Using Essential Oils Safely | Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Using Essential Oils Safely FAQ

You should always be aware of using essential oils safely to avoid any unwanted reactions. This goes for us, kids, and pets! Most people don’t even know that essential oils pose any kind of risk to our health. They’re still widely seen as pseudoscience in our society, and that’s incredibly dangerous.  

Essential oils are actually very dangerous if they are not use properly. And the correct use of them is not well-known at all! Read on to find out how everyone in your household could be negatively affected by essential oils, and how to avoid it!

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bottle of essential oils

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Can Essential Oils Be Harmful?

You know the phrase “Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing?” That’s what makes essential oils potentially dangerous. Essential oils are so incredibly concentrated that they can quickly overload our senses. And I don’t just mean smell. Essential oils can cause a myriad of problems for the skin and internal organs.

Seriously, do a quick google search and you will see all kinds of horror stories of misinformed people who used essential oils without any kind of guideline. That’s why using essential oils safely are so important. Their use has skyrocketed, but few know their true risk.

The Long History of Essential Oils | How We Got Here

Did you know that essential oils have been around for thousands of years? The ancient Egyptians used them for religious ceremonies and even in some of their cosmetics. The Greeks then absorbed the Egyptian’s knowledge, and it slowly spread throughout the rest of the world, with Asia leading its own discovery of essential oils.

Up until the 1970’s, essential oils were only used sparingly and in situations of dire need. For example, lavender oil was used to treat burns and ease pain. It was almost never used daily for its aromatherapy benefits to help with anxiety like it is today.

Just like many things in the health and wellness world, we don’t know too much about what repeated exposure to essential oils will do to us over time. However, what research we are uncovering is not great.

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The Potential Dangers of Essential Oils

With companies making essential oils into these products with no warnings or instructions, it’s no wonder there are so many horror stories out there! One of the worst I found was from Stacy Haluka, who gave her account on WebMD

A friend recommended essential oils to her from an MLM company. The company told her that the oils were so pure, she could apply them however she wanted. A few months later, she landed in the emergency room with severe welts, blisters, swollen eyes, and toxic shock. All of which are essential oil overdose symptoms.

She writes that she can never be exposed to essential oils without breaking out in hives, because her body has had enough of them. This condition is called sensitization, and it can be very dangerous. Imagine having to go through life worried that you could go into toxic shock because someone was unknowingly diffusing some lavender! So please, educate yourself on using essential oils safely! Just reading this post will do you a world of good.

Health and wellness have become more and more popular, which means that essential oils have also rose to fame. Because of this, big corporations have advertised essential oils as cure-all ingredients. The truth, however, is that science hasn’t tested essential oils for very much yet

Rocky Mountain Oils | The Best Brand for Using Essential Oils Safely

Rocky Mountain Oils is (to me) one of the best essential oil companies on the market. If you’re in the market for some affordable yet effective essential oils, you should check them out! I have an in-depth Rocky Mountain Oils review if you want to learn more. They are not a multi-level marketing (MLM) company which I appreciate. Most well-known essential oil companies are MLM style, which can be a pain.

They have a page dedicated to general knowledge on essential oils and how to get started, perfect for the beginner user. More importantly, essential oils are more hazardous for children under 12 years of age, so there is a page just for kid safety. Using essential oils on children can be especially risky, and Rocky Mountain Oils makes a whole line of oils just for kids. Click here to access all of Rocky Mountain Oil’s kid-safe oils!

rocky mountain oils products

The most important page to me, is the dilution rate page. It tells you exactly how much to use with a carrier oil, and what is best for what age, as well as using essential oils safely for pregnancy. I had no idea that kids were at a much higher risk! The same goes for pets and the elderly. The rest of this essential oil safety guide will go over exactly what to do for every person (or furry friend) in your life. 

How Do You Use Essential Oils Safely? Is Diffusing Essential Oils Safe for Your Lungs?

The absolute safest way to use essential oils is to diffuse! I use and love this diffuser kit on the occasion I feel like diffusing to lighten the mood. Using oils on the skin is okay if you dilute, and ingesting essential oils is almost always discouraged unless a specific product is made for that purpose. Even then, the product (I hope!) should be heavily diluted.  

Essential oils are totally safe to breathe in if you’re standing a few feet away from a diffuser. Just keep in mind that the rules of sensitivity still apply to children and other at-risk groups. There is no essential oil that is considered the safest to use. They all have some level or risk, with some being more dangerous than others.

If you’re going to remember anything from this post, these are the key rules you must always follow to ensure essential oil safety:

  • Keep out of reach of children
  • All bottles must be stored in a cool place out of direct sunlight
  • Keep all essential oils out of mucous membranes (ears, eyes and nose)
  • Choose a high-quality essential oil, like Rocky Mountain Oils 

The first rule is obvious, because children’s bodies cannot handle the potency of essential oils. There have been many reported hospitalizations, and even a few deaths, related to children getting into their parent’s essential oil cabinet. I swear I’m trying not to scare you with this information! But you deserve to be informed.

Keeping your oils in a dark place makes their potency last longer because prolonged exposure to sunlight can dull their effectiveness. Essential oils technically never expire, but they can lose their potency over time. The same general idea goes for choosing a high-quality essential oil. You want your oils to be pure and potent, without any unnecessary additives. 

Lastly, you want to keep all essential oils away from any mucous membranes, like your ears, eyes and nose. You can easily disrupt those mucous membranes and cause irritation and inflammation that may involve a trip to the ER. But don’t worry too much, because we’ll go over what to do if that does happen in a minute.

clean beauty for beginners

Always Dilute Your Essential Oils!

Now that we have the most basic rules out of the way, we can get into the more nitty-gritty. The key to proper essential oil safety is dilution! You can use any carrier oil to tone down the potency of your essential oil, and you’ll be fine. Some oils are more potent than others, and certain oils do better, say, diffused, than applied to the skin.

For example, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree are notorious for poisoning when ingested, but they do great diluted on the skin or diffused. Rosemary is another invigorating essential oil that is often discouraged from ingesting but does wonders for the skin and sore muscles. You can see proper essential oil dilution in action on my DIY bath oil recipe.

The easiest way to navigate this is to do some research on each individual oil before you buy them. And always consult with a licensed aromatherapist. I am not a professional! I just have knowledge and years of experience under my belt. But there are some ways to avoid some common mistakes:

Use the Right Carrier Oils

This cannot be stressed enough when it comes to essential oil safety. Especially when applied to the skin. Take the edge off your essential oil’s potency with a nourishing carrier oil! This will act as a one-two punch for your skin’s health. Some common carrier oils include, jojoba oilsweet almond oil, and avocado oil.

I love to use jojoba oil on my face! You can see it in action on my homemade lotion recipe. It’s one of my most popular posts, so it’s a good one. Sweet almond oil is amazing on skin in general, and I used it in my recipe for sugar scrub that’s great for shaving. All of those great fatty acids can help keep your skin looking young while staying moisturized. Which is great to have for the wintertime! 

See how I use essential oils in a lot of my DIY’s? You also won’t fail to see some kind of carrier oil far behind because I would never give you a DIY that was unsafe. I even use them in my regular hair oil treatments! They’re so good for you, that I don’t see a reason not to use them!

Now you may be wondering how some of Rocky Mountain Oil’s blends say that you can use them on your skin. Nearly all of Rocky Mountain Oil’s blends are made with fractionated coconut oil because of its long shelf life. It also won’t turn into its hard form when it reaches room temperature. But you can always add some additional dilution to your blends too, especially if you are using them on children. 

Use the Right Dilution Rate with an Essential Oil Dilution Chart

I know that dilution rates seem incredibly overwhelming when you first look at them. And it may be easier to simply ignore them and try your luck, but please don’t do this! I’ve been guilty of it in the past, but only with oils that weren’t terribly dangerous to begin with. 

Check out my graphic below for the basics on dilution rates. This applies to children, adults, and the elderly. The fourth section also applies to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, those with a compromised immune system, or those with sensitive skin.

how to dilute essential oils

Be Careful with Oils that Have a High Phototoxicity

What’s this big word I just used? Phototoxicity is an oil’s ability to cause an adverse on the skin when exposed to sunlight. This can include red spots and severe burns. Luckily, there are only a few popular essential oils that have high phototoxicity. They are:

  • GrapefruitPhototoxic after 24 drops
  • LemonPhototoxic after 12 drops
  • LimePhototoxic after 4 drops
  • BergamotPhototoxic after 1 drop

I ordered this list from lowest to highest risk of phototoxicity. Grapefruit oil usually gets the worst rap for phototoxicity, but bergamot should be your number one oil to look out for. It goes great in a diffuser, and that’s about it! I would steer clear of using bergamot on your skin altogether unless it’s properly diluted by a professional. 

What Essential Oils Should Be Avoided?

I thought I’d include a few more essential oils to be careful with if you decide to use them. The reasons being that they are so potent that they can cause burns to the skin. Or they have caused things ranging from seizures to diarrhea in children who have accidentally ingested them. Be extra careful you don’t get these in your eyes or nose!

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What to Do if You Get Essential Oils in Your Eyes, Nose, or Mouth

I get it, life happens. I’ve seen and heard stories of even professionals getting an essential oil somewhere it shouldn’t be. And if it does happen, don’t freak out! I know I’m telling you all kinds of horror stories, but those are the absolute worst-case scenario. What usually happens is some minor irritation or burning. 

The first thing people think to do if they get essential oil in their eyes is to wash it out with water. Don’t do this! It will just spread the water across even more of those sensitive mucous membranes. Instead, you have to dilute the essential oil to bring down its potency. 

Yes, I’m serious. You can prevent irritation by adding a carrier oil into the area that has been affectedMilk works great too. If you get a potentially dangerous essential oil in your eye, put a few drops of a carrier oil in there. Or if that idea freaks you out, flush out the area with some milk straight from the fridge. Milk works because the fat content helps to reduce the oil’s potency, so go for a full fat milk if you can. 

Flush out the area as best you can with your weapon of choice and give the area a few minutes to breathe. If irritation or severe burns start to occur, seek medical help immediately. It’s okay if there’s some mild irritation. You did just run a couple foreign substances through the area. But if it doesn’t go away after 24 hours or worsens, a trip to the ER might be in order.  

Final Thoughts on this Using Essential Oils Safely

When using an essential oil for the first time, always do a small patch test. Just dilute a drop or two with some carrier oil and dab it on the inside of your wrist. If nothing happens in 24 hours, then you don’t have any adverse reactions toward it.

If you do decide to diffuse an oil, always diffuse in 30 minute intervals in a well-ventilated area. Make sure that pets aren’t around, depending on which oil you use. If diffusing for children, only put two drops in the diffuser to avoid any adverse reactions. 

If you do decide to diffuse an oil, always diffuse in 30 minute intervals in a well-ventilated area. Make sure that pets aren’t around, depending on which oil you use. If diffusing for children, only put two drops in the diffuser to avoid any adverse reactions. 

Unless specified by a professional, always dilute your essential oils! This is one of the key precautions to take when using essential oils. Even if you get it in your eye, just add a carrier oil to prevent irritation. You should find an essential oil brand you trust, like Rocky Mountain Oils. Just using these guidelines alone will help prevent trips to the E.R.

Do you have any tips for essential oil safety? Let me know in the comments below!

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6 thoughts on “Using Essential Oils Safely | Here’s Everything You Need to Know”

  1. Andrew Terry (UK Vegan)

    Hi,
    I’ve just bought a litre bottle of unperfumed organic castile soap which I intend to use as a hand and face wash.
    I find the smell of it a little unpleasant, so I’d like to add some essential oil to perfume it. I use lavender oil in my laundry wash, so thought that this might be ideal. Should I add the oil to a small quantity of soap, or would it be okay to add it to the whole bottle? Will shaking the bottle mix the oil in, or do I need to mix it in a smaller container?

    I would be most grateful for your advice, thanks.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      You can totally add in some lavender essential oil to your castile soap! Adding about 20 drops or so to the whole bottle will work fine. Just make sure that you shake it before each use because the oil and the soap will separate over time.

    1. Breanne Connor

      Hi DaLorean! Yes, that’s correct. Usually carrier oils are meant to tone down the oil’s potency when coming into contact with your skin. I have read that people use carrier oils in a diffuser when using it around infants, but I wouldn’t recommend using oils around infants under 1 year at all. Hope this helps!

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