#96: Get an aromatherapy diffuser for my car

A few years ago, the idea came to me that my commute from work might be a bit more enjoyable if I had some pleasant sensory stimulation occurring at the same time as the unpleasant. Perhaps the presence of a lovely flower to contrast the view of gridlock; or cozy, heated seats to combat the frigid winter air; or pleasant, natural scents to override the smells of exhaust and highway grime… I nixed the flower idea because I knew I wouldn’t have the discipline (or the memory) to replace fresh stems every several days; and the heated seat idea was a no-go because that would have required the purchase of a new car (and I don’t need a new car right now – my current vehicle works just fine [knock on wood]). But the aromatherapy idea seemed like a good option to pursue, as it is relatively self-sustaining, pretty affordable, and yet still ‘novel enough’ to introduce a noticeable difference in my overall experience.  So I looked for a car diffuser.  And I looked.  And I looked some more.  I went to about six different holistic markets around the city, and looked in every big traditional retailer, too. No diffusers. Okay, no problem, I’ll just order something online. I popped onto the computer, and found a variety of products for the home, but no real viable option for the car. (I did find 2 different diffusers that technically could have worked in my car, but they looked semi-unstable, and they were rather expensive to boot! I was quite shocked.)

After a few weeks of looking, shopping, searching, and coming up empty-handed, I basically said, “Oh, just forget it!” – and I let the idea go.

Yet when the 101 list came my way, I remembered the aromatherapy desire from a few years ago… so this item re-appeared in my life. And this time, I have the powers of intention and momentum on my side.  🙂

Two weeks ago I was out and about having lunch with a friend. After our meal together I leisurely strolled around a nearby store – not ‘looking’ for something, but more just staying open to anything that might catch my eye.  Five minutes into the shopping, I saw an end cap of essential oils – so I paused, and inhaled a few scents.  Ahh, lovely.  I then remembered the 101 list that I had just published a few days before; and I wondered if the store might have a home diffuser that I could somehow manage to make work in my car. I looked more closely at the end cap: and there, on the bottom shelf, was an assortment of diffusers, including one made specifically for autos!

There was one item left on the peg, and the price was $10.99. Done and done. I purchased a few different oils, and left the store having spent around $30 – and having accomplished another task that was literally years in the making!

When I got to my car, I excitedly removed the diffuser from its’ packaging, read the instructions about how much oil to add to the pad, dutifully added a mere four drops of oil to the small white piece of cotton – and holy crap, did I *ever* smell the oil! And I hadn’t even plugged the diffuser into the cigarette lighter yet! I started driving, and about sixty seconds into my trip, I rolled down ALL of my vehicle’s windows – the smell was pretty overpowering. I had chosen a “refreshing” oil blend as my inaugural fragrance (which contained lemon, geranium, rosewood, cedarwood, and maychang [whatever that is]), but in such a concentrated amount, in such a small space, it smelled more like a heavy-duty cleaning product than a light trip through a forest or flower garden. Yikes.

I got home, move “refreshing” from my car to the kitchen (where it was still pretty darn powerful), and let the interior of my auto air out for a few days. Mid-week, I tried the diffuser once again; but this time I used just two drops of two pure oils (peppermint and grapefruit). Again, the scent was plenty strong just as it was; absolutely NO diffuser heat was required. I put the tiny cotton pad in two small ziplock baggies in an attempt to mute the power of the fragrance a little bit; but still, for about three days my car smelled like a big peppermint Life Savor. Truly. It was kind of nice, but certainly not ‘subtle’.

After three days I no longer got knocked over by scent when I opened my vehicle door; so at that point I began each car trip drive by just opening the ziplock bags that contained the treated pad – and that action alone was enough to give me a good dose of fragrance for the duration of my commute.

Then after another four days, the smell of the oils was less noticeable when I used the pad by itself; so at this point I started using the diffuser. Still, I only needed to run the device for 5-10 minutes, then remove the pad from the heat – and I still had a hearty dose of fragrance for the next 20 minutes.

It’s been about two weeks since I first introduced the peppermint/grapefruit pad into my car; and it’s only now getting to the point where I have to run the diffuser for the bulk of my trip if I want to get a consistent, faint fragrance. So, it’s likely time to add another dose of oil to the setup. I think I’ll add just a single drop of each scent this time, and see if that yields a more moderate balance.

Still, I love the idea that I can now experience a little bit of sensory delight in any sort of ‘mundane’ day, and that I can make the experience match whatever mood I might be in (or, to strategically use the power of smell to elevate a not-so-great mood to a better one). Being immersed in such powerful, lovely smells feels kind of decadent and slightly indulgent, yet also really terrific.

I’m rather liking this little 101 game so far… 🙂


About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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18 Responses to #96: Get an aromatherapy diffuser for my car

  1. rutheh says:

    I had the feeling of experiencing the overwhelming scent as I read your description.
    How great is it that you are accomplishing your 101 list a bite at a time.
    Smells like a winning game to me.


    • Stef says:

      Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words Ruth! I have to admit, it’s really quite fun wondering what item might come to fruition next – and being open to fully engaging in them when their time is right. It’s definitely adding some more fun and excitement to my life! 🙂


  2. I just love it when something ‘appears’ that I’d pretty much given up on finding. Kudos to you for persisting with getting the drop amounts right!


    • Stef says:

      It seems that when I am *finally* willing to genuinely let go, that’s when the universe lets me have what I wanted so badly. It’s like I have to learn that the want is just a want, not a ‘need’ – and when I learn that lesson (and truly, authentically LEARN the lesson), then I am empowered to decide if I really want the thing after all. Funny thing is, sometimes when I *finally* see the item that I had obsessed over, I don’t want it anymore…


  3. Lia says:

    Oh Stef, your post reminded me of a commercial I saw a couple years ago that just cracked me up, about a rental car company trying to improve their service with the suggestion of aromatherapy… here’s the link to the commercial on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz1jh481vZA
    I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And I’m glad you’re having a different experience, haha! 🙂


  4. carlaat says:

    I too find scents appealing but sometimes tricky to get the right amount. I’m really enjoying the Lush bath products that I got last week – they’re scenting up the bathroom in a lovely way! But I’ve avoided scent in my car. I’m one of those people who seems sensitive to smells that others love, like “new car smell”. Gives me a headache. All of those volatile chemicals emerging from the carpets . . .

    Glad you’ve got a system that’s working for you!


    • Stef says:

      Carla, I have to admit, I adore ‘noxious’ smells. I love the way new cars smell. I adore the scent of fresh paint. I inhale deeply when I’m pumping gas. Granted, I wouldn’t ever want to wear any of these scents as a perfume, but in their small doses… well, I like ’em. 🙂


      • carlaat says:

        I bet you like the smell of Sharpie marker and those other markers in the metal barrels – those seriously permanent ones that they actually used to let us use in school in the olden days! 🙂


      • Stef says:

        Guilty as charged. School supplies were a great source of noxious fumes. From markers, to glue, to dry erase pens…


  5. ElizOF says:

    I had a good laugh over the initial tryout for your oils. Good thing it’s all sorted, and your long held wish has come true. Kudos! 🙂


    • Stef says:

      Thanks Elizabeth. It did take a bit of ‘science’ (experimentation), but I think things are good now. (At least for the scents I have right now. As I purchase additional oils, I may have to re-engineer the process should those fragrances be more/less strong…)


  6. Touch2Touch says:

    Delighted to read about your experience without having had to go through it myself!
    You write so entertainingly, Stef, it’s a treat. As good as — aromatherapy, I betcha!


  7. Funny how things can just show up after actively looking for them for ages.


  8. Hallysann says:

    Having banned the girls from burning candles in their bedrooms I once bought them little circular diffusers made of clay specifically designed to sit ontop of a light bulb. They worked pretty well, you put neat drops of oil onto the clay and when the light was on the clay would heat up and spread the scents around the room. 🙂


    • Stef says:

      I’ve seen those little devices. A few years back (when I first looked into aromatherapy options for the car) I stumbled on those – but I couldn’t figure out a way to make them work in a moving vehicle. I think the solution I found this go-round will work a bit better for my needs. 🙂


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