I have a problem, and my problem is with Whole Foods. Mainly that when I'm there two, three times a week, I tend to buy a lot of crap that I don't really need. Some of that stuff gets used. Some of that stuff is just cute—like teeny bottles of essential oils that I can't stop purchasing. As I type this, I'm staring at a collection that has grown too large to realistically keep at my desk. It's more than I know what to do with, and there are none that I actually need. I wanted the lavender one to help me sleep, the chamomile to help me relax, peppermint to give me more energy, the sandalwood because I liked the way the bottle looked...in my mind, essential oils are like this romantic cure-all even though the magic never really happens (ain't that always the case with holistic remedies?). Maybe it's because, if I am actually tired, I'm probably not going to remember to search for my lavender oil and dab it on...Where? I actually don't even know. I usually put them on my wrists or my pillow or the collar of my shirt. What's the proper protocol here?
Whatever it actually is, I've since found a way to use all of those tiny little bottles to great effect: an inhaler. I discovered my first inhaler/aroma stick at a hippy-dippy shop in Brooklyn, on Atlantic Avenue called 1thirty9. It's one of those stores that has a bit of everything without a clear through-line other than “sort of hippy.” I think of it as an upgraded version of that weird store in the mall that carried beanie babies and braided puka-shell necklaces. 1thirty9 sells crystals, air plants, handmade soaps, all sorts of candles, oils, and (back to the point, Tom) these things called inhalers. They look look like a stick of Chapstick, but they're a little bit longer with a rounded tip. I picked up one, inhaled, and became addicted. Like aromatherapy on steroids, it feels like a drug—it's so good. And apparently hockey players use it on the sidelines, so I really do think it works for something (anything). But more to the point, it simplifies the whole oil game. Instead of dabbing somewhere/putting into a bathtub/mixing in a diffuser, you've just got this little Chapstick-sized treat you can breathe in and use whenever. It's super strong and gives you sort of a head-rushy feeling sometimes.
I'm hooked now. I need to stop trying new concoctions that may or may not do what I've convinced myself they're going to do. Maybe mixing five drops eucalyptus oil, five drops tea tree, four drops black spruce, two drops lavender, and one drop lime then swishing it around with a cotton wick, sticking it in a tube, and breathing in won't cure my 'Why the heck is this happening to me again' spring cold, but it was definitely a good experience. And I guess the good thing is that when one mixture isn't right, I can go back and perfect it by adding different oils—finally using up my stash I've already invested in. So I might as well keep mixing—the blank inhaler tubes are like $2.99 and the wicks are roughly a few cents each. I feel like I've turned an expensive habit into a good investment.
Photographed by Tom Newton. Wan't to make your own? Here's a guide to essential oils and their benefits.