Essential oils are used to improve health and wellness, so the last thing you want is an essential oil which makes you sick or causes any harm. Before using any type of essential oil, make sure you understand the dosage and application procedure. Fortunately, essential oils are perfectly safe – as long as you use them properly. Here’s everything you need to know about essential oil safety:
What is an Essential Oil?
Essential oils contain a highly concentrated liquid made from the aroma compounds of plants. Each oil contains the essence of the plant’s fragrance, which is where the name “essential oil” comes from. Only a tiny amount of the aroma compound is required to create a reaction in a person.
Essential oils have two main distribution methods. A few drops of the oil can be added to a diffuser or nebulizer. These machines disperse the oil throughout the room, allowing you to breathe in the oil. Plus, diffusing the oil also creates a pleasant scent.
Another popular way to use essential oils is topically. The essential oil is combined with a carrier oil, which is a thicker oil made from seeds, nuts and similar plants. The carrier oil allows the essential oil to be spread across skin evenly.
The Importance of Carrier Oils for Topical Use
Essential oils are highly concentrated. For example, one pound of rose essential oil requires about 1,000 pounds of roses. A pound of peppermint oil requires 256 pounds of peppermint leaf. Every drop of any essential oil is incredibly powerful.
Many people mistakenly use too much essential oil. More doesn’t equal better. Essential oils are not designed to be applied straight from the bottle directly onto your skin.
Before using an essential oil topically, it first must be diluted with a carrier oil. Common types of carrier oils include coconut oil and jojoba oil. Carrier oils are found in many different types of ointments, lotions and balms. They’re the most effective way for how to dilute essential oils.
Generally, a teaspoon of carrier oil should be used for every three to five drops of essential oils. The mixture is rubbed directly onto the skin, where it should be quickly absorbed. The carrier oil literally carries the essential oil into the skin.
Potential Problems of Topical Use
The first rule of essential oil safety is to never apply essential oils directly to your skin. Always first mix them with an appropriate carrier oil. On their own, essential oils are simply too powerful. (This can cause some confusion because many times people use the phrase “essential oils” when they’re technically referring to a blend of essential and carrier oils.)
Contact with non-diluted essential oils can lead to rashes, irritation and other skin problems. Can also result in headaches, blurred vision and even breathing problems.
Now, as you learn more about essential oils, you will discover a few which can be used without dilution. Lavender, rose and chamomile are generally safe to rub on your skin in small amount. However, there are no particular benefits to using undiluted oils, but the potential problems are huge, so most experts recommend diluting every essential oil before use. Additionally, diluting oils is the more economical choice, too.
Staying Safe when Using Topical Oils
When using any essential oil, always start with a small amount until you know how your body will react. Apply just a small circle of the essential/carrier oil blend to the back of your hand or on your arm. Wait about 30 minutes. You’re looking for any redness, itchiness or anything else unusual. Most topical problems will be noticeable quickly, usually within the first five minutes.
If you do notice a problem, there are two potential causes. The essential oil might be too strong. Ensure you’ve added enough carrier. Consider adding more and then applying another a small amount of the new blend to another area on your body. Of course, if the first reaction was severe, you’ll probably just want to just stop using the oil altogether.
The second potential cause of irritation is a potential allergy. While you might be allergic to the essential oil itself, you could also be allergic to the carrier oil. You might want to try a few different combinations of essential and carrier oils in order to determine any potential allergies. Consulting with a dermatologist can also help identify the source of the problem.
When applying topical oils, avoid any sensitive areas. Never put essential oils in your eyes, mouth or ears. Also avoid applying essential oils to the genital areas. The safest and most effective places to apply essential oils are your neck, wrists, chest, temples and the bottom of your feet.
Staying Safe When Diffusing Essential Oils
Most essential oils are safe to inhale through a diffuser or even by breathing indirectly from the bottle for a short period of time. However, like with essential oils for skin, using too much oil in the diffuser can be a problem.
Only diffuse about five drops at a time. That’s enough to fill a room without being overpowering. Plus, filling the diffuser too full increases the risk of an accidental fire. Never leave an oil diffuser or nebulizer running in an empty room. If essential oils are part of your nighttime sleep routine, use a diffuser with auto-shutoff.
Finding Safe and High-Quality Oils
Carefully research the brand behind any essential oils you purchase. Every aspect of developing the essential oil should have strict quality controls from plant growth through the refinement process to the eventual bottling and storage.
Essential oil safety basically boils down to moderation. Always use plenty of carrier oil to dilute the essential oil before applying topically. Only apply a small amount of oil first as a test case. Use just a few drops in a diffuser.
As long as you follow the proper safety precautions, essential oils are a safe and effective way to improve the health of your body.