One of the most important things about working with essential oils is feeling confident that they are safe to use! With such access to a plethora of recipes and information right at our fingertips, we developed 5 key tips to keep in mind when working with essential oils that will help give peace of mind when you are making essential oil blends for yourself, family, and friends!
Tip #1: Organic
There is no shortage of options when looking to purchase essential oils. Of course, we are immensely biased and love our collection of single origin essential oils and EO blends because we know and deeply respect each of our small-scale producers! When we are looking to source any essential oil, it is so important that the oil has been crafted from organic plant material. Healthy, vibrant, organic plants that have been grown or crafted without the use of harmful pesticides, create outstanding essential oils for a variety of reasons – truly exceptional aromatic notes, superior chemical component profiles, and an overall more effective therapeutic experience … to name a few.
Keywords to locate when looking to purchase a quality essential oil: wildcrafted, organically grown, or certified organic. These three terms really mean the exact same thing and guarantee that the oil you are buying is indeed as pure and organic as possible!
Tip #2: Distillation Date
Any reputable essential oil company should be open and transparent about the distillation dates of their essential oils. Generally, each chemical family of essential oils has a recommended shelf life for therapeutic vibrancy. When you are working with an oil that is within its recommended shelf life, it is safe, effective, and truly the most brilliant manifestation of itself!
A basic rule of thumb for essential oils and shelf life:
- About 1-3 years – Monoterpene rich oils, Monoterpene/Oxide (cineole) rich oils, Monoterpene/ Aldehyde rich oils, Monoterpene/Monoterpenol rich oils.
- About 3-5 years – Monoterpenol rich oils, Monoterpenol/Ester rich oils, Ketone and Phenol rich oils (Phenols are closer to 3 years).
- About 6-8 years, or longer – Sesquiterpene rich oils, Sesquiterpenol rich oils.
There are always exceptions to any rule, and we highly recommend you know the specific shelf life of each oil you are working with! If you purchase EOs from our Aromatics collection, we provide all this information for each batch of oil, right on our website inside all our product descriptions!
Pro tip: careful storage of your essential oils in a cool, dark place, at around 65 degrees Fahrenheit, will ensure that you get the longest therapeutic life out of your oils.
Tip #3: Dilution Guidelines
Essential oils are strong and powerful and must be treated with care. They are safe and a wonderful part of any healthy lifestyle if used appropriately. We advocate using the Aromahead Approach when working with dilution guidelines and essential oil safety.
- Waiting to use essential oils topically on children under the age of 5. Essential oils can be diffused or used in an inhaler, at a very low, safe dilution. Working with hydrosols, body butters, and carriers can be wonderful, gentle alternatives to essential oils with kids under the age of 5. Keep in mind, many essential oils, especially heavy hitters such as wintergreen, should almost never be used on children. For quick reference, we include the safety information on each oil, in the product descriptions on our website. And, please feel free to email our team if you would like to know more information about using essential oils and hydrosols therapeutically with kids!
- Using a 1% dilution when working with children between the ages of 5 and 12.
- Using a 1% dilution when working with elderly individuals or those with compromised immune systems or serious health conditions.
- Almost never using essential oils neat, without a carrier. There are only rare exceptions to this rule, such as occasionally putting one drop of lavender neat on a very itchy bug bite. If you would like to use an essential oil neat, we always recommended consulting with a certified Aromatherapist first.
- Talking with a certified Aromatherapist before taking any kind of essential oil internally. If an essential oil burns going down the hatch, this means it is most likely causing harm to your body and your organs. Remember, essential oils are strong and powerful! There are times when ingesting oils can be helpful, although again, only under the direct supervision of a certified professional who understands the chemistry and potential interactions with other medical approaches you may also be incorporating. The bottom line: while research has been conducted, more research needs to be done on the effects of ingesting essential oils safely. So, working with a qualified professional is the best place to start if wanting to pursue this approach.
Tip #4: GC/MS Testing
When we look to partner with an exceptional essential oil producer, we make sure one of the most important qualifying items on our list is checked, and, that item is a glowing GC/MS report! Any time you want to purchase an essential oil from a company you should make sure to ask for a copy of the corresponding GC/MS report.
GC/MS stands for Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry. This is a test done by either a third-party chemist (ideally) or an in-house chemist, that verifies both the quality and purity of the oil and identifies the chemical components of that particular batch of essential oil.
We have all our oils tested by an incredibly knowledgeable third party chemist based in France. He and his family have been doing GC/MS testing on essential oils for well over 20 years and the wealth of knowledge he has collected from his work with essential oils and GC/MS testing has had a long-lasting impact on this wonderful, beautiful field of aromatherapy! We make sure to have every GC/MS report available for you to download on our website.
These reports can be found in the product descriptions of our oils. And, if you really want to geek out, it is fun to compare reports of a specific oil from year to year! This tool is especially useful if you like to blend based on chemistry and chemical components. To learn more about this awesome blending approach, check out this free online class offered through the Aromahead Institute!
Tip #5: Do Your Research
Each essential oil is beautiful and unique. We recommend looking up the safety information on every oil before deciding to incorporate that oil into a blend. There are things about certain oils that important to know! With a little research, you can ensure only a positive experience with essential oils.
Here are some examples of a few oils and their unique safety concerns â€¦
- Bergamot Oil (Citrus bergamia) is phototoxic and can cause severe burns if applied topically and then exposed to the sun for any length of time. Although it shines in diffuser and inhaler blends!
- Cinnamon Bark Oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is incredibly skin irritating and would be a terrible choice if you are looking to formulate a relaxing massage blend. Although it is often that magical aromatic note in blends that are not applied topically!
- Ylang ylang Oil (Cananga odorata var. Genuina) can sometimes cause a headache and nausea if too many drops are used in a blend. With the rich floral oils, it is recommended to use only a few drops in a blend! Although it is a rock star in blends when used sparingly!
We love using essential oils and know you do too! When thinking about EO safety, formulating blends becomes even more fun and enjoyable when you have the peace of mind that comes with following the basic safety guidelines outlined above.
Would you like more information about essential oil safety?! Please feel free to email our team of certified aromatherapists! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some additional resources to check out: