Pure Essential Oil Safety Guidelines

Essential Oil Safety

Essential oils have a complex chemistry of hundreds of constituents that include alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, phenols and more.  Their chemical constituents have been researched and scientifically proven to have potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.  Pure essential oils offer us a holistic approach to healing and general well being but because pure essential oils are almost 75% more potent than herbs it’s important to be aware of basic characteristics and precautions.  The following guidelines are meant to provide a basic understanding of pure essential oil safety.

100% pure essential oils are the safest essential oils available and should be used with reasonable care.

Be label savvy, read the labels on every bottle.  Most essential oils on the market should not be taken internally.  Only 100% pure essential oils will are labeled with a “Dietary Use” standard usage.

Dilute safely, use oil not water.  If you need to dilute an essential oil that came in contact with a sensitive area always choose a carrier oil for the task.  Water will not dilute pure essential oils, water will actually increase discomfort.

Use a carrier oil.  Babies, and young children or anyone with sensitive skin (especially elderly) need special care as their skin can be more susceptible to irritation or burning.  It’s never a bad idea to use a carrier oil in any instance so when in doubt, use a carrier oil for topical application.  Be careful not to get essential oils close to the eyes and take precautions that oils don’t get on little hands that might reach up to rub their eyes.  If applying oils to baby feet, slip on a pair of socks afterwards as a precaution.

Never drip oils into the ear canal or eyes.  After any essential oil application be careful not to touch your eyes, the inside of your nose, contact lenses or genitals.  I can’t tell you the number of times I felt the sting of absent mindedness when I touched my eye with oil residue still on my fingers.

Hot oils.  Oh those hot essential oils like Oregano, Cinnamon, Clove, Thyme, Cassia and even the cooling EO of Peppermint, are hotties indeed.  All of these oils need a generous amount of carrier oil for any kind of topical application to tone down the heat or burning sensation!   If hot oils need to be taken internally, add desired amount to a size 00 gel capsule and take with food.

Citrus oils are photosensitive.  Lemon, Bergamot, Wild Orange, Tangerine and Lime will increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  Do not apply topically anywhere on the body that won’t be covered by clothing when exposed to the sun.  Serious sunburn is possible.

If redness or irritation occurs.   Dilute with a carrier oil or cold pressed coconut oil to soothe.  Refrain from using any pure essential oil that causes a skin irritation.

NEVER ingest an essential oil unless the bottle clearly states a “Dietary Use” standard.  Please remember:  When I write about essential oil use I only use and recommend 100% pure essential oils.

Essential oils in the bath, bathers beware.  Essential oils in the bathtub are a great way to relax at the end of the day!  A detox bath with epsom salts, even better!  FYI: epsom salts act as an emulsifier to distribute the essential oils in water.  Always use an emulsifier (milk works too) in bath water to avoid any pooling of oils on top of the water. If oils are allowed to rest against the skin for long periods of time, irritation and even burns can develop. 

Use a little, use often.  Use your pure essential oils in small amounts, use them often. 15 minutes between use for acute issues such as a freight train of a cold that came on fast and hard!

Serious health issues and pure essential oils.  Anyone with asthma, epilepsy or high blood pressure should be cautious and seek counsel from your physician before using pure essential oils. Those with epilepsy should avoid Birch, Basil, Rosemary and Fennel.  Those with high blood pressure should avoid Rosemary and Thyme.  Again, check with your physician first if you have any of these conditions.

Some oils are flammable.  Keep your collection of essential oils away from an open flame or fire hazard.

Pregnancy and nursing.  Ordinarily, if using 100% pure essential oils with a topical application, most oils can be used safely during pregnancy without being harmful to a developing fetus.  Of course, talk with your doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy.  Check these blog posts for more comprehensive information regarding essential oil use during pregnancy, delivery and postpartum:  20 Ways to use Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Childbirth   20 Ways to use Essential Oils for Pregnancy and Childbirth Part 2

Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children.

Use your 100% pure essential oils wisely and with reasonable care.  Do your homework, the more you learn the more you’ll gain from your investment.  Share your knowledge with your family and friends!

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  1. RachelJL says

    Thanks Rebecca! I think that, unfortunately, some who sell essential oils seem to think that they’ll be safe all the time and they don’t pay attention to protocols because they’re sure they don’t apply to them. Several times when I’ve mentioned that I’m allergic to quite a few oils I get a reaction of unbelief. I do believe that I’m in the minority, but it can still be frustrating. Each time I’ve gotten a “what happened?” as if they’re expecting something minor, for instance, not reacting well to the scent. When I mentioned that my throat closes up and that once my lungs hurt for several days they did stop mentioning it. They tried to blame it on a certain brand until I mentioned that I’d tried theirs. Essential oils are amazing, but they’re not a cure-all, unfortunately, and we still need to be careful. I will continue to gladly use the ones I can. I only wish that my allergies were “all in my head.”

  2. Bianca says

    I am very happy to see this post. So many people generalize the rules and trivialize the power of pure essential oils with regard to the cautions that must be observed if one is to do no harm. Thank you for providing such a useful introduction to the care we should take when using pure esential oils for enhancing our lives, and assisting us in regaining our health.

    Picky edit suggestion:

    The post says: If hot oils need to be taken internally, *fill* a size 00 gel capsule and take with food.

    Change to: If hot oils need to be taken internally, *put the indicated number of drops of the essential oil* in a size 00 gel capsule and take with food.

    Or: If hot oils need to be taken internally, *use* a size 00 gel capsule and take with food.

  3. susan gates says

    I have not tried any EO’s except your dreamy sleep salve which seems to be helping. Right now I’m fighting one of my many sinus infections and I have many environmental allergies. How would I go about testing an EO to find out if I’m going to have a reaction to it ? I have been Pinning most of your post but have not tried any other OE’s yet .The Drs. are backing off the antibiotics and I need to find an alternative . Any suggestions ?

    • Rebecca says

      Sylvia, a carrier oil is a vegetable or nut based and used to dilute pure essential oils and, provide even coverage for topical application. My preferred essential oil company, Spark Naturals sells carrier oils as well such as: fractionated coconut oil and sweet almond oil. You can use Olive oil or Jojoba as well.

  4. Emma says

    Could I use clove and eucalyptus oil on my skin? I have super red inflamed skin and heard these oils are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory, I don’t know a lot about essential oils.

    • Rebecca says

      Hmmmm, those are very strong EOs, I would try something much more gentle like frankincense and lavender including plenty of dilution with coconut oil or almond oil. Both Frankincense and Lavender have antibacterial properties as well.

  5. Karen says

    Thank you for this post. I bought the flu bomb kit from spark natural and have been taking all the oils internally only with water or ACV. Is this safe?

  6. Shelley says

    I have recently started using spark naturals and I love love them. I do however have a question that hopefully someone can answer. I take antidepressants and a few other medications that say not to eat grapefruit. Is EO grapefruit safe to use topically while taking medications?.

    • Rebecca says

      Shelley, generally yes because the chemical composition of the essential oil cold pressed from the rind is different than that of the juice. You can google this :)


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