It seems like essential oils are everywhere. They’re associated with soap making, candle making, cosmetics, mental health, and spirituality. But what exactly are they?
Today you’re going to learn all about essential oils for beginners. So, if you choose to use them it’s in a safe and proper way.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are basically the concentrated juices of plants. Similar, but more complicated than the concentrated orange juice in the freezer section.
The majority of essential oils are made by exposing plant parts to heat, moisture, and pressure. The watery bits are extracted into steam then condensed into the essential oils.
The cool thing is that the root or flower from the same plant can create an essential oil that is completely different from one another. Also, there are a ton of plants around the world that produce essential oils that will vary by region.
For example, the orange tree. Neroli is produced from the blossom, Orange oil from the skin, and Petitgrain from the leaves.
Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
By far, the most common way to use essential oils is aromatherapy. Some scientists believe that some oils contain chemicals that impact the chemical balance of our brains. If true, then certain essential oils may be able to treat anxiety or depression.
I personally believe this to be true. Smelling lavender has a calming effect and orange essential oil makes me energized. If you’re into trying aromatherapy, there are many aromatherapy diffusers and essential oil kits available.
Ingesting Essential Oils
Some essential oils may be ingested to get necessary vitamins and minerals. However, it’s important to know which oils are edible and that they are diluted properly.
Essential oils don’t always have exactly the same properties that we associate with the foods that they come from. Ingesting essential oils from a plant that you may normally eat may not be safe, while an essential oil from a plant that you wouldn’t normally eat may be exactly what you need.
Edible Essential Oils
Edible essential oils aren’t as easy to find as essential oils for aromatherapy, but they can be procured at many health and wellness stores and online. Here’s a list of some edible oils.
Warning: Do not consume essential oils directly. They should be diluted before use. Also, you should read the essential oil label before adding to food or ingesting. If labeled “NOT FOR INTERNAL USE” then don’t consume it orally nor with drink or food.
Topical Uses for Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used topically in a variety of ways. Be sure to dilute the essential oil, usually with a carrier oil, because undiluted essential oils can irritate the skin. Also, you should test a small area of your skin first for any allergic reaction.
- Place a few drops of it in your bath to soothe sore muscles or to relax.
- Mix essential oil with sweet almond oil for a massage.
- Use essential oils like Tea Tree or Lavender to stop mosquito bite itchiness and reducing swelling.
There are numerous ways to add essential oils to your everyday life.
Essential Oils to Avoid
The following essentials should NEVER be used under any circumstances.
- Bitter Almond
- Boldo Leaf
- Yellow Camphor
- Jaborandi Leaf
Essential Oil Safety Tips
Like anything else, essential oils can cause problems if used the wrong way. These 7 tips will help you avoid the most common essential oil mistakes
1. Use Essential Oils for Their Original Purpose
One of the most common mistakes that people make with essential oils is using them for the wrong purpose.
Essential oils are concentrated enough that they may not have all of the same properties that you associate with the plant that they came from.
Also, they from different parts of the same plant can have different effects. Further, the body’s many different organs can process different things and in different ways.
For these reasons, it is not always safe to assume that you can ingest essential oils that you bought for topical uses or put drops of essential oils that you bought for aromatherapy into your bathtub.
2. Dilute Your Essential Oils
Another common mistake with essential oils is using them at improper concentrations. The great thing about essential oils is how concentrated they are, but they still need to be diluted for best use.
Some essential oils can cause irritation if they aren’t diluted properly. The essential oil bottles or the directions for diffusers will usually include directions on how to dilute the essential oils to avoid complications.
Essential oils for ingestion or massage should also have dilution instructions.
3. Keep Out Of Reach Of Children
Like any potentially dangerous substance, essential oils should be kept out of the reach of children and pets.
Not only are children and pets are the most likely to misuse them, they can also be more sensitive to the oils, especially when the oils are undiluted.
The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy has also composed special recommendations for using essential oils around children.
4. Be Aware of Any Pre-Existing Conditions
It is possible to be allergic to essential oils, and there is a reason to think that aromatherapy, especially with certain essential oils, may trigger symptoms in people with asthma, according to the American Academy of Allergy and Asthma Immunology.
If you are allergic to a plant that an essential oil is made from, however, the essential oils may not trigger an allergic reaction.
Talk to your doctor before using an essential oil from a plant that you are allergic to — or from a plant that is related to a plant that you are allergic to – for ingestion, aromatherapy.
Before using an essential oil topically, such as for a massage or in the bath, consider testing the diluted essential oil on a small area of skin before using it on a larger area.
5. Try to Buy Quality Products
Impurities in low-quality essential oils may make it more likely that they will cause complications for you. Buying essential oils from a reputable company can be an important way to avoid these issues.
Finding a reputable company can be difficult, however, as essential oils do not need to be approved by government agencies as medications do.
If there’s a dedicated health and wellness store around you, their staff might be able to direct you towards the best options.
My favorite brand to buy in health stores is NOW. If you’re a soap or cosmetic maker here is a list of reputable suppliers that carry essential oils.
6. Read the Labels
Whatever you buy essential oils for or what company made them, it should come with a label with directions on how to use it, as well as other warnings and suggestions to help you to avoid misusing it.
The same goes for devices to help you to use essential oils, like diffusers.
7. Avoid using essential oils if you’re pregnant or on Medication
As I mentioned earlier, essential oils are wonderful but can be harmful to certain people. If you are pregnant or are currently nursing then talk with your doctor before using essential oils.
Also, depending on your current medication, essential oils could be counteractive. So, again consult with your physician first before using them.
Must-Have Essential Oils for Beginners
Out of the hundreds of essential oils on the market, these are my top 5 choices for first-time users. Whether you are using essential oils for soap making or aromatherapy these are good to have on hand.
- Tea Tree
Wrap Up: Essential Oils 101
I love using essential oils in my soaps or body butter. Not only do they smell amazing but they have all these wonderful benefits. Using essential oils for beginners can be a bit overwhelming. But now you know that they aren’t so scary after all.