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Let’s Make a Room Spray
Now that you have purchased all of those lovely, pricey essential oils for soap and natural body care projects, what else can you do with them? Make a room spray! It is easy, and you probably already have everything you need.
There are some room spray recipes that are just water and essential oils. This is not a proper room spray formulation since the essential oils won’t stay dispersed in water, and more importantly, un-preserved water formulations can quickly grow microbial colonies. We certainly don’t want to spray that into the air (and no, the antiseptic properties of essential oils are not enough to preserve it).
What you will need:
Fine mist spritzer bottle 1,2, or 4 oz recommended
High Proof Vodka or Grain Alcohol (e.g. 151 proof vodka, Everclear)
Essential oils of your choice
1. Determine the size of bottle you have. I like to use a 1 or 2 oz. bottle.
2. Add vodka to the mister bottle at a rate of 1.5 tsp. per ounce of water (so if you have a 2 ounce bottle, use 3 tsp. of alcohol)
3. Add essential oils to the vodka. For a 2% dilution, add about 12 drops per ounce. Swirl to combine and let sit for a few minutes. We want the oils to dissolve into the alcohol before adding water. If you are using thick oils, you may need to wait longer, and some oils may not fully dissolve.
4. Top off the bottle with distilled water and you’re done! Be sure to leave a little headroom so when you put the spritzer top on, it doesn’t overflow.
5. The alcohol content of this formula is high enough that you shouldn’t need to shake before each use, but it doesn’t hurt!
Why the alchohol? Essential oils are soluble in oils, but not soluble in water. They are, however, partially soluble in alcohol. To dissolve an oil, it needs to mix into a substance so completely that is won’t separate out. In this recipe, we dissolve the essential oils first in the alcohol. Once dissolved, then we can dilute with water.
So, the three reasons we use vodka or grain alcohol are:
- Vodka and grain alcohol are both relatively neutral spirits so they don’t add any appreciable scent to the mix.
- The vodka helps to distribute the essential oils in the water.
- The alcohol helps to preserve the room spray. If you use a high proof alcohol as described in this recipe, and use the proper amount, your room spray shouldn’t grow microbes. I don’t recommend keeping this indefinitely however. I like to make small batches that last me 1-2 months.
If you prefer not to use alcohol, you can disperse your essential oils with Polysorbate 20. You would use 94% water, 3% essential oils, and 3% Polysorbate 20. Combine essential oils and polysorbate, and then top off with water. This formulation should have a preservative added (follow the manufacturer’s recommended amount).
Some room spray recipes to try:
FreshCitrus Blend: 3 drops Grapefruit + 2 drops Lemon + 1 drop Litsea Cubeba (May Chang)
Mind Clearing: 4 drops Lemon + 2 drops Rosemary + 3 drops Grapefruit + 2 drops Peppermint
Fall Spice: 4 drops Sweet Orange + 2 drops Allspice + 1 drop Patchouli
Tranquility: 3 drops Lavender + 2 drops Sweet Orange + 1 drop Chamomile
Read More: Diffusing for Odors
Bonus for cold and flu season: Most essential oils have antibacterial and antiseptic properties so you could make a fragrant room spray that helps to clean the air a bit of the nasties. Try Lemon, Lime, Wild Oregano, Cinnamon Leaf, Clove Bud, Tea Tree, or Eucalyptus.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
2 drops Tea Tree + 3 drops Lavender + 3 drops Eucalyptus
4 drops Lemon + 2 drops Oregano
2 drops Cinnamon + 2 drops Clove + 2 drops Sweet Orange
Find more blends: Diffusing for Flu
Always use essential oils that are safe for you and your household (including your pets).
Do not spray this directly on surfaces as the alcohol or the essential oils could cause damage.
This article was first published on a previous blog of mine on October 2, 2013. While my original article was pretty close to a safe formulation, Ginger Moore’s post at http://tisserandinstitute.org/effective-use-alcohol-aromatic-blending/ was very helpful in updating this article. For a more thorough explanation of why alcohol is used in a room spray, why such a high proof, and why so much is needed you really should read it!