So what is an essential oil exactly? An essential oil is the material extracted and distilled from plant leaves, flowers, bark, roots, or other areas. The extraction and distillation process means these liquids are highly concentrated.
Don’t confuse essential oils with the artificial fragrances or perfumes you find in air freshening products. Those are typically chemicals derived from petroleum processing and manufactured in a lab to mimic the aroma of actual things in nature. Essential oils, by contrast, are all natural products.
Due to their highly concentrated nature, the bottles are often quite small; but don’t be deceived. Those little packages carry a big kick.
When looking for an essential oil, you can also buy them pre-blended with other oils to provide an enhanced benefit. Many manufacturers produce blends that aid in relaxation for example.
Using Essential Oil
Essential oil has been used for many millennia to handle of number of household chores. Their potent benefits can aid in everything from disinfecting your home to aromatherapy.
Uses and application of essential oils is typically done by applying the oil directly, combining it with some other carrier oil (such as jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, or apricot kernel oil), and combining it with some other liquid. Generally, when it comes time to use your oils, you will want to ensure they are diluted to no greater than a 5% concentration with the water, oil, or other liquid they are being combined with. Remember, these products are very concentrated and a little bit can go far. Oils applied to the skin should be diluted to less than 1%. Consult an aroma therapist before applying to small children.
Which oils are right for you will depend on what you are doing and your purpose. Are you looking for something to freshen the air, help disinfect a cut, clean the counter, or perhaps some other purpose? There are essential oil options for all of those scenarios.
As is the case with all things, be sure to follow any instructions or warnings that come with any products you purchase. Here are a few common essential oil tips to get you started:
- Relaxation & Sleep: true lavender essential oil. Applied to skin or diffused into the air. Add a few drops to your room potpourri.
- Cut Treatment: true lavender essential oil. Applied to skin.
- Create a Luxurious Bath: Add a few drops of essential oils mixed with an ounce of cream milk directly into your bath water.
- Massage Tired Muscles: Add a few drops of oil to something like jojoba oil and apply to the skin. Don’t forget to dilute the oil to 1% or lower concentration.
- Freshen a Room: Add your favorite essential oil to a diffuser and let it go to work. These handy little devices do an excellent job of evaporating the oils into the air as they heat up. Just follow the instructions for any device you purchase. The potpourri trick works in this case also.
- Plugged Sinuses: Add no more than 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to a bowl of steaming water. Place your face over the bowl (eyes closed) and place a towel over your head to soak in the greatest concentration of steam. Breathing in the vapors is a highly effective way to absorb the oils. It’s best you not do this with children under 10.
- Vacuum Cleaning: Add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to a cotton ball. Toss the cotton ball into your vacuum cleaner back and let it do the work for you.
- Disinfecting: Add essential oil from lemon to your homemade cleaner to give everything that fresh scent while also disinfecting. Eucalyptus works here too.
- Remove Adhesive: Add a couple drops of essential lemon to get rid of the mess.
- Carpet Deodorizer: Add a few drops of your favorite oil (we love lavender and mint) to baking soda and sprinkle it around the floor. Let it do its work for a while then vacuum everything up.
- Lose Outdoor Pests: Add peppermint to a cotton ball or small piece of fabric and leave it near the point of entry. This is a safe way to deter the pests.
- Ease PMS: Use a few drops of geranium to ease symptoms and relieve pain.
- De-stress: Add a few drops of clary sage do any air diffuser (cotton ball & potpourri work).
- Minor First Aid Treatment: Add tea tree oil to a little aloe and apply to minor sunburns.
This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the things you can do with essential oils, so be sure to keep reading and see what other great things you come up with. Have a great tip you’d like to share, please do! We’d love to see it in the comments section below.
And remember, caution should be used when applying oils directly to the skin. Some oils such as lavender and tea tree oil can be applied directly to your skin, the rest may need to be added to a carrier oil, a diffuser, or something similar.