Using essential oils
Things to keep in mind when using essential oils
Essential oils when used as recommended are generally safe. However, because they are very concentrated, there are general guidelines which need to be abided by in order to ensure safe use.
- Never apply essential oil directly to the skin unless directed by a clinical aromatherapist.
- Do not use an essential oil without having referred to its contraindications (when it should not be used). This is especially so if you are pregnant.
- Do not internally consume essential oils.
- Keep essential oils out of reach of children. Not all oils can be used safely with children. See the oil descriptions below.
- Do not apply essential oils before sunbathing or using solar beds. This is especially so for bergamot (FCF varieties are safe though) and citrus oils.
- If you have sensitive skin, patch-test the oil blend before use. You may also patch test any oil that you have not used before to ensure it will not cause irritation or an allergic reaction. Use the inside of your elbow, breastbone or behind ear. Use the oil at the same dilution as you intend to use. Wait 12 hours for any reaction.
- Store essential oils in a cool dark place. Never leave the lid off and do not sniff from the bottle. When you are ill and want to inhale an oil, pour a couple of drops onto a tissue and tightly close the bottle. The more the oils are exposed to oxygen the more the chance they have of degrading and also of evaporating.
- Do not use essential oils in a product that will be very close to the eyes.
- Although essential oils can be used on pets for certain conditions, essential oils must not be used on cats. These substances are toxic for cats as their liver can not metabolise them.
- When buying essential oils, buy from a reputable seller. The bottles should be amber and should have a dripper inserted. They should be identified by their Latin name and the country where the oil is from.
How can essential oils be used?
Massage 7-8 drops of essential oils (face massage 3 drops – 1%) mixed in 10ml carrier oil.
Bath- fill the bath with warm water. When the bath is ready to get into, mix 8-10 drops of oil into one tablespoon (or more) of full cream milk, sea salt, apple cider vinegar or a carrier oil and then stir to distribute evenly through the water. Do not put the drops straight into the water as they will just float on the top and could cause skin sensitivities. Also be careful not to put the oil into the bath while the water is running as the essential oils being volatile will evaporate.
Inhalations- inhaler, tissue, cotton wool, use 2-4 drops and breathe deeply
Compress- Fill a bowl with hot (arthritis, rheumatism, muscular pain) or cold water (swelling, inflammation). Add 3- 5 drops of essential oils and wipe a cloth over the top of the water, wringing out excess water and apply it to the affected area.
Shower -Put 2 drops into a small clay saucer/lid/tea saucer and put at the bottom of the shower so that the water hits it. Or put two drops of essential oil onto a sponge and use it to wash yourself.
Steam inhalation- pour hot water into a glass bowl. Add a maximum of 4 drops of essential oils and immediately place your head over the bowl covering your head with a towel. Breathe deeply for 5 minutes. This method should not be used with asthmatics and is not recommended for people with broken veins on their face (couperose).
Oil burner/ diffuser- Add 3-6 drops to water at the top of the oil burner/diffuser.
Oils, creams, lotions and gels- Add 25 drops to 100 ml of unperfumed lotion, gel or oil and mix thoroughly. For face only 10 drops to 100ml of cream, lotion, gel or oil.
Spray- 20-30 drops essential oils in 100ml of water
Sitz bath- Fill a large basin with water (large enough so that when you sit in it the water will reach hip level) and mix 5-7 drops with one tablespoon of full cream milk, sea salt or apple cider vinegar and sit in it for 10-15 minutes.
Washing clothes- Instead of a commercial fabric softener you can use 1 cup of apple cider vinegar and 10 drops of an antibacterial oil such as Eucalyptus, tea tree oil or thyme.
Cleaning- You can add 5 drops of an essential oil to the water you water before mopping the floors. Or add a couple of drops to the cloth when cleaning the kitchen or bathroom.