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Essential Oil Basics – Safety

I’m sure you’ve seen or heard quite a lot about essential oils in recent years. So I know this topic isn’t really new to most of you! Which means my goal with this post isn’t necessarily to share the concept of oils themselves, but rather to delve into an aspect of essential oils that I often observe being overlooked – safety and proper usage. This post will discuss some of those things in a fairly general nature. I’ll have future posts that will get into specific topics about oil use, such as using oils for illness, using oils with children and pets, and household uses for essential oils.

First off, I want you to know that I don’t personally sell oils or use an MLM company to buy my oils.

I know many people who do, and I’m sure you do as well. And that’s fine…most of the time. I do have some genuine concerns about the “trendy” culture this has created around essential oil use, however. And therein, often but not always, lies the concern with safety. Please understand, I am not criticizing someone who chooses to sell oils through an MLM company. I know that many who do have done their due diligence and well educated themselves about the recommendations they are making to others. In potentially unpopular honesty, however, I often observe unsafe uses of oils being recommended. And that does concern me.

I am also not a certified aromatherapist either. So I don’t know everything there is to know.

I do very thorough research and ask advice of those who are well qualified however. Because here’s the thing – essential oils are medicinal in nature. They smell nice, they are popular in our culture, etc., but they have been around for a long time and they are in reality potent medicine. Which is wonderful – and also dangerous if not used properly. Just like other forms of medicine.

It is no secret to most people who know me that I use allopathic medicine pretty rarely. I prefer to use preventative chiropractic care, naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, well-researched nutrition, and essential oils, as our main forms of “health care”. And to me that choice carries the responsibility of being as continually educated as possible about all of those things.

That being said, when it comes to essential oils, using them safely and appropriately matters greatly to me. So I hope that the basics that I share today, and some of the resources I provide links to, will be helpful to you if you currently use, or are considering using, essential oils in your life.

Essential oils are not “one size fits all”.

There are many oils that are not safe for children, oils that have contraindications with certain medications, and oils that are not safe to use around pets. As I said, my goal today is to share some general basics. So I am not, in this particular post, going to explore the specifics of all of those areas myself. I will share some resources you can look at if you have an area of concern that you want to check out. It is very important before you use a particular oil, or an oil blend especially, that you verify the safety of that oil for the person/situation you are considering it for.

As an example – eucalyptus oil is often recommended during cold and flu season for chest congestion and coughs, and is one of the oils in a popular and frequently recommended blend. Here’s the potential problem: eucalyptus oil is not considered safe for topical use (and in some cases diffusion) with young children. So other oils such as lavender, juniper berry, or cedarwood, would be a more appropriate choice for that situation with a young child.

Check out these resources (and definitely look for your own!) to help with making safe essential oil decisions with children and pets:

When being used topically, essential oils should be properly diluted in a carrier oil.

Although many people put oils directly on their skin, this is not recommended by the aromatherapists I have talked to, or in the research I have done both online and in books. The oils are best absorbed when put on the body with the carrier oil, and you decrease the risk of a reaction to the oil when it is properly diluted. There are a large number of carrier oils, and decisions about which ones to use can be made based on preference and on need. Certain carrier oils are better for certain applications than others.

The following resources have fabulous information about the importance of proper dilution, and how to decide on appropriate dilution for a given situation.

The quality of the oil does matter.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean what you might think. It is very important that you buy oils that are sourced correctly, distilled properly, and are undiluted and without additives. This can mean that you choose to buy from an MLM company that complies with those things, but it doesn’t have to mean that. There are companies who sell oils direct to the customer and still meet these criteria. They provide wonderful transparent information about their oils, and do so at a price that is very cost effective. I did a lot of research before starting to use essential oils about 5 years ago, and I found two companies that I would very much trust and buy oils from. Personally I decided to purchase my oils from one of those companies. I have been extremely pleased with the quality of the oils, the transparency of the company, and the free access to certified aromatherapists anytime I have a question or concern. I’ll get more into the specific company in other post!

So all that being said, if you choose to buy/sell oils from an MLM company, great. Just know you do have other options for oils that meet the marks for quality.

Check out these two companies if you are interested in learning more (these are not affiliate links and I receive nothing for sharing them with you 🙂 ):

Lastly, I thought I would share a couple of other general resources for using essential oils.

I have found the Facebook group “Using Essential Oils Safely” to be a fabulous resource. The group administrator is a certified aromatherapist, and many of the members are as well. When I have specific safety questions I often check this group as part of my research.

These are a few books that are also great resources for oil use. I own the first one, and not the last two – but have looked at them through friends, etc.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy
The Complete Aromatherapy and Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness
Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals

Thanks for reading along, friends! Essential oils are a wonderful health resource. Whether you are a seasoned oil user or hearing some of this for the first time, I hope you found something helpful here today! If you have questions, feel free to ask! If I can confidently answer, I will. And if not I’ll definitely try to point you to a resource that can!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Linda

    We have no children or pets in the house, so most of these are safe for diffusing in our home. My husband is very sensitive to all scents, so I cannot do that. I prefer to mix lavender (my favorite) or other oils like tangerine, or peppermint in edible grade coconut oil for after my shower. It is dry in the house with A/C on a lot (a little heat this week ), but very humid outside. I have found that this moisturizes my skin from neck to toe (especially if my skin is still slightly damp), but I don’t feel clogged or sweaty when I go outside. I even use plain coconut oil on my face in the evening because almost every moisturizer I have tried makes my eyes water and/or burn. Just my two cents on a nice way to use the oils if anyone else in the house is not loving them.

    1. Shayla

      Great ideas, thanks for sharing!

  2. Lee

    Well written. 🙂 You are my go to resource. LOL

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