16 Essential Oil Safety Guidelines
you want to know to enjoy the benefits of Essential Oils whilst
keeping yourself, family, children and pets safe
Essential Oils must always be diluted before topical application (applying to a particular part of the body). Dilution is done by adding drops of Essential Oils to a Carrier Oil.
How to Dilute Essential Oils - Clear and Simple Calculation.
Proper Essential Oil Dilution must always be done when using on children or the elderly. Essential Oil Dilution percentage depends on the particular Essential Oil: check the Essential Oil bottle or the retailer website for Product Usage Directions. When in doubt, use 1% or Less for Children and the Elderly - this means 2 - 3 Drops of Essential Oil to 10ML of Carrier Oil.
Similar to medications, children should not use Essential Oils without the supervision or knowledge of an adult. Learn about the potency of Essential Oils here.
2. Can Essential Oils be used when Pregnant or Nursing
Certain Essential Oils should not be used when you are Pregnant or Nursing. In fact, it is recommended that Essential Oils should NOT be used in the 1st Trimester at all, as a precaution.
Click here for Plant Therapy's recommended list of Essential Oils Safe for Pregnancy and Nursing. Do note that certain Essential Oils which are Safe for Pregnancy are not necessarily safe for when Nursing.
3. How to Dilute Essential Oils
Dilution of Essential Oils must always be done for Topical Application. The Dilution Percentage depends on a few factors:
What Essential Oil are you using? Essential Oils have different Maximum Dilution. For instance, the recommended Maximum Dilution for Lavender is 10%, whereas for Ylang Ylang is 0.8%. What does this mean? Check How to Dilute Essential Oils - Clear and Simple Calculation.
Who are you using the Essential Oil on? Plant Therapy KidSafe Essential Oils are safe for Children below 10 years. But appropriate dilution still needs to be done for Topical Application, and Less is More should be the approach.
What Purpose are you using the Essential Oil for? Plant Therapy has an excellent Essential Oil Guide by Condition.
4. Essential Oils and Health Conditions
Essentials Oils have amazing benefits, and smell wonderful. But there are certain Essential Oils that should not be used for certain health conditions, and Precautions should be taken with certain types of medication.
Epilepsy, High Blood Pressure, Pregnancy, Nursing are just some of the Health Conditions where it is strongly recommended that Essential Oils be used with Caution.
Check here for a list of Essential Oils which should be avoided under certain Health Conditions. This list is not exhaustive, and when in doubt, you are highly recommended to consult your Medical Health Practitioner, additionally with a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist.
5. Adverse Reactions when using Essential Oils
If you have never used a particular Essential Oil before, the best thing to do is to perform a small skin patch test on a small area like your elbow first. Dilute a tiny amount of the Essential Oil in a Carrier Oil, and dab onto the area. Leave it for 24 hours to check for any reactions.
Any negative reaction such as skin redness, irritation is a clear indication not to use that Essential Oil. It is also good to check any indicated Precautions for Essential Oils - all reputable Essential Oil companies will indicate this both on their Product description and bottles.
Essential Oils are highly potent: No, it is not fine to apply Lavender Essential Oil directly on the skin despite what "everyone" says. We have seen, firsthand, adverse reactions from Lavender used undiluted. Other than the discomforts, Skin Sensitization is another issue.
6. How Frequently can Essential Oils be used?
One of the best ways of benefiting from Essential Oils is using Essential Oil Diffuser. However, Essential Oils should not be diffused continuously, especially in an enclosed room or poorly-ventilated space. It is highly recommended by many Aromatherapy experts that Essential Oils are diffused intermittently - this means 15 second on and 30 seconds off, or 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off, as examples.
All Plant Therapy Essential Oil Diffusers come with an intermittent timer function - and these are perfect knowing that your Essential Oils are being diffused safely, and automatically.
Topical Application pre-diluted in Carrier Oil or with an Aromatherapy Inhaler, can usually be used as often as needed.
7. Can Essential Oils be Ingested?
Many Aromatherapy experts with years of experience do not recommend ingesting (consuming) Essential Oils at all. What are the reasons for that?
Firstly, there is no need at all for Essential Oils to be ingested to receive their benefits.
Secondly, there is not enough known about how Essential Oils can affect our internal organs, but it is known just how potent Essential Oils are: Essential Oils can "melt" non-HDPE plastics. This is also why 100% Pure Essential Oils are almost always stored in glass containers.
Of course, there may be exceptions to the rule, but Essential Oils should never be ingested without guidance by a qualified Clinical Aromatherapy practitioner or unless you are certain you have adequate knowledge and understanding of the risks, and safe internal applications and dosages.
A detailed version of Why Essential Oils should never be ingested.
8. How to know when Essentials Oils are Outdated?
If you have had a bottle of Essential Oil sitting around for more than a year, and are not sure if you can still use it safely or effectively, there are a few things you can do.
Contact the retailer or manufacturer for advice.
Contact the manufacturer with the bottle batch number: they will be able to tell you what the expiry date, at the same time advising you on its usability (which may depend on them asking you a few questions about the storage and state of the Essential Oil).
Scent: this is usually the most telling of many consumable products. Frequently we would be able to tell if something is "off". However, this is not always the most reliable method with Essential Oils - click here for a more elaborate discussion about How to tell if your Essential Oils have expired.
Colour: This is not the most reliable method either, as not all Essential Oils are clear, but come in hues or yellow, orange to dark brown (Blue Tansy is dark blue!), unless you are highly familiar with Essential Oils.
Get your Plant Therapy Essential Oils here or Contact our Certified Aromatherapist
9. Do Essential Oils Dissolve in Water?
No, absolutely not. Essential Oils are not miscible - that means they don't dissolve in water. There have been a rising number of articles on the internet in recent times touting "Water soluble Essential Oils". We do not know what these are, and what has been added to them to make them water soluble. But we do know that they are certainly not Pure Essential Oils, with a big question mark on what the added ingredients are.
Because Essential Oils are not water soluble, CAUTION should be taken when adding Essential Oils directly to bathwater, or using Essential Oils where anyone may be stepping on. Essential Oils are slippery! Additionally, this also means that the Essential Oils may come into direct contact with your skin and sensitive genital areas.
To add to bath water: always blend your Essential Oils in a Carrier Oil first, swirl the blend well in the bathwater before entering the bath. And be extremely careful when stepping in and out of the bath as the tub is likely to be slippery.
10. How to Diffuse Essential Oils?
We recommend NOT to continuously diffuse Essential Oils, especially in an enclosed room or poorly-ventilated space, and in particular for Children below 10 years old.
The best Essential Oil Diffusers are those that come with a timer - best practice recommendation is to use 30min on/off intervals.
Depending on the size of your Essential Oil Diffuser, an average of 3 to 9 drops are generally safe to start with. From there, add drops to get your desired Scent intensity level.
It would be useful to note that Essential Oil Scent are not long-lasting by nature, and that the lack of scent does not mean a lack of effectiveness. The molecules of the Essential Oils are likely to be floating in the air for a while still, and continue to deliver the benefits of the Essential Oils.
11. Are Essential Oils Safe for Animals?
Animals do not have the enzymes (that humans do in our livers) to break down many Essential Oils in their bodies, and this leads to toxicity which can be fatal to the animals.
It is highly advisable NOT to use just any Essential Oils on or around dogs, cats, birds, horses or other pets, unless you know that they are animal-safe.
Check here for more Information on Essential Oils for Animals. Here you will find the list of commonly used Essential Oils that are harmful to Dogs and Cats, as well as a list of Essential Oils that are Safe and which you can download for free.
12. How to Store Essential Oils
Essential Oils do not come with indicated Expiry Dates as many factors contribute to the longevity of Essential Oils. However, most Essential Oils have an average Shelf Life of 2 - 3 years (and in our experience even more) when stored properly. Citrus Essential Oils tend to have a lower estimated shelf life of about 1 - 2 years.
To keep your Essential Oils as fresh as possible for as long as possible:
Keep your Essential Oils away from direct heat or light
Store Essential Oils in darker coloured and/or frosted glass bottles
Pure Essential Oils and pre-diluted Essential Oils with a high percentage of Pure Essential Oils should be stored only in glass bottles
Never store your Essential Oils in plastic containers, even HDPE/PET high quality plastics - we have seen Pure Essential Oils melt plastic in the blink of an eye. Apart from the damage, you do not want to be applying melted plastic along with your Essential Oil to yourself
13. Essential Oils can be Fire Hazards
Essential Oils are highly flammable. Even though the amount stored in homes are generally small, they must still never be stored Essential Oils near heat sources and potential fire hazards.
For instance, some people use Essential Oils in the kitchen for various purposes such as cleaning, and so keep the Essential Oils within easy reach. However, it is important to avoid placing the bottles near the stove for example.
14. How to test Essential Oils
Most Essential Oils are generally safe to use. However, as with consumables in general as well, there are other factors to consider around potential allergies or contraindications for certain individuals, certain conditions, and if certain medications are being taken.
To test whether an Essential Oil may cause any adverse effects, do a simple Patch Test:
Dilute ONE Drop of the Essential Oil in ONE teaspoon of any Carrier Oil (commonly available at home are Olive or Coconut Oil if you do not have Fractionated Coconut, Almond, Jojoba or Grapeseed Oils which are the common and popular Carrier Oils used to dilute Essential Oils in).
Apply a little to the inside of your elbow and leave it overnight or for at least 12 hours.
15. Phototoxic Essential Oils
Phototoxicity means sensitivity to Sunlight or any other forms of light and which can cause skin issues such as rashes, blisters, or sunburns.
Some Essential Oils are Phototoxic - and all Citrus Essential Oils are, unless the constituent which causes Phototoxicity has been removed during the production process. Do check the Essential Oil description for a clear understanding of this when making your purchases.
For instance, Plant Therapy Bergamot Essential Oil does not contain Bergapten (which is Phototoxic), and hence safe to use outdoors. Plant Therapy also has steam-distilled versions of its Lime and Lemon Essential Oils which are not Phototoxic.
When using the non steam distilled versions of Plant Therapy Lime or Lemon Essential Oils, do stay out of direct sunlight for at least several hours or you can use it at a maximum dilution of 2% in order to use it safely outdoors. This means that you can certainly use the regular Lime Essential Oil or Lemon Essential Oil at home for diffusing or cleaning purposes.
16. When and Where not to Apply Essential Oils
Despite the cautions, using Essential Oils is not complicated or difficult at all. This is a simple list of DON'Ts (that are actually basic common sense in most cases) that may be helpful to getting the maximum enjoyment and benefits from your Essential Oils.
• Don't use certain Essential Oils (and some not even unless prescribed by a qualified Aromatherapist).
• Don't use Essential Oils near the genitals, mouth, nose, eyes and ears.
• Don't use old or improperly stored Essential Oils for therapeutic applications.
• Don't use Essential Oils without proper Dilution, especially with Children and the Elderly.
• Don't let Children use Essential Oils without the presence of someone knowledgeable.
• Don't continuously diffuse Essential Oils, especially in an enclosed room or poorly-ventilated space
• Don't use Essential Oils on or around dogs, cats, birds, horses or other pets, unless you know that they are animal-safe
• Don't store Essential Oils near fire hazards
• Don't use Essential Oils without checking indicated cautions