How to Use Essential Oils

Essential oils seem to be the hot new natural trend right now. However, a lot of times I run into people who tell me they have all these oils but don’t know what to do with them or don’t even really know what they are.  Natural products are great, but if you don’t know how to use them or how to use them safely, they aren’t going to do much good for you. So, lets talk about what essential oils are, how to use them, how to store them, and how to make sure you are getting 100% pure essential oils.

Essential oils are powerful tools, but getting started in essential oils can be overwhelming. Here is a basic introduction on how to use essential oils safely and effectively.

*Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links of products I highly recommend. Clicking on these links wont cost you anything, but may help me offset the costs of maintaining this blog. See my full disclosure here.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are volatile, concentrated oils that have been extracted, usually by steam distillation,  from various parts of the plants.  For example, ginger essential oil is extracted from the root of the plant, lavender oil from the flower, lemon oil from the fruit, and Myrrh from the resin.

How Do You Use Essential Oils?

There are three main ways to use essential oils:

1.) Aromatically
2.) Topically
3.) Internally

Please read carefully, before diving in!

1.) Aromatically

This is the most common way to use essential oils and actually the most effective the majority of the time.  Aromatic use is beneficial for issues such as stress, upset stomach, lack of energy, trouble focusing, etc. There are many different ways to inhale essential oils, and they vary in intensity. Here are some common ways to inhale in order of lowest to highest degree of intensity:

Diffusing – diffuse 4-5 drops (2-3 for young kids) per 100ml of water. Diffusing is most effective if you run the diffuser for 20-30 min at a time and then take  a 30-60 minute break. Most certified aromatherapists don’t recommend diffusing around infants less than 6 months of age.

Diffuser Jewelry – I absolutely love my diffuser necklace. I have a locket style one that is stainless steel, and you just place 1-2 drops essential oil on the cotton fabric that sits inside the locket. I just wish I could wear mine more often, but I’d have a baby tugging on it….and probably trying to it eat it.

Personal Inhaler – These are my personal favorite. They are great for traveling and also a good option if you are wanting to use an oil that isn’t considered safe to use around your kids or pets. Peppermint oil is a big one to avoid around young kids. There are plastic and aluminum personal inhalers, but I prefer the aluminum ones, as the plastic ones are pretty much just a one time in done kind of thing.  All you do to use an inhaler is place 15 drops total of essential oil on the cotton wick that comes with it, and simply stick it up to your nose and deeply inhale 1-3 times. For little kids, you can just waft it in front of their nose (you probably wont get them to sit still long enough anyways lol).

Steam Inhalation – This is the most intense way to inhale essential oils. It is great for helping combat congestion. Many people like to use eucalyptus oil for steam inhalation, but I prefer frankincense. You basically place 1-2 drops of essential oil in a boiling cup of water and hover over it and inhale with a towel around your head. Be sure to CLOSE YOUR EYES!

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2.) Topically

Topical application works well for any skin issue, such as a burn, bug bite, rash, or scar. It can also be useful for some under the skin issues, like sore muscles, poor circulation, or upset stomach.  Have you ever had someone tell you to apply to the bottom of your feet? Yea, that’s a good myth buster. Unless it is a foot problem, you should be applying to the targeted area. Upset stomach?  Apply to the stomach. Congested? Apply to the chest. Rash? Apply on the rash. Pretty simple huh?

When applying topically it is always important to dilute with a carrier oil first, such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, or grapefruit seed oil. How much to dilute varies from person  to person and depends on factors, such as age, pregnancy, health issues, skin sensitivity, what you are trying to remedy, and the essential oil itself. However, here is a general rule of thumb for diluting:

  • Use 2 drops essential oil per tsp. of carrier oil for the average healthy adult.
  • Use 1 drop essential oil per tsp. of carrier oil for pregnant, elderly, facial applications, and kids over age 6.
  • Use 1 drop essential oil per 2 tsp. of carrier oil for kids aged 2-6. Use sparingly.

For children under 2 (and over 6 months), you can use essentials oils topically in urgent situations, if extremely diluted (1 drop essential oil per 3 tsp. carrier oil) . However, hydrosols and herbs are a much better option for this age range.

There are some cases where it is OKAY to apply essential oils “neat” (undiluted); These situations are usually emergencies, like if you got burned or stung by a bee. In these cases, it is best to use lavender oil or tea tree oil, which are some of the safest essential oils for us humans.

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3.) Internally

I’m not going to get into too much detail here.  In short, there are some essential oils that CAN be considered safe to ingest. However, because essential oils are extremely concentrated, it is always best practice to consult a certified aromatherapist when turning to internal use of essential oils.

How Do You Store Essential Oils?

Essential oils are best kept in a cool, dark place, such as the fridge. This will extend their shelf life and prevent them from becoming oxidized. Really thick essential oils, like Myrrh, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Sandalwood, and Patchouli, are ones that you may want to find a separate storage area for, as they just become really difficult to get out of the bottle if stored in the fridge.

Where Do You Recommend Purchasing Essential Oils From?

There are so many companies out there selling essential oils now. Some are reputable companies, but many are not and are pushing adulterated oils that contain synthetics. As Certified Aromatherapist, Lea Harris likes to say, “safety is safety no matter the brand;” However, synthetics do escalate the safety factor.  If you see an essential oil at a department store or any large corporation store, it is most likely not pure and filled with synthetics. The key here is to use 100% pure essential oils, completely free of synthetics.

How do I know if an oil is pure or not?

The GC/MS  (gas chromatography mass spectrometry) reports will tell you. This is basically a quality control test. doTERRA is one of the only companies out there right now that actually provides these results to their customers. This is the number one reason why I chose doTERRA.  Here are just a few other reasons why I chose doTERRA:

  • They use independent third party testing for GC/MS testing
  • They promote sustainable practices
  • They give back to the community through their Healing Hands Foundation

Try out a few different brands, and see which ones you like best. Try to get ones that are potent, pure, and work well for you.

What if I Already Have Oils, but I’m Not Sure How or When to Use Them?

I would suggest having a few quick reference books on hand. The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Wellness Handbook and The Heart of Aromatherapy are my absolute favorites. They cover numerous essential oils and their uses, types of carrier oils, and have tons of DIY recipes. Plus, The Heart of Aromatherapy was written by the founder of the AromaHead Institute and lays out all the safety information and offers child-safe versions of each essential oil recipe.

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How About You?

Did you enjoy this post? Do you have favorite ways you like to use essential oils? Drop a comment or share this post!


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*This post is just a basic intro to essential oils. I always recommend doing more research on the practice and safety of essential oils.

***Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. I do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.

7 Replies to “How to Use Essential Oils”

  1. Great post! My friend recently turned me on to essential oils. Now I have a diffuser and use a blend she made for me for my migraines–IT WORKS!

  2. I LOVE my diffuser necklace! I wear it every single day…it works so well in reducing my stress. My 6-year old loves to smell it. He’ll even remind me every day to put my drops in it…lol.

  3. I love lavender essential oil & eucalyptus and I use them in a diffuser/as a fragrance. Loved this article!! I love other essential oil lovers.<3

  4. I am trying to think back to what I did before I had essential oils and I honestly cannot remember. I love using them so much! Thanks for sharing.

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