Are you wondering what to use essential oils for?
When I first discovered essential oils I had a TON of questions. It took me several months to even open my first box of oils because I had no clue how to use them. It can seem pretty daunting just looking at those pretty little bottles and wondering what to do next, trust me I’ve BEEN there. But when I finally got the courage to break open my box of oils and actually start using them, there was no going back. I was totally hooked.
Though essential oils have been used for thousands of years, they have gotten a huge surge of popularity lately. Tons of people are discovering their effectiveness and incorporating oils into their homes. It seems that people are becoming more and more aware of what is going into their bodies and are looking for ways to help boost their wellness.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are made up of the highly concentrated natural oils found in plants. They are called “essential” because it is literally the “essence” of the plant. Some like to call it the “life blood” of the plant. Once extracted, the beneficial properties of the plant remain in the essential oil left behind.
These oils are composed of hundreds of unique chemical components (like linalool in lavender and l-limonene in lemon) that work synergetically. These elements contain the therapeutic properties found in the original plant.
A word of caution, it take A LOT of plant material to make one bottle of essential oil. It takes approximately 75 lemons to make one 15 ml bottle of lemon oil! So these oils are extremely concentrated. That is why only a drop or two is needed when using essential oils so make sure to use sparingly.
How Are Essential Oils Made?
There are three main methods of extracting essential oils: distillation, cold pressing and resin tapping.
Most high quality essential oils are extracted through low pressure and low temperature steam distillation of plant material. This is the most commonly used method and looks a bit like this:
1. Harvested plants are placed in a distiller suspended over boiling water.
2. Steam pulls oil from the plant.
3. Steam rises into a vessel and is pushed through a tube.
4. Steam cools and condenses back into water.
5. The oil separates from the water and is collected.
Another way some oils are collected is called cold pressing. This is how we get most citrus oils, like orange, bergamot, grapefruit and lemon.
1. After fruit is washed, it is placed in a container where it is agitated by spikes, grating, or other methods to bring the oils to the surface.
2. Water is sprayed over the fruit and mixed with the essential oil released from the punctured botanical material.
3. The essential oil is collected and separated from the water.
The third way to harvest plant matter is resin tapping. Resin is a sap-like substance that flows from trees to protect them from damage. Through a sustainable process that keeps the tree alive and thriving, the tree is tapped to release the resin, dry it, and then distill it. Some of the oils produced from resin tapping are Frankincense, Myrrh, and Elemi.
Why Are Some Essential Oils So Expensive?
Some of the oils can be on the pricey side. I know when I first saw some of the prices I balked. I thought they were nuts if they thought people were going to pay that much for a little bottle. But then I actually tried it myself and learned more about those specific oils and realized those prices aren’t so bad for what you actually get.
Many oils are so precious (and cost more) because they are sourced from plants only accessible in certain parts of the world and in a specific season.
Take, for example, Sacred Frankincense. This oil is considered one of the “rarest, most sought-after aromatics in existence”, and is made from the resin of a tree grown in Salalah, Oman. Sacred Frankincense was originally only available to the Saudi royals, and the fact that we now have access to it is pretty awesome.
Another example is Rose oil. It takes approximately 22 pounds of rose petals to make a 5 ml bottle of rose oil. Considering rose petals are about as light as a feather, that’s a ton of rose petals! So it makes more sense that it would cost a bit more.
How To Use Essential Oils
There are three main ways to use essential oils:
Our sense of smell is extremely powerful. When we inhale something, odor molecules immediately travel up the nose to the limbic lobe of the brain, which is known as the emotional control center.
Inhalation is the ONLY way to stimulate this part of the brain, which is why certain smells can trigger a memory or emotion.
It is also a great way to reach the hypothalamus, your hormonal control center. The best ways to inhale essential oils are to use them in a diffuser or direct inhalation from the bottle. Or simply put a drop in your hands and hold them to your face and take a couple deep breaths.
Our skin is the largest organ of the body and absorbs what you apply on it pretty readily. Essential oils have the unique ability to penetrate cell membranes and enter the bloodstream very quickly. The unique, lipid-soluble structure of essential oils is very similar to the makeup of our cell membranes. The molecules of these oils are also very tiny, which enhances their ability to penetrate into the cells.
When topically applied, essential oils can travel throughout the body in a matter of minutes. Popular places to apply topically are on the feet, hands, ears, neck, lower back, along the spine, temples and hairline.
Some pure oils are safe to apply neat (undiluted), others can be a bit too strong. It’s best to start out by diluting the essential oil in a carrier oil to see how your body reacts and just experiment with which oils work for you. My favorite carrier oil is fractionated coconut oil but any kind of carrier oil would work fine.
Also, kids tend to be more sensitive and their skin absorbs more so when in doubt, always dilute for children, especially babies.
There is some debate on whether it’s safe to use essential oils internally. The main reason being that if an essential oil is not pure it can be quite dangerous because whatever else is in that bottle is also going into your system.
I personally love to use them internally but ONLY because I have thoroughly researched the brand we use. They are transparent about how they process their oils and I am confident that what we are taking internally is 100% pure.
I put oils in my water every day and regularly cook with them and have had nothing but wonderful results so I can personally attest that oils from Young Living company are safe to consume. But please use your best judgement if you are not sure you’re comfortable taking oils internally.
My favorite way to take oils internally is by adding them to my water. I add 2 drops of lemon vitality oil and 2 drops of grapefruit vitality oil to a 1 liter glass water bottle every day and I love the tasty energy boost I get from it!
This article by Healthline does a great job of explaining some of the unique profiles of certain oils and how to pick the right oils for you so be sure to check it out!
What Essential Oils Are Safe?
Please be extremely careful when researching what oils to use because not all oils are created equal. Make sure the brand you are using is 100% pure and unadulterated.
Unfortunately “therapeutic grade” doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to essential oils. In order to legally call their oil therapeutic, brands only need to have 5% pure oil in each bottle.
The vast majority of essential oils from other companies are extracted using high heat, high pressure, and chemical solvents. Although the final product may still contain the aroma of the plant, these harsh processing methods destroy the therapeutic qualities of the oils. Often these cheap oils are also cut with toxic synthetic chemicals, diluted with carrier oils, or even alcohol.
Using lesser-quality oils for therapeutic purposes is never recommended and can be extremely toxic. Since essential oils are the concentrated essence of the plant, any contaminants in the soil or on the plant will become present in the oil. Quality matters!
So when researching what company to go with, make sure they are completely transparent about their distillation methods, testing and standards when it comes to their plants and bottling their oils.
After thorough research, I only trust Young Living oils and you can check out their Seed To Seal process to learn more about why.
What To Use Essential Oils For
There are endless possibilities on what to use essential oils for. I have utilized oils in every way that I can and now they are a staple in our home. Check out some of the ways on how to use essential oils at home:
Essential Oils For Skincare Recipes
One of my very favorite ways to use oils is in skincare. As an esthetician, I take skincare pretty seriously so I always take careful consideration when using certain ingredients. I almost always put oils in my skincare products because it is the easiest way to customize it to my skin. If you want some ideas on how to use essential oils in skincare, you can check out my DIY toner for oily and acne prone skin and DIY facial serum.
Essential Oils For Hair
Did you know there are even some essential oils that can benefit your hair? I love to add a few drops of oils to my shampoo and conditioner.
Want to help stimulate your scalp and support hair growth? Add a couple drops of cedarwood and rosemary to your usual amount of shampoo.
Dealing with flakes and itchiness? Tea tree and peppermint feel DIVINE.
I even created a DIY hair oil with essential oils to help moisturize my super dry hair which can double as a hydrating scalp massage oil as well. Check it out!
Cleaning With Essential Oils
I probably use essential oils for cleaning purposes more than anything else. You can make almost any type of cleaner just by combining different oils with other natural ingredients. One thing that bothers me about some “natural” cleaning products is that, even though they may have eliminated some of the more common ingredients, there are always some lurking behind, like added fragrance.
I have done everything I can to replace every single cleaner in our house with something homemade and natural instead.
One of my FAVORITE substitutes is using a bit of olive oil with a couple drops of orange oil instead of my old stainless steel cleaner. It gets my stainless steel kitchen appliances to absolutely SPARKLE and it smells like oranges! Make sure to check out some of my other DIY natural cleaning recipes!
Cooking With Essential Oils
Another way you may not have thought to use essential oils is in cooking! Now when cooking with essential oils, it is extra important to make sure you are using pure essential oils. So again, whatever oils you are using, make sure you do your research.
I love to use oils in place of spices and extracts in certain dishes and to just add a little something extra.
Want to add some extra flavor to chocolate brownies? Try adding a couple drops of peppermint or orange oil. Need to add a tsp of lemon extract to a recipe? Use 1 drop of lemon oil instead.
I love using oils when I’m cooking. I just made a lasagna with basil, oregano and rosemary oils the other day and it was amazing!
Another yummy treat? Peppermint ice cream. SO GOOD! Feel free to have fun with it.