8 Things I Learned From My Wife's Essential Oil Obsession

by Brandon Daniels
Originally Published: 
A woman calmly smelling essential oil
Wavebreakmedia / Getty

Up until 13 months ago, I knew absolutely nothing about essential oils. In fact, when I’d hear people talk about them, I thought they were talking about cooking oil – you know, in the way that it’s an essential item in your pantry.

Other “essential” oils: olive, coconut, and engine.

That’s not it. Essential oils are a code word that means “a slippery slope into a deep understanding of the workings of the inner body through external absorption and inhalation.” I probably made that up. All I really know is that thanks to those diffusers, my house now alternates between smelling like old lady perfume, a lemon grove, and a wood chipper.

Just about every aspect of my life is touched in some way by an essential oil. So, even though I don’t know anything about the oils themselves, I learned a few things by being surrounded by them.

And I mean that literally.

1. Don’t look at the price tag.

I came home to the most awful smell in my house. It smelled like my grandpa’s Plymouth Duster that time he left the parking brake on when he drove me to the mall. My wife told me that the smell was actually Frankincense. Like what they brought the baby Jesus? The exact same thing. Apparently, this is the highest quality frankincense available on the market today. No sir, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill frankincense from the clearance section at the dollar store. This is the good stuff. I think it’s made from only humanely-raised, free-range frankincense. It’s so humane, they give it a name before pulverizing and boiling it.

I call ours Mr. Frank N. Sins.

You see, this quality makes a world of difference. You can tell it’s good frankincense because it smells like my grandpa’s Plymouth Duster. Anything cheaper is probably just liquefied cigar ashes. It’s easy to pass off flavored water as the real thing, so you have to look for only reputable dealers for the good stuff you can trust. My wife is all in with essential oils, but she says I’m not allowed to see the receipt. Apparently the price helps pay for the lemon’s college education before it can become an oil.

2. Don’t make fun of their names, even if they’re really funny.

If your wife is anything like mine, she’ll expose you to essential oils in very small increments. We started out with lemon and lavender, which is great because I’ve heard of both of those. As time went on, she brought in more options. Celery seed, clove, citronella, grapefruit, jasmine – all items that are a little more exotic, but logical. Then, out of nowhere, she’ll bring home Christmas Spirit, and you’ll ask, very innocently, “Christmas Spirit? As in pure Santa Claus tears?” Your wife will not laugh, and you’ll be sent to another room.

There’s one called Build Your Dream. I like to think it’s an oil made from an old episode of Oprah. Or how about Cool Azul? That’s probably when the bad guy from Ghostbusters takes a chill pill.

Zuul: Come on, man, let’s just chill for a while.

So really, take it from me. If you see bottles of Dream Catcher or Dragon Time, just leave the Game of Throne jokes at the door.

3. Two drops is not enough.

Once, when the diffuser ran out of water, it was my turn to refill it. When I took the cap off, I could still smell a good bit of the Jade Lemon inside. I thought, hey, there’s probably still enough left in the bottom of the reservoir, so I just refilled the water and started it back up again. A few seconds later, my wife walks in the room and sniffs the air. “Um, how many drops did you put in there?”

I did that thing that all husbands do when they lie. I shrugged my shoulders and pretended like I had no idea. “Uh, I don’t know,” I said. “I think it was maybe, um…two drops.” That seemed reasonable to me. What’s the smallest number of drops I could put in that would smell the same as zero drops? I guessed two and was wrong.

See, two drops is not enough. It doesn’t matter if you put two, one, or even zero drops in a diffuser. That’s apparently not enough to do anything. Four is the bare minimum. Anything less than that and you may as well pour them down the drain.

Actually, scratch that. I just looked it up, and sometimes you really are encouraged to pour them down the drain.

4. There are no limits to the powers of essential oils.

Never, ever make the assumption that essential oils just make the house smell nice. Because, really, depending on the oil, sometimes they make the house smell a little worse. Essential oils are capable of way more than you’d expect. They can clean, wash clothing, reduce anxiety, scrub your bathtub. Beyond cleaning, they can do more – repel mosquitos, for example. People claim they can cure allergies. I think at least two Marvel superheroes have origin stories involving an essential oil accident.

5. Don’t throw away a bottle, even if you think it’s empty.

Don’t ever throw away an empty bottle. When you threw your arm out of socket trying feebly to get out another drop, you might be tempted to think the bottle is empty, therefore trash. But it’s not. Do not throw it away. The proper place for an empty essential oil bottle is in the same drawer as the rest of them. At least, that’s what I’m assuming based on the evidence in my house.

Half of these bottles are empty.

6. Lemon juice is not the same as lemon essential oil.


7. The world will now stink.

I had an extended Christmas break this year. When I got back to work, my office was really smelly. That’s an understatement. It was pure stink. Once, after a day at the beach, I put my swim trunks in a plastic bag and sealed it. I found that bag about six months later in the corner of my basement. I’d gladly buy that smell as perfume than suffer the odor of my office that day.

What’s worse, that smell was everywhere. It was in the hallways, the conference room, even the cafeteria had that smell lingering in the background. We all know the rule, don’t we? When you smell something everywhere, it has to be you. I did the subtle armpit check. You know, that classy move where you pretend like you’re stretching and then rolling your neck at the same time so as not to make obvious that you’re shoving your nose into the moist, damp area under your arm. That wasn’t it. My armpits smelled like roses (well, Old Spice roses). Was it my breath? Was my mustache stinky? No and no.

Turns out, this is just what the world smells like. In that time at home, I grew accustomed to fresh, clean air with just a hint of lavender. Now that I’m back in the world, I realize how much everything smells like garbage.

8. Don’t count on being sick. Ever again.

You’ll think the whole exercise is pointless, that you live with this constant VCR-sounding hum and a faint misty fog for absolutely no reason. Alas, you didn’t develop superpowers. You aren’t pushing back an infectious smog from the outside. Nothing.

Then you breathe easily through your nose. You try to remember the last time you were sick. It was more than a year ago, wasn’t it? That’s right, you haven’t been sick since the time before your wife’s pervasive use of essential oils. I can’t explain it, and I won’t try – all I know is I used to be sick at least every two months, and I haven’t had as much as a sniffle in 13 months.

At our wedding, I promised to love my wife through sickness and health. Well, thanks to those oils, I’m not getting sick, so are our vows irrelevant now? I’m not sure.

If your wife is starting to dive into the world of essential oils, that means you too are on your way to a house that smells fresh and, thanks to the mist, will feel like a Pink Floyd concert every day.

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