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12 July 2023 / Laura Garvin Gomez

How do Reed Diffusers Work?

Unlock the mystery behind reed diffusers as we explore the science and mechanics behind their captivating scent dispersion.

Hand reaching for a reed diffuser on a wooden circular table

For people new to essential and fragrance oils, one of the most common questions asked is, “How does a reed diffuser work?”.

Reed diffusers are always a popular option for people who are looking for a completely natural method of diffusing oils, as they do not require a heat source, unlike oil or electric burners. To shed more light on the subject, we look at how reed diffusers work and how to get more from your reeds, oil and diffuser container.

How do reed diffusers work?

Reed diffusers are the easiest of all diffusers to use, as there is no additional heat source required to help release the oil fragrance.

The essential oil or fragrance oil is poured into a small container before a small group of reed sticks – which can be made from materials such as bamboo or rattan – are placed inside the container and oil.

To release the oil fragrance into the air, the reeds are left for a while to absorb the oil before being flipped over so the oil can be fully absorbed at the other end of the stick.

Once the sticks are fully saturated, the fragrance diffuses through evaporation, allowing you to enjoy the wonderful scent it naturally produces.

How do you use diffuser reeds?

The number of reeds you place into the oil will determine the strength of the fragrance released into the air. When more reeds are placed into the oil the concentration levels are increased, although this also means that the oil depletes more quickly.

How the reeds are positioned in the container also affects the scent throw. There is a restricted airflow around the reeds when they are grouped together, which means the fragrance can only diffuse into a much smaller area. If the reeds are spread out around the edge of the container, the scent can reach its full potential in the room.

When longer reeds are used, they can catch more air to spread the scent further across the room in a shorter space of time compared to shorter reeds.

Hand adjusting reed diffuser sticks set on two books next to a window with natural light beaming through

Can you reuse diffuser reeds?

Unfortunately, you cannot reuse diffuser reeds once they have ‘expired’. Over time, the reeds will become clogged with scent, dust and other airborne particles until they are no longer able to absorb and release the oil’s fragrance.

The reeds cannot be cleaned, so when they reach this point, they will need to be replaced with new ones. This is also true if you want to try a new essential oil or fragrance oil, as the reeds have already been soaked in the previous oil, so they will not be able to absorb and release the fresh scent.

Can you clean diffusers?

Whilst you cannot clean and reuse diffuser reeds, you can clean the diffuser container, so you have the option to pour in a fresh essential or fragrance oil.

To clean a diffuser, simply wash the container using hot soapy water or place it in the dishwasher. This will remove the residue of the previous oil, so the container is clean and ready for a brand-new fragrance.

Square amber glass reed diffuser next to a clear glass vase with eucalyptus branches in it

How do you refresh a reed diffuser scent?

To get the most out of your diffuser reeds, you should flip them over once every 1-2 weeks so that the dry end of the stick is inside the oil.

This allows the reed sticks to soak up more oil to continue providing a scent for the room. Try not to flip the reeds too frequently, as this will cause the oil to evaporate faster, which means you must replace it sooner than expected.

How do you top up a reed diffuser?

Topping up a reed diffuser is easy, as the container is always open, so you only need to pour the oil inside when it falls below a certain level.

When filling or refilling, aim for about the halfway or two-third mark, as this will help to avoid any spillages. It’s also a good idea to place paper towels or a coaster beneath the container so it can absorb any oil that may spill over the sides, helping to avoid staining the surface beneath.

Black and white illustration of a leaf

Reed diffusers offer an affordable and highly effective way of adding a wonderful new fragrance to your home. Most reeds should last for up to 6 months and the container can be reused as many times as you need, whilst the oil will also remain fresh for months at a time. If you are unsure about allergies, we advise that you complete a patch test before you use an essential oil for the first time, as this will give you a clearer indication of how sensitive your skin may be.

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