The human sense of smell is an amazing thing. It ties us to some of our most vital memories, whether it's the smell of cinnamon and apples, fresh-cut grass or pine trees around the holiday season. One way you can create a beautiful environment to create wonderful memories in is through adding potpourri to your home. But do you want to take a chance on questionable fragrance oils or would you rather mix your own potpourri? Learning how to create your own potpourri allows you to create customized blends that appeal to your own sense of smell. Here are some directions and basic recipes to help you get started.

How to Make Potpourri

What Is Potpourri?

Potpourri is a mix of flower parts, seed pods and other organic material that creates an olfactory and visual delight. Dried either by hanging upside-down, in a dehydrator or in an oven at a very low setting, the materials are mixed to create a specific scent. If you have particular scents that you're unable to find materials for, adding essential oils or fine fragrance oils to the mix makes it much easier to customize your potpourri to your preferences.

Though you may have only considered flowers for your potpourri, there is a range of other materials you can add to make a blend of your own. Dehydrated apple, orange or lemon slices, unique seed pods from sweet gum, lotus blossoms or Kentucky Coffee tree, bits of ribbon, lace or glitter and a wide range of small flower buds, individual petals or herbs can provide you with a wide range of looks and scents with which to play.

Where Did It Come From?

Coming from the French pot pourri, the modern version is significantly more pleasant that the translation of "rotten pot" would suggest. The original, early 17th-century material consisted of fresh herbs and flowers that were gathered in the spring and summer, allowed to wilt a couple of days, mixed into sea salt and then spices added in the fall until it achieved a more pleasing fragrance.

The modern variant has more in common with Roman, Medieval and Renaissance roots, where dried herbs and flowers were strewn about the rushes on the floor to make them more fragrant, kept in small sachets to provide relief from infrequent bathing habits or in small glass vases in the Victorian era, where the preparation of potpourri became an art form.

How Do I Make It?

Potpourri is deceivingly simple to create, by simply mixing an appealing blend of materials together. However, finding the right blend of scent, color and texture can take years to master. Fortunately, there are a number of simple blends that work well together. Apple, cinnamon sticks, calendula and cloves make a spicy fall blend. Pine needles, dried cranberries, cinnamon sticks and a couple of vanilla beans are perfect around the holidays. For a pick-me-up during the dreary late winter months, mix roses, lavender, orange slices and a bit of whimsical ribbon. If you can't find what you want in your garden or flower shop, consider hitting a local craft store for more exotic ingredients.

You'll want to make sure that your materials are as dry as possible, whether by hanging to dry, placing in a dehydrator or using your oven on its lowest setting. If you don't dry your materials out thoroughly, it can mold, which not only doesn't smell or look nice, it can actually cause bothersome health issues. Do you have a bouquet that is beginning to wilt? Take it out of the water, trim the stems back, tie the flowers in bunches no more than 3" in diameter, and hang them near an HVAC vent to dry. A few extra oranges, lemons or apples? Slice them thinly and place on parchment paper on a cookie sheet in your oven or straight on a dehydrator tray to create visual interest and tangy notes.

Once your ingredients are dry, it's time to have a little fun. Combine your ingredients, either in a separate container or by layering them in a pleasing fashion in your final container. Because some ingredients can cause stains, you'll want to make sure to use a glass or metal container. Add the essential oils last, then seal the container either with a lid or by putting plastic wrap over the top for a couple of weeks, allowing the scents to combine and be absorbed by the organic material in your potpourri. Once those two weeks are up, take off the lid or plastic wrap and enjoy!

What Are Some Recipes for Potpourri?

If you're not comfortable with winging it based on a few ideas, there are a wide range of recipes available on the internet, but here are a couple to get you started. Based on popular blends, you'll find them easy to complete and enjoy.

Bright Citrus

For a bright, refreshing note in the morning, keep a little of this in your kitchen or bathroom to get a quick pick-me-up. Mix an ounce each of lemon balm, lemon thyme and, if available, lemon verbena. Add a couple of bay leaves, a couple of lemon slices and a half a dozen orange slices. Once it's blended, add a couple of drops each of orange and lemon essential oil. cover for two weeks and enjoy! Some people like this recipe with a drop of sandalwood, lavender or eucalyptus essential oil.

Holiday Evening

To make your house smell like the holidays, this is an awesome blend to try. Mix a couple of broken cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of whole allspice, two orange slices, a bay leaf, 1/2 tablespoon of whole cloves, 1/2 tablespoon of star anise and a half cup of dry green evergreen needles. After the ingredients are mixed well, add a couple of drops of cinnamon essential oil and a drop of orange essential oil. This mixture can also be simmered on the stovetop for faster results.

By taking the time to learn how to make your own potpourri blends, you can envelop your home in beautiful, unique scents. However, even the best potpourri won't cover up the scent of a home that is poorly cleaned. If you don't have enough time to clean your home or would rather spend your time doing other things, why not turn the work over to professionals? At Cleaning Exec, our experienced, professional office cleaners and home cleaners are ready to help turn your mess into a masterpiece. Please feel free to contact us today for more information, with any questions or to get a free estimate on our quality cleaning services.