It seems that currently essential oils are quite the fad, and with that, every blogger, essential oil user, and distributer seem to have their own advice and ideas about which ones to use and how to use them. The danger then lies with the fact that these oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that, while the FDA has not approved the medical use of these products, have medicinal properties according to researcher (check out scientific articles on PubMed for further reading). And just as prescriptions and over the counter medications have dosage instructions, warnings, and age limitations, essential oils do as well.
Consider this: your child has a fever and you decide to use some tylenol to help with the aches and pains that accompany it. You look at the instructions and according to your toddler’s age give 5 ml of medicine every 4 hours as suggested. Why? Because knowledgeable health professionals came up with this safeguard to protect people from the dangers of using too much acetaminophen (liver damage, for example). Most people would agree it seems crazy to decide on your own accord to double or even triple the amount simply because you think that it would be more beneficial.
The same goes for essential oils.
Because accurate essential oil education is not widely published and there is no regulation, the majority of people figure out the basics for themselves. It seems then that the voice of the common person is louder than the direction of researchers and certified aromatherapists, and each person is choosing what is right in his or her own eyes.
The dangers therein are severalfold. Young children exposed to certain oils (or ones applied incorrectly) may experience effects including aggravating asthma, slowing or stopping breathing, or creating rashes and burns. At worst, people of any age may have signs of overdosing including vomiting, headaches, or nausea.
However, the most depressing danger of incorrectly using essential oils is developing a permanent sensitivity or allergy to certain oils. I would be completely devastated to find that I would be forever unable to use some of my favorite essential oils simply because I didn’t follow sound advice to properly dilute my oils!
In my research of essential oils through search engines and social media sites such as Pinterest, I have been shocked at the recommendations and disregard of dilution recommendations. Be wary of health, beauty and roller bottle recipes suggesting the use of any more essential oil than what is published in the chart below.
My goal here is to help bring awareness and proper education about using essential oils effectively and safely. I certainly don’t want to scare anyone away from using oils or embarrass anyone because of the way they have been using them. Again, the goal is awareness and education that there is a safe and healthy way for essential oils to be used, but as with most good things, too much can come at a cost.
As a result, I follow the rule to ALWAYS DILUTE my essential oils. With a few oils, it has been said that you can forgo dilution and use them directly on your skin (applying an oil “neat” is also another name for this method) . I’ve chosen to stick to my ALWAYS DILUTE rule even in these circumstances for two reasons:
- My essential oils will go further when diluting them (e.g.: I can make a Lavender roller bottle to use daily before bed and use only 6 drops of essential oil. This roller will last well over one month, probably two. In comparison, if I used 1 drop undiluted every night before bed, that would be approximately 30 drops per month. Wow! I’ll take a savings of 24 drops any day!)
- I also know that I have sensitive skin, and I want to be cautious when using oils because I love them so much. I would be heartbroken if I developed a permanent sensitivity. Furthermore, some sites recommend using hot oils (Cinnamon, Clove Bud, Oregano, Peppermint, etc…) directly on your skin for certain ailments. I would not recommend this practice unless under the direct care of a certified aromatherapist or holistic doctor educated in this area.
Dilution should be used with a carrier oil, which are simply base oils that are used to “carry” the essential oil to the skin. Some good options include:
- Grapeseed Oil
- Sweet Almond Oil
- Jojoba Oil
- Olive Oil
- Fractionated Coconut Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Cocoa Butter
- Shea Butter
*The two bolded options are both liquid in nature and are my favorites to use in roller bottles as well as other health and beauty recipes.
I’ve created a simple dilution chart below that is a quick reference for keeping your family safe with essential oils. Please be sure to also check out more on dilution rates of my Essential Oil Dilution Chart. It explains more about proper dilution rates for various purposes, ages, and roller bottle sizes.
As a result of discovering this vital information about essential oil safety, I did some additional research on finding a kid-safe immune boosting blend. The blend commonly known as “Thieves” or “Immune Strength” (by RMO) is not actually recommended for children under 10 because of the use of both Eucalyptus and Rosemary which can cause respiratory side-effects. This sad and shocking truth led me to create an immune blend safe for children as young as 6 months. I’ll be posting this new formula in an upcoming post about kid-safe oils to use this winter. For more information on which oils are safe for children and pregnant or nursing mamas, check out some links below for further reading.
Ultimately, the safest way to use essential oils is with the direction of a certified aromatherapist or doctor who specializes in these areas. As a general rule of practice, I also do not recommend ingesting these oils internally unless under the supervision of a specialist. Please use discretion when implementing the use of essential oils in your home by using proper dilution and oils safe for varying ages.
Do you have any essential oil safety tips to share? I would love to have input in the comments below! Thanks!
**I found a great blog called The Hippy Homemaker that details the safety of using essential oils with pregnant and nursing mamas and also children. Here is her article on essential oil use for pregnant and nursing moms. Here is her article on essential oil use for children of various ages. This is a fantastic resource for those of you who want to look into things more in-depth!