How to Use Essential Oils Safely
Essential oils have been used for years by people who are sick and tired of resorting to using questionable chemicals and spending money on things they’d rather make themselves. They’re also for people who enjoy fun at-home hobbies and DIY’s. However, there are widespread misconceptions regarding essential oils as a whole. Some groups say they’ll cure every disease and ailment under the sun while others write them off altogether calling them part of a larger marketing scam. Then, of course, there are those who pass them off as merely a short-lived fad.
Well, most of us know that essential oils shouldn’t be used for everything, especially in regards to personal health. I also think it’s safe to say that if essential oils are merely a fad, it’s not one that’s short-lived. However, I will agree that essential oils and their uses are often presented in a way that is dishonest at best and oftentimes quite scammy. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of people, even companies, that just want to “make a buck”.
So, now that we’ve very broadly acknowledged some of the issues in the essential oil industry, let’s consider a few positive aspects of the industry: Essential oils can be used safely, are used safely by countless individuals, and are effective at improving their quality of life when used responsibly.
Their Usefulness VS Your Uses:
Proceed With Caution
Regardless of your thoughts, science has proven the efficacy of many essential oils through numerous and countless studies. That being said, their proper uses and applications must be treated with carefulness and consideration. Before any kind of treatment, it’s always best to check with your doctor or health care practitioner. It’s also important to choose to use quality essential oils, though deceptive marketing can make it difficult to find them. Just because scientific studies have shown essential oils to be effective for a number of applications does not mean that all of your essential oils should be used for what you deem reasonable.
Indeed, essential oils can be harmful to one’s health if they’re used inappropriately or without common sense. Remember, like many potent pharmaceuticals and drugs, essential oils are also very potent. After all, they are super concentrated plant compounds. Therefore, do not approach your use of essential oils lackadaisically. If you’re not a trained professional, follow these 3 simple steps below:
- Do Not use essential oils internally.
- Do Not use essential oils undiluted on the skin.
- Do Not use essential oils while pregnant or nursing without asking a health care professional.
The above list of guidelines is very short and much could be added to it, but if you follow the 3 above steps, you’ll avoid most of the dangers people run into when using essential oils. When it comes to natural products and ingredients for DIY’s, my original experience when I was introduced to essential oils is among the most exciting. So, be careful to not fall into either ditch when it comes to the usefulness of essential oils: Don’t be overly skeptical and don’t believe every “miracle” rumor you read online.
Some of you won’t like the below video, but we’re all adults! While I don’t agree with every point he makes, it’s absolutely hilarious. So, take 5 minutes and watch the video, it will be 5 minutes well spent. Better yet, if you haven’t giggled enough today, here’s your chance!
If you can’t get a few laughs out of that video, you’re way too serious! As suggested in the video, lavender is very helpful for especially tense people like yourself. But really, the key with essential oils is to always use discernment. Do not recklessly use essential oils.
Did you know that in many cases, it can take hundreds or thousands of pounds of plant material to make just one pound of essential oil? Do not recklessly use essential oils only to ask questions later. Always dilute your oils in a carrier oil, never ingest them or take them internally, and always check with a healthcare professional before starting any health or treatment plan. Natural does not equate to healthy.
Using Essential Oils With Emulsifiers
Emulsifiers are used to suspend ingredients in mixtures in order to avoid separation. In regards to plant-oils, emulsifiers are used to disperse the oils evenly in whatever mixture you’re making. A few basic categories of emulsifiers are salts, fats, and alcohols. When using an emulsifier, it’s crucial to introduce your essential oils to the emulsifier before using it for your application.
Let’s take a moment to describe how to use each below:
- Fat Emulsifiers: These would include fats like olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, or just about any other kind of carrier oil you can get your hands on. Besides these, you could also use other fatty substances like dairy cream, whole milk, lard, or tallow. Please note, skim milk won’t work since it’s devoid of fat. Your oils will mix with any these fats, just be sure to mix your essential oils with the emulsifier before using them in your application. These emulsifiers are especially great for massage oil recipes.
- Alcohol Emulsifiers: Pure alcohol can be used an emulsifier as well, especially for refresher sprays. That being said, some people just don’t like the idea of spraying alcohol around their house when they could just use a diffuser instead. Not only that, but some people can be more sensitive than others when exposed to alcohol fumes. To be used as an emulsifier, strong alcohol has to be used. Examples would be vodka, rubbing alcohol, or other items that contain a high alcoholic content. As with fat emulsifiers, be sure to mix your oils with the alcohol before using for your intended application.
- Salt Emulsifiers: As many of you may know, there’s a wide variety of salts to choose from nowadays. Salts are truly excellent emulsifiers. Often used in baths, it’s quite easy to make bath salts with your oils. Common salts used for most recipes include Epsom salts, sea salts, or kosher salts. Besides whichever essential oils you use, other basic ingredients include baking soda and dried herbs (lavender, rosemary, etc.). While adding dried ingredients like lavender makes for a fancy jar of bath salts, just keep in mind that your tub will be a mess once you’re done with your bath! Once you’re done mixing your ingredients, it’s best to let your bath salts sit and absorb for a few hours before using them.
So, you should now have a basic understanding of how to mix your oils with any of the above emulsifiers. Keep in mind that oftentimes emulsifier mixes may only be part of the recipe. Also, there are a few other options besides the 3 main kinds we listed above. To name a few, you could also use aloe vera gel, cornstarch, or vinegar.
In our family, we oftentimes mix select essential oils with vinegar (for emulsification) for many of the homemade household cleaners we make. All you do is add water to your vinegar and oil mix, then your oils will disperse evenly through your cleaning solution.
Remember, the main reason to use these methods when using essential oils is to cause them to disperse evenly in whatever mixture you may be using them in, whether that’s a massage oil, cleaning spray, or a bathtub full of water. Like we mentioned earlier, essential oils are quite potent and can even cause sensitivity. Emulsification will ensure that your oils are properly mixed and evenly dispersed for all of your applications. So, let’s move onto how to use your oils safely!
7 Safe Ways to Use Essential Oils
Well, now that we’ve had a few warnings, a few laughs, and a few reality checks, it’s time to move on to the enjoyable and safe uses of essential oils. In our family, we can personally attest to all of these uses, and would happily recommend others to try out these applications. If you spend money on essential oils, it should be for your enjoyment, just like anything else we spend money on to improve our quality of life.
#1 – Relaxing Baths
The bathroom is an excellent place to use your oils. If you plan on using essential oils in your bath, we don’t recommend just adding a few drops directly to the water. If you do that, the oils will create a kind of sheen or film on top of your bathwater, exposing your skin to their potency as soon as you climb into the tub! Like we mentioned before, make some homemade bath salts to add to your water first!
What are some of the recommended oils to use in your bath? They include eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, sandalwood oil, rose oil, and frankincense oil among many others. Avoid oregano and cinnamon oils in the bath, since they can be irritating. You can experiment with various scents and bath salt mixes on those days when you just need to soak for awhile.
#2 – Inhalations
You can use this application by adding your oils into hot water or moist compresses, allowing them to steam for inhalation purposes. Experts recommend 10 drops of any relaxing essential oil of your choice. I find that a blend of eucalyptus oil and mint is especially helpful for opening nasal passages during sinus infections or colds. Please do not go overboard with this, just gently breath in the steam a little at a time. Most of the time, I’ll only use a couple drops of EO’s for these applications so that the scents aren’t too overbearing.
#3 – Essential Oil Compresses
Many people also use essential oils in compresses for other reasons besides just for inhalation purposes. For this method, I like the idea of mixing your oils with a bit of Epsom salt first. Once the oils have absorbed into the salt, go ahead and mix a small spoonful of the salt/oil mixture into a cup of hot water, then soak a cloth or towel in the mixture. You can use either a wrap or a soaked cloth to cover the affected area. If you have muscle aches and pains, this is a great solution to ease the discomfort.
#4 – Massage
Over the years, essential oils have become integral in the art of massaging. Like we mentioned earlier, don’t apply essential oils directly to the skin, mix them with carrier oils instead. There are endless massage recipes out there, but I find that you only need to use a few drops of each essential oil in your given recipe. I would even go so far as to suggest using half the essential oils the recipe calls for and working your way up from there if you prefer. Skin is sensitive, so use them sparingly for massage applications. Not only that, but why use more of your precious oils than is needed?
#5 – Facial Steam
We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Steaming our faces over a hot pot of water? If you’ve never done a facial steam before, you ought to try it. Apart from relaxing your facial muscles, it works like magic on headaches and sinuses. But, it’s strongly suggested to not allow the steam to hit your face directly. Instead, allow the steam to pass through a barrier like a warm cloth or towel. Just use a few drops of any oil of your choice for this application. Also, it’s worth mentioning that care needs to be used here since you’re working with hot water.
#6 – Diffusers
Another way through which people use essential oils safely is by using essential oil diffusers. There are many types of diffusers, which we will discuss at greater length in upcoming posts. But we’ll briefly mention a few of them below.
Candle diffusers consist of a mixture of water and essential oils in a small dish situated over a candle placed below. These are easy to set up and they offer light together with an alluring fragrance. However, these diffusers may not always put out as much scent as you’d like. But, if you’ve never used a diffuser before, they’re great to use as a beginner. Candle diffusers are especially nice to use during a bath or candlelit dinner.
Cool Air Nebulizing Diffusers
These units make use of compressed air to make vapor from the essential oils. There is also a nebulizing glass bulb that serves as a condenser which disperses essential oil particles into the air. These diffusers are often used to provide therapeutic benefits in people with a wide-range of problems including respiratory problems, bouts of anxiety, lack of focus, and so on. They can also come with timers to regulate the amount of oil released. These kinds of diffusers are rather easy to use are usually very easy to clean.
Electric Heat Diffusers
Electric heat diffusers, on the other hand, use an electric heating coil to diffuse essential oil into the air. These are plug-and-play devices and are therefore easy to use. Since the surface exposed to the essential oils is usually flat, these kinds of diffusers are very easy to clean. Unlike the cool air nebulizing diffusers, these are capable of diffusing thicker essential oils like sandalwood.
The popularity of this type of diffuser has increased much over the past few years. Ultrasonic oil diffusers are very easy to use and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Better yet, some of them even light up! These diffusers work by using ultrasonic waves that are effective at dispersing a mix of water vapor and essential oils into the room, and they’re quite effective at doing so. Since there are so many brands and options available, it’s likely that your diffuser may not stand up to long and repeated uses if you went for the cheapest option you could find. So, depending on the quality, some of these diffusers may be prone to premature failure. Just be sure to follow the instructions properly to avoid premature failure.
#7 – DIY Recipe Ideas (Do it Yourself)
Sometimes it’s far more enjoyable and productive to spend time making your own products and solutions suited to your own lifestyle. That being said, there are plenty of things I wouldn’t feel like spending the time doing. I’m not interested in tinkering with my car if it has mechanical issues, I’m not interested in figuring out how to put a new roof on my house, and I’m not interested in learning how to fix every plumbing issue I might have this year.
So, when we decide to delve into the world of DIY’s, we’re far more apt to choose to do those things that we have some talent and interest in. I enjoy making my own cleaning and beauty products. I also love cooking and making crafts with my children. So, if you have an interest in using your essential oils for DIY’s, there are plenty of options for you to perfect your DIY tastes.
Natural Cleaning Sprays
Briefly mentioned earlier, homemade natural cleaning sprays and solutions are very simple to make with essential oils. Not only are they easy to make, but they’re great alternatives to bleach, ammonia, and other harsh ingredients. Better yet, you actually know exactly what ingredients you’re spraying and wiping all around your house on a frequent basis. You don’t have to wonder which chemicals were used to create those synthetic smelling scents ever again. Not only that, but you won’t have to wonder about the potential effect of exposing yourself to bleach fumes (or other chemical fumes) each and every time you decide to clean the bathroom or kitchen.
I make most of my cleaning sprays with 3 simple ingredients: water, vinegar, and essential oils. Just a reminder, be sure to mix the oils and vinegar before adding water.
Natural Air Fresheners
Ever use Febreeze or some other kind of air freshener? How about those fancy plugin air fresheners that mesmerized me as a child? While your home may smell somewhat inviting with those air fresheners, they’re really not a far cry from sources of unnecessary household pollution. Who knows what chemicals are in the fumes synthetic air fresheners emit. On the other hand, we’ve got all natural essential oils that are plant derived. Any scent, any mood, any season, the options for freshening up the air in your home are endless. Again, natural air fresheners consist of just a handful of ingredients in most cases: they include alcohol, water, and essential oils.
DIY Body Wash
There’s nothing better than cleansing your skin with a body wash that you made with your own ingredients, ones that you can actually pronounce. Plus, it’s the idea of never needing to buy body wash again that intrigues a lot of people to start making their own. If we’re not careful to limit our body’s exposure to chemicals whenever we can, especially when it’s easy to do so, it’s inevitable that our bodies will be exposed to a limitless amount of chemicals in almost every daily task we take part in. Exposure to chemicals not only sounds bad, it is bad. So, make your own body wash, it only takes a few minutes and is cheaper in the long-run. Common ingredients include liquid Castile soap, coconut oil (or another oil), honey (raw Manuka honey is best), and essential oils.
Homemade Soap Bars
There are some really creative homemade soap recipes out there that not only smell amazing but look amazing too. While it’s true that fancy soaps can be purchased online or in stores, why not make your own? After all, if your favorite expensive organic soap is missing a scent you like or an ingredient you desire, you could just make your own perfectly balanced soap. In any case, while making homemade soap is a little bit more involved, it’s still very easy as long as you can follow instructions. Plus, it’s just plain fun. Essential oils make the varieties of scented hard soaps virtually endless, not to mention the many other ingredient tweaks available when making soap. If you decide to make your own soap, try starting with a basic homemade soap recipe that you can tweak once you get the process down.
Homemade Carpet Deodorizer
Did you know that each home has it’s own natural odor footprint? What do your friends and family think about the first impression scent when they first step into the door of your home? It’s true that we get used to the smells around us very quickly, so your house may not be as odorless as you might think. Plus, your house doesn’t necessarily need to be dirty for it to smell bad. You might have a lingering smell from burning something on the stove or your home may just be prone to smelling more stale and musty than other homes. Another major culprit that may throw off the odor situation in your home is the age and cleanliness of your carpets.
Even for people who vacuum regularly, carpets can still very easily collect and give off odors that are less than pleasant. Please don’t waste your money on synthetically scented carpet deodorizers! Just make your own instead, it’s insanely easy. As with most homemade products, DIY carpet deodorizers only include 2-3 main ingredients: they include baking soda, essential oils, and dried herbs (optional).
It’s a fact that essential oils have many wonderful benefits, but always make a point to use them safely. Don’t have the “jump in first, ask questions later” mentality. With a bit of common sense and basic precautions, you too can and will improve your quality of life using essential oils. Never apply them directly to your skin, never ingest them, and never try to treat a chronic condition with them without consulting a Doctor! If you’re pregnant or nursing, treat essential oils just like anything else that may be questionable during pregnancy. Oils aren’t scary, they aren’t merely a passing fad, and they’re definitely not inherently dangerous when used appropriately.
You no longer need to rely on chemicals for your daily tasks, not when it’s so easy to do otherwise. Whether you desire to make homemade dish soap, body wash, or carpet deodorizer, switching over to natural and homemade products isn’t difficult, it’s actually rather simple; it’s just a choice you’ve got to make.
Our list of safe ways to use essential oils is by no means exhaustive, there are so many more uses than the ones we’ve mentioned. So, if you haven’t tried the applications we mentioned above, go ahead and try one each week until you’ve mastered them all. By using your essential oils in each application we mentioned, you will successfully cut out numerous chemical-heavy household products you already use; which means that your household will be less chemical-dependent, and that’s always a good thing.
What ways have you been able to use your essential oils safely? Tell us your thoughts and experiences, we’d love to hear from you.