This essential oils guide is meant to show you safety and uses when working with essential oils.
Essential oils are something I wish I had learned about earlier in my life. Essential oils are distilled or pressed plant matter where the healing and protective essences of the plants are pulled from the original plant matter to create a potent, volatile oil. They are nature’s original pharmaceuticals; referenced in the bible, used by Cleopatra, ancient cultures, and kings throughout history for their healing, disinfecting, and beautifying properties.
Essential oils, by nature, are antibacterial in a way that still supports healthy bacterial balance. They are anti-fungal and antimicrobial, which is why they are a great ingredient in making cleaning supplies. They are also multi-purpose and can be used for more than just cleaning, such as in aromatherapy applications, DIY personal care products, and health remedies.
Essential oils are also serious business. Just one drop of essential oil is equivalent to 15-40 cups of medicinal tea. I highly recommend that you research the safe use of essential oils before using them, but here are some precautions that you should be aware of.
Essential Oils Guide: Uses of Essential Oils
- Make your own cleaners: Like this Rosemary Lavender All- Purpose Spray.
- Make your own bug repellant: A lot of essential oils including Eucalyptus, Geranium, Lavender, and Peppermint etc. have strong bug repelling properties. They can be added to some oil or water to make your own bug repellant. They can also be used to deter bugs from entering your home.
- Diffuse in a diffuser: This is the most popular way to use essential oils in your home for list of recommended diffusers visit the resources page.
- Scent your laundry: Adding a couple drops to wool dryer balls or a wet wash cloth when drying clothes is a great way to add a divine scent to your laundry without harmful chemicals. You can also add essential oils to your wash cycle as well.
- Freshen your air: Make a simple air freshener using one part vodka or rubbing alcohol to two parts water and add your favorite essential oils.
- Freshen your carpet: Add your favorite scents to baking soda and sprinkle on your carpets before vacuuming.
- Clean produce: A few drops of lemon essential oil can be great to add to a produce bath to get it extra clean.
- Make your own personal care products: There are so many essential oil uses when making your own skin care, beauty and personal care products.
- Add to your bath: For a luxurious and healing bathing experience, make your own bath salts by mixing 1 cup Epsom salts, ¼ cup baking soda, and essential oils of your choice.
- Home remedies and natural first aid: There are so many uses for essential oils in home remedies and natural first aid. Oregano oil can boost the immune system and fight stomach bugs. Peppermint can fight nausea and headaches. Lavender can be applied directly to skin to sooth bug bites and burns.
- Aromatherapy: Different essential oils can be inhaled or massaged into the body via a carrier oil to experience the benefits of aromatherapy. Examples are Lavender can improve sleep and relieve anxiety. Rosemary can increase concentration and peppermint can energize you.
- Cook with them: Essential oils in very small amounts can be added to certain recipes to impart a high amount of flavor. It’s very important to make sure that if using these essential oils, they are 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils like the ones listed on the resources page. It is also imperative that you are careful and have a full understanding of the essential oil before using.
- Clean your mouth: You can make your own toothpaste combining some peppermint or spearmint essential oil with some coconut oil and brushing with that. You can also make a simple mouthwash by adding either of those essential oils to some water and shaking well.
- Care for your hair: Add to oils to other DIY hair care products. Certain essential oils can promote hair growth, strengthen hair and reduce dandruff. Essential oils for healthy hair.
Essential Oils Guide: Safety and Cautions
- All essential oil brands are not created equal. There are not a lot of standards or regulations when it comes to creating, labeling, and distributing essential oils. On the resources page, I list the essential oil brands I recommend and trust. Synthetic oils and fragrance oils are not essential oils and should not be used as such, but many are still labeled as essential oils.
- Just like other things in nature, there is always the possibility of having an allergy to some specific essential oils. It is important that you do a patch test on your skin using some carrier oil mixed with the essential oil you are going to use, to make sure there is no allergic reaction to you or your family members. If you already know you are allergic to the plant, don’t use the essential oil. Some essential oils can cause dermal reactions and are more irritating to the skin.
- Products that contain essential oils should never be stored in plastic. They will start to break down the plastic and some of the components of the plastic will leach into the product.
- Essential oils do not bind that well to water, which is why water should always be the last ingredient added when using essential oils to make products; therefore, letting the other ingredients combine well before the water is added.
- Certain essential oils should not be used around small children. If you have children, only use essential oils that are safe for children which can change based on age. Extra caution should be taken if using essential oils when pregnant. You should always consult a qualified health practitioner and make sure the essential oils you use are safe for pregnancy.
- Be cautious when using essential oils around pets, especially if the essential oil has specific cautions regarding your pet which is something to research before using. If you have cats and dogs in the house, I recommend you limit the use of essential oils on surfaces they are constantly in contact with like floors and furniture, and do your research to figure out the safest ones to use. Cats can be especially sensitive because of their heightened ability to absorb these types of things through their skin. Please do further research if you are going to be using essential oils around your pets so you know which ones are safest and best to use. Since cats are especially at risk here are some essential oil safety tips for cat owners.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated and should always be diluted. Most essential oils cannot be applied directly to the skin without the use of a carrier oil like olive, almond, coconut, jojoba, apricot, etc. Dilution is key when working with essential oils. Keep away from eyes, inside of ears and other sensitive areas.
- Essential oils should never be ingested unless they are 100% pure-grade and used as instructed by a qualified practitioner.
- Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place away from pets and children. They are photosensitive, which is why the bottles they are stored in or used to create products should be amber, cobalt, or violet glass.
- Some essential oils, especially most citrus, are photo-toxic so be careful if using on skin before going out in the sun. Here is a list of photo-toxic essential oils and how to use them safely.
- If you ever get essential oil on your skin or other area and it burns or irritates, do not use water to remove it. Instead, use a carrier oil by applying the carrier oil directly to the affected area.
*If you have a medical condition please consult a qualified practitioner before working with any essential oils. These statements on essential oils have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease.
I hope this essential oils guide has helped you become more comfortable with the proper use of essential oils. Essential oils have many benefits when it comes to cleaning, personal care and home remedies but there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to using them safely. It is better to not use them if you do not feel comfortable with them.
This essential oils guide has been modified from my original chapter on essential oils from my book Easy Green Cleaning.
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