Essential oils are natural and therefore are safe to use in large quantities right? Wrong! Essential oils are natural, if purchased from a reputable company, but too much of a good thing is possible. There are risks and guidelines to follow when using essential oils.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated and every drop is powerful. A huge amount of plant material goes into creating a single bottle of oil. Below is a picture of a distillation unit being filled with lemongrass.
Its important to understand the amount of potency within a drop of oil because less is more when it comes to essential oil use. Its important to keep topical use of oils diluted unless being used in more emergence cases (such as bug bites, burns or cuts/scraps). Repeated, consistent use of an oil “neat” or undiluted can result in skin irritation and result in an intolerance for use of the oil all together.
How big is a drop?
A drop of an oil is not a standard measurement, as there is no standardization in oil use which actually makes it very fun. Different oils have different consistences and different bottles have different size opening all playing a role in the amount of oil in a drop. So use the following guidelines as a guide but not a set amount of dilution ratio to help you create effective yet safe blends.
For every 30ml of carrier being used a 1% dilution would contain 5-6 drops of essential oil. A 3% blend would contain 15-18 drops and a 5% blend would contain 25-30 drops. For children and immune compromised people always use a 1% blend as you do not want to put added stress on the body. Essential oils enter the bloodstream and affect the body as a whole. When making blends for myself, a generally healthy adult, I use a 3% blend. For healing purposes I would use a 5-10% blend. Neat use is very effective in acute situations such as a burn or cut. But do not use for an extended period of time undiluted.
The main risk with essential oil use is skin irritation. It is important to know what oils can be skin irritating and what oils can be skin nourishing if you plan on using oils topically. Lavender, peppermint and frankincense are the only oils I primary use neat, there may be a few others here and there but not often. There are also photo-toxic oils which can cause a severe and potentially permanent skin damage when used and exposed to U.V. light. As a general rule citruses are photo-toxic.