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How to Boil Potpourri

Kathy Adams

Fill a pot 3/4 full with water, and then add potpourri items such as orange peel and cinnamon sticks. Heat it on a low simmer to release the scent.

Instead of boiling potpourri, simmer it on the stove by nearly filling the pot with water, then turning the stove burner to a medium heat setting. Turn the heat down to low once the water reaches near boiling to emit fragrance for a long time without the pot burning dry.

How to Simmer Natural Potpourri

Natural potpourri -- made from citrus peels, fruits and herbs or spices -- releases a pleasant aroma when simmered in a pot of water. There's no need to actually boil the potpourri -- boiling it makes the water evaporate quickly. Instead, simmer the mixture over low heat once the water looks as though it is about to boil.

    Add water to a pot.

  1. Fill a pot halfway with water.

  2. Toss in the potpourri.

  3. Add an assortment of naturally fragrant materials such as fresh or dried orange slices, citrus zest, star anise, cloves or cinnamon sticks. Use enough to cover the surface of the water, but not enough to stuff the pot full.

  4. Heat the water.

  5. Heat the pot over a medium heat setting until the water looks as though it may boil. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting after that.

  6. Check the pot frequently.

  7. Check the pot every five minutes at first, to get an idea how quickly the water evaporates. Add more water whenever the water level gets low.

Potpourri Blend Ideas

  • Make your own potpourri blends suited to the season, or simply to freshen the air with a fragrance you enjoy. Check your spice cabinet, refrigerator and even the garden for potential potpourri materials.

    • Combine lemon slices, rosemary sprigs and a teaspoon or so of vanilla extract for a refreshing fragrance.
    • Add cinnamon sticks, cloves and orange slices for a winter holiday scent.
    • Apple slices and cinnamon sticks emit a dessert-inspired fragrance.
    • Simmer sprigs of lavender with slices of lemon or a teaspoon of vanilla for a fresh springtime scent.
  • Warning

    • If you're using a purchased potpourri that contains colorful dyes,  check the package first to ensure the product is meant to be simmered in water; some are meant for display dry, in a bowl or basket. Some commercial potpourri contains added chemical dyes and fragrances that may stain your cookware. Homemade dry potpourri containing materials such as dried fruits and cinnamon without chemical additives is safe to simmer in water. 
    • Do not leave the simmering pot unattended. Check it continually to ensure the water does not evaporate.
    • Remove the wet potpourri from the pot and either discard it or allow it to dry in the sun; in some cases you may be able to reuse it. Leaving the wet materials in the pot may cause mold to grow.