Safe guidelines for using Essential Oils

Essential oils are easy to use once you understand the basics. First of all:

Always dilute your essential oil!
never use them neat (even lavender)

I can not stress this enough-Never ever put them directly on your skin. It can cause painful skin reactions, system toxicity and sensitisation to that essential oil for life.  Also do not just throw some drops in a hot bath as this can also cause a burning reaction. Oil and water do not mix so the droplets will lie on the top of the bath and come into contact with your skin undiluted.

Dilution can be in a base oil, such as sweet almond or grapeseed oil but you could also use coconut or olive oil from your kitchen even, or any cream or gel to apply to the skin.

You can also use water to dilute essential oils when not in contact with the skin, for example to  make a spray or in a hot bowl of water for steam inhalation.

The ratio of essential oil to base oil is 1%-5% of essential oil to base oil or water depending on the EO and the person.

So if you have a 10ml bottle of base oil (1 ½ tsp) then add 3-4 drops of essential oil (2%)


ACUTE SYMPTOMS CAN REQUIRE                         3% 

Most uses                                                     2%  

Children 6yrs+, the elderly or sensitive      1%

Children 2-6 yrs                                          0.25% 

It is not recommended to use essential oils on babies younger than 6 months and only 6 mths -2 yrs with qualified guidance.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there are some restricted oils so please consult a qualified aromatherapist on this.

Main ones to avoid in pregnancy are: Basil, Cinnamon, Cedarwood, Clarysage, Clove, Cypress, Fennel, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper, Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint and Sage. For first four months avoid: Lavender, Rosemary, Rose and Thyme.

For more in depth guidance on diluting oils, I found this post useful as it gives a visual chart. Using Essential Oils safely by Lea Harris.

There are also some EOs that need special dilution so please see Lea’s chart on the page linked above.

Baths: 5-10 drops of essential oil (mixed in a base oil, emulsifier or bath foam/oil)

Massage: 2 drops essential oil per teaspoon of base oil ( 2%)

Steam inhalation: upto 5 drops in a large bowl of hot water. Cover your head with a towel and breathe the steam

Diffuser or Vaporiser: usually 2-3 drops depending on your model

Compress: 4-5 drops in a large bowl of hot or cold water. Place a flannel or cloth in the water , remove and squeeze out the excess then place on the affected area.

Hair care: 2-3 drops into your shampoo or conditioner

Then as you get more into aromatherapy you will start seeing how different essential oils blend well together and you will be making magical mixes. Enjoy and always dilute your oils no matter what any essential oils company says about their high quality. Its not the quality that matters but the intensity of the oil and how it acts with your body.

• Essential Health – The Complete Aromatherapy Guide by Kolinka Zinovieff
• The Directory of Essential Oils by Wanda Sellar by Lea Harris

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