Essential oils can be a great and safe natural remedy if used safely. The purpose of this post is to help educate you on the safety and proper use of various essential oils so you and your families can stay safe using essential oils. It is important to know understand and know the general usage guidelines for using essential oils.
Keep essential oils out of the light and out of extreme heat
Essential oils should keep in a dark-colored glass bottle, away from the sun and other sources of ultraviolet light. Your oils will last much longer if stored properly.
Essential oils are volatile and quick to catch fire, so don’t store or use them near a gas stove, fireplace, or a burning candle.
Essential oils can dissolve plastics
Essential oils and plastic don’t mix. An essential oil will eat through a plastic bottle, and the oil will be ruined so don’t decant oils into a plastic bottle.
Treat your essential oils the way you would treat over-counter medication
Keep them away from children, use them only as directed, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Many of your essential oils will last for years – the bottle you buy today could still be with you a decade or more for now, and it will retain its full strength. This is only the case if the essential oils are organic and 100% pure.
Recommended to try a skin “patch test” before beginning to use any essential oil
Always do a skin test an essential oil before using it. Each person’s body is different, and a patch test may indicate a sensitivity to an essential oil.
- Add a drop of the essential oil to a teaspoon of a carrier oil on the inside of your upper arm. Wait for a few hours and see if redness or a rash develops. If nothing happens, you may use the diluted oil more liberally. If you do develop redness, you have a sensitivity to this particular essential oil, and you should refrain using it on your skin.
- You may repeat to check for allergic sensitivity. Remember that allergies can develop any time after the first exposure; thus the absence of a reaction does not necessarily mean that an allergy will not develop with later exposures.
Learn how to dilute your essential oils
Essential oils are not water-soluble, they are oil-soluble. Most essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin to decrease the risk of skin irritation and sensitization. Learning to add essential oils to a carrier oil will in return help in amplifying the efficacy of your application. Apply essential oil without a carrier oil directly onto your skin (“neat” application), the essential oil may just sit on the surface of the skin, whereas the lipids (molecules composed of fatty acids, organic fats) in the carrier oil can drive the essential oil into the pores.
Learn more about the common carrier oils here.
General dilution guidelines for essential oils can be found in this dilution chart.
More essential oil is not always better
Essential oils are very potent – a little goes a long way. Generally, 1-3 drops of essential oils are usually quite adequate for topical use. Despite some of the essential oils can use it neat without dilution (refer here for single essential oil application codes), it is still advisable to dilute any essential oil before application. If you like to cover a large area of the body, i.e., legs or back, etc., it is best to use more carrier oil to further spread that essential oil over the skin.
Take extra caution on these essential oils
- Essential oils, i.e., rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, and wintergreen should not be used on or near the throats and chest area of young children or babies. These oils contain menthol, can slow breathing (or even stop it completely) in very young children or those with respiratory problems.
- Some essential oils are photosensitive. Avoid using the below essential oils before or during exposure to direct sunlight (or UV rays) as it may cause a rash, pigmentation, or increase the chance you will get a sunburn.
- Extra caution for epileptics and those with high blood pressure when using essential oils with high ketones oils such as basil, rosemary, sage and tansy oils.
If you get an essential oil in your eye or it burns your skin, do not rinse with water – use carrier oil instead
Remember, essential is not water-soluble, is fat-soluble. If an essential oil gets into your eye, do not rinse it with water (as water will drive the oil deeper into the tissue and cause your eye to sting even more). Instead, apply a carrier oil around and in your eye until the discomfort subsides.
Keep essential oils out of your eyes and ears
For topical application, essential oils can usually be applied to the area of the body that you want to support. However, essential oils should never be put into the ear canal. Additionally, essential oils should not be used in the eye. Do not handle contact lenses or rub your eyes with essential oils on your fingers. Even in a minute amount, many essential oils may damage contacts and will irritate eyes.
When in doubt or for generalized support, you can apply oils to the bottom of the feet, on the wrists, on the outside of the ear, behind the ear, and on the back of the neck.
Don’t be swayed by marketing claims
If a distributor or seller says their oils are “certified therapeutic” or “medicinal” grade, that’s a marketing term only. There is no certifying body or grading system for essential oils anywhere in the world.
Do not take any essential oil internally
There are many online sites suggesting ingesting essential oils and many times people do not know consuming essential oils can cause gastritis or even more serious problems. Do not place any oil in your mouth or under your tongue, not to swallow any oil or do not use a syringe to inject any oil into your body or any body cavity through an opening.
***Do not intend to ingest or consume essential oils on your own without the guidance of a professional practitioner.
Safety for babies, children, and pregnant mothers
Not all essential oil is safe for children. You should never use undiluted essential oil on a child’s skin because the absorption rate through a child’s skin is much faster than through an adult’s. If you decide the use of essential oil for your child, measure half the amount (or less) for an adult, and dilute it with carrier oil: 1 drop of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. In particular, avoid topical use of lavender oil and tea tree oil on prepubescent boys – these oils’ high hormonal-trigger content can cause boys in this age to grow breast – Source
If a child or infant accidentally swallows an essential oil, do the following:
- Seek immediate emergency medical attention, if necessary
- Give the child milk, cream, yogurt or another safe, oil-soluble liquid to drink
Pregnant women should consult a health-care professional before starting any use of essential oils. Avoid essential oils during the first trimester of pregnancy and consider avoiding them throughout pregnancy.
In short, if you are not sure that essential oil is safe for you, your fetus, your baby, or an older child, follow this simple rule: Don’t use it
Never add undiluted essential oils to bath water
Always use a dispersing agent, such as bath gel base, Epsom salts, or baking soda before adding essential oils to bath water. When essential oils are put directly into bath water without a dispersing agent, they can cause serious discomfort on sensitive skin because the essential oils tend to float, undiluted, on top of the water. Generally, never use more than 10 drops of essential oils in one bath.
If you are unfamiliar with essential oils and their benefits, it is important that you follow some important guidelines when using the oils. Be patient, start gradually to find out what work for you, your family members and even your friends!