How To Dilute Essential Oils
We know that essential oil are extremely potent and powerful substances. Did you know that it can take hundreds, even up to thousands of pounds of plant material (stems, leaves, petals, or whatever the particular oil requires), just to produce a pound of essential oil? That’s a LOT of plant material! Which means there is a lot of strength even in just one little drop of pure essential oil. This means that we should always treat essential oils with the kind of respect that we would any other powerful medicines.
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Using Essential Oils Neat (Without Diluting)
There are a few essential oils that can actually be used “neat”, which means that they are applied directly to the skin without diluting them. This list is short, though, and essential oils should never be applied neat to children, pregnant women, or those with sensitive skin. Neat applications should also never be used on broken skin, and doing a patch test first on a small part of the body, such as the bottom of the feet, is an important step in making sure that your skin is not sensitive to a particular oil. Other oils may not necessarily be harmful if used neat, but could essential oils such as cinnamon may cause staining if repeatedly used without diluting.
Peppermint, Lavender, and Tea Tree are some of the oils that I have used without diluting and they feel safe to me. Other people I trust have used Frankincense, Spearmint, Ginger, and Ylang Ylang neat without having any adverse effects. Do remember, however, that long term use can cause a buildup in your system, as well as reduce the efficacy of the essential oils, so changing up or alternating your regimen can be quite helpful and effective. Using essential oils regularly without diluting them may also create sensitization, developing a rash or other allergic reaction from over exposure.
Of course, when using oils neat, be sure to wash your hands very carefully afterwards and avoid putting your hands on your face for some time if you can. Even just the slightest hint of straight peppermint in the eye can produce a strong, tearful, painful reaction!
All in all, following safety standards for essential oils is going to be the most important rule for your household. If you are at all in doubt about the quality, toxicity, or strength of your essential oils, then don’t use them neat. It’s been to consult a qualified medical professional or aroma-therapist just to be sure.
How to Dilute Essential Oils
In most cases, then, I would suggest that essential oils be diluted. First of all, this is because you want to make sure you are getting the best efficacy without causing unnecessary reactions. Plus, diluting oils just makes sense from an economic standpoint. While using one or two drops neat may not go very far, adding one or two drops of peppermint or other essential oil to a teaspoon of carrier oil can create a blend that can be applied to a much larger area of the skin and body.
Diluting Essential Oils for Topical Use
Using essential oils topically simply means that they are being applied to the skin. When you dilute essential oils for topical use, you add them to what is called a “carrier oil” because it carries the essential oil to the body in a less concentrated form. This really can be any natural oil that is fairly neutral, as simple as a vegetable oil blend from your kitchen.
Common carrier oils include Sweet Almond Oil, Olive oil, Fractionated Coconut oil, Avocado oil, or Grapeseed oil. Carrier oils may be chosen based on their own qualities, for instance Jojoba oil is known to be good for skin so it is often used as a carrier oil for facial remedies, but these types of oils are often more expensive.
Typically you want to aim to make your essential oils most effective at a 2% dilution. But what does that mean?
A 2% dilution simply means that you are using a ratio of 2:100 essential oil to carrier oil. So, for every two drops of essential oil you’ll want to add 100 drops of carrier oil. However, no one wants to count out 100 drops of carrier oil, particularly if you are making blends in large amounts! Typically a good measurement is to use 12 drops of essential oil for every ounce of carrier oil you are using because an ounce of oil is usually around 600 drops. Therefore, 600 drops multiplied by 2% is 12 drops.
(This ratio should be lessened to 1% if you are using the essential oils on children, the elderly, pregnant women, or those with sensitive skin. Just divide the above amounts in half.)
Remember, the dilution rate is a total for all of the different essential oils you might be adding to a blend, so if you are making a recipe with peppermint and lavender (at a 1% dilution rate per ounce of carrier oil), you’ll want 6 drops total. This can be 3 drops of each or you may want to try 2 drops of peppermint and 4 drops of lavender since peppermint is quite strong.
Diluting Essential Oils for Diffusing
I love using my essential oils in the diffuser! It not only has the ability to bring joy and cheer to my day, there are also tons of therapeutic effects for my family. I like to diffuse lavender near bedtime to help the kiddos relax before sleep, and rosemary during homework time as it helps with concentration. There’s an oil for almost every type of mood you want to elicit.
Diluting essential oils for using in the diffuser has to do with personal preference as well as manufacturer’s instructions from the maker of your diffuser. Most high quality diffusers use steam as a vehicle for the oils to be diffused into the air, so this obviously requires water. Depending on the size of your water tank, you’re likely to use 3-5 drops each time. Some stronger scents may need less. If you notice a headache developing a few minutes into diffusing, the scent is probably too strong and you need to dilute more. This is great news because more dilution means using fewer drops and that means needing to restock your supplies less often!
Using essential oils is an exciting adventure that I love, and learning how to dilute essential oils properly is a pretty easy part of it all. My thoughts? Start small with essential oils because you can always add more!
Tags: Diluting Essential Oils for Diffusing, Diluting Essential Oils for Topical Use, How To Dilute Essential Oils, Using Essential Oils Neat
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