Essential oils are natural volatile oils derived from plants. Different parts of the plant are using including flowers,
leaves, stems and bark. Various methods are used to extract the oils. Steam distillation is the preferred method
whenever possible. Some oils are not readily released from the plant materials and require the use of a solvent
in the distillation process.
Are all oils the same?
With the advent of chemically produced products that mimic Mother Nature, care should be taken to ensure you
are purchasing natural oils and not an artificial substance. Look for information on the label stating the common
and botanical name of the plant and wording such as therapeutic grade, aromatherapy grade or
100% pure essential oil.
Essential oils vary considerably in price. The cost of an oil is typically based on the amount of plant material
needed to produce the oil. Some plants render a much higher volume of oil and are relatively inexpensive.
Some others, like Jasmine, require thousands of flower petals to produce a very small amount of oil, so they are
much more costly.
Essential Oils can be used in a variety of ways. Some of the most common are:
Oils can be placed into a diffuser to enhance the home environment. Fan or nebulizing diffusers are
preferred over candle or lamp type diffusers because they do not generate heat. Heat can alter the
structure of the essential oil and reduce its beneficial properties.
Place one drop of essential oil on your palm and gently rub you hands together. Cup you hands close to
your face and inhale. Oils can also be placed into a personal inhaler for easy transport and on-the-go
Place several drops of oil into bowl or basin containing hot water. Drape yourself with a towel or cloth and
position your face over the basin to inhale the vapors. Be sure to keep your eyes closed. Many essential
oils can be very irritating to the eyes.
Essential oils are frequently incorporated into a massage session. Oils used will depend on the desired
outcome. Talk with your therapist about your goals to ensure the proper oils are used. Be sure to inform
your therapist beforehand of any food or plant allergies you might have so he or she can avoid using oils
from that particular family of plants.
Direct Topical Application
Essential Oils are sometimes applied full strength directly to the skin. Always work with a qualified
practitioner in this application. Some oils are not appropriate for this method or must be properly diluted
as they can cause extreme skin irritation for some individuals.
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