Know Your Essential Oil
Knowing your essential oils and how to use them is very important. Essential oils can be used in a variety of ways from using it in a diffuser, topically and even ingesting the oil. It is important to know that essential oils are an extremely concentrated substances, many times more potent than the herb or plant they come from. With essential oils, more is not always better. Very tiny amounts are required to produce desired effects, and many times, applying too much can be harmful. It's best to use small amounts of a new oil at first. Remember, it's a lot easier to add more than it is to take some away! Common sense, dilution and knowledge are key in using essential oils safely.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated oils extracted from the bark, seed, root, flower, fruit or leaf of a plant. These concentrated oils are found naturally in the glands of plants as microdroplets, which diffuse towards the plant's surface where they evaporate and release the plant's scent. Essential oils contain not only the plant's aroma, but also its health properties.
Essential oils are composed of tiny, low chemical weight molecules small enough to directly enter the body's cells. Because of this, essential oils quickly act in and on the body, whether inhaled or applied topically. Don't let their size fool you, essential oils are very powerful! Often, only a drop or two is all you need.
The two most common ways of extracting the essential oil from its plant are steam distillation and cold-pressed.
Method of extraction where steam is forced over the plant material, opening up the plant's pores and releasing the oil molecules into the air. The oil is then collected along with the water vapor and allowed to separate naturally. The essential oil rises to the top and is skimmed from the water. This method does not use any chemical additives or solvents to extract the oil. This is the most common way of extracting essential oils.
Method of extraction where the plant material (usually fruit peel) is literally pressed to squeeze out the oil. This method does not use heat or any chemical additives or solvents to extract the oil from the glands in the peel. This method of extraction is commonly used for citrus oils.
The strength of essential oils can be hard on the skin. Some essential oils are so strong they can burn the skin on contact and must always be diluted. We clearly label these oils as hot oils and give the safe dilution rates for their use. However, most oils do not need to be as highly diluted and are safe to use at stronger concentrations. Diluting essential oils might sound like it makes them less effective, but it doesn't! Carrier oils slow the absorption of essential oils into the skin, keeping them from overloading the skin and causing a reaction.
Everyone's chemistry is different. What causes a skin reaction in one person may be perfectly safe for someone else. Always test a new oil diluted on a small area of skin before use, no matter how long you've been using essential oils. Be aware of any potential allergies with essential oils. If you are allergic to the plant the oil is derived from, avoid inhaling or applying the essential oil.
Some oils may be used directly onto skin without a carrier oil. This is called "neat". Oils should only be used neat for small applications over short periods of time and after patch testing the diluted oil. Do not apply oils neat to children under the age of 12. Be sure and check the information found under our oils' descriptions to see if it can be applied neat.
When using essential oil for the first time, it's a good idea to do a quick patch test. Apply a small amount of the essential oil (diluted at the recommended rate) to the inside of your wrist or inner elbow. If there are no adverse reactions within the first 24 hours, then the oil is safe for you to use. Adverse reactions include skin irritation, headache, dizziness, nausea and respiratory complaints.
Use this chart to safely dilute our essential oils.