So, you want to learn how to dilute essential oils? Fantastic! There is so much to learn about the practice of using these ancient concentrates.

People have been using essential oils for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. In fact, King Tut was found surrounded by jars of oil in his tomb. In some places around the world, essential oils were -- and still are -- bartering tools and currency. Most noteworthy, oils paid for land in some societies. It is amazing how valuable essential oils have been throughout history.

It’s really no wonder how popular aromatherapy is today. The use of essential oils is surging now in a time when many people are looking to get back to some of the basics. Many families are employing simpler and more natural options. But, there are some rules when using these powerful agents.

That is why it’s vitally important to learn how to dilute essential oils safely and correctly.

Learning How to Dilute Essential Oils is an Issue of Safety

Each year well-meaning individuals end up in hospitals and doctors' offices due to injury. That is usually from the improper use of essential oils. Most of these injuries are from purposeful or accidental ingestion. Do not ingest essential oils. The information provided below on how to dilute essential oils is for topical use only. Always consult a registered aromatherapist for internal or oral use of essential oils

"Neat" is the word for using essential oils undiluted, or at full concentration. It's vitally important to dilute your essential oils for topical use. Even a single drop can have a lasting consequence if applied "neat" to the skin. There are reports of severe chemical burns, rashes, hives, welts, blisters, and neuropathy, just to name a few of the symptoms of these injuries.

When diffusing essential oils, dilution is often not necessary. It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions that accompanied your specific diffuser or nebulizer.


Sensitization is an allergic reaction to the exposure of essential oils. Dermal sensitization is also sneaky. It can show up immediately or in a delayed reaction. It can develop over time with increasing severity in symptoms or hit all at once. Sensitization can also become more severe with each subsequent exposure. Overuse, improper dilution, or neat topical use can trigger sensitization.

However, you can safely enjoy these concentrates by learning how to dilute essential oils.

Supplies You Need to Learn How to Dilute Essential Oils

You will need just a few supplies to dilute your essential oils and make them safe for use. These supplies are easy to acquire. That is especially true if you have been dabbling in aromatherapy for even a short amount of time.


  • Essential oil with a dropper
  • Carrier oil
  • Liquid measuring cup for fluid ounces or milliliters
  • Dark glass bottle

Carrier oils

carrier oil with almonds

Image by Rabbixel from Pixabay 

Carrier oils are vegetable oils derived from seeds, kernels, or nuts. Just as the essential oil has a purpose, so does the carrier oil. They offer different therapeutic properties and have many unique characteristics to consider. You can compare the price, color, aroma, viscosity, absorption rate, and shelf life when choosing a carrier oil. For example, you may prefer the aroma of one carrier over another. It's also important to be mindful of shelf life. Unlike essential oils, which do not spoil, some carrier oils can go rancid faster than you would expect.

Furthermore, you should avoid mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Neither are plant-based oils and do not contain the same nutrients or benefits of vegetable oils.


Carrier oils can range in price from pennies per ounce to several dollars per ounce.


Most carrier oils are different hues of yellows or greens. Some are lighter than others.


The smell of your carrier oil can have a major impact on the fragrance of the essential oil you are diluting. Many carriers will have very faint scents, while others will be far more overpowering.


Essential oil viscosity

Image by nir_design from Pixabay

The viscosity of your carrier oil is an important consideration based on how you plan to use it. If you are planning to use the oil for a massage, for example, a medium viscosity is ideal. If the viscosity is too thin, the oil will absorb before the end of the massage. Yet, if it's too thick, it will be sticky and leave a lasting residue, which clogs pores.


Absorption of the oil connects directly to the viscosity. Much of the absorption factor is dependent upon personal preference. You will determine what you like through trial and error. However, light oils absorb faster and are considered better for people with oily skin. Light oils are also ideal for hair treatments. Yet, if the oil is for severely dry skin or damaged hair, a heavier weight oil with a slower absorption rate may be desired.

Shelf life

Shelf life depends on the types of fat in the carrier oil. If the oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids, the shelf life may be as short as six months. Those with antioxidants, like vitamin E or lauric acid, can have a shelf life as long as two years.

Shelf life

Shelf life depends on the types of fat in the carrier oil. If the oil is high in unsaturated fatty acids, the shelf life may be as short as six months. Those with antioxidants, like vitamin E or lauric acid, can have a shelf life as long as two years.

Types of carrier oils

There are a number of carrier oils available. Below is a summary of some of the most popular types.

Almond oil

Considered one of the best options for dilution, sweet almond oil is an affordable carrier oil. It absorbs well into the skin and doesn't leave a greasy residue. It is a popular option for topical application. With a light aroma and stable shelf life of one to two years, it can be a go-to all-purpose carrier oil for essential oil dilution.

Apricot kernel oil

Apricot kernel oil is a versatile carrier oil. Known for its all-purpose nature and excellent for massage, it absorbs well and has a stable shelf life of approximately one to two years. It also has a faint aroma that doesn't pose much conflict with most essential oils.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is available in two forms. Virgin coconut oil (VCO) is solid at room temperature. It is a fantastic moisturizer for skin and hair and is popular for massage. VCO has a strong coconut aroma, which could pose a conflict with the aroma of the essential oil it is carrying. However, it does have a long shelf life.

Fractionated coconut oil is a liquid coconut oil without the strong coconut aroma. It is not a whole or complete oil due to the processing required to make it liquid. You should avoid this oil for topical use.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba oil is a carrier oil that absorbs well and is anti-inflammatory in nature. It's a great choice for massage and works well for people with oily skin. As an added bonus, it also has a stable shelf life.

Olive oil

While olive oil is a very popular oil in the kitchen, it really isn't preferred when it comes to skin care. It's a much heavier oil and can actually cause allergic reactions in some people. It also leaves an oily residue on the skin and can clog pores.

Rosehip seed oil

Rosehip seed oil is more expensive than other choices. It's usually blended with other carrier oils due to the expense. In addition to being pricey, it also has a less stable shelf life and can go rancid in a short amount of time.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil is affordable, however, it's important to look for unrefined sunflower oil for an essential oil carrier. It has a shelf life of about one year and is absorbed well into the skin. Its aroma is faint and not overpowering.

Watermelon seed oil

Watermelon seed oil is an excellent all-purpose carrier oil that is great for all skin types. It is light and easily absorbs into the skin. It also has an indefinite shelf life, making it extremely stable.

How to Dilute Essential Oils

How to dilute essential oils is an extremely simple process. Just follow these six steps.

Step 1 – Patch test the carrier oil

Out of an abundance of caution, it is wise to do a patch test with the carrier oil you plan to use. To perform a skin patch test, simply wash and dry a place on your forearm. Then blot a bit of the oil on your skin. You will need just enough to moisten the skin, but do not saturate it. Then cover the patch with sterile gauze for 24 hours, unless you experience any burning or irritation. Certainly, if you experience any irritation, discontinue use and seek out another carrier oil.

This patch test will rule out the carrier oil, should you have any reaction to your diluted essential oils.

Step 2 – Select your essential oil wisely

There are hundreds of essential oils to choose from. For the sake of brevity, we will only touch on this topic. However, researching each oil and its purpose is highly recommended.

Some essential oils are safe for topical use, while others are not. Certain essential oils are dermal sensitizers not suitable for topical applications. They include things like lemongrass, cinnamon bark, clove oil, fig leaf absolute, and rue oil, just to name a few. Other essential oils are photosensitive and can lead to severe burns and even increase the risk of skin cancer when exposed to the sun's UV light.

When selecting the essential oil to dilute, you must consider how you plan to use the oil and its properties.

Step 3 - Choose dilution level desired

Learning how to dilute essential oils means learning how to manage concentrations of the oil within the carrier oil. The chart below outlines safe dilution based on the volume of carrier oil and number of drops needed.

Infants and children

As a general rule, essential oils used on infants and children should be under the supervision of a registered aromatherapist or holistic doctor. For children under 24 months, the dilution ranges are 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent. A little can go a long way, so use caution.

Infants and children

As a general rule, essential oils used on infants and children should be under the supervision of a registered aromatherapist or holistic doctor. For children under 24 months, the dilution ranges are 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent. A little can go a long way, so use caution.


For adult use, the ranges can be from 0.2 percent to 1.5 percent for facial application, 1.5 percent to 3 percent for body massage, and 1 percent to 4 percent for bath products. Never drop undiluted essential oils directly into bath water, as this can cause severe irritation and possible burns.

Water does not dilute essential oils.

Step 4 – Measure carrier oil and pour into a dark glass bottle

The amount of diluted essential oil that you mix will depend mostly on the shelf life of your carrier oil and the planned use. Keep in mind that one ounce of carrier oil will only need nine drops for a 1 percent dilution range. Measure the desired amount of carrier oil and pour into the dark glass bottle. That will serve as your storage container for your diluted essential oil.

Step 5 – Add drops of essential oil

Once you've measured the carrier oil and have it in the new bottle, simply add the essential oil drops for the dilution range desired. Even if you are simply preparing one dilution, label your bottle with carrier type, essential oil type, and dilution. That will keep your oils easily identifiable, even months after you made your solution.

Step 6: Gently mix and store properly

Keep stored oils in a cool, dry place and be mindful of the carrier shelf life. If the odor is off, there is a good chance your carrier is rancid and no longer fit for use.

Also, make sure all essential oils are placed away from children and use child-proof caps. As previously mentioned, essential oils can cause injury, especially when accidentally ingested. A small child drinking essential oils will surely result in a visit to the emergency room.

Learning How to Dilute Essential Oils is Good for the Whole Family

People have enjoyed the benefits of essential oils for thousands of years. In the modern world, there are many applications for these elements of old. You can safely enjoy essential oils to enhance a healthy lifestyle by following these simple rules.

Learning how to dilute essential oils is absolutely necessary for topical use. Before you begin using any natural or holistic medicine for the first time, check with your doctor to be sure it's safe for you and your family.

What are some of your favorite essential oils and how do you use them? Let us know in the comments below!

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