Essential oils are safe to use - if you understand them! Many people make the mistake of thinking they are just 'nice smells' like perfume and do not realise the power one little bottle may hold. Apart from taking the time to study, either through books or through a course, there a few basic concepts to using essential oils safely. These include:
- never use essential oils neat, that is directly onto the skin, unless you have had significant training and knowledge in the neat application of essential oils; even then, some essential oils should still never be used neat.
- be aware that some essential oils are phototoxic, so be careful when going out in the sun - see phototoxic essential oils for further information.
- always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil.
- store essential oils in a dark colored glass bottle, such as amber or cobalt blue, to avoid interference from light and possible changes in the chemical components of the essential oil.
- store essential oils in a cool, dark place to preserve the shelf life of the essential oil. Some oils, such as the citrus oils, don't have a long natural, shelf life but others, such as Patchouli, are said to mature with age, but still need to be stored correctly.
- when using essential oils with children, the elderly, pregnant women or other vulnerable groups, dilute the essential oils in a carrier oil more than usual. Some essential oils should not be used in pregnancy or with babies and children, so know your oil before using.
- take a 'case history', if the essential oil use is not for yourself. Even if you are not a qualified aromatherapist, asking a few questions about the person's medical history, allergies and other health concerns might prevent misuse of the essential oil. For example, some essential oils are contraindicated for use with heart problems and high blood pressure.
- keep essential oils out of the reach of children and pets; they can be harmful in the wrong hands (or paws!)
- finally, always label your essential oil blend with its contents! Not only does this indicate what's in the bottle but may avoid possible misuse by someone who comes across it!
Some of these points may sound logical but if you want to use essential oils safely it doesn't hurt to state the obvious and avoid a potential mishap! There are probably many more hazardous chemicals and cleaning agents around your home but it should be remembered that essential oils are, after all, little bottles of chemicals....albeit, 'good' ones if used correctly!