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Safety Considerations When Using Essential Oils

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: November 24, 2020
Safety Considerations When Using Essential Oils

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When I first started writing about essential oils, I thought I knew it all.  Well not really, but I did believe I was well versed in how to use essential oils as an alternative to over-the-counter remedies.  I say this because I had been using tea tree (Melaleuca) and lavender for years along with my favorite peppermint and rosemary oils.  There had been others, too, especially synergistic blends I had used for aromatherapy purposes.

As with many who embark upon a journey of self-reliance, each day is a learning experience.  This applies to learning about essential oils as well.  I readily admit that much of this learning is self-taught or what we used to call “the school of hard knocks”.  Does anyone even say that anymore?

Safety Consideration Essential Oils

So where did I learn this stuff?  It started when I purchased the Valerie Worwood book when it was first published in 1991.  More recently, I have one special lady and her website to thank for waking me up to the miracle of essential oils.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Rebecca Schiffhauer, a popular blogger and essential oils advocate.  I connected with Rebecca through her website at Camp Wander and never looked back.  Today she is joining the Backdoor Survival family as our newest Contributing Author.

What better way to introduce you to Rebecca than with an educational article on safety considerations when using essential oils!

Pure Essential Oil Safety Guidelines

Essential oils have a complex chemistry of hundreds of constituents that include alcohols, aldehydes, esters, ketones, phenols and more.  Their chemical constituents have been researched and scientifically proven to have potent anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pure essential oils offer us a holistic approach to healing and general well being but because pure essential oils are almost 75% more potent than herbs it’s important to be aware of basic characteristics and precautions.  The following guidelines are meant to provide a basic understanding of pure essential oil safety.

100% pure essential oils are the safest essential oils available and should be used with reasonable care.

Be label savvy, read the labels on every bottle.  Most essential oils on the market should not be taken internally.  For internal use, use Only 100% pure essential oils which are labeled with a “Dietary Use” standard usage.

Dilute safely, use oil not water.  If you need to dilute an essential oil that came in contact with a sensitive area always choose a carrier oil for the task.  Water will not dilute pure essential oils, water will actually increase discomfort.

Use a carrier oil. Babies, and young children or anyone with sensitive skin (especially elderly) need special care as their skin can be more susceptible to irritation or burning.  It’s never a bad idea to use a carrier oil in any instance so when in doubt, use a carrier oil for topical application.  Be careful not to get essential oils close to the eyes and take precautions that oils don’t get on little hands that might reach up to rub their eyes.  If applying oils to baby feet, slip on a pair of socks afterwards as a precaution.

Never drip oils into the ear canal or eyes. After any essential oil application be careful not to touch your eyes, the inside of your nose, contact lenses or genitals.  I can’t tell you the number of times I felt the sting of absent mindedness when I touched my eye with oil residue still on my fingers.

Hot oils.  Oh those hot essential oils like Oregano, Cinnamon, Clove, Thyme, Cassia and even the cooling EO of Peppermint, are hotties indeed.  All of these oils need a generous amount of carrier oil for any kind of topical application to tone down the heat or burning sensation!   If hot oils need to be taken internally, add desired amount to a size 00 gel capsule and take with food.

Citrus oils are photosensitive. Lemon, Bergamot, Wild Orange, Tangerine and Lime will increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.  Do not apply topically anywhere on the body that won’t be covered by clothing when exposed to the sun.  Serious sunburn is possible.

If redness or irritation occurs. Dilute with a carrier oil or cold pressed coconut oil to soothe.  Refrain from using any pure essential oil that causes a skin irritation.

NEVER ingest an essential oil unless the bottle clearly states a “Dietary Use” standard.  Please remember:  When I write about essential oil use I only use and recommend 100% pure essential oils.  Spark Naturals is my recommended choice of 100% pure essential oils.

Essential oils in the bath, bathers beware. Essential oils in the bathtub are a great way to relax at the end of the day!  A detox bath with Epsom salts, even better!  FYI: Epsom salts act as an emulsifier to distribute the essential oils in water.  Always use an emulsifier (milk works too) in bath water to avoid any pooling of oils on top of the water. If oils are allowed to rest against the skin for long periods of time, irritation and even burns can develop.

Use a little, use often. Use your pure essential oils in small amounts, use them often. 15 minutes between use for acute issues such as a freight train of a cold that came on fast and hard!

Serious health issues and pure essential oils.  Anyone with asthma, epilepsy or high blood pressure should be cautious and seek counsel from your physician before using pure essential oils. Those with epilepsy should avoid Birch, Basil, Rosemary and Fennel.  Those with high blood pressure should avoid Rosemary and Thyme.  Again, check with your physician first if you have any of these conditions.

Some oils are flammable. Keep your collection of essential oils away from an open flame or fire hazard.

Pregnancy and nursing.  Ordinarily, if using 100% pure essential oils with a topical application, most oils can be used safely during pregnancy without being harmful to a developing fetus.  Of course, talk with your doctor before using essential oils during pregnancy.

Keep all essential oils out of the reach of children.

Use your 100% pure essential oils wisely and with reasonable care.  Do your homework, the more you learn the more you’ll gain from your investment.  Share your knowledge with your family and friends!

The Final Word

When it comes to essential oils, a little bit of knowledge is powerful whereas a lot of knowledge can become a game changer. You have heard me mention how I have thrown away drawers full of OTC remedies, dozens of bottles of toxic chemical cleaners, and a bag full of expensive, ahem, beauty lotions and potions.  Essential oils have saved me money, space, and contributed to my overall well-being.

Using essential oils – and especially my DIY Miracle Healing Salve – has become a normal part of my daily routine.  That said, I continually further my education by ensuring that I use my essential oils safely and in a manner that will promote healing and not harm.  Furthermore, it makes no sense to be wasteful or to use oils just for the sake of using them.

As with all preps, there should be a purpose and a reason when using EOs, as they are commonly called.  I keep that up front and center when I am trying something new and the use of essential oils is no exception.  If you have not done so already, I encourage you to learn about essential oils, perhaps starting with some Lavender, Peppermint, Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Rosemary and Lemon.  You will not be disappointed.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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Spotlight: If you are just getting started with essential oils, I recommend the Spark Naturals Essential 4 Pack.  This $19.99 starter kit Lavender, Lemon, Melaleuca (Tea Tree) and Peppermint.  These are your go-to oils although I feel that Rosemary should also be in your starter kit.

If you decide to give Spark Naturals a try, be sure to use the discount code “BACKDOORSURVIVAL” to receive a 10% discount.

Bargain Bin: Here are some things to get you started with using essential oil plus the items you need to make your own scrubs, salves, lotions and potions including Miracle Healing Salve and Plain Ole Salve.

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: I first became interested in aromatherapy and essential oils in the early 90s which was before they really became mainstream. I read every book I could get my hands on and dabbled at creating synergy’s (a combination of two or more oils that create a chemical compound that is greater than the some of its individual components). My bible then, and even now, is this book.

Coconut (Fractionated) Carrier Oil:  Once you start using coconut oil, you will be hooked.  This is the fractionated coconut oil I used in my scrub (mixed with a bit of olive oil).

Beeswax Organic Pastilles, Yellow, 100% Pure 16 Oz:  I ordered the white pastilles but have since learned that the natural yellow pastilles are better.  That said, the difference may not be discernable – just be sure that what you purchase is cosmetic grade.

Glass Droppers, Pack of 6: I bought a package of these and loved them.  When I went to re-order, I accidentally ordered plastic instead glass droppers.  Learn from my mistake.  The price is the same so get the glass ones.

Nutiva Certified Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil:  So far I am pleased with the Nutiva Coconut Oil.  It is pure-white, USDA-certified-organic, extra-virgin coconut oil that is cold-pressed from fresh coconuts within two hours of chopping. No refrigeration is required and although it solid at room temperature, it melts at 76 degrees.

ZAQ Dew Aromatherapy Diffuser:  This essential oil diffuser uses water and essential oils to make make a mist of micro-particles and disperse them into the air. No heating or burning means the properties of the oil are not broken down. The really cool thing is that the light (which can be turned off) changes colors all by its own self.  Very soothing and I love it!

NOW Foods Essential Oils:  I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  For healing purposes, I feel they are superior.  On the other hand, NOW Foods has decent essential oils at a budget price from Amazon. By the way, a good way to use these is in your DIY household cleaning products.


What are the best oils for your survival kit? Here are my top picks.

9 Best Essential Oils for Your Survival Kit | Backdoor Survival

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