Potpourri is a more natural alternative to toxic air fresheners, made from combining dried plants and flowers and herbs in a bowl. French for ‘putrid pot!’, it’s been around for hundreds of years when herbs and flowers were gathered in France, left for a few days to wilt then mixed to produce scents from pots with perforated lids.
Do not use potpourri in homes with pets, as many plants and flowers are toxic to pets (as are herbs and essential oils in most cases). Avoid essential oils for pregnancy/nursing and medical conditions affected by them (epilepsy, asthma, heart – avoid rosemary, citrus and sage oils for high blood pressure). Place potpourri in safe places, to avoid knocking them over.
It’s simple to make your own potpourri from dried flowers that last for months, and you can buy natural pots or recycle old pots, for this purpose. Common plants include the following:
- Lavender, jasmine, rose
- Mint, rosemary, marjoram
- Allspice, cinnamon & clove
- Lemon & orange peel (also toxic to pets)
To make potpourri, bake flowers and herbs on parchment paper in the oven for around 30 minutes (or a dehydrator to retain colour), then add essential oils in any blend you feel. Or alternatively, dry them upside (wrapped in twine) that takes a few weeks to fully dry out.
This wintery recipe from A Beautiful Mess uses dried cinnamon, cloves and star anise with dried apple slices, pine cones and wintery essential oils like cinnamon and fir needle.
The key to homemade potpourri is patience. After adding the oils (don’t over-fill the bowl with petals and herbs), store in a warm dry dark place. Shake the jar or bowl every few days, to let the scent mature. A great way to use up herbs and spices, and wilting bouquets that are past their prime.
Most storebought potpourri contains synthetic scents (mango and pineapple?) and dyes, which don’t even look or smell nice. Some even can produce allergic reactions (and stain furniture and fabrics) and can even give off dangerous chemicals into the surrounding air. This is because big supermarkets don’t make enough profit, if making potpourri using homegrown organic rose petals!
No bought potpourri is so pleasant as that made from one’s own garden. For the petals of the flowers one has gathered at home, hold the sunshine and memories of summer. Eleanour Sinclair Rhode
Scenting Homes with Volcanic Potpourri
Volcanic Potpourri is sold unscented, then the porous lava soaks up a few drops of essential oils and diffuses them ino the room. Designed to last years, keep this in a warm ventilated place. To reset, just wash the stones in soapy water, then add a new essential oils. Contains small stones (choking hazard).
What is lava? It’s simply solidified magna – the thick syrup-type hot liquid that erupts out of volcanoes (powdered rock is made into pumice stones, that with warm water can remove dry skin). Volcanoes are mostly found on tectonic plates (usually over hot land but also in the sea – the world’s largest active volcano in Hawaii is near most of earth’s volcanies in the Pacific Ocean). Although fascinating, some eruptions can cause floods, earthquakes and tsunamis.
Wonder why we don’t use volcanies as a free source of energy, due to the heat? Quite a few reasons. Many native tribes view them as sacred spaces. They are way too unpredictable (working there woudl likely be the most dangerous job in the world). And also in modern times, many tourists throw litter in the craters (steel, nickel and iron don’t break down – and items that do like paper, glass and food would erupt back up again, adding artificial toxins to the already poisonous gases that volcanoes spew out).
We’ll just look at you. If you looked scared, then we’ll panic (Discovery Channel Crew to volcanologist John Search while filming at Yasur Volcano, that has been continuously erupting for several hundred years).