Essential Oil Basics

I’ve been trying something fun and new in my natural journey: experimenting with essential oils! They’re just another step in my (slowly moving) quest to remove harmful chemicals from my home and use more natural remedies. I’ve been having so much fun learning about all the different kinds and their different uses. Its hard to pace myself as I build my collection because I just want to buy all the different kinds right now.

When I first started buying essential oils, I thought they would be nice to put in my homemade laundry detergent and maybe make a few cleaning products. As I started researching them more, I realized they have infinite uses, especially as a replacement for traditional medicine and personal care. Essential oils have been used for centuries to treat ailments and are still widely used in other parts of the world as such.

You’ll be seeing more about essential oils on the blog in the future, so I wanted to start with an overview on what they are, what they do and how to use them.

essential oils

What are they?

Essential oils are a concentrated liquid distilled from parts of plants (leaves, bark, flowers, seeds, etc.) Their medicinal use dates back to 3500 B.C. and possibly earlier (some sources say 18,000 B.C.).

How can they be used?

There are several ways to use essential oils. The most effect way to use is to inhale them, either directly from the bottle or by diffusing them in a diffuser. They can also be applied to the skin in various locations, but almost all oils should be diluted first with a carrier oil before applying them to the skin. They can also be taken internally, either in pill capsules, under the tongue or diluted in beverages. I won’t personally recommend that you take any essential oils internally, because I’m not a doctor. There are some amazing testimonials out there about people who have treated serious illness, even cancer, with the internal use of essential oils, but internal use is a controversial topic in the essential oil world, so that is something you’ll have to decide if you are personally comfortable with. There are some oils that should never be ingested under circumstances, so proceed with caution.

I will say, if you don’t feel an essential oil is high quality enough to ingest it (in theory, even if you won’t), you shouldn’t put it on your body. Your body absorbs things you put on your skin very well, so make sure you are putting only the highest quality oils on your skin and following instructions for proper dilution.

What are they used for?

Essential oils can be used for mood, for sleep, for illness, for injuries, for prevention and so much more. Any illness or discomfort you can name, there’s likely a useful essential oil to be found. They are also great for making natural cleaning products, natural bath, body and beauty products and making your house smell great without chemicals.

What should I look for when choosing a brand?

When I started buying essential oils, I thought any brand would do. Being frugal at heart, I looked for the least expensive because I love me a good deal. But as I explored ways to use them, I realized I needed to do more research if I would be putting them on my skin.

A few things to note:

There is no regulation on using “therapeutic grade” on essential oils. Anyone can label their oils that without any third-party testing required.

Purity or “100% pure” isn’t necessarily an indication of quality. More important is whether the oils have been adulterated, which includes adding chemicals, diluting a quality oil with a cheaper, lower quality oil or adding synthetic ingredients to make the oil smell stronger.

Look for a company that uses organic farming methods. Pesticides used on the plants can end up in your oils and you certainly don’t want to be inhaling those or absorbing them through your skin.

Since you can’t test oils for quality at home, choosing a good essential oil company requires a little research. A good essential oil company should be open about what farms their oils come from, the processes they use to grow and harvest, their distillation process and their internal quality control process.

Which ones should I start with?

I had a hard time narrowing them down, but these would be the three I would start with:

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Lavender – great for dry or chapped skin, relaxation and stress, healing burns and irritations

Peppermint – useful for fatigue, easing tension and headaches or digestion

Lemon – helps with energy, digestion and is especially useful in cleaning and freshening

 

How do you use essential oils? Which are your favorites?

5 Comments on Essential Oil Basics

  1. Kari
    February 18, 2014 at 7:27 pm (7 months ago)

    This is so interesting. I’ve been hearing a lot about essential oils recently, so I’m excited to hear how you like them. It’s something I definitely want to learn more about:)
    Kari recently posted…SIMPLE LIFE LESSONSMy Profile

    Reply
    • Elle
      February 21, 2014 at 6:20 am (7 months ago)

      They are gaining popularity which makes me excited, I can’t wait to post some fun recipes and blends!

      Reply
  2. Liz
    February 19, 2014 at 12:02 pm (7 months ago)

    I love using essential oils. The one I use most would have to be lavender. Next up would probably be tea tree oil Then we get to eucalyptus, peppermint, lemon, mandarin …
    Liz recently posted…Knitting questionsMy Profile

    Reply
    • Elle
      February 21, 2014 at 6:22 am (7 months ago)

      Its so hard to choose! Seems like if you get one it seems like you have to get another one to mix it with and another and another…

      Reply

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