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Your Natural Home

Creating a cozy hearth for the family


Sweet Smelling Simmer Pots for Winter

Indoor air can get really stale in the winter when everything is freezing and closed up against the cold. Fortunately, there’s a really simple way to freshen up your home without resorting to chemical “room freshener” sprays and artificially scented candles—the simmer pot.

Putting together a simmer pot couldn’t be simpler—it’s basically just infusing spice and aromatics in water, gently heating it so that a lovely heated steam produces a fragrance. Traditionally, these have been done in a sauce pan on the stove top, but that’s got a couple of draw backs: Running the stove uses a decent amount of energy, you really shouldn’t walk away, and you’ve got a fire risk if the all of the water evaporates down while the burner is. Not good things.

A simple fix is to use a mini slow cooker—the Crock-Pot Little Dipper model is just the right size. Designed for heated dips, it keeps the water at just the right temperature, and it’s safe to leave on. With no open flame, you can leave the room while it’s on and it won’t boil down or create a fire hazard. They retail for around $10 new, but honestly, check your thrift and second hand stores—I see them all the time for around $5.

Once you’ve got one, here are a couple easy recipes to try out, but you really can throw any aromatics you enjoy into a simmer pot and have your house smell fantastic. There’s really no wrong way to do it!

cinnamon, pine and star anise
Photo by Fotolia.

Cinnamon Spice Simmer Pot

• 1 cup of hot water
• 2 cinnamon sticks (broken in half if they’re more than a few inches long)
• 1 teaspoon whole cloves
• 1 apple peel/core (optional, but if you’ve got one toss it in; it’s a great way to use inedible scraps, and lends a subtle apple aroma)

Lemon Pine Simmer Pot

• 1 cup of hot water
• 1 lemon (feel free to use what remains after you juice and zest for cooking)
• 1/2 cup fresh pine needles (light green new tips are the best and most fragrant)


Amanda is focused on homesteading in a small town, and blogs about it a Little House in an Old Town, the exurban evolution of her writing at Apartment Farm.