There is a wealth of information out there regarding essential oils and how to use them safely. You can find contradicting information on pretty much any aspect of essential oil use. Walk with me as we explore the hows and whys behind science-based safe essential oil use.
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For starters, here are my top 5 safe use tips:
- Dilute. When starting to use essential oils, it is a good idea to begin with diluted oils. I recommend diluting 1-5 drops of essential oil per tablespoon of a carrier oil such as fractionated coconut oil, almond oil, grapeseed oil, or even plain old olive oil (I like the ones with less olive aroma) for adult use. I will cover specifics for use in children, babies, and those with sensitive systems on the blog. Dilution allows you to safely use the oils and more easily watch for sensitivities and minimize detoxification reactions. Over a few weeks, you may decrease the dilution to your comfort and education level.
- Diffuse Safely. Diffusing is a very safe method of using essential oils, however, you can make it even safer with a few simple tips. Keep the airflow going. I advise to not diffuse in closed bedrooms when children or pets are present (with some wiggle room for room size and exit opportunities). Pets can be extra sensitive to oils and need to be able to leave if they do not like it. Children, especially small ones, can become overwhelmed by too much aroma in the air. When I diffuse for my little children, I just leave their bedroom doors cracked a little and I pay attention to the amount of aroma coming out as I walk by through the evening. Some diffusers come with an intermittent setting where they cycle off and on. These are a great option for smaller spaces to prevent overwhelming aroma.
- Start with the feet. You may have heard to apply oils to the feet because the pores are biggest there and your body can absorb the oils better. Well, that’s simply not true. Pores are not two way streets. They create and emit sweat. They do not absorb oils. The feet ARE an ideal application area for other reasons. The feet have thicker skin so topical sensitivities are minimized. The feet contain a ton of nerve endings that can be affected by the oils. Plus, just take a look at a reflexology chart. By applying essential oils to areas that correspond to the areas in need via this chart, you can have a great impact on the overall wellness of the entire body.
- Store oils properly. While essential oils can be safe for the whole family, they DO need to be treated with care. Store your oils as you would any other medication – up and out of reach of little hands. I’ve used oils for over a decade and have four small children. They are curious and have found ways to get into my oils no matter where I have kept them. I am thankful that oils are VERY safe and have very few side effects with minor topical sensitivities being the top one. My littles always manage to get the oils into their eyes or simply dump these precious drops all over my floor. So, keep them up and out of reach. Also, store your oils at room temperature. Avoid storing them in very hot places like a car. Oils can have some therapeutic properties change in high heat. If you find you have forgotten and left them in the car, it’s ok. Just bring them in and leave them closed until they are completely back to room temperature. Leaving them closed will help some components to remain in the oils rather than flashing off from the heat and evaporating when the bottle is opened. And as a side note – take care with using citrus oils topically before being out in the sun. In some people, these oils can cause a photosensitivity and lead to painful burns and itching. It is advised that you wait 12 hours before exposing skin to the sun (or tanning beds) after using a citrus oil topicaly.
- Carry a Carrier Oil. The role of a carrier oil is to carry the essential oil molecules through the skin. Essential oils alone do not pass through our skin very easily. When we do not use a carrier oil, some of the precious essential oil can evaporate off of the skin before we can even use it. The carrier oil helps to weigh down the molecules and carry them through the skin so our bodies can use them. We can also use carrier oils to reduce the dose so that we use appropriate oil doses for those who are more sensitive. Carrier oils are also great to have around in case of a topical sensitivity. If you find that you are sensitive to an oil, apply more carrier oil. If you or a child get an essential oil in the eye or any other highly sensitive area, flush with a carrier oil rather than water.