Essential Oils Facts You May Not Know
Essential oils aren’t technically oils; that is, they do not contain the fatty acids that constitute what we would consider actual oil. Instead, they’re highly concentrated plant constituents possessing many therapeutic qualities. However, this doesn’t lessen their importance. Some consider them "the life force or the soul of the plant", or "Gift of the Earth."
Most essential oils are high in therapeutic properties, making them very suitable for cleaners, skin and body care, and emotional therapy. They also have a small molecular size, which means they are absorbed well by the skin. Adding them to your lotions and salves induces softening and nourishing. They do not accumulate in the body over time – they simply offer up their powerful properties and then pass on through.
Essential Oils vs Fragrance Oils
Aromatherapy is a terrific use of essential oils, but take note: fragrance oils and essential oils are far from one and the same. While you’re out perusing a selection, if you see the word “fragrance,” “fragrance oil” or “perfume” on the label, leave it out of your cart. It’s likely synthetic and does not have all the important, natural properties. To test your essential oil to see how “pure” it is, put a single drop of it on a piece of construction paper. If it evaporates quickly and leaves no noticeable ring, it is pure. If you have a ring left, then it is likely diluted by the manufacturer with an oil of some sort (this test will not work for myrrh, patchouli, and absolutes).
Why aren't Essential Oils used more often?
It all boils down to one thing: essential oils are all-natural and cannot be patented. Because essential oils cannot be patented, large companies will not waste money studying them. This limits our scientific knowledge of essential oils a lot, and the majority of what we know about them are things that have been passed down through thousands of years of personal use and experimentation.
Why are Essential Oils so pricey?
It’s because enormous amounts of plants are needed to produce essential oils. One of the most extreme cases is the Bulgarian rose, taking 4000 pounds of the plant to produce 1 pound of essential oil. Other plants like lavender only take 100 pounds of plant material to produce a pound of essential oil...and that's the lighter end!
Essential Oils are Powerhouses!
As such, they need to be handled with care. Some essential oils should never be used undiluted on the skin. Instead, they should be combined with called carrier oils like waxes, butters, olive, or coconut oil. Because they’re so concentrated, if you don’t dilute, you may end up with an unfortunate skin reaction.
Never use an undiluted Essential Oil on a baby or child
Children have much thinner, more delicate skin than adults have, and tend to be very sensitive to the potency of essential oils. In fact, even if you do use essential oil in a recipe for children, only use half of the essential oil recommended in the recipe. Being smaller bodied, that's all they need anyways.
Test if you’re Sensitive to an Essential Oil
Combine one drop of essential oil with 1/2 tsp carrier oil (like olive, jojoba, or sweet almond). Rub this on the inside, upper portion of your arm and wait a few hours. If no redness or itching develops, you’re most likely not sensitive to that essential oil. Still, keep an eye on your skin and proceed cautiously.
Can Essential Oils be taken Internally?
Essential Oils can be toxic internally. Oils not recommended for internal use are arborvitae, birch, cedarwood, cypress, douglas fir, eucalyptus, wintergreen and white fir. Some essential oils may be used well-diluted in toothpaste since you're spitting it out. In fact, there are some toxic essential oils that should be avoided even through skin contact. Luckily, these are not common essential oils, and most of them you’ll never find in a store or online.
How Long will Essential Oils Last?
Essential oils will last for at least 5 years (if not 10), so one bottle could literally last you half a decade. Keep this in mind when you're eyeing the price tags on some essential oils. Because they are incredibly concentrated and only a tiny amount is needed in anything you do, you can make them last a very, very long time. The only exception to this rule is citrus oils, which will see a reduction in potency after a year or two.
How to Store Essential Oils?
Keep your essential oils in dark glass bottles (which they were probably packaged in) and out of direct sunlight. This will help them stay stronger for longer.