Sunday, September 7, 2014

Review/How-To: Homegrown Collective DIY Air Fresheners

I unboxed the August Homegrown Collective GREENBOX for you all a month ago, and I have so enjoyed working with this over the last few weeks! The August theme was DIY Summer Essential Home Detox, and the box was full of ways to freshen the air in your home.

I really enjoy projects like this, and Homegrown Collective provides the instructions and equipment to make everything quick and easy.  If the August box is any indicator, so much of it is reusable that the $39 a month subscription fee is very cost effective - you'll learn new skills and have the items necessary to repeat the methods with just a couple small purchases to cover whatever you won't still have on hand.

Homegrown Collective included four vials of essential oils - cinnamon, cedarwood, sweet mandarin and lemongrass, and each of them will go a long way well after every project in the box has been done a few times.

I don't want to go on at length today about each of these oils, but here is a brief and incomplete summary of the benefits of using them as a way to scent the air:

Sweet Mandarin is a bright citrus essential oil that is uplifting and cheerful, and also safe for most children's rooms.  It is relaxing and promotes restful sleep.  At home both in the summer and the winter, it can be useful for those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Cedarwood is a woodsy scent that is antibacterial and antifungal, among other things.  It repels mosquitoes and moths (which is why cedar is used to line cedar chests).  In aromatherapy, it relaxes and reduces anxiety and promotes the body's production of melantonin, so it promotes deep, restful sleep. This is a wonderful essential oil to use in the bedroom!

Lemongrass is a grassy essential oil that smells like citrus.  There is a long tradition of using Lemongrass to purify the air, including its use in a diffuser in a room where there has been airborne illness.  It aids those experience mental fatique and some use it to help clearing away old negative ideas and 'racing thoughts'.  Top it off with some great bug repelling abilities, and this is a wonderful multi-purpose oil to keep on hand.

Cinnamon is a spicy essential oil, and nearly everyone has some experience with the scent.  Cinnamon can be caustic to the skin or when inhaled undiluted, so care should be taken when working with this one. Even so, cinnamon smells delicious and has antibacterial properties that can help clear the air of airborne infectious diseases.  It is a cheery oil that would play brilliantly with the Sweet Mandarin to help dispel general gloominess.

August was a pretty hectic month for me - I did a bit of traveling and had a lot of commitments to deal with at home as well.  So, being able to work in a few projects that weren't overly labor intensive was a welcome bit of recreation for me.

The first project I tried was the simplest:  DIY Air Freshener Spray.  This replaces aerosol sprays full of chemicals, and it was so easy to do that I will never again use anything commercial.

Using the supplied spray bottle, it simply takes hot filtered water and some essential oils.

For this project, I chose the sweet mandarin and lemongrass, as their pleasant citrusy scent seemed the lightest and brightest way to sweeten the air on hot days.

The suggested amount of essential oils was 8-10 drops, but I brought that up to about 15 total while deciding how much of each to add.  There is no real right or wrong there - just follow your preference.

Once the warm water and essential oils are in the bottle, screw on the lid and give it a good shake.  It works best if it's shaken each time it's used.

I had to play with the bottle a bit to get the nozzle to put out a nice mist rather than a hard narrow shot of spray, but once done, it has done an absolutely fabulous job not only of scenting the air in our home, but I've also used it a few times on myself as a light cooling spritz when I'm overheated.

It even works quite nicely as a way to moisten my curly hair when styling it for the day (without moisture it's a big wild mess of dry frizz) and smells delightful for a couple hours afterward. This is one of the things I enjoy best about simple homemade products - most of them are highly multi-purpose.

The second project I tried was also quick and simple - a DIY Reed Diffuser.

The reeds, bottle and the same set of oils used for the other projects all came in the box.  The carrier oil did not.  The instructions specify 1/4 cup carrier oil and recommend almond, grapeseed or safflower oil.  I used grapeseed, since it is the one I had on hand.

Here again, which scents and how much to use is up to you - I went for 20 drops of a combination of Cedarwood, Cinnamon and Orange.

I really like the little bottle that came with this project - the bottle came with a cork, so once the oils were put in, it was easy to close it and give it a shake to combine.

It's recommended that the reeds be flipped over now and then to refresh the scent, and that really does work nicely - it smells so delightful that I usually massage whatever oil gets on my fingers over my hands to keep them soft and scented nicely.

The third project that came in the box was for making candles and I'm holding off on that until sometime this month, but I did decide to use these same supplies to make one more air freshener of a sort I've been meaning to try - Gel Air Fresheners.

You've seen things in stores, I'm sure - a jar full of scented gel that usually lasts a month or two without fear of tipping oil or open flames.  I like to keep them in bathrooms where they can do their thing unattended without worry.

I have had two jar set aside to do this for awhile - they're pretty square jelly jars, but I'd lost the lids, so the repurposing possibilities were limited.  Each jar holds 1 cup.   I made one jar a spicy woodsy blend of Cedarwood and Cinnamon, and one a citrusy blend of Sweet Mandarin and Lemongrass.  The recipe below is for ONE one cup jar of gel air freshener - if you'd like to do two like I did, just double it.

DIY Gel Air Freshener
(makes 1 jar)

1 glass jars that holds 1 cup
2 pkg. unflavored gelatin
1 tsp salt (this helps prevent mold)
20 drops essential oil
1 cup water
a few drops food coloring (optional)

Into the jar, put 20 drops of essential oil, either a single scent or a blend of two or more.

In a small saucepan, boil 1 cup water. Add salt, stirring until dissolved. Add gelatin a little at a time, stirring constantly so that it doesn't clump. Stir until fully dissolved and remove from heat.

I did not use food coloring, but if you want to, I think this would be the time to add to the gelatin mixture.

I poured the gel mixture into a large measuring cup for easier pouring into the jar, and recommend doing the same - as it cools, it is going to solidify to anything it touches and who needs the mess of cleaning that up?

Pour gel into the jar, and use a bamboo reed or other small stirrer to mix in the essential oils in the jar.

Now, all that's needed is to let it cool for several hours at room temperature or about an hour or so in the refrigerator.  This is where I decided to decorate them on a whim with a couple silk flowers I had laying around - not a bad effect, but next time I do this I will plan ahead about what I'd like to insert into them.

This should last at least a month, at which time the jar can be emptied and rewashed for another batch.

If I were to change anything about this particular box - and neither of these are deal breakers - I would have liked to have received some carrier oil for the diffuser project, and would have appreciated getting a separate eye dropper for each vial of oil.  These are very minor quibbles, though, and this remains one of the most satisfying subscription boxes I have ever tried.

I expect to redo each of these projects many times in the future, and I very much look forward to what Homegrown Collective has for us in the future.  As you can tell by looking at their past collections, it could be anything from more home care DIY, to make it yourself beauty products, to some fabulous techniques for cooking.  I love the surprise aspect of never being sure what the adventure might be from month to month, and I am positive that each one introduces subscribers to skills that will be both fun and promote a life devoted to simple pleasures. In a world that is frequently toxic, physically, mentally and emotionally, that is a very good thing.

I would recommend Homegrown Collective to anyone from those very experienced with DIY home living to someone who has never tried anything like this before. I strongly suggest putting this one on your list of gift ideas - Homegrown Collective offers one month and 3 month gift subscriptions as well as their regular subscriptions.  Go ahead and get one for yourself, too - after you hear how much your recipients love theirs, you'll wish you had.

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  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Very nice, homemade is always best. thanks for sharing with Hearth and Soul blog hop pinning.

  3. Wow, some great ideas here. And they seem very simple to implement which is critical to me doing anything like this. Thanks for sharing at Wildcrafting Wednesday.

  4. ooh interesting. never really thought to make my own. great idea. thanks for linking up with Sunday Brunch x

  5. This is such a great idea! Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. All posts get pinned in our pinterest board! Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on ! I hope to see you there!

  6. Thank you for coming back to share another great post at the #WWDParty.

  7. Sound wonderful Lynda! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  8. That is a great idea! Thanks for joining HSH!

  9. i love this!! especially the pretty flower int he gel refresher!

  10. Great options for 'clearing the air'!

  11. This sure looks interesting. I love all homegrown and homemade things.

  12. I've been wanting to do my own air fresheners for a while now....what a great way to get started!!

  13. Your blog is very impressive, Nice to read. Useful information for all. Thanks for sharing.

    Home air freshener

  14. This company has a F rating from the Better Business Bureau, with many complaints alleging that they removed money from people's accounts without permission, and that they accepted money for subscriptions and never sent anything to the subscribers. Please consider removing or modifying this post.