Essential oils are liquids derived from the stems, leaves, bark, roots or flowers of plants. They are very concentrated. Even small amounts can cause harm if used improperly. Here are tips on how to use these products safely.

Using directly on skin

Undiluted oils should never be used directly on the skin. Always dilute them with a base oil or emulsifier such as Apricot Kernel, Jojoba or Almond oil. Never touch the eyes or mucous membranes such as the nose. Oils such as Lavender and Tea tree are generally accepted to be safe to use topically, however caution should always be exercised when using any essential oil.

When using for the first time, do a skin patch test.

For pure essential oils, add one drop in 2.5 mL (or 1/2 teaspoon) of vegetable oil and apply it to your arm. If the area turns red, or if there is burning or itchiness, wash the area and do not use that product.

Do not ingest.

They are highly concentrated and have the capacity to cause serious damage if used internally without the necessary expertise required in administrating it. This is supported by the International Federation of Aromatherapists that does not recommend ingestion of essential oils without under the supervision of a Medical Doctor who is also qualified in clinical aromatherapy.

Medical Conditions

People with liver or kidney disease should only use oils under the guidance of a qualified practitioner. Once absorbed in the bloodstream, essential oils are ever cleared from your body by the liver and kidneys – using excessively may injure these organs. Consult a qualified practitioner if you are using any medication, because oils may interact with certain medications. For example, relaxing oils such as chamomile, lavender, and melissa (lemon balm) may heighten the effect of sleeping pills or sedatives.

Heating

This is often controversial and you will find mixed messages regarding heating oils. Many health care professionals agree that heat can alter the chemical composition of an oil. Using ceramic light bulb rings or heating over an open flame such as a tea light can be hazardous for several reasons. This may result in a reduction of the medicinal benefits as well as potentially releasing toxins into your environment. Much caution must be taken to ensure you do not expose an oil to a non-controlled heat source. Essential oils are flammable so if you insist on heating an oil, never leave it unattended. To get the most benefit out of your oil and to be safe, we recommend using a cold diffusion process.

Storing

Store your oils in a cool, dark place away from heat and sunlight. Doing so will prolong the shelf life of the oils. If you have only a few bottles of oil, storing them in a closet would work just fine. If you have quite a few bottles, store the oils in a wooden storage box. Storage boxes protect your oils from variant temperatures and light exposure, as well as keeping your oils organized and in one place.

Mark oil bottles with the date in which you opened the bottle. Doing so will help you keep track of the oil's shelf life. Most oils will last for years if stored properly. Essential oils will become thick, cloudy and smell more acidic when they have deteriorated. Citrus oils have a shelf shelf life, about about six to 12 months once opened. When your citrus oils become cloudy or begin to smell sweet, they have deteriorated.