Essential oils are a powerful and plant-based way to prevent and fight a variety of health problems. But essential oils aren’t always effective on their own. Carrier oils also play an important role. By understanding what carrier oils are, you’ll also understand how to use essential oils more effectively. Your complete guide to carrier oils starts right now:

Carrier Oils Defined

So, what is a carrier oil and how is it used? Carrier oil is a type of oil made from the fatty portion of a plant. Seeds, kernels and nuts are commonly used to make carrier oils. These oils don’t dissipate over time and have no strong odor, although some might have a slight nutty scent.

Carrier oils are used to create a variety of topical products including lotion, creams, bath oils, lip balms and more. The color, smell and consistency of the final product can vary significantly based on the blend.

The Connection between Carrier Oil and Essential Oil   

Essential oils are distilled from the aromatic portions of a plant. They’re highly concentrated and powerful. In fact, essential oils alone are too strong to apply directly to the skin. Contact can lead to itchiness, irritation and other issues. Plus, essential oils evaporate easily and can have an overwhelming smell.

Carrier oils turn essential oils into a pleasant and effective topical treatment. Because the carrier oils are made from the fatty elements of seeds and nuts, they add consistency to the essential oils. They allow the essential oil to be safely applied to the skin. The carrier oil literally carries the essential oil onto the skin. Using a carrier oil is the most efficient and safest way for how to dilute essential oils. 

Carrier oils for essential oils have different benefits depending on their source. Different types of plants and nuts have unique therapeutic benefits. Carriers will affect the feel, look and smell of the essential oil product.

Are Carrier Oils Used When Diffusing Essential Oils?

Carrier oils play an important role in allowing essential oils to be safely applied to the skin. But aside from topical use, essential oils are often diffused. Diffusers and nebulizers vaporize the oil and spread the particles throughout the room.

Generally, a carrier oil shouldn’t be added to essential oils before diffusion. In fact, adding carrier oils can actually damage your diffuser. Carrier oils are only used for topical application. When using essential oils aromatically, you can simply apply a few drops directly into the diffuser or nebulizer.     

The Difference between Carrier Oils, Base Oils and Vegetable Oils

Both vegetable oil and base oil are types of carrier oils. Typically, the term carrier oil is used within the world of aromatherapy. Vegetable, fixed and base oils are terms used in the skin care industry. Note that fixed and base oils can be made from vegetables and plants, but they don’t have to be. Fish, emu and other animal oils can also be used as to make base oils. However, animal-based oils are almost never used in essential oils.

Avoid using mineral oil and petroleum jelly. These oils are both byproducts of petroleum production. Regular use clogs pores and allows toxins to build up in the body. Plus, mineral oils also prevent essential oils from absorption. Mixing essential oils and mineral oils will completely negate the benefits of the essential oil

The Power of the (Cold) Press

You want to select carrier oils which have been “cold pressed” or “cold expeller pressed.” This is a processing method used on the fatty portions of the plant. While some heat is generated during this friction-based process, no excessive or prolonged high temperatures are created.

High-temperature processing often damages the nutrients found inside the carrier oil. Avoid any oils which have been “expeller pressed,” as that’s a high-temperature process. The term “expeller pressed” is purposefully similar to “cold expeller pressed” as a way for manufacturers of cheaper carrier oils to confuse consumers.   

How to Shop for Carrier Oils

Carrier oils are easy to find. They’re available everywhere from grocery stores to discount retailers and more. But be careful before buying. Most carrier oils available in larger stores are not cold pressed.

Instead, try retailers (online and off) who specialize in carrier oils. This will likely be either a health food or holistic nutrition store. Cold expeller pressed oils are often more expensive than expeller pressed oils, but they’re also more effective and will last longer because they don’t evaporate. 

Check the bottle for dust. Lots of build up often indicates that the bottle had been sitting on the shelf for a while. Freshly pressed carrier oils will be the most potent and effective.

Each carrier oil should consist of just a single ingredient. Avoid any “oil” which is a blend of two different oils. Also avoid any carrier oils which contain additives and preservatives. Note that carrier oil and essential oils are often blended together, and that’s perfectly fine. Just avoid any carrier oil which consists of two different oils.     

Nutrients Found in Carrier Oils

Carrier oils will contain a variety of fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The specific properties will depend on the type of plant used to make the oil. For example, plants which contain Vitamin E make carrier oils which soothe the skin and last a long time. 

Final Thoughts

Although the health benefits of essential oils seem to get the most attention, carrier oils play a vital but often overlooked role. They allow essential oils to be safely applied to skin, where the healing benefits can be absorbed by the body. Together, carrier and essential oils can safely, effectively and affordably treat a variety of different health issues.

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