METHODS OF USE
The use of essential oils can vary from simple inhalation to application to the skin. An important piece to remember is that due to the concentration of essential oils, in most cases they are to be diluted prior to use on the skin. People with sensitive skin should read the fact sheets for possible caution notes and reduce the amount of essential oil used by half. For uses with children, please see the section on Children’s Aromatherapy. Some simple guidelines for adult use of essential oil are:
Massage/Body Oil – 10-15 drops essential oil to 1 oz carrier oil
Hair/Scalp Treatment – 25 drops essential oil to 1oz carrier oil
Salt – add bath salts to running water, turn water off add 5-10 drops of essential oil, stir
Milk – 5-10 drops essential oil in ¼ cup whole milk, add to water after tub is turned off
Bath Salts – 5-8 drops of essential oil per cup of bath salts
Showers – after shower, apply 4-6 drops of essential oil to wet cloth, vigorously rub over body, quick rinse
Compress – 4-6 drops essential oil in bowl of hot water, skim surface with cloth, wring cloth until wet but not dripping, and apply to area – cover with towel or blanket to keep warm, allow to sit for 15-20 minutes or until cool
Cold compresses can be used for treatment of sprains, strains and inflammations.
Dry Brush – prior to a shower or bath: 1-3 drops of essential oil on a natural bristle brush, brush towards heart
Environmental Fragrancing –
Spritzers – 3.5 oz distilled water, .5 oz witch hazel, 24+ drops essential oil
Steam – 3-5 drops of essential oil in a glass or ceramic mug of hot water, put towel over the head and mug and breath deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth until you cannot smell the essential oils any longer
Diffusion – follow manufacturer’s guidelines (cold air diffusion is best)
Nebulizing – fine mist of essential oil blown into the air
Evaporation – apply 2-8 drops to a porous surface (terra cotta clay is great), allow to evaporate
SAFETY, CONTRAINDICATIONS, TOXICITY
While essential oils tend to be far safer than most over the counter drugs (not to mention prescription medications) precautions and common sense are called for. A few items to pay attention to:
Keep essential oils out of reach of children swallowing some essential oils can be fatal, especially to a child. If an oil is ingested by a child, seek medical help and/or contact Poison Control.
Dilute, dilute, dilute – almost all oils should be diluted prior to skin application. A few exceptions to this rule are lavender applied to burns or bug bites, or tea tree applied to bites, scrapes, cuts, etc.
Do not take internally
Variety – Alternate the essential oils you are using every couple of weeks to avoid skin
sensitivity, also adaptation to the oil can lead to lowered effectiveness.
Difference between the herb and the oil – essential oils are far more concentrated than
herbs; occasionally the chemistry of a plant essence can be altered during distillation making the oil harmful for toxic.
Some examples of this are:
Wormwood & Mugwort in their herbal form are valued for their medicinal benefits. When distilled into an essential oil Wormwood becomes toxic, an abortifacient (causing abortion) and in extreme cases can cause brain damage. Mugwort becomes toxic and an abortifacient.
Sweet Birch & Wintergreen in herbal form are powerful decongestants and muscle relaxants. As essential oils they contain about 98% methyl salicylate, a cause of serious poisoning in children. These oils can also be absorbed through the skin and fatal poisoning has been reported.
Children – please see page on Aromatherapy for Children
Skin application – Some oils can be too ‘hot’ to apply to the skin unless highly diluted or, in some cases, never to be applied to the skin at all. Always check the Essential oil Fact Sheets to see if there are any cautions.
Phototoxicity – An excessive reaction to sunlight can be induced by certain chemicals found in some essential oils. It is strongly recommended the skin application of these oils be avoided prior to sun exposure – it is suggested a person wait 12 hours after use of these before sunbathing or tanning.
Angelica root (A. archangelica)
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Bergamot FCF (Furanocoumarin-free) is safe
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum)
Grapefruit – expressed (Citrus paradisi) if used at greater than 4% (24 drops per ounce)
Lemon – expressed (Citrus limon) 2% (12 drops per ounce)
Lime, expressed (Citrus medica) – Lime distilled is safe
Orange, bitter – expressed (Citrus sinensis)
Tagetes (T. minuta)
Verbena (Lippia citriodora)
Pregnancy – the ideal dilution for most oils during pregnancy is 2% (12 drops per 1 ounce carrier), in Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, Tisserand and Balacs recommend that the following essential oils be avoided during pregnancy: *Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora), Ho (Cinnamomum camphora), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Dill seed (Anethum graveolens), *Parsley (Petroselinum sativum), *Pennyroyal, of any kind, and *Sage (Salvia officinalis).
*LovingScents does not carry these oils due to safety concerns.
Below are some simple measurement equations and an approximate amount of essential oils to be used by adults with normal skin. Realize that oils have differing levels of scent intensity…
Lavender is light and airy whereas Patchouli is deep and heavy. Start with a lower amount of the essential oil – you can always add more. This will save you from having to throw out a great concoction because its scent takes over your space!
Measuring for blends can be daunting (and once upon a time it was sometimes so frustrating that I abandoned some projects!). Fortunately, I came across several different articles and I pulled together the following tables that now hang over my “mad-chemist” table. I hope they will be of assistance to you too.
cc=cubic centimeter ml=milliliter
A Standard drop= 1/20 to 1/30 milliliter, depending on the density* of the oil. The measurements below are based upon the 1/20 of a milliliter drop size and American fluid ounces. All the measurements given below are by liquid volume with the exception of the kilo.
Kilos and pounds are weight measurements and therefore the liquid volume ranges according to the specific gravity** of the essential oil. Generally speaking, the thicker the oil, the heavier it is, so, for example, a kilo of Castor oil will take up less space in a bottle than Grapeseed oil.
To make your life easier when counting drops, may I suggest using 6”, 3.5 ml, graduated measure disposable plastic pipettes available through LovingScents or your essential oil provider.
|1 ml||20||1/5 tsp||1/30 oz|
|1 cc||20||1 ml||1/5 tsp||1/30 oz|
|1 dram||71||3.696 ml||7/10 tsp||1/8 oz|
|5 ml||100||1 tsp||1/6 oz|
|10 ml||200||2 tsp||1/3 oz|
|15 ml||300||1 tbs||1/2 oz|
|30 ml||600||2 tbs||1 oz|
|1 cup||4800||240 ml||16 tbs||8 oz|
|1 pint||9600||480 ml||16 oz|
|1 liter||20000||1000 ml||33.33 oz|
|1 kilo||22000||1100 ml||37 – 40 oz(approximately)|
RATIOS WHEN DILUTING ESSENTIAL OILS
This table shows the total number of drops to use in your dilutions. When using this table, be aware that if you slip and add a drop more than the formula states, just move on – all is NOT lost, you haven’t ruined anything! This isn’t nearly as fiddly as baking! HAVE FUN!
|5 ml||10 ml||1 oz||2 oz||4oz|
*Density: A scientific term for the result of dividing mass (how much) by volume (how big). In the context of using Essential and Carrier oils, you could boil it down to a simple “how thick is it?”!
**Specific Gravity: Another scientific term. For our purposes it is in essence the same as density.