Science Projects on Making Air Fresheners

Science has given us so many wonderful gifts: electricity, plastics and modern medicine. So perhaps it's no surprise that science also affords us the ability to eliminate odors through clever and unexpected methods. Common household items such as vinegar and gelatin are just lurking in our pantries waiting for their secret powers to be unleashed and combat the foul smells that permeate after pungent fish dinners and smoky evenings at the cigar bar. Science has a lot to teach us about ourselves and how we can smell better through science projects.

  1. Scented Water Air Spritzers

    • This project tests the reliability of homemade air fresheners versus costly aerosol brands that you can buy in a store, but more importantly, it provides a method through which to deliver the product that is considerably healthier for the environment. Fill three bowls with warm water and then slice up some fresh herbs, peel citrus fruits such as oranges or lemons, and chop up some aromatic flowers. Place each item separately into a bowl -- the herbs in one, the citrus into another and flowers into the third -- and allow them all to soak overnight. The next day you will find that the water in each bowl has absorbed the scent of the item you placed inside. Filter the scented water out of the bowls and pour into different spray bottles. Use them to freshen the air as needed with the scent of your herbs and flowers.

    Essential Oils

    • Essential oils are derived through steam distillation of plants, leaves, bark and other botanical material that exists in nature. They are highly concentrated oils that are used in aromatherapy, but they are also very useful for other household remedies, such as eliminating odors. Experiment by testing different fragrance combinations to create the most potent form of air freshener odors that progressively get worse. Start by determining the correct oil combination to fight simple odors like smoke and wet dog hair until you reach catastrophically dismal smells like sulfur and rotten garbage. Continue the experiment by adding elements to each mix that combat specific odors while producing other beneficial results. For instance, adding lavender, clove bud oil and peppermint will give you a potent air freshener that will also sanitize surfaces. Combining citronella, eucalyptus and a handful of other oils will produce an air freshening bug repellent.

    Gelatin Air Fresheners

    • Air fresheners come in many different forms, not just sprays and oils, which can be harmful to materials if spilled or misted carelessly. Combine unflavored gelatin powder to boiling water and add fragrance and food coloring. Pour the gelatin into jars and let them set in the refrigerator overnight. When the gel has hardened, place the open jars in the room and you will soon begin to detect a pleasant aroma emanating throughout. For this project, the structural components of the gelatin are on display. As the gelatin melts, the fragrance molecules are released from within to emit a steady dispersal of aroma. The project proves that gelatin is a reliable delivery system for an air freshener and can be just as effective if not more so than a spray or oil, which can be greasy or leave a stain if it comes in contact with delicate fabric.


    • A fun project to try out is to demonstrate the odor neutralizing powers of white vinegar due to it's acidity, which will kill the alkali elements in powerful smells. In this experiment, the hypothesis isn't necessarily if vinegar will destroy the odors but how it does and in what forms. For example, pour some into an open bowl and let sit in a room overnight where there is a strong or powerful odor. The vinegar will fully eliminate the smell and the room will no longer stink. Try different types of smells with different methods. Burning smoke and paint fumes are neutralized by adding some vinegar to white bread or a sponge. Try simmering some vinegar in a pot and letting the aroma waft through a smelly room. This technique will neutralize strong offending odors and the air will be fully scrubbed and suitable for polite company once again.

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