Aromatherapy Oils 101

 Essential Oil Dilutions

Essential oils are diluted into creams, lotions and carrier oils as most essentials are too strong to be used directly on the skin.

For a typical massage blend, here is the percentage of essential oils to be used:

  • For adults, this means approximately 25 drops of essential oils to 50 ml of carrier oil. This is a dilution rate of 2.5% - 3%
  • For children 6-12 years, pregnant women or the elderly this changes to 1.25% - 1.5%
  • For babies older than three weeks, 0.5%
  • For infants of 1-5 years, 1%


Overexposure of Essential Oils

While it is rare for the average person, if you have been blending oils for quite a while then you could be suffering from overexposure; the symptoms are nausea, headache, skin irritation, or a general feeling of unwellness.

Here's what you can do:

  • Go outside and get some fresh air
  • Put your nose in the coffee beans
  • Smell your arm pit ... Yes, it's true!


Alternating Usage of Essential Oils

Do not use the same oils all of the time; it is best to alternate oils every 2 weeks so that your body does not build up a sensitisation to any particular oil.


If You Get Essential Oils in the Eyes

Flush with plenty of water!

It might seem strange to do this because essential oils do not mix with water. Flushing with water helps to prevent the spread of oil around the eyes so it can be washed out quickly.

Many essential oil references advise you to dilute it with a vegetable oil and you can do this by putting some on your index finger and getting it into the eye.

Contact a doctor if the condition persists.


How to Test Essential Oils for Sensitivity or Allergy

It is wise to do this test before using a new essential oil on the skin. Before you begin, check to be sure the label of the essential oil you are using says that it is 100% pure essential oil. If not, then do not use it.

The best way to check for sensitivity to an essential oil before using it on the skin is to apply a drop of the essential oil on a cotton ball that has been moistened with carrier oil to the inside of the elbow, back of the wrist or under the arm.

Keep dry for 24 hours; provided no irritation occurs, then it will be good to use. Should irritation become apparent, and this will likely be indicated within 24 hours, generously apply olive oil or aloe vera gel to the area and then wash it with a gentle soap and water.

How to Store Essential Oils

Keep essential oils in dark coloured glass bottles, usually amber or cobalt blue. Store all essential oils in a cool, dry and dark place with the lids tightly closed. Keep them in a covered box or cabinet where they can be out of direct sunlight.


Note that essential oils are flammable, so care must be taken. Generally essential oils when stored properly have a shelf life of about two years. Citrus oils, such as lime, sweet orange, grapefruit and lemon are exceptions and have a shelf life of only about six months.

Cautions and Contraindications

Aromatherapy is a safe and effective natural treatment when used properly. However, essential oils are potent substances and many can be dangerous if incorrectly used.

Essential oils are highly concentrated; a common misconception is that just because the oils are produced from natural plants and fruit, they are then safe to use and the more you use, the better -- after all, they are natural...

This is wrong!

Essential oils are HIGHLY concentrated and volatile; they can be toxic and poisonous when not used appropriately. Improper use may cause burns, allergic reactions, headache, or nausea. Eucalyptus can prove fatal if as little as 3.5ml is ingested (swallowed). The public should not apply concentrated essential oils directly to the skin.

The public should not take essential oils internally, for they can interact negatively with the body's mucus membranes and stomach lining. Many essential oils are contraindicated for babies, children, pregnant and menstruating women.

Care should be taken with conditions such as asthma, heart problems, hypertension, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, kidney disease, frequent allergies and various other health issues.

If using oils therapeutically, it is highly recommended that you do so only under the guidance of a professional and reputable aromatherapist.

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