If you love comforting fragrance in your home but hate the thought of adding potentially toxic chemicals into your air, then you’ll love this DIY gel air freshener recipe.
Using gelatin and essential oils, this is how to make homemade scented gel air fresheners that are natural and effective. Plus, they make perfect gifts, so you probably will want to make several of them!
How do you make homemade gel air freshener?
Making a solid air freshener, such as a gel air freshener, is as simple as adding fragrance to a material that isn’t liquid (such as a room spray, which is liquid in a spray bottle).
By suspending the fragrance in the gelatin, the scent is released over days and weeks. Because it is a solid, it won’t evaporate like a liquid would. You just need to make one air freshener and it could last for weeks. Compare that with having to continuously spray air freshener sprays or add essential oils to a diffuser.
How long do gel air fresheners last?
That’s a good question! And one that has different answers.
Gel air fresheners are solid and will last for a few weeks or even a month. I personally have kept mine about 2 weeks before I decided to create another batch for a stronger scent.
The key to making gel air fresheners last a long time is to use an ingredient that prevents mold from growing quickly. After all, gelatin is a food. Once the gelatin air freshener is made, it can start to spoil from sunlight, heat, humidity and other elements.
Using salt or vodka (preferably both) in a gel air freshener will keep mold at bay in the gelatin for a longer period of time. ***I found that only using salt, and not vodka as well, allowed mold to start growing in 4 days.
Because these use natural ingredients, the shelf life isn’t quite as long as gel air fresheners made with lots of preservatives and chemical compounds.
Are gel air fresheners safe?
Yes, these air fresheners are safe – with some limitations.
As with most things, you would never want a baby, child or pet to eat, lick or play with the gelatin once it is made.
And while the air freshener is made with mostly food-based ingredients, do NOT eat this gel air freshener.
Putting these gels in direct sunlight or highly damp and humid environments (such as a bathroom) could cause them to melt into a liquid mess. Or start to grow mold faster. You don’t want either of those things, so be sure to place them in a dry room away from direct sunlight.
DIY Gel Air Freshener Recipe
These are the easy instructions of how to make your own homemade gel air freshener. Be sure to read the helpful tips below for the best success in making these.
Makes one air freshener.
- Unflavored gelatin (such as 1 packet of Knox or 1 Tbsp. NOW Foods)
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. vodka
- 15-20 drops of essential oil
- Decorations (optional – see below)
- Pour the cold water in a bowl. Sprinkle the gelatin on top of the water (no need to mix it in). Let is start gelling for about 3-5 minutes.
- Add hot water (mine was always just under boiling). Add in salt and vodka. Stir the ingredients together until everything has dissolved and there are no visible particles of salt or gelatin.
- Stir in essential oil.
- Transfer to a decorative container, such as a mason jar. A glass yogurt jar or baby food jar would also work.
- The gel can be set quickly by putting it in the refrigerator. My gel set in two hours or less with this method. Alternatively, you can leave the mason jar (or whatever bowl you use) on a countertop for up to 24 hours to set. If you decide to refrigerate yours to set, don’t worry about keeping it out of refrigeration afterwards. Mine was fine on the countertop for weeks.
- If you are worried about pets or children getting into the gel air freshener, cover the container with a lid with holes poked into it, a mason jar frog, or even a gauzy piece of fabric, such as lace, secured with a ribbon or rubber band.
- Put the container in a cool, dry, dark place. You don’t want sunlight beating into the gel and making it melt. Or high humidity starting molding sooner than expected.
How to Add Decorations (Optional)
These solid fresheners are fine on their own. But if you want to make them cute, you can definitely add some extra flair with decorations. Some ideas are:
- Artificial flowers
- Fake leaves (perfect for Autumn)
- Small figurines (such as woodland animals, travel icons, dinosaurs or Disney characters)
I decided to have fun and make a summer-themed flamingo gel air freshener. I loved the way it looked! Here’s what I used:
- Small flamingo figurines
- Crushed green rocks (I bought mine at The Dollar Tree)
- Decorative ribbon or washi tape
While testing out this craft, I made two different versions of this solid freshener. I used the same recipe above, so each photo is for the same amount. As you can see, it barely fills a large mason jar, so be sure to choose a small jar, or double the recipe. Here’s some helpful hints:
- Choose a fresh, summer-like essential oil or blend. Lemon, grapefruit or blood orange are good choices to make you think of sunshine!
- Add your crushed rocks first in the mason jar (I used 1/3 of a bag from The Dollar Tree)
- Put in the flamingo figures.
- Position the flamingoes with a bamboo skewer or toothpick. Put them where you would like and move some rocks on top of their base to keep them positioned.
- Using a funnel, slowly pour the liquid into the jar.
- If the flamingoes fall over in the liquid, that’s okay. You have plenty of time to position them upright before the gel starts to harden. Use a skewer or toothpick to coax them back up and reposition them.
- Small bubbles formed around some of my flamingoes. It doesn’t hurt the gel in any way, but aesthetically I didn’t want to see bubbles. So I gently tried to pop them with the tip of a toothpick or bamboo skewer.
- I had my mason jar on a plate while making the gel. When I was done, it was easier to pick up the plate and move it into the refrigerator rather than handle the jar.
- Tie a ribbon around the neck of the jar, or wrap washi tape around the neck. Otherwise, you might want to add a top or a mason jar frog to protect it.
Helpful Tips for Making a Mason Jar Gel Air Freshener
While making these scented gel air fresheners couldn’t be easier, there are a few guidelines you really want to know to have success and make them last as long as possible.
- Using both salt and vodka seems to be the key to keeping mold from forming quickly. I made two with no vodka and they both started growing mold within 4 days. The one I made with vodka lasted at least two weeks.
- Don’t use Jello. While it is gelatin, it has a lot of added flavorings, sugar, etc. You don’t need all of that stuff in your air freshener.
- Gelatin will look cloudy and will not be completely transparent. I used this beef gelatin which made the gel look very yellow (see above), even though I added no coloring. When I used Knox unflavored gelatin, it was still cloudy, but not as bad.
- If you are making many of these for gifts or for your own home, consider buying a bulk size of gelatin. Individual packets of Knox can get expensive, so save money with this bulk Knox gelatin.
- I would choose table salt over sea salt. I read a mistaken tip somewhere that sea salt won’t make your gelatin cloudy. I argue that is not true. I made one with table salt with iodine and one with sea salt and both were equally cloudy.
- Can you use something other than vodka? Perhaps. I haven’t tested it, but others say that you can use rubbing alcohol.
- I used 15 drops of this cinnamon essential oil. I found the scent to be subtle and often faint. You might want to add more essential oil if you like a stronger scent.
- When disposing of the freshener, scoop out and throw away in the trash. You can also rinse out residue with hot water and soap.
Where to Use Air Freshener Gel in a Room
This craft project is so easy, and offers such comfort from scents that you love, that you might soon find yourself wanting to make lots of them. I understand! It happened to me, too!
So here are some ideas where to put these gelatin air fresheners:
- Behind the toilet
- Living Room
- Car perfume (but be sure it’s not in direct sunlight)