Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Essential Oil 101: The Basics

Are you sick and tired of not knowing exactly what's going in (or on) your body? It's a shame when companies are more interested in making a profit than protecting consumer!!! That's why I love essential oils-- they allow anyone to make high quality products so they know EXACTLY what they are putting on their bodies.

You can make non-toxic beauty, cleaning, and wellness products for every member of your family, including the furry ones! But it's important to know what you're doing when you use them because irresponsible use can cause serious problems.

Here's some bullet points for you.

  1. Don't drink an entire bottle of essential oil in one sitting. That's just dumb.
  2. Don't go around pour all the essential oils all over every part of your body like it's nothing. There are areas they should NEVER go (and it may not be what you think).
  3. Children are not adults. Don't treat them like adults and give them the same dosage
  4. Animals are not humans. Don't treat them like people. Give them different dosages too.
  5. Don't think that you can just pour essential oils straight out of the bottle. Many require dilution!!  Hint: Read the Labels

It is important that we use essential oils safely and responsibly and that begins understanding the difference between high quality essential oils and regular essential oils.

How to use essential oils safely for yourself, pregnancy, children and pets

Quality vs Quantity
First, let's talk about quality. This is one of the most asked questions I hear about essential oils! "Does it matter which brand I use?" YES! YES! YES! Not all essential oils are created equally. Sadly, many are created by using only partial plant material and bulking the rest with additives to keep cost low. Due to poor labeling laws, these products can still carry the "pure" label.

Another comment I hear a lot is "Why are some companies selling a 5 ml essential oils for double the price of another companies 15 ml? It seems like a scam!" It is totally a scam, but probably not in the way you're thinking...

Most of the companies that you see who sell essential oils for cheap are probably not selling high quality. A lot of things go into quality of essential oils such as how they are grown/distilled, where they are grown, time of year they are planted/harvested and more! I used to buy store bought brands, but my sensitive skin kept reacting to the additives in them. Now that I use quality essential oils, I don't have any skin reactions!

Quite a few companies will use cheap plant matter and try to pass it off as a more expensive product. For instance, there are several varieties of Frankincense and Melaleuca (tea tree), but they are often labeled without their proper names so you don't know which variety you're buying. These companies almost always are selling the lowest quality variety and they may even be adulterated.

If you happen to have a bottle of essential oil at your home, grab it to check the label. The label should say the common name (ex: orange) and the latin name (ex: Citrus Sinensis). If you have a peel back label-- the ingredient list is often there. If you don't see both names-- that's a big red flag that something is amiss.

How To Use Essential Oils....
Not every essential oil can be used in the same way. Some require dilution and others do not. Some can be used topically and others cannot. ALWAYS read the instructions on the label or do your own research BEFORE you use the oils in a way off label.

Good companies will provide dilution minimums and usage instructions (if they can be used via topical application, aromatic, or via ingestion) on the labels. If there are warnings on the labels-- please don't assume that this is just some fluff warning. People can get very sick from using certain essential oils (especially adulterated ones) the wrong way.

You can also read this blog post about The Basics of Carrier Oils.

As I said before... the regulations on labeling essential oils aren't so great so how you use peppermint from one company can be very, very different than how you'd use peppermint from another company due to additives and other factors. So read the labels of every essential oil of every brand you purchase!

 If in doubt about a company's quality, it should always be researched! I suggest contacting the company direction to ask questions such as...
  • Do you know exactly where their oil comes from? 
  • Does the company share where the product comes from? 
  • How it's grown? Are there pesticides used? 
  • How it's distilled? 
  • Can they go to the company farm and see the process for themselves? 
  • Does the company harvest and distill with many sample distillations to get the highest amount of therapeutic qualities? 
  • Do they know for certain that the oils they buy are safe to ingest? To put on undiluted? 
  • Are there ANY toxic warnings that come with their oils? 
  • Is there an expiration date? 
I do not recommend using the low quality essential oils for any reason because they can cause side effects such as asthma, burns or rashes. Hence, the warning labels. {wink} You can click here to read more about the company I recommend and why.

How to Use Essential Oils
Every essential oil is different and they can be used in many ways. It is always best to do some research to make sure you are using your essential oils properly. I really love Quick Reference Guide for Essential Oils 2013 as a reference guide to help me safely use my essential oils.

You know what's amazing? If you're the research type, then you can go to google scholar or pubmed and type in "essential oils" and then whatever else you're looking for and see what pops up! You can find REAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH! Cool, huh?

How to use a diffuser for essential oils. A great guide to basic essential oil use. #essentialoils
This is one of my favorite ways to get the best value of the essential oils and to make my home smell lovely at the same time.

Each essential oils has value in aromatherapy. For instance, lavender is relaxing, orange is uplifting, rosemary helps concentration and peppermint is energizing. If you want to support a certain mood, then you can diffuse a certain essential oil.

Diffusers are so easy to use! You just follow the instructions on your particular diffuser. Most work by adding a small amount of water in the well of the machine, add a few drops of essential oil, and then you turn on the machine. It's not rocket science! The diffuser will release a cool steam which will fill your room with a lovely scent.

You should never use a mechanism that heats the oils because it will decrease the integrity of the oil.

The diffuser that I own will fills up the majority of my great room with aromatherapy. This is fantastic to use for parties or while entertaining. Not only can it make your home smell wonderful, it can help maintain the vibe you want. Or you can just diffuse purification to get rid of dog odors before company arrives (pssst.. that's what I do). But I also use it around bedtime to help me relax and fall asleep. It's pretty awesome.

Ingestion essential oils is a very personal decision. I absolutely do not support ingesting essential oils that do not claim it is safe from the manufacturer. Always read the labels!  I recommend reading this article about ingesting essential oils.

Many people find that using essential oils internally can provide exceptional benefits. For example, DiGize under the tongue is fantastic for support for the Digestive System! You can watch this video for more ideas on how to ingest essential oils.

If you like to use veggie capsules, I wouldn't recommend making too many ahead of time because they can break down the structure of the capsule. If I am making a blend to ingest, I'll mix the essential oils required for the recipe (example: lemon and peppermint) into a glass dropper bottle in the proper ratio. That way I can make only a few days supply at a time, but I have a supply of the solution already pre-mixed. I'm all about making life easier.

Placing essential oils directly on the skin is a very common way to get their benefits. Some essential oils can be used "neat" which means undiluted. A very common essential oils that can be used this way is lavender. It's very gentle on the skin and can be used for so many different reasons! It's called the swiss army knife of essential oils for a reason!

Other essential oils require dilution which is usually required to be a minimum of a 1:1 dilution ratio with a carrier oil, but can be further diluted depending on your preference. I usually find that 1-2 drop of essential oil in 1 TBSP of carrier oil is sufficient for many applications. All oils can be diluted and still retain their value, even the ones that can be used neatly.

Remember, dilution doesn't have to be exact. I often eye ball it when I mix essential oils with carrier oil, but a good range tends to be equal parts or up to 1 drop per 1 tsp depending on how diluted you want something to be.

Example #1: I want to put some lavender essential oil on a small sun exposed patch of dry skin. I can use 1 drop of lavender essential oil to 1 drop of any liquid carrier and apply it directly over the area.

Example #2: I want to put some lavender on a larger area of skin after spending the day out in the sun. I use 1 drop of lavender essential oil to 1 tsp of carrier oil.

In both the cases, the lavender will work the same, but I diluted based upon the amount of skin I would like to cover. If I needed to apply more than 1 tsp of carrier oil to my skin, I would probably begin to think about making a lotion or body butter.

Common Base Recipes

There are so many ways to use essential oils
  • 1/4 cup of Coconut Oil
  • 15-20 drops of essential oil 
Body Butter
  • ⅛ cup Shea Butter-- Raw and Unrefined
  • ⅛ cup Beeswax Pellets
  • 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
  • 3 TBSP liquid carrier oil 
  • 4 drops of Vitamin E oil
  • 15-25 drops of essential oil
  • 4 TBSP of liquid carrier oil
  • 1/4 tsp vegetable glycerin
  • 10 drops of essential oil
Lip Balm
  • 1 oz Beeswax, chopped (or grated)
  • 1 oz Coconut Oil 
  • 0.5 oz Shea Butter
  • 1 TBSP liquid carrier oil
  • 3 drops of Vitamin E (Vitamin E Oil)
  • 5-10 drops of essential oil
Salt Scrub
  • 2/3 c Epsom Salt
  • 1/3 c Coconut Oil
  • 10-15 drops of essential oil
In the event of accidental contact with the eye, dilute with a carrier oil--- NOT water.

For read this for more ideas on how to use essential oils.

So What's a Carrier Oil?
A carrier oil is a base oil which is used to help dilute the essential oil. They essential "carry" the value of the essential oil into the skin. Common carrier oils are…
Types of carrier oils that can be used for essential oils
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Jojoba oil
  • Almond oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Rose hips oil (great for beauty products)
But you can also use shea butter or cocoa butter-- it doesn't have to be an actual oil!

You can read more about Carrier Oils in this blog post: Carrier Oils 101

Do NOT use in Eyes and Ears
Caution: Never use essential oils directly in the eyes or ear canal! They may be used around these parts of the body, but never applied directly into either.

How to Store Essential Oils
They should be stored in a dark place and away from heat.

It is not recommended to use plastic because essential oils can degrade plastic overtime. There are some high quality plastics which can be used. I recommend storing all DIY products containing essential oils in glass containers. Mason jars are fantastic for this because they are often very cheap and have many accessories for different functions.

Using Essential Oil for Children and Pregnancy
Using essential oils in children and pregnancy is something which a reference book is very useful for! I highly recommend the book Gentle Babies

Not all essential oils have been tested for pregnancy and small children. It is for this reason that many oils are not recommend or are recommended only during specific times in your pregnancy or in breast feeding.

You can also check out these resources:
What you NEED to know about essential oils and pregnancy 
Essential oils for Babies

Using Essential Oils for Dogs and Cats
As for pets, there are many essential oils which can be used for dogs. I have used essential oils to help my dog with pretty much his entire life. I love using the vita-flex points to help target specific body systems!

You can read more about how to use essential oil for dogs at Home Remedies for Dogs

Cats are a different story. They lack the enzyme to break down many essential oils. I do not recommend  using essential oils directly on cats skin without the supervision of a train veterinarian. 

Veterinarian Dr. Melissa Shelton has used essential oils (Young Living specifically) on cats with great results, but the cats do require blood work to make sure their enzymes are functioning properly during treatment. This should NEVER be attempted at home without the guidance of a holistic veterinarian. However, diffusing is typically quite safe for cats, as long as they are not locked in a crate next to the diffuser.

Dr. Shelton also emphasizes the importance of high quality oils around cats. She believes that the use of adulterated oils around cats can be detrimental to their health and recommends Young Living to all of her clients. This was a big reason why I've chosen Young Living!

Talk to your Doctor
As a nurse, I know that many people do not disclose their use of complementary medicine to their physicians. I would like to encourage you to talk to your doctor about supplements, herbs and essential oils which are you taking regularly. It is possible that they can increase the potency of prescription medication or interfere with the functionality of the medication.

It is always best to fully disclose information and have open discussions with your healthcare providers.

Essential Oil 101 CLASS
This class was taught by ME. It's full of awesome information and shows you how essential oils can be used to replace every day items-- she even makes some items in the class so you can see how easy it is! It also gives you the run down about some of the most popular oils and exactly how to use them.

So You Want Some Essential Oils? 
To learn more about which essential oils I recommend, please read about why you should buy high quality essential oils.
Sherri Griffin
Sherri Griffin

Thanks for checking out my blog. I get serious about a few things in life: animals, chemicals, and food. For the rest I can't promise anything so keep the bar low. For more about me check out my "About Me" page! Happy DIYing!


  1. There is no option to "E-Mail" this page. I DO NOT HAVE FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST or whatever the @ is, not to mention the person I want to email it to does not either (nor Goggle+)....WHAT HAPPENED TO GOOD OLE FASHIONED EMAIL???

    Good info, so sad I cannot share!

    1. I'm glad you like the article and I'm sorry that you're having difficulty. The @ should allow you to send via email. If not, you could always copy the hyperlink and send that via email to your friend.

    2. Just hit the @ and it will allow you to email this, I just emailed it to myself

  2. What about essential oils in toothpaste? Every oil says not to ingest but every toothpaste recipe I see online makes no mention of that or gives you a recommendation on what oils to use that you can ingest. I assume because one isn't actually eating the toothpaste it's ok however, obviously you are ingesting small amounts of it every time you brush your teeth, whether it's through the pours in your mouth or accidentally swallowing some. I've seen some "food grade" essential oils. Are we supposed to use food grade essential oils in toothpaste recipices or does ingesting the small amount each time matter that much?

    1. Many essential oils should NOT be ingested- they can make you very sick. Only essential oils that are qualified to be ingested should be used and they will be marked as such. I use the vitality essential oils from Young Living. Are you a member? If so, you can easily find them on the website and even the Premium Starter Kit has them now.

  3. Too bad we can't print recipes, many times when we pin , they are deleted. Your pins are deleted all the time by Pinterest. Stating not allowed. I only pin when it says to pin. I have bought your kit and too much to remember with out looking it up. You are mostly advertisements!

    1. My old pins were deleted because of a new law, but my new pins should not be deleted unless someone writes a caption like "This cures a {disease}". If new pins are being deleted-- I'd appreciate if you told me which ones and I can look into it.

      You can print my recipes-- my mom does it all the time! I don't have the capabilities to create a recipe widget (those costs a lot of $$$) but you can print the entire thing or just copy and paste the recipe to something you can print.

      I am not sure what you mean that I am mostly advertisements. I am sorry you feel that I am advertising too much. I have tried very hard to not do this. I do not accept outside ads, I don't allow pop-ups, and I only talk about products that I use and trust. I will link resources for ingredients from requests of readers-- they want easy access to products I like. If there is something you are seeing -- I'd appreciate an email to talk about (sherri @ Thank you!



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You rock for reading all of that. {pats you on back}