You see them everywhere. Sold at the grocery store, health food store, pharmacy, online, home goods stores, in candles, lotions, and various other potions. Essential oils.
You’ve all heard of them. Most of you have probably purchased them. But what are they? How do we use them?
Think about the last time you ate an orange. When you pulled back the peel, you smelled that wonderful, distinctive ‘orange’ smell and probably saw a few drops of liquid spray out. Put simply, that liquid is the orange’s essential oil. Put more technically, essential oils are chemically complex mixes of various biochemical compounds that form the aromatic part of plants.
It’s the stuff that makes plants smell good.
Ok, back to the orange. That spray you saw when you peeled it? It probably wasn’t even a full drop. Now think about the little bottles of essential oil you can buy at the store. How many oranges do you think it took to fill one of those? Each drop of essential oil is the product of massive amounts of plant material. Just how massive depends on the plant type – some give off more than others – but in all cases it’s, well….it’s a LOT. Plant materials typically have around 1% essential oil, although some are as low as .015% and some are as high as 2% – so 1 oz of that delicious smelling orange essential oil is derived from around 100 pounds of oranges. That’s a lot of fruit.
All that to say…be careful. Essential oils are highly concentrated and very potent. They should never be taken internally (unless prescribed by a doctor specifically trained in their safe use) and they should never be applied to the skin undiluted. As they have become more popular, and more people are using and selling them, there has become a huge influx of misinformation, and injuries are occurring as a result.
If you want to use essential oils in your home – and I think you should! – then follow these simple guidelines:
- DO NOT INGEST!
- Always dilute – if you would like to use them topically, then always heavily dilute them – say 1-2 drops in a tablespoon of olive or coconut oil.
- If you want to use them in the bath, mix 3-5 drops with some milk or oil. Otherwise, they float on the surface of the water and can cause skin irritation.
- Inhalation is one of the best ways to use essential oils at home. Put a couple drops on a cotton ball or your sheet under your pillow, purchase a cool mist diffuser, or put a few drops in a pot of water on the stove. Keep an eye on the time, and only diffuse for about 30 minutes. Your whole house will smell wonderful!
I’ll share some of my personal favorite blends and ways to use them in a couple of weeks.
Do you use essential oils? How? Do you notice any differences since you switched? Tell me in the comments below!