a peek inside the fishbowl

13 Dec, 2011

An all-natural air freshener recipe. And it looks pretty too.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Yaktivism

I don’t like scented candles, and I’m not the kind of person who spritzes air fresheners around the house. I can’t help but wonder what chemicals are in them. I worry that they might be damaging in some way.

When we had budgies we were instructed not to use air fresheners or highly-scented cleaning products (not that we were using them anyway) because they contain compounds that could be deadly for our birds. And if that’s true, why would I expose myself and my kids to them? And for what? A house that smells like fake vanilla or apple spice?

Did you know you can create your own natural scents with stuff you probably have lying around the house?

Although we have the world’s largest air freshener in our house right now, a.k.a our freshly cut pine tree, I sometimes like to make a wee holiday blend to simmer on the stove.

Check it out:

Making good holiday smells at home

This batch contains leftover bits of lemon (peel and all), one cut up mandarin, a stick of cinnamon, a bit of pine tree, a slice of pomegranate for colour, and two or three cups of water. You don’t even have to use the freshest fruit. In fact, I often use dry lemons I find in the back of the fruit drawer. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn it down and let it simmer on low for a couple of hours. If the water runs low you can just fill it back up. Pitch the mixture when it starts to look yucky (after a day or so).

Other ways to create great natural smells:

  • Take some oranges and stud them with cloves in pretty patterns (personally I hate the smell of cloves, but some people love it).
  • Bake cookies!
  • Boil water on the stove with some old cut up lemons and a splash of vinegar
  • The next time you vacuum the house, put a few drops of essential oil in the vacuum bag. (I like orange and lemon. See a theme here? Hmm.)
  • The cinnamon ornaments we made the other day are all in the living room. And they still smell great.

Any other ideas you’d like to share? I’m all ears, er, nose. :)

7 Responses to "An all-natural air freshener recipe. And it looks pretty too."

1 | Luciana

December 13th, 2011 at 9:57 am


Simmering water with a drop or two of your favorite pure essential oil (any citrus or lavender) or some crushed ginger; I used to put a drop of these oils on a light bulb. :) Slow roasting spices such as cinnamon or cloves or nutmeg, or herbs such as rosemary or basil.

2 | Alicia

December 13th, 2011 at 11:21 am


I simmer water, vinegar, cinnamon and cloves after I make a stinky meal. Works great!

3 | Maranda

December 13th, 2011 at 11:22 am


My mom used to do this all the time, and I do it sometimes when we’re having company. Adding the bit of pine tree is genius.

I love having a ‘smelly’ house (good smells!) but also don’t use air fresheners for the reason you’ve mentioned. This is a great alternative that is healthier and way less expensive. Those plug-ins and things are very pricey!

4 | Maranda

December 13th, 2011 at 11:22 am


Oh and the oil on the light bulb thing works great too! Growing up we always had ceramic rings that sat on the light bulb that you could drop the oil on… I wonder if they still make those?

5 | Mandy it in Nova Scotia

December 13th, 2011 at 11:47 am


We use mulling spices in a small pot with some water and let it simmer we buy the mulling spice from Epicure it smells just like Christmas to me!

6 | Stacey K

December 13th, 2011 at 12:25 pm


I boil water with an apple (usually whatever comes home in the lunch kit and was destined for the compost anyway) along with some mulling spice. Cleans out fish odour in the kitchen and leaves the whole house smelling lovely. Even without the apple it smells nice.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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