A guide to using essential oils in aromatherapy


Essential oils when properly used have a natural, balancing action on the body. The oils do produce a definite Physiological effect and should be used with respect.


Bullet Storing essential oils

Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place. Many oils are sensitive to Ultra Violet light and should be stored in dark glass bottles. The oils should be stored OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN. Some oils are toxic if swallowed neat. Essential oils should never be stored in plastic bottles. The oils should not be stored with the droppers in place as the vapors may corrode the dropper. If stored properly essential oils will keep for about 1 year. Some citrus oils, eg lemon, orange and lime will not keep for as long.

Every persons sensitivity to oils can vary considerably. If you have a high sensitivity it is best to start treatment with a lower dose and work up. Sensitivity can vary according to the herbs used. Some herbs have a mild effect, Chamomile for example, others have a stronger effect on the system and should be treated with respect.

Some herbs, whilst having a beneficial effect in most cases are inappropriate to us in others. Any herb with a stimulating effect on the uterus is inappropriate for use during pregnancy.

The use of herbs over a long period of time (generally more than 12 weeks) is not recommended as the body can build up a resistance to the herb making its therapeutic use counter productive. Prolonged cumulative exposure to certain natural chemicals may also have an irritant effect upon the body.

In each of the detailed descriptions of essential oils we describe the circumstances in which use of the herbs should be avoided or care taken.

We strongly advise that essential oils are not taken internally or applied neat to the skin. Although several oils e.g. lavender and sandalwood are suitable for use directly on the skin, the majority can cause skin irritation if used neat and should therefore always be used diluted.

Bullet Use of Essential oils.


Before use essential oils need to be mixed with a vegetable carrier oil. The essential oil should be added to the carrier oil using a dropper. Always mix essential oils in glass, porcelain or aluminum bottles as the oil will react with plastic. We recommend that you use a separate dropper for each oil. A dropper allows exact measurement of the oil. When using droppers ensure that the oil is only drawn up into the glass stem. Contact between the oil and the rubber bulb will damage the material. If storing the bottle with the dropper inn place always ensure the bottle is stored vertically. To clean droppers draw some alcohol into the dropper, repeating as needed.

Bullet Using Oils in burners or vaporizers.

This is a very popular use for essential oils. It allows the natural fragrance of the oil to be released. Essential oils are highly volatile and burn easily. because of this they should not be placed near the naked flame and the bowl of the vaporizer should be kept topped up with water and not allowed to dry out while the candle is alight.

The usual precautions should be taken with candles in burners, i.e. Ensure the burner is standing on a non flammable surface, is not left unattended and is kept away from children and animals.

Bullet Use of essential oils in the bathroom.

Between four and six drops of essential oil in a bath can produce a wonderful fragrance with a very positive effect. Always ensure that the oil is added to the bath water after the bath has been run and ensure that the water is agitated thoroughly to ensure that the oil is fully dispersed. If your skin is especially sensitive you should dilute the oil with either a vegetable carrier oil or full fat milk before adding to the bath.

When bathing children use a smaller quantity of oil (1 or 2 drops) and remember that young children may suck fingers or rub eyes in the bath so do not leave them unattended.

Essential oils may mark plastic baths so it is essential to ensure that the oil is properly dispersed and that the bath is wiped down immediately after use.

Bullet Using essential oils in Massage

For massage the essential oil should be blended with a carrier oil. The best vegetable carrier oil for use on the skin is Almond oil as it has a nourishing effect upon the skin. A good guide to the level of dilution is about 2.5 to 3.0% essential oil, equivalent to 5-6 drops of essential oil for every 10mls of carrier oil. If a blend of essential oils are being used then the total of the blend of essential oils should not exceed 3%. The mixture should be well agitated to ensure even blending of the mixture.

Those with sensitive skin (and for children) should use a concentration of 1% i.e. 2 drops for every 10ml of carrier oil.

Bullet Using essential oils in inhalations

The use of essential oils in inhalations can have beneficial effects on respiratory conditions. Several drops of essential oil are added to a large bowl, boiling water is added and the rising vapors are inhaled with both the head and the bowl covered with a towel. This should be continued for about five minutes. Care should be taken with asthma sufferers and children. During inhalation the eyes should be kept shut to avoid irritation.

If the oil is spilt: absorb the oil using paper tissues and remove immediately. Essential oils will mark many surfaces.

If the oil is swallowed: Seek urgent medical attention, do not try to induce vomiting.

If here is contact with the eyes: Wash the eyes thoroughly with cold water. Seek medical advice if stinging persists.

If oil is spilt on clothing: remove clothing and wash immediately in the normal way.

If oil is spilt on skin: wash the skin with soap and water.

Informational resource from: Kevala Centre Online.


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