Essential oils have a wide range of applications in terms of health, beauty and relaxation.
They are extracted from plants, and each one has its own properties that make it useful for different purposes.
The oil of a plant contains its essence, which is why it smells like a concentrated form of the fragrance you associate with that particular plant.
This is the origin of the term ‘essential oil’ – it doesn’t mean that the oils are vital for your body to function properly!
You can use essential oils on their own, or you can blend them to combine their individual effects.
However, it is useful to know the correct ways of doing this, as you can’t just mix together any old oils and expect them to work their magic.
There are certain things you have to bear in mind, such as which ones go well together and if they will cancel each other out.
You will also need to consider the reason for using essential oils in the first place, and pick the right ones for the specific job.
Here, we will tell you all about blending essential oils effectively, so you can experience the full benefits they provide.
What Is Carrier Oil?
If you want to apply essential oils onto your body, you will need to dilute them with another type of oil first, as they can irritate your skin in high concentrations.
This type of oil is known as carrier oil, because it carries the essential oils to your skin.
There are many different carrier oils, and they are also derived from plants.
Carrier oils are neutral and usually don’t have a strong scent, if any at all – therefore, they will not overwhelm the scent or other characteristics of your chosen essential oils.
Having a carrier oil is one of the most important factors when blending your essential oils.
You can have as many different essential oils as you want, but you won’t get very far without a carrier oil as well.
Which carrier oil you use is up to you, but your choice may affect the overall feel and balance of your blend.
Other things to consider when deciding on your carrier oil are your skin type, the oil’s shelf life, and how well it absorbs into your skin.
Some examples of popular carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil and jojoba oil.
Sweet almond oil can also be used, but keep in mind that it does have a strong smell that can cover up the fragrance of your essential oil.
These are just a few carrier oils that exist, as there are many more, but you can’t just use any oil you find as a carrier oil.
You shouldn’t try petroleum jelly, mineral oil or butter, because these are petroleum-based and not natural oils.
Can You Blend Essential Oils With Water?
Water and oil will not mix together properly, since oil is hydrophobic and will repel the water particles.
This means that they will stay separated, and you will not be left with a blended solution.
The oil will float on the top of the water because it is less dense, and so the oil will not be diluted when it reaches your skin.
This is why carrier oils are important, because different oils can blend together easily to achieve an ideal concentration for your skin.
There may be instances where it is appropriate to use water instead of a carrier oil – it is entirely neutral and won’t interfere with the essential oil’s fragrance, as well as being lighter and quicker to evaporate than oil.
In these cases, you will need to add either a solubilizer or an emulsifier to get the different substances to mix.
Solubilizers bind oil and water particles together and stop them separating, while emulsifiers reduce oil to tiny drops that are small enough to blend into water.
You can use both of these things in the same mixture to make it last longer, as emulsifiers won’t keep the oil droplets in their broken down state forever; they will gradually detach from the water and begin to oxidize.
A solubilizer will help stop the solution from separating if you need to keep it mixed for a while.
It is also a good idea to vigorously shake your oil-water mixture before each use, to help reintegrate some of the particles that may have become separated.
Aloe vera gel, rubbing alcohol, glycerine and apple cider vinegar are just some examples of emulsifiers you may find in products.
Solubilizers can be synthetic, such as polysorbates or propanediol, or natural, such as Solubol.
If you are taking a bath and want to add essential oil, you can use liquid castile soap as your emulsifier so that the oil will dissolve entirely.
Dilution Ratios For Essential Oils
There are certain guidelines that you should follow when it comes to diluting your essential oils, whether you are using carrier oils or water.
Having the correct concentration once you’ve blended them will help protect your skin from irritation, or any other negative effects of essential oils that are too strong.
For diluting in water, use 10-12 drops of essential oil per ounce, which will give you a 2% solution.
This is a safe level for applying to skin, but you can choose to make it weaker if your skin is prone to issues.
When dealing with liquid castile soap and bath water, use an ounce of soap and 10 drops of oil; stir into your tub, regardless of how much water is in there.
Some diffusers stipulate that you mix the oil with water first.
In this case, you should stick to the following amounts: 5 drops of essential oil for 100ml, 10 drops for 200ml, 12 for 300ml and 20 for 400ml.
20 is the maximum number of drops you can safely add, so even if you have more than 400ml of water, don’t use more essential oil than that.
As you can see, there’s not a simple formula for these measurements, so you can’t just assume 5ml for each 100ml will be okay.
Carrier oils have their own set of rules regarding dilution.
It also depends on your age as to how much essential oil you use; children’s skin is more sensitive, so you should adjust the concentration of the solution accordingly.
The best ratio for children is 3-6 drops of essential oil per 6 teaspoons of carrier oil, representing a dilution of 0.5-1%.
For adults, you can vary the concentration more, so you can have it weaker or stronger as your usage and taste dictate:
- 15 drops of essential oil to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil (2.5%)
- 20 drops of essential oil to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil (3%)
- 30 drops of essential oil to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil (5%)
- 60 drops of essential oil to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil (10%)
Guide To Popular Essential Oils
There are so many different essential oils available that it can be overwhelming trying to work out which ones to use.
While many people just use one essential oil at a time, you can also blend different ones together in the same solution.
This will give you the benefits that each one provides, as well as the joint fragrances.
That’s why it’s a good idea to know which oils will mix particularly well – you want them to complement each other, not create an imbalance.
Here, we have compiled a list of the most common essential oils and what they are used for, as well as other oils you can blend them with.
Lavender is an extremely popular fragrance used in all sorts of hygiene products, such as soaps and shampoos, as well as homeware like candles.
The purple flowers are grown around the world, thriving in sunny conditions, and they have a unique, instantly recognizable smell; sometimes, people leave small bags of dried lavender flowers around their house to give it a fresh smell.
Lavender oil is mostly used for relaxation and calming stress, but it can also be used to treat insomnia and some types of pain.
Works well with: rose, geranium, tangerine, sweet orange, clary sage, rosemary, cedarwood, neroli, lemon, frankincense, grapefruit, bergamot, patchouli, vetiver
From the makers of everyone’s favorite citrus fruit comes a zingy essential oil that smells good enough to eat.
You can diffuse it in the same way as other essential oils, or you can apply a diluted form of it directly onto your skin – when taken this way, it can reduce inflammation and clear your pores.
Alternatively, you can add a few drops to your water for a refreshing drink that will help keep your digestive system running smoothly.
Works well with: lime, grapefruit, rose, ylang-yang, sandalwood, myrrh, tangerine, mandarin, sweet orange, juniper berry, geranium, eucalyptus, lavender, basil
Tea tree oil is often used in hair treatments, particularly for getting rid of head lice.
This is because it has insecticidal properties that can actually kill certain pests when applied over the course of a few days.
Tea tree oil comes from the Australian tea tree, and is a key ingredient in traditional Aboriginal remedies that treat ailments such as coughs and colds.
You can buy tea tree oil either neat (100%), or diluted to varying degrees in skin products.
Works well with: geranium, cinnamon, ginger, sweet orange, clary sage, lavender, lemon, nutmeg, rosemary, eucalyptus, pine, clove
When you hear the word ‘eucalyptus’, you probably think of koalas, since the leaves of the eucalyptus tree make up the bulk of their diet.
While the leaves are poisonous to humans, the oil that is derived from them is safe to inhale or use on the skin in small doses.
It is very effective as a mosquito repellent, so can be used as a natural alternative to DEET products.
Inhaling eucalyptus oil can ease conditions such as sinusitis and asthma, because it both loosens and reduces the amount of mucus in your throat.
Works well with: rosemary, lemon, lavender, peppermint, cedarwood, lemongrass
Peppermint is a very familiar smell in many contexts; it is used in dental products, confectionery, healthcare products and some medicines, and is known for its cool, refreshing properties.
Peppermint oil can also be applied to the skin to soothe muscle and joint pain, as well as headaches or itching.
It has a strong menthol taste, which makes it a common ingredient in cough sweets, since it is cooling and soothing.
If you ingest peppermint oil, it can even help relieve nausea symptoms or digestive issues.
Works well with: lavender, mandarin, lemon, lime, sweet orange, eucalyptus, tangerine, rosemary
As well as being an adorable girl’s name, jasmine is also a plant known for its beautiful white flowers and useful essential oil.
Jasmine oil makes an effective disinfectant, with its antiseptic and antiviral properties, so it can be used to treat small wounds and prevent infection.
Interestingly, jasmine oil can also work as an aphrodisiac, enhancing your libido and increasing your sensuality – for this reason, jasmine flowers are often used in India to decorate the rooms of newlyweds.
Works well with: rose, sandalwood, bergamot, vetiver, cedarwood, ylang-yang
Chamomile is a popular flavor of herbal tea, since it is favored for both its sweet taste and its antioxidant properties.
Herbal teas infuse dried camomile flowers in water to reap their benefits, but you can also derive a form of oil from them.
Camomile oil has been used as far back as Ancient Egyptian times, where it was considered sacred because of its healing characteristics – people used it even then for making incense, drinks and medicines.
In modern times, we also use it to improve sleep quality and alleviate anxiety.
Works well with: lavender, cypress, vetiver, cedarwood
Bergamot orange trees produce citrus fruit, the rind of which is used to extract bergamot oil.
You may recognize the taste from Earl Gray tea, because it is the base flavor in that beverage.
The name comes from the Italian town of Bergamo, where bergamot trees are predominantly grown, although the tree itself can be traced back to Southeast Asia.
Bergamot oil is often used in perfumes and cosmetics, due to its unique, distinctive scent. Some people also use it to tame their hair and soothe their scalp.
Works well with: geranium, rose geranium, jasmine, chamomile, neroli
Frankincense is most known for being one of the gifts the Wise Men brought to Jesus at his birth.
In Biblical times, it was very valuable because the trees that produced it were only grown on the Arabian Peninsula; frankincense was considered a sacred incense.
It was also used much earlier on in history, and we can trace its origins back more than 5000 years.
Today, we use frankincense essential oil for softening wrinkles and soothing arthritis, as well as for oral hygiene purposes.
Works well with: cedarwood, sweet orange, lavender, sandalwood, lemon, lime, juniper berry, rose, orange, vetiver, geranium, cypress, tangerine, grapefruit
Are There Any Potential Risks Of Using Essential Oils?
Any essential oil you use can give you an unexpected reaction if you have never used it before.
This is because essential oils contain certain common allergens, so you will need to handle them with care.
If you are planning on applying all over your skin, make sure you patch test on a small area first, to check that your body won’t react adversely to the oil.
You can also experience a reaction from oils that are diffused and inhaled, but reactions usually trigger skin conditions such as eczema.
How To Patch Test Your Skin
1. Rub a drop of oil onto the inside of your wrist. Alternatively, you can use the skin underneath your ear.
2. Place a bandage over the oil and secure it in place.
3. Wait for a full 24 hours, then remove the bandage.
4. Inspect the area: if there is any sign of irritation, rinse the oil off and don’t use it again.
If not, you can safely use it on your body.
You are most likely to have a negative reaction if you use your essential oils incorrectly, for example by not diluting them enough.
This is why it’s so important to use a carrier oil of some sort, as your skin cannot cope well with high concentrations of essential oils.
Always check the label on your essential oil for recommended dilution ratios and other usage information.
Some essential oils trigger more allergic reactions than others.
Common culprits include lemongrass, tea tree, sandalwood, ylang-ylang and jasmine, but that doesn’t mean less reactive ones won’t affect you.
People who suffer from conditions like eczema and asthma are more at risk of reactions, so these people should tread particularly carefully in this area.
However, even if you don’t usually have sensitive skin or any dermatological issues, you could still develop an allergic reaction.
Also, if you know you have allergies to tree nuts, don’t use oils that come from these nuts (apricot kernel oil, sweet almond oil, and sweet almond oil are ones to avoid).
Essential oils must be blended with either a carrier oil or water with an emulsifier, as you can’t just rub them into your skin without diluting them first.
This is because essential oils are very strong and are likely to irritate your skin if you don’t use them properly.
Some can even be dangerous at high concentrations, or if you ingest them through your mouth.
Be especially careful with essential oils during pregnancy, as many are unsuitable for use in this period and could affect your baby’s development.
Always check the label on your essential oils and only use as directed – if you follow the directions carefully, you will be able to enjoy the full benefits your essential oils can provide.
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