When I started using essential oils I didn’t have a lot of experienced friends to ask about how to use them safely, and so I turned to the internet for advice.
Ah yes, the internet, that vast sea of information, not all of it good. You’ve experienced it, too?
Unfortunately, after all that internet searching, I came up with some really bad advice! I know it probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: just because someone can make a graphic and post it on a website doesn’t mean that it is trustworthy information.
Yes, genuine essential oils are natural, but just because a thing is natural doesn’t mean that there aren’t some common sense guidelines that you should follow.
After all, not all rules were made to be broken!
So, let’s chat about the 7 places that you should never put essential oils. Most of them are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ve seen many people make recommendations out of bad advice, and I just wanted to set the record straight.
7 Places you should NEVER put essential oils:
In your eyes
Please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, do not put essential oils in your eyes. I am getting down on my bent internet knee and begging you to please remember this one. Not only are your eyes very sensitive, but your eyesight is precious. You do not want to risk your eyesight by purposefully putting essential oils into your eye. (Want to see what I mean? Check this out.)
Now if you accidentally get a bit in your eye don’t freak out, because what I’m talking about is purposefully intending to put essential oils into your eye. Pretty much the only time you should ever think about doing that is if (and that is a huge if) you have a trained medical professional tell you to do it, and then you would follow their direct written instructions.
If you go searching on the internet you can find essential oil eye drop recipes and that is specifically what you need to avoid.
If you need to apply oils to the area around your eyes, then you can apply them safely around the bony part of the eye socket (not on or around the eyelid), and properly diluted. They do not need to be put into the eye.
Tip: If you accidentally get essential oils into your eye, you can dilute them by applying a small amount of carrier oil (such as olive oil or almond oil) in the corner of your eye using a cotton swab or a cotton ball. This will help pull the essential oil out of your eye. Then flush using water.Please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, do not put essential oils in your eyes. I am getting down on my bent internet knee and begging you to please remember this one. Not only are your eyes very sensitive, but your eyesight is precious. You do not want to risk your eyesight by purposefully putting essential oils into your eye. Click To Tweet
In your ears
Just like you shouldn’t put essential oils directly into your eye, you should also never put essential oils into your ear canal. The eardrum is very delicate and getting essential oil in your ear canal is very, very painful.
You can apply essential oils anywhere on the outer ear (outside the canal), behind the ear on the bony part of the head, or in front of the ear instead.
If you accidentally get essential oil in your ear immediately flush with some carrier oil to help dilute it and pull it away from the sensitive parts of the ear.
Tip: If you have a pre-blended mix of oils that you’d like to use around your ears, put it in a roller bottle. Not only is it a convenient way to use the oils, it almost guarantees that you won’t get it inside your ear accidentally.Just like you shouldn't put essential oils directly into your eye, you should also never put essential oils into your ear canal. The eardrum is very delicate and getting essential oil in your ear canal is very, very painful.Click To Tweet
Within reach of children
If you have young children in your home this is a very important thing to pay attention to. Essential oils are a very big part of our family’s daily life, especially my kids. But young children are especially at risk for accidental overuse of essential oils.
A good general guideline is that if you wouldn’t let that child into your cleaning cabinet or bathroom cabinet without supervision, then they should not be able to get to the essential oils.
Best practice is to keep essential oils out of reach of children, including if they can climb. If you have older children using essential oils, then make sure that they are putting the oils back in the safe place after they are finished with them every time.
Tip: Keeping essential oils in a high place or a properly secured and designated cabinet is a safe way to keep oils out of the reach of children.A good general guideline is that if you wouldn't let that child into your cleaning cabinet or bathroom cabinet without supervision, then they should not be able to get to your essential oils without your help.Click To Tweet
In plastic or styrofoam containers
Essential oils are high potency and a very little can go a very long way! You may have noticed that genuine essential oils are always sold in darkened glass bottles. That is because essential oils can cause damage to plastic and styrofoam containers.
In fact storing undiluted essential oils in plastic containers can cause the container to be damaged or to leach petrochemicals from the container into the oil or substance containing the oil.
This is most important when storing essential oils (especially when you make your own blends and want to keep them for later) because it would be a shame to come back and find the container leaking. Also, if you like to enjoy a drop or two of essential oil in a glass of water, tea, or juice, make sure that you’re using a ceramic, stainless steel, or glass drinking vessel, that way you’ll avoid any potential concerns over essential oils in the wrong type of vessel.
Tip: An old recycled glass jar or a cute mason jar makes a simple way to store your essential oil creations or to enjoy essential oil infused beverages.
In a heated warmer
Essential oils are not super fragile, but one way to degrade essential oils is to heat them up. That means that if you want to use essential oils to create a soothing aroma or diffuse them for aromatic benefits then you would want to avoid using an oil burner, or boiling your oils on the stove. Even using light bulb fragrance rings or cute candle oil warmers will potentially sabotage your oil efforts.
So here’s how to keep from losing your oils benefits from heat. Anytime you want to diffuse essential oils or scent your home use a non-heated method.
Here a few of my favorites:
- an ultrasonic, cool air diffuser (the best choice and they even have versions that plug into USB ports and travel well in a car!)
- a fan diffuser (great to bring with you for travel)
- a clothes pin on an air vent (easy diy diffuser for car travel, just put a drop or two of oil on a wooden clothes pin and clip to your vent)
- a cotton ball in an air register or clipped to the front of a fan
Let’s say that you want to flavor recipes with vitality essential oils. Avoid adding the oils to the food before you take it off the heat. If you are flavoring sauces, drinks, or other foods, try adding the oil after cooking, and before serving. If you are using oils for flavor in baked goods, this isn’t possible, but for any other cooking, try to add oils at the end.
But what about steam tents?
Using a bowl of hot water and placing a towel over your head while you breathe in the aroma from essential oils in the bowl is fine.
You removed the water from the heat source before adding your oil, and so while it is hot, it does not continuously heat the oils, it’s actually cooling the entire time. Any minor reduction in oil composition would be mitigated by the fact that the steam tenting would be over long before much would change property-wise in the oil.One way to degrade essential oils is to heat them up. Avoid using an oil burner, boiling your oils on the stove, using light bulb fragrance rings or candle oil warmers if you want therapeutic benefits.Click To Tweet
In direct sunlight
Similar to heat, UV rays over time can cause the degrading of certain botanical compounds. You’ve already decided that you wanted to invest in a high-quality essential oil and so you absolutely want it to stay exactly the way it should.
Tip: You don’t need to keep oils in a completely dark place, or even refrigerate them (as some sources suggest). Just keep them out of direct sunlight. So keeping them in a cabinet, drawer, or even on a shelf in a less sunny part of your home should be enough. Just avoid keeping them in the car, on a windowsill or right in direct sunlight.
In regular personal care products
One of the wonderful properties of essential oils is their ability to help the body to absorb substances more readily. They are able to do that because of their very small molecular size and hydrophilic (fat-loving) properties, they often times accentuate the effects of the products they are paired with.
What that means, however, is that if you are adding a high-quality essential oil to a personal care product that is made with synthetic or petroleum-based ingredients, it could cause skin irritation or pull harsh ingredients deeper into your body.
Tip: Check your personal care products at the Environmental Working Group Skin Deep Database. Looking for a less-harsh replacement? The database also lets you search by ratings, so you can pick a safer option to buy.
So there you have it! Have you ever seen advice floating around on the internet that seemed suspect? Want to fact check it?
Share your thoughts and questions in the comments!