Travel and Christmas time seem to go together like red wine and heartburn. It’s not exactly awesome, but it’s pretty darn common 😂 Christmas and travel are stressful enough on their own, but combine them with winter weather and a couple thousand strangers in the same boat, and Christmas travel is not always the best travel. Long flights, extended waits, tiny airplane loos, cranky travel companions, dragging a massive coat around—even when things go pretty well, I think we’d all rather teleport than fly. Anyhow, I got the idea for this travel inhaler when I was seated right in front of the toilets on a flight that ended up being delayed on the tarmac for three hours before take-off, causing me to miss my connecting flight and resulting in my needing to take an extra flight several hours in the opposite direction of where I was going in order to catch a flight to where I wanted to be, landing a solid 7 hours later than planned. It was the loo proximity that had me thinking about devising this inhaler, though. That was not a delightful olfactory experience (to be charitable) and I found myself wishing I had something fresh in my purse that I could huff.
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When thinking about fresh scents for brightening less than divine smell experiences mint often comes to mind, but I decided to head another direction. My favourite fresh scent in the whole world is easily a beautiful Canadian Rocky Mountain forest—crisp air laced with the scent of pine and spruce trees, with notes of warmth from the sunshine hitting the treetops and the earth. It instantly slows my breathing as I stop and close my eyes, turning my face towards to sun to deeply inhale the smell of a childhood spent climbing Canadian mountains and wandering through forests.
This inhaler is designed to live in a wee bottle in your purse or backpack, in that same baggie as all your other limited carry-on liquids. It’s not for topical application—just for inhalation. I made my blend in a wee spray bottle so I could mist a bit on a tissue or just huff it out of the bottle. As I was designing this scent blend, I found that design for inhalation was really quite different than design for application or diffusion. When we inhale essential oils from the bottle or a tissue we don’t have the benefit of body heat or a diffuser to help the blend mellow and mingle—it’s a much punchier way to experience a scent blend.
My initial idea for this blender was primarily a blend of coniferous essential oils, with added notes of lavender and chamomile, but when I tried that I found even small amounts of lavender and chamomile positively dominated the delicate, volatile top notes of the conifers. I took that blend and put it in my ultrasonic diffuser, and it was lovely there, but I didn’t like it as an inhaler blend. All the freshness I wanted was swept aside for lavender and earthy herbal tones, which felt heavy when compared to the lightness I wanted.
So, back to the drawing board—I simplified the blend to focus on bright and fresh, which is exactly what I want when I’m stuck on an airplane for hours on end. Our core essential oils are fir balsam and black spruce, but feel free to customize those to your favourite conifers. Spruce hemlock, white spruce, pine, scotch pine, and other bright coniferous oils will all work, so choose the ones that make your soul sing. I’d recommend avoiding cedarwood as I find it too soft for this blend, and I’d skip cypress and it’s much spicier and more aggressive than I’m aiming for.
I have provided the amounts in weight and drops, with weight obviously being much more accurate. That said, accuracy is not hugely important here; the character of the blend will already change with the precise essential oils we’re using, and since we are not worried about concentrations for application, I encourage you to let your nose be your guide! And do remember—you’re going to need to like the smell of coniferous trees to like this blend! If those aren’t your jam, this blend is not going to be a favourite for you.
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Christmas Travel Essential Oil Inhaler
2.36g | 50 drops fir balsam essential oil
0.79g | 20 drops black spruce essential oil
0.46g | 15 drops cardamom essential oil
Weigh or count the drops of the essential oils into a 5mL (0.17fl oz) mister bottle (I used plastic, but the sturdy ones I used have been discontinued and I’m hesitant to recommend a plastic one sight-unseen for pure essential oils, so I’m recommending glass).
That’s it! To use you can either sniff straight from the bottle (I find the residual scent under the cap to be more than enough if it’s been misted in the last few days), or spritz the mixture onto a tissue and keep that handy.
You could also apply a bit of the blend to a piece of aromatherapy jewellery, or create your own by encasing a bit of spritzed cotton in a locket-type necklace.