Garden Herbs for Stovetop Humidifiers

December 03, 2012
Snoqualmie Falls Frozen in December 2009

Cold winter weather like the snap that caused much of powerful Snoqualmie Falls to freeze solid briefly in 2009 can also dry out your skin. Humidifiers help abate the dry!

Try picking aromatherapy herbs directly from the garden to avoid winter dryness and to add safe, non-toxic fragrances to your home. We simmer pots of water filled with freshly-picked sprigs, spices and fruits on the stove. This is a fantastic way to keep your house smelling great, your skin from chapping, and you can do it without spending a penny. All it takes is a quick trip to the garden, a few cups of water, and a heat source.

From Christmas-y fragrances to clarifying and calming blends, we’ve put together a few mixture ideas to get you started.

Read on for more from our post from Decembers-past…

(Original post from December 19, 2008 follows)

As my friend Kim wrote elsewhere, I’m preparing for day 4 of my captivity. Between a nasty head cold, frigid temps, and frozen icy roads, I’m pretty well home bound these days. And with outdoor temps staying well below freezing as dry, cold arctic winds rage in from the north, our furnace is running nearly non-stop. Result: indoor humidity is dropping, which doesn’t help my sinuses (or skin or hair or lips or attitude) at all. And, the Christmas tree seems to dry out just a little faster when the indoor air humidity is low despite how full we keep the water reservoir.

Frosty Enjoying Frigid Temps

Frosty Enjoying Frigid Temps

I spent many of my growing-up years in a woodstove-heated farmhouse in Virginia. The heat was toasty, but we always battled dry heat. To remedy this we kept a heavy kettle filled with water on each of the stoves. The kettle produced steam that helped humidify the air. We had to be vigilant about refilling the kettle regularly, but depending on how high the stove was running, we generally only had to refill it a couple of times a day.

These days I don’t have a wood stove, but I do have a kitchen stove where I keep a small pot of water going all winter. I have tried commercial humidifiers in the past, but I’m not sold on them. To add interest and fragrance to the house, there are a few things we add to our makeshift humidifier. Spice blends add holiday aromas. Herb blends add relaxing and healing fragrances that help keep a closed up, stale house a bit more fresh. Consider trying out a blend one of the following blends in your own home. If you’re missing one of the ingredients, try the remaining ones or mix-it-up yourself. The worst thing that can happen is you dump it out in the compost and start over.

Christmas Spice Blend

  • 1 T whole cloves
  • 1 tangerine, orange or other citrus peel
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 slice fresh or candied ginger

Garden Herb Blends: Even if your plants are frozen, dust off the snow and ice to take a few cuttings. They don’t need to look lovely to do the trick. Keep in mind, some herb combos like rosemary + sage may make it smell like you’re cooking dinner. Recipes follow.

Blend 1: Astringent and calming

  • 1-2 sprigs fresh Rosemary (even if it is frozen in the garden)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons dried lavender buds (or garden stem/flower cuttings)
  • tangerine or orange peel
  • 1-2 dried lemon verbena stem

Blend 2: Calming and clarifying

  • 2-3 Tablespoons dried lavender buds (or garden stem/flower cuttings)
  • 1-2 sprigs eucaylptus
  • handful dried rose petals

Blend 3: Smells like dinner!

  • 1-2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh sage
  • several sprigs of thyme (lemon or lime thyme is especially great!)

Add one of the above combos to a medium size sauce pan filled with water. Bring the water just to boiling and then turn down to a low simmer, or boil a little higher to release more moisture into the air faster. Add additional water as needed. Occasionally, as fragrance diminishes, strain out the spices, cuttings and fruit peels, add them to your compost and start over.

If you have a blend of your own or other ideas to add much-needed humidity to our winter homes, please share them!


  1. Cath Saylor says:

    Sorry to hear you are battling a cold. I have been using Wild Oregano drops and caps to fend off, mircle product in my view! I saw your recipe with candied ginger and had to add that I update my Molasses Spice Cookies recipe to include rolling the balls in a mix of sugar and minced candied ginger before baking. I encourgage one and all to try that -YUM! Enjoy the weather, stay warm and get well.

  2. rhaglund says:

    thanks for the well wishes Cath. Where do you get the miracle products? If I can get past the ice, I’ll try to find them.

    And, I need either a batch of those cookies or the recipe. Sounds fantastic!

  3. […] Have you checked your humidity in the house lately? Odds are winter is starting to sap the moisture from the air and your body¬† as well. Enjoy a few recipes for keeping garden-fragrant moisture on the stove top here. […]

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