Living Life Well


Essential Oil Safety

An ongoing series of informational entries

Our Second Blog Entry

February 14, 2017

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

Using Essential oils directly on skin

  • Undiluted essential oils should never be used directly on the skin. Always dilute them with a base oil or emulsifier such as Coconut, Holly or Jojoba oil. Never touch the eyes or mucous membranes such as the nose. Essential 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. Many oils, especially citrus oils are highly photosensitive. Even diffusing oils can result in the constituents landing on your skin, so take extra care if you are going to be exposed to direct sunlight.
  • When using an essential oil 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. 

Ingesting essential oils

  • Essential oils are highly concentrated and have the capacity to cause serious damage to the liver and other organs if used internally without the necessary expertise required in administering it.  Therefore, we do not recommend ingestion of essential oils unless under the supervision of a medical professional who is also qualified in clinical aromatherapy. 

Essential oils and medical conditions

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

Storing your essential oils

  • Store your essential 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 essential 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 essential 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 shorter shelf life, lasting about 6 to 12 months once opened. When your citrus oils become cloudy or begin to smell sweet, they have deteriorated.