Essential oils can be absorbed through the skin, sometimes reaching the bloodstream, or inhaled through the nose, affecting the brain through the olfactory system. Essential oils should never be applied directly to the skin, but should always be diluted in a carrier oil. Which carrier oil you use will be largely dependent upon your personal needs and tastes. Some are better for dry skin, some for oily skin, and some have a longer shelf life than others. See my previous posts for details on which oils to use for which types of skin type. Just remember that experimentation is half the fun!
Once the essential oils are diluted you can use them for local applications on body parts or for full body massages. Pure essential oils can also be added to bathes for a soothing experience or in a compress to alleviate chronic or acute pain. [Chronic pain is a backache or arthritis, and acute is like a sprained ankle or headache. ] You can mix them in water and alcohol for a refreshing room spray, or vaporize them in burners to eliminate unpleasant odors or to create an atmosphere where you can unhale the benefits of a particular oil.
For inhalation, placing 5 drops of essential oil on a tissue and sniffing for five minutes is a fast and easy way to give yourself an inhalation treatment. You can put a few drops on your pillow before retiring at night, or you can also add 6 to 8 drops of essential oil to a bowl of almost boiling water, then lean toward the bowl, place a towel over your head and the bowl, and inhale for five minutes. The steam treatment is especially great for facials and for colds and sinus ailments. For some great recipes see http://uniquegardenessences.blogspot.com/2008/06/step-two-to-facial-care-is-steam.html
For massage add 15 drops of essential oil to any carrier oil, or mixture of carrier oils that you desire. Be sure to read the tips for massaging and see the recipes in this post;
For bathing add 5 to 10 drops to warm bath water and soak for about 20 minutes. To prevent that oil ring around the tub, you can mix the essential oil in a cap full of pure liquid Castile soap or baby shampoo. You can also add 10 to 15 drops to an ounce of coconut oil and pour that into your bath.
Compresses; For chronic pain such as aching joints, tired or sore muscles, backaches, earaches, etc., prepare a hot compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of almost boiling water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap it around, or apply it to the affected area. Repeat when the compress has cooled off.
For acute pain such as headaches or sprains etc., prepare a cold compress by diluting 4 to 6 drops of essential oil in a large bowl of ice water. Dip a cotton sheet strip (about 4 inches wide) into the liquid and wrap around, or apply to, the affected area
Vaporization; Add a few drops of essential oil to a light bulb ring, fragrance burner or diffuser.
Dilution Rate; To be safe and effective, most aromatherapy formulas are blended at a 2 1/2% concentration rate. Although the number of drops will vary slightly with the density of the oil and the diameter of the dropper opening, you can use the following measurements as a pretty accurate base for measurements.
- 2-3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon carrier oil
- 7-8 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of carrier oil
- 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier oil
- 500 drops of essential oil per liter of carrier oil
- When using essential oils it is very important to learn the safety aspects of the individual oils. Some are photo-toxic, while others are unsafe for use during pregnancy or with other medical conditions.
- Reputable dealers will list the safety considerations of the oils that they sell, so be sure to read all of the information.
- Never take essential oils internally without being under the care and supervision of a specialist. Even oils that are food safe require specialized instruction to properly administer.
- Essential oils should be stored in amber bottles, in a cool location, away from direct sunlight. Never store an essential oil in a plastic bottle.
- The color of some essential oils may change with time. This does not alter the potency of the oil.
- Keep essential oils away from the eyes.
- Essential oils are not recommended for babies or small children, and should be kept out of their reach.
- Never apply essential oils directly to the skin, always dilute them first. *There are a few EO's that are safe to be used "neat" on the skin, but unless you know for certain what you are doing, it is safer to assume yours needs diluting!
- If you store essential oils in the refrigerator make sure to place it in an air-tight container so that the aroma does not permeate the food.
- Some oils may solidify in cold temperatures due to a high wax content. If this occurs, simply place the bottle in a bowl of hot water to liquefy it before using.
- Most essential oils have a shelf life of two years, with the exception of pine and citrus oils, which loose some of their potency after 6 months.