This Candle Alternative Makes Your House Smell Amazing—and It's Free

Plus, it helps you put apple cores, orange peels and other aromatic food scraps to good use.

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Steam coming out of a pot on a designed background
Photo: Getty Images / Toa55

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where associate nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.

There are several scents that get me in the holiday spirit—from warming cinnamon and clove to refreshing citrus. For many, it might even be tradition to have these aromas fill their home all season long. While there are millions of different holiday-scented candles, they're not particularly cheap. Instead, our editors turn to holiday simmer pots to keep their spaces smelling amazing all season long.

Not only are they less expensive than candles, but you can make a simmer pot for free with a little planning ahead. Instead of buying produce specifically for a simmer pot, I reserve used apple cores, orange peels, lemon peels and ginger knobs. I'll put them in a large pot with spices like whole cloves, nutmeg and a cinnamon stick (or any combination of those spices that I have). Then, I'll simply add water, simmer and my whole apartment smells amazing in minutes. I'm on a budget so I typically use pots I already have, but this Glass Saucepan with Cover ($30.99, would make for an extra aesthetically pleasing simmer pot. It would also be a cute holiday gift with some simmer pot ingredients like cinnamon sticks, apples, oranges and cloves tucked inside.

Glass Saucepan with Cover, 1.5L/50 FL OZ

simmer pot

Beyond perfuming your home, using food scraps for your simmer pot can give another use to something that would have been wasted. Not to mention, it's totally free compared to holiday candles that can be $25 a piece or more. The holidays are already expensive enough, so this is a great way for me to get in the spirit while saving some money. Get creative with rinds, peels, cores, citrus and spices in your simmer pots this season to try it for yourself.

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