Aromatherapy uses the power of the scents of essential oils to produce the desired results. While a fairly safe process, there are still some procedures that should be followed to ensure the safety and comfort of everyone involved.
The Handling of Essential Oils
Even oils which are considered benign, such as lavender, tea tree, sandalwood, and rose should be diluted before use on the skin because undiluted oils coming into contact with the skin may lead to sensitization and the inability to get the healing benefits of those oils when they are most needed. Undiluted oils may also cause harm to the body.
Essential oils are diluted using carrier oils. Carrier oils are referred to as such because they carry the essential oil onto the skin or into the product that they will be added to. Different carrier oils offer different properties and the choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought. Carrier oils are generally cold-pressed vegetable oils from the fatty portions of the plant. Cold pressing means that no external heat has been used while the seed is being pressed.
Because people's associations with oils and scents vary, always smell the oil first before using it. If you have a negative reaction to the oil's scent, find an oil with similar properties that produces a more positive result. Because skin types and chemistries vary, you must watch carefully for adverse reactions. If one oil produces a rash, use a different oil.
Avoid using essential oils directly on or near the eyes or mucous membranes. Use whole milk or vegetable oil to help flush out any essential oil that might have splashed into the eye. Remember, essential oils are not soluble in water, so water is not the best medium for removing them. If problems persist, seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
The Storage of Essential Oils
Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place. This is so that the oils will stay fresh. Even though this helps to preserve the oils, when stored for extended lengths of time, essential oils will go rancid. It is best to purchase only what is immediately needed, and not expect an oil purchased in January to still be fresh in December. Generally, essential oils will stay fresh for three months, but the length of time varies from oil to oil.
These oils should be kept away from small children and pets, since they should not be used internally. Children and pets rarely understand this, so it’s better to be safe. If a child or pet does swallow an essential oil (of if you happen to drink it yourself), seek medical attention immediately.
Other Tips Regarding Essential Oils
Do not use the same essential oil every time, whether for skin application or inhalation. Rotate the essential oils to avoid becoming sensitized and to avoid overexposure to any one essential oil. You probably find yourself drawn to multiple oils, so interchange them often.
It is important to remember that just because essential oils are derived from plant products doesn’t mean that they are interchangeable with the herb they come from. The properties may be similar, but essential oils and herbs should absolutely not be interchanged.
When working with large amounts of essential oils, make sure there is adequate ventilation. Open up windows, put on the exhaust fan. This is especially important for practitioners, who will tend to be exposed to essential oil fumes more than the average individual.
Essential oils should be handled carefully, and with respect. Though generally not a hazard, some precautions should be taken simply to ensure everyone’s safety.
Welcome to the Order of the Sacred Star! This Pagan/Wiccan group, based in Winnipeg, Canada, is committed to teaching the Craft to all those who wish to learn. Our goal is to provide a complete and fulfulling learning experience. Our public classes are offered through the Winnipeg Pagan Teaching Circle.