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Reed Diffusers Explained
Reed Diffusers Explained
By Dawn Turner
Reed diffusers have been taking the aromatherapy market by storm these days. They are available in nearly every commercial outlet from department stores to craft markets to internet storefronts. Still, even as popular as they are, many people are not sure what they are or how they work. Once you understand how they work, it is very easy to see their appeal.
Reed diffusers consist of three basic components. A glass container,(a bottle, jar or vase), a set of rattan reeds and diffuser oil. Fill the glass bottle about three quarters of the way full of the diffuser oil, insert your rattan reeds into the oil and you are all set to go. It sounds simple enough. And it is. Let us delve further, however, to understand how they work and see the big picture as to why reed diffusers are gaining popularity so quickly these days.
The glass container is self explanatory really. You can use nearly anything that is made up of glass and is tall enough to support the reeds. This could be a vase, a glass bottle, a glass jar, etc. I recommend using only glass as some plastics are not formulated for use with oils. If you do not have any glass containers, you can use PET plastic bottles in a pinch as these are formulated not to break down with moderate use of oils.
Next, you have the reeds. Reeds look somewhat similar to bamboo skewers. However, reeds are made out of rattan, not bamboo. These rattan reeds are usually between 10 and 15 inches in length. (The 12 inch reeds are considered the most popular length). Each individual reed contains about 20 "channels". I compare these channels to small drinking straws. They run the entire length of the reed. It is through these channels that the reeds "suck up" the fragranced oils and pull it to the tops of the reeds. The scent is then dispersed into the air through natural evaporation. In general, between 6-10 reeds are used at a time. The more reeds, the greater the scent.
Next we have the diffuser oil. Diffuser oils themselves are comprised of a reed diffuser liquid "base" mixed with either fragrance oils or essential oils. The base itself is specially formulated to be the right "thickness" to travel up the reed channels effectively. Many bases use solvents that are too thick to properly travel up the reeds. This can result in poor fragrancing and gooey, warped reeds. When purchasing reed diffuser oils, look for oils that do not contain harsh chemical solvents such as DPG. Also, be on the lookout for companies whose bases use alcohol. Alcohol is highly flammable and expedites evaporation, causing your diffuser oils to diffuse too quickly resulting in having to replace the oils far too often. If in doubt, ask your supplier. Most will tell you if they use DPG, chemical solvents or alcohols in their formula.
Now that you have the basics, let's look a little closer to further understand reed diffusers and how to best use them.
Reeds should be flipped about once per week or so. This will start the fragrancing process all over again as the oil is drawn back up the reeds. Reeds should not be re-used. Reeds should be changed everytime you change the scent. If you re-use the same reeds, scents will mingle together. It is possible that the mingled scents might compliment one another, but most of the time, they do not produce pleasant results. (Cucumber and lavender really don't smell great together !) Reeds can clog with dust over time as well because of the channels they contain, so it is best to replace them about once per month or if you change scents. Additionally, reeds can become overly saturated with oil over time. So again, intermittent replacement is best.
Quality diffuser oils should last about 1 month per ounce. This can vary a little based on environmental factors, but it is a good rule of thumb. Use of heat, air conditioning, having windows open, having fans running, etc. can affect how long the oils will last.
Although reed diffusers are safer than candles, caution should still be used. Reed diffuser oils are not meant to be applied directly to the skin or ingested. Care should be taken not to tip the diffuser over or set it directly on delicate surfaces and oils can damage these surfaces. This is especially important if you have small children, pets or clumsy husbands. :) Reed diffusers are completely flameless and therefore you should not attempt to light the reeds.
Now that you are a reed diffuser expert, it is easy to see the appeal of them. Economical, easy to use, and safer than candles, you are sure to fall in love with this new home fragrancing option !
Dawn Turner, an expert in fragrance diffusion, owns TheDiffusery.com. The diffusery sells reed diffusers and Reed Diffuser Refill Oils. Dawn, a self professed scent junkie, loves to travel with her husband, listen to music and watch reality TV.