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General Guidelines for using Essential Oils


We strongly recommend you understand the effects of essential oils before you use them.  Refer to a reference manual or an aromatherapist.



Essential oils can be inhaled using a variety of techniques and devices.

·         Diffuser: Essential oils are placed in this device, sometimes with water (be sure to read the directions), and sometimes with heat so they evaporate. Some diffusers have a timer for convenience. Essential oils should never be directly burned as the chemical structure is dramatically changed with incineration

·         Dry Evaporation: Several drops of essential oil are placed on a cotton ball or tissue and allowed to evaporate into the air. If you want an intense dose, sniff the cotton ball. If a milder, more constant exposure is desired, simply keep the cotton ball in your immediate vicinity.

·         Steam: Drops of essential oil are added to a bowl of steaming water, which quickly vaporizes the oil. Place a towel over your head and over the bowl of water with essential oil drop(s) and breathe deeply. This method is very direct and potent—the use of more than 1-2 drops may be overwhelming. It is important keep the eyes closed when using this method. The use of eucalyptus essential oil in this way can feel helpful with upper respiratory and sinus infections Note: This is not recommended for children younger than 7 years old. Children older than 7 who use this method of aromatherapy can use swimming goggles to protect their eyes.

·         Spray: Drops of essential oils are placed in a water-based solution, shaken, and sprayed into the air in order to deodorize a room or set a mood. An example might be spraying an aqueous solution of pine or citrus oils to enhance holiday feelings or a solution of peppermint oil to stimulate alertness. It is important to shake the bottle before spraying in order to spray the solution and not just water.



Essential oils can be applied to the skin using a variety of techniques. It is important to note that most essential oils can not be applied directly to the skin without being diluted.  Some may actually burn the skin where as some may aid the body in healing a burn.  If irritation occurs from an oil add carrier oil immediately. Do Not add water as this will only spread it- you must dilute it with a base oil such as almond, coconut, even olive oil.  If not available you can use milk.


How do I prepare a solution?

As a rule of thumb, essential oils should be diluted in a carrier substance (vegetable or nut oil, or water) at no greater concentration than 3-5%.

That means if you have one teaspoon (5cc) of carrier, you would add 3 drops of pure essential oil. This would make a 3% solution that could be used on a portion of the body.

For massage or for application over large areas of the body, a 1% solution (meaning, one drop of essential oil in one teaspoon of carrier) is generally a safe concentration. For infants, using a 0.25% solution is recommended (0.5% for toddlers). 

What carrier oil should I use?

 Cold-pressed carrier oils are preferred- Coconut oil,  sweet almond oil, apricot kernel oil, grape seed oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil. These oils do not have a strong smell of their own.


Compress: The essential oil is diluted in a liquid carrier (water or oil) and applied to a dressing or directly to the affected area. Optional heat or cold can be applied. 

  Gargle: Drops of essential oil are added to water. You mix, then gargle the solution and spit it out. Do NOT swallow it.


Bath: Drops of essential oils are added to bath water in a dispersant immediately before stepping in. This method results in absorption through the skin, as well as inhalation of the volatilized essential oil. A few tablespoons of full milk, powdered milk, Sea Salt or Epsom salt can be used as a dispersant.  Remember, essential oils are not water soluble; thus they will float on top of the bath and skin passing through


Feet-  Rub drops of diluted essential oil to the bottom of your feet. 

Massage: Drops of essential oil are added to a natural carrier oil and applied to skin areas with gentle rubbing. As noted earlier, massage blends should not exceed 1% concentration of essential oils (one drop in a teaspoon) for adults. For children, concentration should not exceed 0.25% for infants, 0.5% for toddlers age 6 months to 2 years, and 1% for children 2 years and older. The choice of essential oils for massage depends on the desired effect.


Internal Use

Essential oils can be applied internally in several ways including oral ingestion and suppositories. In the U.S. the ingestion of essential oils is only recommended under the supervision of a licensed healthcare provider.  If you decide to ingest essential oils on you own free will please dilute and refer to the GRAS Generally Recognized As Safe chart on the next page. 




Buckle, J. (2003). Clinical aromatherapy: Essential oils in practice, 2nd Ed. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone.

England, A. (2000). Aromatherapy and massage for mother and baby. Rochester, Vermont: Healing Arts Press. (2014) 

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