plant compounds. 

You’ll see many fragrance oils having plant extracts listed as an ingredient; however, this does not qualify them to be used in aromatherapy. This is because both types of fragrance oils contain synthetic components. Synthetic components have no medicinal properties and thus do not yield any health benefits. Additionally, synthetic components may contain irritants or allergens. 

That said, both essential oils and fragrance oils may trigger allergies, as both contain chemical compounds. The difference is that essential oils contain compounds beneficial for health, and fragrance oils do not. 

Choosing the Best Scent for Every Room in your House

Using essential oils for scent is a great way to influence your home environment. However, selecting the right essential oil to use as a scent is really important, as scents directly influence the limbic system. In addition, the wide variety of essential oils available also makes it challenging to pick out the right option. 

The following sections break down the scents that are best for each room in your house and which essential oils to get.

Bedroom

Bedrooms are spaces in one’s house intended for winding down and relaxing at the end of the day. Bedrooms are meant to create an environment of comfort and warmth, allowing the individual to free themselves of any stresses or worry and to seek rest. 

Lavender essential oil and vanilla oleoresin essential oil are good options to use in bedrooms. Both oils have anecdotal, as well as scientific, support for having a relaxing effect and promoting restful sleep. In vanilla oleoresin essential oil, the compound vanillin also has an anxiolytic effect, a characteristic that can help in reducing stress and inducing sleep. 

Living Room

Living rooms are versatile shared spaces in a home, utilized to foster social interactions, relaxation, and entertainment. They should be designed to provide an inviting and comfortable environment where family members, friends, and guests can gather and unwind. 

Some beneficial essential oils to use in the living room include any type of cedarwood essential oil or bergamot essential oil. Cedarwood essential oil has a woody, slightly smoky, and balsamic scent that is known to possibly reduce blood pressure. Bergamot essential oil has a complex aroma that is citrusy with a hint of spice. It is also known to potentially promote relaxation by reducing heart rate and blood pressure. 

Kitchen

Kitchens are the heart of a home, bustling with activity and culinary creativity. They are functional spaces, and their environment is characterized by a balance of functionality and aesthetics. Scents in a kitchen should inspire creativity and be sharp enough to neutralize cooking smells. 

For the kitchen, citrus essential oils, such as tangerine or lemon, are excellent selections. Citrus essential oils have a stimulating effect on mood and emotions, making them a great pick-me-up while one toils away in the kitchen. Citrus oils also freshen up the atmosphere and cut through kitchen smells.

Workspace

After COVID-19 and the rise in remote work, home offices have become quite common. Home workspaces are dedicated areas designed to promote productivity, focus, and inspiration. The environment is designed to minimize distractions and provide a comfortable, organized environment.

A study conducted on the best essential oils for alertness indicated that peppermint, ylang-ylang, and jasmine may have significant psychological effects. Results showed that when inhaled, the oils improved cognitive indicators, such as motor and reaction times. 

Bathroom 

Bathrooms are personal spaces, providing an environment for relaxation, rejuvenation, and self-care. The ideal bathroom environment evokes a sense of tranquility and cleanliness, providing a retreat from the outside world. 

Essential oils to use in the bathroom should have a strong aromatic scent to add freshness to the environment. Eucalyptus essential oil is a fantastic pick as it has a strong yet soothing camphoraceous scent with hints of mint and wood. The essential oil also has antibacterial properties, making it great for use in bathrooms.

Creating Custom Blends for Room Fragrances

Essential oil blends offer the therapeutic benefits of multiple essential oils while providing a customized scent. Additionally, they are a convenient option when you can’t pick out a single essential oil to use.

To prepare a custom blend for yourself, pick separate essential oils for a base note, middle note, and top note. Base notes are fixative notes that last a long while, such as cedarwood and patchouli. To a vial, add 1 to 3 drops of the oil you choose for your base note. 

Then, choose an essential oil for the middle note; essential oils such as rosewood or tea tree are common options. The middle note will make up the bulk of your blend, being around 4-5 drops. 

Finally, add 1 to 2 drops of your chosen essential oil for the top note, something that evaporates quickly, such as lavender or lemongrass. The top note is the first impression of the blend and lasts only a few minutes. 

Start with a small batch, using only ten drops in total. If you enjoy the scent and feel like using more, you can create a larger batch using the same proportions as before. 

If making your custom blend seems cumbersome, you can browse our range of essential oil blends, formulated to reap the therapeutic benefits of multiple essential oils while ensuring a balanced scent. 

Different Methods of Using Essential Oils to Scent a Room

Once you’ve selected an essential oil to scent your room, the next step is to decide how you want to diffuse the scent into the room. There are many tools you can use to diffuse the scents, ranging from high-tech devices to DIY diffusers made from everyday items. The sections ahead explain the types of diffusers you can use and how to use them. 

Using Non-Electric Essential Oil Diffusers 

Non-electric essential oil diffusers spread essential oil molecules without needing to be plugged in. They’re great for use in spaces where using power sockets is inconvenient, such as in bathrooms. A drawback of non-electric diffusers is that it is difficult to control how much scent is diffused in the room. 

Non-electric essential oil diffusers include candle diffusers, sandstone diffusers, and reed diffusers.

Candle Diffusers

Candle diffusers are made of metal or ceramic, and work by heating essential oil molecules. The molecules heat up by the candle flame and diffuse into the air. Candle diffusers can be simple functional pieces or elaborate decorative diffusers. 

Pottery Diffusers

Clay pot diffusers are made of sandstone or terracotta. A small quantity of essential oil is added to the pot, which then permeates through the pot walls and diffuses into the room. The scent of the essential loses intensity as time goes by, making it difficult to maintain a uniform scent in the room. 

Reed Diffusers 

Reed diffusers are very common and are quite easy to find. They are long sticks of porous wood that evaporate essential oils into the room. The wooden sticks are soaked in essential oil and stored in glass containers. The warmer the room, the faster the reed diffuser will evaporate the oil. 

Using Electric Essential Oil Diffusers 

As indicated by the name, electric essential oil diffusers are powered by electricity to diffuse essential oils. They are great for prolonged use as they allow control of the intensity of the scent. Electric essential oil diffusers come by many names and are produced by several brands. An easy way to differentiate between them is by their mechanism of diffusion. There are three main mechanisms that electric diffusers use: nebulization, evaporation, and ultrasonic diffusion.

Nebulizing Diffusers 

Nebulizing diffusers work in the same way that aerosol spray cans do: they use high pressure to convert liquids into tiny droplets. These tiny, microscopic droplets are dispersed into the air and diffuse around the room. Nebulizing diffusers don’t need water or carrier oils to propel the essential oil droplets. As a result, the scent is concentrated.

Evaporative Diffusers

Evaporative diffusers use a heating coil to warm up the essential oil and evaporate it in the room. The evaporated essential oil molecules disperse evenly around the room as the temperature can be controlled by a thermostat. These diffusers are convenient to use while sleeping, as many models come equipped with a timer, allowing users control over how long and how intense they want the scent in their room to be. 

Ultrasonic Diffusers

Ultrasonic diffusers use sound waves to diffuse essential oils into the air. They have a plate at the bottom which vibrates to create high-frequency vibrations, breaking down essential oils into microscopic particles. Ultrasonic diffusers come with a water tank which has to be replaced once the water evaporates.

The essential oil is added to the diffuser’s water tank, its amount depending on the volume of water in the tank and how intense you want the scent to be. Depending on your preference, you can use around 15-25 drops of essential oil for a 500ml diffuser. Since ultrasonic diffusers dilute essential oils with water, they won’t deplete your essential oil stores quickly and are ideal for prolonged daily use.

In addition, ultrasonic diffusers double as humidifiers, adding moisture to the air while creating a soothing atmosphere. They also don’t use heat when converting essential oils from liquid to gaseous states, helping the essential oils preserve their therapeutic properties. 

Using DIY Essential Oil Diffusers

There’s no limit to the different ways you can make your essential oil diffuser using materials easily found at home. DIY diffusers make a fun project and are an inexpensive option to scent your room. Homemade diffusers can be based on two main mechanisms of diffusion – heat or evaporation.

To DIY a heat-based essential oil diffuser, you’ll need an unscented candle placed in a candle holder and your favorite essential oil. Place a few drops of the essential oil on the candle wax and light up your candle. As the candle wick burns, it will heat your essential oil and diffuse the scent into your room. 

Another heat-based DIY diffuser is the mug diffuser method. Fill up a mug with water and put a few drops of essential oil in it. Place the mug on a candle warmer or mug warmer, and your diffuser is ready. The water-essential oil solution will heat up and scent the room as it evaporates. 

Evaporative DIY diffusers are even simpler than heat-based diffusers. All you need is an absorbent or porous material, such as cotton, terracotta, or bamboo. Soak the material in an essential oil and place it in your room. The essential oil will slowly evaporate, diffusing molecules into the room and spreading the scent. A drawback of evaporative diffusers is that they can take hours to fully disperse scent into a room. 

Using a Home Fragrance System

Home fragrance systems, also known as HVAC scent machines, are machines that use cold air diffusion to disperse essential oils throughout the house. It uses a central system to move air indoors, ensuring that every room in the house gets a consistent supply of essential oil scent. HVAC systems are great for larger homes or for commercial use in hotels and restaurants. 

The Don’ts of Using Essential Oils to Scent a Room

Scenting a room using essential oils is straightforward enough, no matter what method you use for diffusion. There are, however, a few don’ts you should keep in mind when using essential oils:

  • Don’t keep essential oils in reach of pets or small children
  • Don’t diffuse essential oils in the presence of pets without checking for toxicity
  • Don’t diffuse essential oils in the presence of pregnant women
  • Don’t use too much essential oil in your diffuser
  • Don’t use essential oil diffusers through the night

Concluding Thoughts on Using Essential Oils to Scent a Room

diffuser with essentials oils and hands

Scenting your room using essential oils can be an effective way to create an inviting ambiance and enjoy the therapeutic effects of essential oils while you go about your day. However, it can be challenging to choose a method of diffusion that is ideal for you. When selecting the best method for scenting your room, it's important to consider your specific needs and preferences. 

Electric diffusers offer convenience and ease of use, allowing you to enjoy a continuous and consistent scent. They are suitable for larger rooms and provide options to set a timer or change the intensity of dispersion.

Non-electric options, such as reed diffusers and pottery diffusers, offer a more subtle release of fragrance. These can be ideal for smaller rooms or areas where a gentle and consistent scent is desired. 

For a comprehensive scenting solution, home fragrance systems are a great option. These systems utilize advanced technology to disperse essential oils throughout your home, offering a consistent fragrance across multiple rooms.

By taking into account the characteristics of each room, the desired scent profile, and the available options for diffusion, you can choose the best method for scenting your room with essential oils. 

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