Cooler months mean more time curled up inside. Simmering potpourri recipes are a great way to make a home cozy and inviting. They’re just one way to get your winter hygge on.
What Is Simmering Potpourri?
When I say potpourri I’m not talking about the strange, artificial scented bowls collecting dust in older relative’s bathrooms. Simmering potpourri is made with naturally fragrant items heated in water, juice, or tea.
You can use a pot on the stovetop, a crockpot, or the slow cooker function on your Instant Pot. I’ve even seen small crockpots and wax warmers that would work. If you’re using the stove though be sure to not leave it unattended!
What Do You Put in Simmering Potpourri?
There are a lot of options here and you can combine ingredients to make your own scents. Spices, tea, herbs, and fruits are popular choices.
Simmering potpourri can be really economical too if you use scrap lemon peels, orange peels, and apple peels and cores. Lemon peels also make tasty lemon pepper seasoning. Just don’t use peels that are mushy, brown, or in any way starting to go bad. A stinky rotten apple smell mixed with cinnamon isn’t what we’re going for here.
Simmering Potpourri Ingredients
- Apple peels, slices, and/or cores
- Orange peels or slices
- Lemon peels or slices
- Grapefruit peels or slices
- Tangerine peels or slices
- Lavender (dried or fresh)
- Mint (dried or fresh)
- Pine or fir needles
- Fresh or dried ginger
- Cinnamon sticks
- Star anise
- Cranberries (dried or fresh)
The Health Benefits of Potpourri
Aromatherapy is a powerful tool for emotions, mental health, and physical health. We use essential oil diffusers in our home for their health and mood boosting benefits. When simmering potpourri is heated, the volatile oils travel through the air, creating an inviting scent. These are the same volatile oils present in essential oils.
A 2009 clinical trial reported students showed less stress when they were inhaling bergamot essential oil. A 2020 animal study found essential oils can reduce anxiety, depression, and inflammation caused by oxidative stress. These are just a few of the studies highlighting the emotional benefits of volatile plant oils.
Not only does simmering potpourri create an inviting atmosphere it also has antimicrobial benefits. There are other potent antimicrobials (like garlic and onion) that don’t smell so cozy as part of a potpourri mix.
- Lavender relieves stress and is antibacterial.
- Rosemary improves memory, relieves stress, and is antibacterial.
- Orange peel relieves stress and anxiety, uplifts the mood, and is antimicrobial.
- Spices like cinnamon, clove, and ginger have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties.
Simmering Potpourri Recipes
These aren’t really recipes with strict measurements, more like ingredient lists and guidelines. It’s easy to mix and match to create your own custom scent, but here are some ideas to get you started.
- Orange, rosemary, and mint
- Apple, cinnamon, and clove
- Cranberry, orange, cinnamon, and star anise
- Lavender, lemon, and orange
- Orange, pine needles, and pine cones
Turn it Into a Gift
DIY skincare products are often my go-to for homemade gifts, but it’s also nice to DIY something a little different. Simmering potpourri makes a great gift – just put some in a mason jar or a cute bag. Some of the ingredients would even work in a cloth bag as a drawer freshener.
Be sure to skip the fresh fruit, fresh peels, or fresh herbs if making it as a gift. These ingredients can easily be dried though for a shelf-stable version. You can make simmering potpourri jars with dried spices and fruit that will store in a cool dark place for about a year.
- Combine all of the ingredients into a pan, crockpot, or Instant Pot.
- Add the water and bring everything to a boil. Add more water if necessary. If using an Instant Pot use the saute setting.
- Reduce the heat until the water is very hot, but not simmering/boiling. For the Instant Pot use the slow cooker button.
- Enjoy the scent, replacing any evaporated water as needed.
What are your favorite scents to use in your home? Leave us a comment and let us know!
- Aponso, M., Patti, A., & Bennett, L. E. (2020). Dose-related effects of inhaled essential oils on behavioral measures of anxiety and depression and biomarkers of oxidative stress. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 250, 112469.
- O’Bryan, C. et al. (2008). Orange essential oils antimicrobial activities against Salmonella spp. Journal of food science, 73(6), M264–M267.
- Seo JY. (2009). The Effects of Aromatherapy on Stress and Stress Responses in Adolescents. J Korean Acad Nurs. 39(3):357-365.