Everybody makes mistakes. It happens to the best of us, and whether it comes by lack of education or simple accidents, we’re here to clear up some of the top essential oil mistakes and how to avoid them. This article is not meant to scare you, but simply to inspire and encourage the safe use of essential oils.
1. Applying essential oils neat: Using undiluted essential oils, 100% pure or not, shouldn't be done unless you’ve been advised to do so by a certified aromatherapist. The prolonged use of undiluted essential oils can lead to sensitization and your body can develop an intolerance to that oil over time. Diluting essential oils is a much safer and more effective option than using undiluted oils, and will save you money in the long run.
2. Ingesting essential oils: Using essential oils as a flavoring agent may seem like a wonderful option, but it can lead to internal damage to your organs and mucous membrane. Pure essential oils are very potent, and if they can damage your skin when being used undiluted, imagine what they can do to your insides which are much more sensitive. Many people believe that because a variety of common essential oils are on the FDA’s generally regarded as safe (GRAS) list, this means they’re safe to use as flavorings. What they miss is that food and beverage companies commonly measure essential oils in parts per million- a measurement that is much too small for consumers to measure at home without proper lab equipment. We never recommend ingestion without first consulting with an aromatherapist and your doctor.
3. Adding essential oils to water: Water and oils do not mix, therefore adding essential oils to water to drink will lead to you drinking undiluted oils. Adding essential oils to water to make a body spray also does not disperse the oils throughout the water, which can lead to spraying undiluted oils on yourself. Furthermore, adding oils to any water-based substance will encourage the growth of bacteria, mold, yeast and other microbes, meaning that any mixture of oil and water should be used within a week or two to prevent the risk of using a contaminated product. To prevent this, add a preservative to prevent the growth of microbes and a solubilizer to disperse the oils throughout the water.
4. Repeatedly using the same oil(s): Using copious amounts of EO may put you at risk of being over-exposed to that oil, and it will thus lose its effectiveness. How will you know that you’ve been over-exposed? You likely will experience a weaker effect from that particular oil, or no effect at all. If this happens, it’s best to stop usage of that particular oil for a period of time.
5. Continuing to use an EO after having a reaction: Has this ever happened to you? You apply an essential oil to your skin, and your skin becomes red, irritated, inflamed or all of the above. You’re told that this means your body needs that oil, or that the oil is initiating the detoxification process. What’s actually happening is that you’re experiencing an adverse reaction to the oil. Unfortunately, at this point, many are told to continue using the oil though it’s causing the user pain and discomfort. If you experience sensitization or an allergic reaction related to an oil or product, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor. Lastly, we always recommend doing a skin patch test prior to topical use of essential oils.
6. Disregarding safety advisories of essential oils: Certain essential oils have safety precautions. For example, citrus oils are often phototoxic, spicy oils have maximum dermal rates, and oils high in 1,8 cineole should not be used around young children. At Edens Garden, we list a plethora of safety information specific to essential oils on their product pages, under “Safety & Shelf Life” with your safety in mind. There are further safety precautions that are generalized for pregnant and nursing women, children, those with medical conditions, the elderly, etc. We always suggest researching an oil and following safety guidelines prior to using that oil.
Have you or someone you know been injured by using essential oils incorrectly? Consider filing an essential oil injury report to better help aromatherapists, healthcare professionals, as well as consumers, understand the safe use of essential oils.