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How to Make a Gel Air Freshener

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How to Make a Gel Air Freshener

Store-bought air fresheners may smell nice, but they’re scented with synthetic fragrances that aren’t good for you. Replace them with these homemade gel air fresheners. They’re scented with essential oils, so they’ll make your home smell nice, without releasing pollutants into the air.

These air fresheners are so easy to make, you may even want to whip up a bunch to give as gifts.

How to Make a Gel Air Freshener

What You’ll Need:

Half-pint jars
Essential oils
Watersorb polymer crystals (I used the small crystals)
Food coloring (optional)

Before we jump into the how-to stuff, I’d like to take a minute to talk about a couple of the ingredients on the supply list. First, let’s talk about the Watersorb because that’s probably not something you’ve come across before.

Watersorb is a brand of super absorbent polymer (SAP). That sounds super science-y (and it is), but they’re just little crystals that are capable of absorbing 400 times their weight in water. They’re the magic absorbent material in disposable diapers, and they’re used to make lots of other things, like gel ice packs and cool ties. Because they absorb liquids (and scents) so readily, they’re perfect for making gel air fresheners. Watersorb is non-toxic and biodegradable, so it’s a material that I feel good about working with.

Lots of companies sell absorbent polymers, but I opted to buy from Watersorb because they sell polymers that are specifically designed for craft use. You can order through their website, but I went through their eBay listing because it was a couple dollars cheaper, and they had smaller quantities available. You can currently get 8 ounces of Watersorb for $7.50 shipped. That’s enough to make 57 half-pint air fresheners, so that works out to around $.13 per jar.

Most people use the medium crystals to make gel air fresheners, but I opted to use small crystals because I liked the look of them. That’s just a personal preference.

Okay, now let’s talk about essential oils for a minute. Getting good quality oils without breaking the bank can be a challenge. I’ve found two sources that I recommend. The NOW brand of essential oils is one of those. I’ve used their oils for years, and have always been pleased with their prices and products. I usually order through Amazon because I’ve found their prices to be cheaper than what I’m able to get locally.

Essential Oils

My second source for essential oils is Bulk Apothecary. They sell small bottles, as well as big bulk bottles. See the two stainless steel bottles in the photo? That’s how they send their bulk essential oils. How impressive is that? They always seem to have a sale or promo code to sweeten the deal; their customer service is top-rate; and they ship quickly. Seriously, I’m not easily impressed, but this company impresses me. Incidentally, they’re also my go-to source for beeswax.

Alright, now that we’ve talked about the ingredients, let’s get on to the project!

You can watch me make a batch of air fresheners in this video, or get the step-by-step instructions below.

What You Do:

Add Water to Jars

Add 3/4 cup water to each of your jars. This should take you to the headspace line.

Add Essential Oils to Air Freshener

Add a drop or two of unscented liquid dish soap to each jar, and stir it in. Then, add your essential oils. I used 1/4 teaspoon per air freshener, which is the equivalent of about 25 drops of essential oil. Since Christmas is right around the corner, I made Christmas tree and peppermint scented air fresheners.

Add Food Coloring

If you want to color your air fresheners, add a few drops of food coloring to each one. I colored my Christmas tree air fresheners, and left my peppermint air fresheners uncolored.

Add Watersorb Polymers

Mix 3/4 teaspoon of Watersorb polymer into each air freshener. Stir until no powder is remaining. It’ll take about 30 minutes for the crystals to absorb all of the water. Then, your air fresheners are ready to use!

Homemade Air Fresheners

I bought these daisy lids from Transform Mason to go on my air fresheners. Amazon carries them, as do many craft stores. If you want to keep the costs down on this project, just stick a piece of tulle under the lid. It’ll serve the same purpose.

Finished Air Fresheners

Here’s how my air fresheners look after a few holiday embellishments.

To Use Your Air Fresheners

Place them in a small space (like a closet) or in an area with high foot traffic. Positioning them on your desk or near an air vent works well, too. This will ensure that you get maximum scent from your air freshener. Be sure to keep them out of the reach of children and pets. While the polymer isn’t toxic, the essential oils could be.

Unlike store-bought air fresheners, these are reusable. When the polymer starts to dry out, just add more water. If you make these with essential oils, you should be able to do this several times, before you start noticing a loss of fragrance. And when that happens, just add more essential oil.

Hints and Tips:

  • If you’re gifting your air fresheners, or don’t plan to use them right away, screw a regular mason lid on underneath your air freshener lid
  • The tall half-pints with the regular-mouth lids will fit in a car cup holder
  • Planning to make a bunch of these? Make a big batch of air freshener gel in a bowl. Then, transfer it to jars once it’s done expanding
  • Have hard water? Then, consider using distilled water. The minerals in your water are likely to cause small crystals

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    1. It depends on how dry the air is in your home. They’ll stay hydrated long in the summer, when it’s humid, and will dry out faster in the winter when the air is drier. But they’ll typically stay wet several weeks, before they need to be rehydrated.

  1. Erin – What am I doing wrong? So far I have followed your instruction’s twice with the same result’s – within 24 hour’s the scent is gone. I purchase my oil’s from Bulk Apothecary. Thinking it may be the water – I purchased distilled water for the second. Any suggestion’s?

    1. I definitely think it’s good to use distilled water, but I wouldn’t think that would affect the scent one way or the other. Is the scent gone, or just not noticeable, unless you get right up on the air freshener?

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