Essential oils are highly potent substances. They are concentrated plant extracts, and are significantly stronger than the oils that occur naturally in the plants. If over-used or used incorrectly, these concentrations can cause undesirable side-effects.
Care must be taken when using essential oils because they are highly concentrated. Many should not be applied directly to the skin, but should be blended with carrier oils. Some oils should never be applied directly to the skin. Be sure to check the label for any warnings or precautions.
Basic Essential Oil Safety Guidelines
The following precautions are vital to ensure safe, proper handling and utilization of essential oils.
- Treat essential oils as you would medication – keep the bottles tightly closed and out of the reach of children.
- Don’t apply essential oils “neat” (directly from the bottle) to skin.
- Do not assume the essential oil has the properties of the plant from which it is made.
- Do not exceed recommended dilutions.
- Do not use essential oils in food, or consume them in any way unless you are working with an expert or under medical supervision.
Essential Oil Evaporation
Some essential oils evaporate very, very quickly. So when applied to the skin, if massage not being done, it is advisable to cover those parts of the skin to prevent evaporation and enhance absorption.
Volatility of Essential Oils
Since essential oils are highly volatile, they may ignite if exposed directly to a flame or high temperatures. Never leave candle-warmed vaporizers or diffusers unattended. And never use them in a room with children.
Vaporizer Advice with Essential Oil Use
When using a vaporizer, don’t let the oils burn more than two hours. By this time the lighter molecules will have evaporated, and the heavier molecules will vaporized at a much slower rate. Also, don’t let the water in a vaporizer dry up or you’ll be left with the unattractive odor of burnt oil.
Additional Specific Precautions for Essential Oils
When using oils, the following measures will ensure safety.
- Most essential oils should not be ingested or used in cooking unless you have specific professional training or instruction.
- Although correctly diluted oils are harmless to human tissue, keep essential oils away from varnished furniture as the varnish may dissolve.
- If you do not have information about a particular essential oil, DO NOT USE IT.
- Avoid using a particular essential oil for a long period of time as you may develop sensitivity to it.
When used with respect and care, essential oils will leave the human body in a more positive state.