Homemade Essential Oil Air Fresheners

Have you ever noticed that males of all species have a tendency to (How can I put this delicately?) be malodorous?

I’m talking from a position of knowledge and experience here; I have a husband, five sons, and two male dogs.  We also have chickens and a cat. My boys tromp all over the yard without regard to the location of dog or chicken scat.  I feed my family a great deal of beans. My dogs get gassy when they’re nervous.* There are ample opportunities for ‘the stink’ to arise.

*Boy, do I wish I was joking about that.  Last summer we took the dogs to a family reunion in Southern Michigan.  We got stuck on the Ohio Turnpike in 90°F temperatures.  Our air conditioning broke and only one of the windows in the van worked.  It was the window next to yours-truly’s head.  So all the air exiting the van went right. past. my. face.  Remember that.  It will become very important to my story in mere moments. And the dogs?  Well, let’s just say being stuck in traffic was as hard on their nerves as ours.  Being stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic in sweltering temperatures with a flatulent eighty-five pound hound dog and his equally foul-smelling and obese beagle buddy was -in a word- horrific. You could have calibrated a 30-second hourglass by timing the brief respite between ‘episodes’ from Hambone and Diggedy.  I was traumatized. We all were.

I learned early on in my mother-of-many-boys career that eliminating the causes of ‘the stink’ was nearly impossible; I learned it was all about making a pleasant smelling oasis in each room.  And I spent money on it.  Oooh, baby, did I spend money; scented candles, gel air fresheners, room sprays, linen sprays, plug-in room deodorizers, misters, potpourri (sidebar: My mom fed boiled potpourri on a taco to my German exchange student friend in high school.  But that’s a story for another time. Hi, Mom!)

When I learned that three of my babies had asthma, all that stuff went out the window.  Actually, it went in the trash, but you savvy, right?  All the pretty smelling stuff went buh-bye.  Laundry detergent, fabric softener, cleaners?  All unscented.  Boo hoo.  Poor me.

The allergist told me I could use essential oils in small amounts in little bowls or reed diffusers, but I found that the scent dissipated too quickly.  I had to find something that smelled nice (or an inexpensive carbon filter face mask comfortable enough to wear 24/7) or risk losing what little sanity I had left.  It took five years…

You’ve heard that necessity is the mother of invention?  Well, I’m the mother of five little necessities and I had a perspiration. (My Dad defines ‘Perspiration’ as an inspiration that hurts.)  Homemade all-natural, essential oil powered, gel based air fresheners.  They met all the requirements to keep my poor asthmatic kids from doubling over and wheezing.  They smelled great.  They lasted a good long time.  They were cheap to make.  They had five ingredients you could find at any grocery or department store.  And this mom was happy.

Now a word or two about essential oils: they’re pretty powerfully scented, so go easy on how much you add.  You don’t want to add more than 30 drops per air freshener until you know just how strong your oil is.  The basic air freshener base recipe is listed and my favorite scent combinations are given below it.

For a printer-friendly version of this recipe sans photos and yakety-yakety, click here!

Homemade Essential Oil Air Fresheners


  • 1 ounce granulated or powdered gelatin
  • 2 cups cold water, divided
  • 20-30 drops of your choice of essential oil
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • optional, food coloring to tint the air freshener

Also needed:

  • heat-proof jars to hold the hot gelatin liquid
  • a disposable chopstick or skewer to use as a stir stick

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle the gelatin over the boiling water and whisk until smooth and all the gelatin is dissolved.  Add the salt and the second cup of cold water and whisk.  Set aside.

Add the desired amount of essential oil and food coloring, if using, to the jar(s).  Quickly pour the hot liquid gelatin over the essential oil and food coloring.  Stir until evenly colored.

Allow to cool, uncovered on a heat-proof surface.  When it reaches room temperature, place wherever you want a lovely scent.

Sweet Basil and Lemon  Air Freshener

  • 20 drops Sweet Basil essential oil
  • 8 drops Lemon essential oil

Rosemary Orange  Air Freshener

  • 25 drops Sweet Orange essential oil
  • 5 drops Rosemary essential oil (The Rosemary essential oil is mighty strong stuff.  Keep a light hand with this!)

Fresh Pine Scent Air Freshener

  • 25 drops Fir Pine essential oil
  • 3 drops Lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops Sweet Orange essential oil
  • 1 drop Bergamot essential oil

Pure Lavender Air Freshener

  • 30 drops of Lavender essential oil

Essence of Provençe Air Freshener

  • 20 drops Lavender essential oil
  • 5 drops Thyme essential oil
  • 2 drops Lemon essential oil


This year, if we have to take the dogs on another road trip, I’m prepared; I’ll just cram one of these up each nostril and pray.


  1. Kelly says

    I noticed that in the comments section, you mention using vodka rather than salt. How much vodka? I also found that the oils floated to the top of the gelatin after stirring. I would like to try vodka to see if that helps. I remember that my mom used to make lavender water by first adding vodka to the essential oil in order for it to mix with the water rather than float on the top. Thanks.

    • Nikki says

      Vodka or Ethanol (Alcohol) will help solubilize the essential oils. Mix essential oils in Vodka or Alcohol before adding to water.

      I am looking forward to trying this recipe. Will update with feedback :-)

      • Nikki says

        Made two recipes using salt in one and Alcohol (Vodka) in the other. Pre-mixing the essential oils with alcohol works well but made the gel cloudy. Seems like salt works better for this recipe, gel was nice and clear but fragrance only lasted for a couple of days (maybe).

    • Nikki says

      Unfortunately the fragrance only lasted a couple of days and after a week the gel lost clarity and became dry.

  2. Christe says

    Help!! I made these last night and followed the directions exactly as listed. I used salt rather than vodka. The problem is that they are still totally liquid hours after they have cooled. First, is there anyway to fix the batch I already made, rather than just throwing them away? Second , any idea what I could have done incorrectly to cause this to happen?

  3. says


    THANK YOU–ONLY REPLY TO MY EAMIL alphonsisray@yahoo.com


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