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Introduction to Essential Oils for the Outdoors

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: July 28, 2022
Introduction to Essential Oils for the Outdoors

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Essential oils have become very popular because they can be used for a variety of purposes. For anyone that enjoys the outdoors, goes hiking and camping, or spends the weekend exploring, there are some great essential oil options you can use. They have great benefits and will make your time in the outdoors more enjoyable.

Introduction to Essential Oils for the Outdoors

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils have become very popular because they are naturally occurring and have great benefits.  They are commonly used with aromatherapy but have a variety of uses for health, home, and outside activities.

Essential oils are compounds that come from plants and are taken from plant parts like the bark, roots, flowers, and seeds. The oils are found in the glandular structure of the plant. Some are found externally like when you touch the leaves. Other oils are found internally, such as when you break the stem.

These oils are used by plants for functions that protect them, keep them healthy, and keep predators away. By extracting the oils from the plants, you can use them for similar purposes.

There are three common ways that essential oils are used. You can place the oil on your skin to absorb, you can ingest it, or you can inhale it.  Depending on the oil there are recommended ways to use it that go along with the safety precautions. You want to make sure you know the method that will benefit you the most.

How they’re made

Since essential oils are valued because of their natural state, it is important to understand where they come from and how they are made.

Where they come from

Essential Oils are found within different parts of plants. They can be extracted from tree resin, fruit peels, roots, tree leaves, flower petals, seeds, pods, needles, and twigs.  Depending on how fragile the plant part is, the way to extract the oil is different.

How they are extracted

The oils can be extracted from the plant in several ways so the scented particles are removed but not damaged.  This is a time-consuming process and it takes a lot of the plant to extract a small amount of the essential oil.

Steam distillation

Steam distillation is the most common method used to produce essential oils because it is the most gentle method. The plant part is placed into boiling water. Once heated, the oil separates and the steam is collected.

Solvent extraction

Solvent extraction uses solvents like petroleum ether, methanol, or ethanol to extract scented material from the plant. This method is used mostly on flowers and not with trees as it is the preferred method for plant parts that are fragile. The plant parts are placed in a tray and this is washed with a layer of the selected solvent.

This process separates out the fragrant compounds. It may require, as part of the process, physically breaking the plant material or spinning it in a rotating drum.

Cold pressing

Cold pressing is a mechanical extraction process and used typically to press fruits. It can be done by using a machine or hand press using a mortar. The essential oils release and are collected after each part is broken down. This works best with fruit peels.


For the maceration extraction method, the plant parts are soaked in hot oil. This causes their cell membranes to rupture and the oil absorbs the essence.  Depending on the type of oil used, the thickness might be different and the essential oil can be used in different ways.

How to Choose the Right Ones

There are a couple of things to think about when you are deciding to use Essential Oils. There are many different varieties of oils but it is not necessary to own them all when many overlap with the benefits they provide.

What purpose do you need them for?

The first question to ask is what do you want or need the essential oil to do. There are many resources that list the essential oils by what they do so you can decide. Peppermint is great because it has many uses.

It cools down the body, helps with digestion, helps with headaches, and can be combined with lavender and lemon for allergies.

When you are outdoors you may need something for first aid or for taking care of your equipment and for hygiene.

How will it be applied?

There are three ways that you can use essential oils and each essential oil has preferred methods of application. You want to know the best and safest ways when deciding which ones to use. If you are going to be outdoors, using a diffuser might be inconvenient. And if you don’t have carrier oil, like coconut oil, to dilute certain essential oils, then you want to find an alternative.

Is the scent right for you?

Some scents, like Frankincense, can be strong. If you are using it for something like a headache, there may be an alternative you like better, such as peppermint.  Ask for samples of each essential oil or try some of friends just to make sure you can handle the scent of the oil.

Your budget

Since it takes a lot of plant parts to get a small amount of essential oil, some can be very pricey. Pick the ones you want to use based on the money you have to spend. You don’t need all of the oils available. You can find one that can help with multiple issues.

Best Essential Oils for Outdoor

Most oils can serve different purposes and you don’t want to carry a whole bunch. This provides a list of some popular essential oils to use outdoors.


Arborvitae essential oil has a warm, earthy aroma. It is able to naturally repel insects and can be used for cleansing and purifying internally and externally. You can use this oil by adding 10 drops to an 8-ounce spray bottle with water and use a natural insect repellent.

You can apply this to your wrists and ankles before going outdoors for protection or inhale the scent for a sense of peace and calm.


Peppermint has many benefits. It can soothe digestive issues, give you more energy, help reduce your aches and pains, and allows you to breathe easier so you can enjoy being outdoors. It has a cooling effect on your body and can improve how you feel when you’re out in the heat.

By diluting it with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil, you can rub it on your shoulders, neck, and back, or apply to feet and knees to soothe aches. Just mix 10 drops of peppermint and 4 ounces of water in a spray bottle to cool you off when outdoors.


Lavender can soothe occasional skin irritations like sunburn and helps with getting restful sleep. It can also help with cuts and scrapes by taking a couple of drops mixed with a carrier oil and putting it on the injured area.  For an anti-chafing blend, put 20 drops of Lavender is a roll-on bottle with coconut oil. This can help soothe the skin.


Melaleuca is great for supporting healthy immune function and clearing skin irritations. Similar to Lavender it can help with cuts and scrapes. Apply a couple of drops to the area to support skin repair. It only takes 1 to 2 drops of Melaleuca essential oil applied to the affected area to help any of your skin irritations.


One of the best essential oils to help with your immune system is Eucalyptus. By inhaling it your body will “wake up” and give you extra energy before your outdoor activities. Place some in your hands and breathe deeply.

Its ability to purify soothes skin, cleanse surfaces, and clean the air.  Combine 5 drops of eucalyptus and 5 drops of peppermint and mix with water in a spray bottle to help cool the body when it’s hot outside.


This essential oil is great for cuts or scratches because it’s best known for its restorative effects on the skin. If you have scars or blemishes, the oil can be applied to even out the appearance.


Geranium is a great essential oil for keeping the most annoying of bugs away. By using a little of it, horse flies will stay away and drops on your wrists and around your socks will prevent ticks from sticking.

How to Use them Outdoors

There are many things that can happen outdoors and Essential Oils can help with first aid.

Bumps and Bruises Cream

This cream can help soothe the pain from injuries and lighten the appearance of a bruise. Take 8 drops lavender, 8 drops helichrysum, and 2 oz carrier oil. Blend them together and apply to the bruise a couple of times during the day.

Natural Sunscreen

This simple sunscreen helps protect and moisturize the skin. For lighter skin, apply more essential oil. If you already have a tan you can use less.  Combine 5-10 drops of lavender or helichrysum essential oil with a 1-ounce coconut carrier oil.  Mix the oils together and apply when spending time in the sun.

Soothing Sunburn Lotion

When you get a sunburn, you can apply this lotion for an instant, cooling relief.  Take 20 drops of lavender or peppermint essential oil and blend with 2 teaspoons of a carrier oil and 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel.  Apply generously to the affected areas. You can store this mixture in the fridge for up to 2 weeks if you want to make a large supply of it.

Insect Repellant

To repel mosquitoes, biting flies, and fleas, use this natural insect repellent. Take 50 drops of an essential oil like citronella or lavender and combine with 4 tablespoons of a carrier oil. The best places to put this mixture is on your wrists, touch behind your ears, in the creases of your elbows, around your knees, and on your ankles. Reapply after an hour of physical activity.

Bug Bite Salve

You can make this salve to help stop the itch, stop the venom, and reduce the chance of infection after any bug bites. Take 1 teaspoon of an essential oil like lavender and blend with 1 teaspoon carrier oil. Apply a little to bug bites for fast relief.

In addition to using essential oils outdoors for first aid, they can also be used for cleaning and disinfecting your area and equipment.

Keeping Bugs Away

If you have an area or some dishes that attract bugs use clove and peppermint essential oils. Take 35 drops of each and combine with 4 oz of water. Mix and spray around the area you don’t want ants or flies.

Sanitizing dishes and equipment 

You can make a natural sanitizer by using lemon or lavender essential oil. Mix in a spray bottle with vinegar, water, and drops of the essential oil. Spray this on the equipment you need to be sanitized while hiking or camping.

Lastly, essential oils outdoors can be helpful with your own personal hygiene.

Lip Balm

You can use lavender, sweet orange or peppermint oil mixed with a carrier oil to help your lips when they are chapped or dry.


If you are feeling sweaty outdoors, you can use tea tree oil and lavender oil in your first aid kit to absorb the sweat and help you feel fresh.

Toothpaste and Mouthwash

Peppermint oil can quickly be used to freshen up your breath when you wake up in the morning during your camping trip. You can put some in your water bottle to swish or place a drop on your toothbrush.


When going outdoors, essential oils are very beneficial and it does not take a lot to be very effective. By knowing what purpose you want essential oils to serve, you can pick from a wide variety. You do want to make sure that you get the pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils so it keeps it as natural as possible.

There are many ways you can buy essential oils but knowing your budget will help you make the best choice. By just having a couple of bottles you can take care of many of the issues that present themselves when you are outdoors.

Jodie Walker is a full-time writer and a keen essential oil enthusiast. She believes that there’s an essential oil for everything and loves the benefits that it provides. Her favorites include Sweet orange oil and Peppermint oil for a quick perk me up.

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2 Responses to “Introduction to Essential Oils for the Outdoors”

  1. You should include tea tree, myrhh, and some of the others that offer anti-viral and anti-bacterial and anti-fungal benefits. And myrhh can be remarkably gentle on delicate tissues and mucus membranes, when diluted or used in a bolbus….

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