How to use & dilute essential oils safely

As with conventional medicine the objective is to introduce the substance into the blood stream. Inhalation and skin absorption are two of the fastest ways of getting the therapeutic essential oils into the blood stream and a variety of methods can be used (as follows). Remember that essential oils are pure, plant substances which have been used for thousands of years so they can be trusted to help with family health problems in a safe and natural way.

For the bath:

For adults dilute 4-10 drops of essential oil in a suitable carrier and add to the bath after it has finished running. Soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes for the oils to take effect. Suitable carriers include:

  • 15ml of bath oil or bath gel that has been formulated to accept the addition of essential oils,
  • A solubiliser such as Polysorbate 20 (start with equal quantities and add more Polysorbate until oils are solubilised)
  • 15ml of carrier oil.  While a carrier oil will safely dilute the essential oil, it will not mix into the water. It will float on the surface of the water, cling to the sides and make the bath slippery. If you wish to use a carrier oil, fractionated Coconut oil and Jojoba are recommended as they are slightly less greasy. 

A single drop of a suitable essential oil is sufficient for a baby bath, and 2-3 drops for toddlers, if bathing in a full-sized bath. Please ensure that the oils are diluted in a suitable carrier before they are added to the bath. 

Note: Some essential oils can irritate the skin and should not be used in the bath. See our essential oil product pages for more detailed safety notes.

Read our blog for a selection of recommended essential oil blends to use in the bath.

For massage:

For adults, use up to 2 drops of essential oil for every 5ml of carrier oil (e.g. Sweet Almond or Grapeseed Oil) and massage into the affected area. Click here for tips on how to perform an effective aromatherapy massage.

For babies over 3 months old, use only 1 drop of a suitable essential oil in 15ml of carrier oil. For infants aged 1 to 5 you can use 2 drops and for children aged 6 to 12, 3 drops. Read our blog on using essential oils with babies and children.

For skincare:

For the body use 2 drops of essential oil in every 5ml of base product (cream, lotion, gel etc) or 1 drop per 5ml on the face. This applies to adults only. See above link for children.

For inhalation:

Add 3 or 4 drops of suitable essential oil to a bowl of steaming hot water. Lean over the bowl and place a towel over your head and bowl. Inhale the steam for 5-10 minutes. Steam inhalations should be used with caution if suffering from asthma, hay fever or other allergies. Inhale for just 30 seconds on the first inhalation, then increase gradually up to 5 minutes if there is no adverse reaction.

Essential oils can also be diffused in an aromatherapy candle burner (use up to 12 drops of oil in water) or an aromatherapy diffuser (check your product instructions for quantities). Alternatively, for a quick and easy solution pop a couple of drops of essential oil onto a tissue and inhale.

For hot or cold compresses:

Add 4-5 drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot (as hot as you can bear) or icy cold water. Fold a clean cloth (i.e. muslin, flannel) and place in the water so that it absorbs the essential oils that are floating on the surface. Squeeze out excess water and place the cloth onto the affected area. The compress can be covered and held in place with cling film or a bandage. Replace the compress when it has cooled or warmed to skin temperature.

For direct application:

Lavender and Tea Tree are the ONLY two aromatherapy essential oils that can be applied undiluted to the skin. They should only be used undiluted in very small quantities (1 or 2 drops) in first aid situations, e.g. for a burn or insect bite. It is not advisable to use these oils neat on a regular basis as it may lead to sensitisation.  All other oils must be diluted in a suitable carrier (e.g. base oil, cream, lotion, gel, hydrolat etc) before applying to the skin.

Safety advice:

If pregnant or suffering from serious health problems, then please seek advice from a qualified Aromatherapist before using essential oils. Essential oils should never be taken internally and are best stored in a cool, dark place with the cap firmly in place. Keep out of the reach of children. Please click here to read more detailed safety advice when using essential oils.