Essential Oil Basics

Holistic aromatherapy begins with the quality and authenticity of the essential oils to be utilized. Optimal therapeutic and safe applications can only truly be derived from the use of whole, genuine, authentic essential oils.

Essential Oil Information

Common name: this is the most widely accepted name for a given plant species within a given culture or regional area. Example: Lavender

Latin name (botanical specificity): the internationally recognized identity of a given plant, or rather the plant's scientific name. This is derived using the Latin binomial: genus (plants that have a similar botanical structure) and species (identifies the exact plant within the genus). Ex: Lavendula augustifolia / Eucalyptus globulus

Country of origin: reflects the country where the essential oil is indigenous or where it is cultivated or harvested in the wild. This can have an effect on the chemical composition of the oil depending on environmental conditions. This may also affect the aroma, and essential oils from some countries are considered superior.

Part of plant used (morphological specificity): seed, root, flower, leaf, fruit, etc. Some botanical species bear essential oils from different morphological structures. Example: bitter orange tree (petitgrain - leaves, neroli - orange blossom, bitter orange - zest).

Biochemical specificity: identification of a chemotype in certain essential oils (basically a naturally occurring chemical anomaly affected by environmental changes depending on where the plant was grown). Ex: Rosemary from Spain = CT1 and Rosemary from Tunisia = CT2 and differs in the levels of camphor etc.

Batch number: used to identify a specific batch of essential oil by an aromatherapy company, from a specific supplier and a specific year

Standard Safety Warning: generally it is "not for internal use, keep out of reach of children" and sometimes warnings about use in pregnancy

Size of bottle/essential oil content: most companies distribute oils in 5, 10, 15, 30, 120 and 240 ml quantities, and for blends, the actual oils used in the blend.

Storage Information

Essential oils are stored in amber or blue bottles because of their volatile organic compounds and sensitivity to heat and light. The dark glass protects them from ultraviolet rays and other harmful light.

Bottles must have a proper orifice reducer which reduces the impact of oxygen on the essential oils, which can also cause them to degrade. This can either be a small eyedropper or a plastic fitting on the top of the bottle.

Essential oils are best stored away from sunlight and direct heat. They can be stored in the refrigerator or in a cool area. The most important essential oils to refrigerate are citrus oils.

Move essential oils to smaller bottles. As oil is used, keep the oil in the smallest bottle to reduce the exposure to oxygen and oxidation.

General Characteristics of Essential Oils

Highly concentrated - which means that the therapeutic effect is considerably magnified, and very powerful. This is why typically it is necessary to dilute them prior to use. It also means that generally only a small amount is needed to produce therapeutic effects.

Volatile substances: ability to turn from a liquid to a vapor

Light and non-greasy: most of these oils do not have any fatty content but are closer in content to water

Mostly clear in color: most are clear or light yellow, but some are blue, brown, or green depending on the oil

Lipohilic: attracted to and dissolvable in fatty substances, which makes them excellent to blend with carrier oils

Viscosity: the measurement of the oil's thickness. Viscous oils tend to be more stable, but also may be more difficult to absorb into the skin, and have a heavier aroma.

Highly complex chemically: vary in the chemical constituents

Dynamic substance that exhibits wide range of therapeutic activity: physiological, psychological, spiritual and energetic, antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti fungal, antiviral, and antibacterial

Safety Practices

1. Quality of essential oil being utilized

2. Chemical composition of the oil (does it need to be diluted to reduce skin reactions or inflammatory effects?)

3. Method of application: Inhalation, Dermal Application, Internal Use

4. Dosage / dilution to be applied (generally between 1-5 percent dilutions)

5. Integrity of the skin: damaged, diseased or inflamed skin is more permeable and may be susceptible to dermal reactions

OTHER: pregnancy, children, elderly, immune compromised, highly allergic, keep away from mucous membranes and especially eyes

General Precautions

Keep all essential oils out of reach of children.

Avoid use of photosensitizing oils and other citrus oils at least 24 hours prior to going sunbathing or into a tanning booth.

Avoid prolonged and/or daily use of the same essential oils, blends or other aroma/fragrance products.

Avoid the use of essential oils you know nothing about on our clients. Research and get to know oils before using them on others.

If you suspect your client may be sensitive to specific essential oils if your client has known allergies or sensitivities, perform a skin patch test.

Know the safety data on each essential oil to be used.

Use caution when treating a female client who suspects she is pregnant or has been trying to become pregnant.

Keep essential oils away from the eyes.

Essential oils are highly flammable substances and should be kept away from direct contact with flames.

Make sure treatment room has adequate ventilation.

Do not use essential oils internally unless trained to do so.

Reduce or slow oxidation of essential oils by storing properly and limiting air exposure.

In case of dermal reaction or contact with eyes (or other mucous membrane) apply a small amount of vegetable oil or cream to the affected area.

Created By
Jessica Hutchison


Created with images by yourbestdigs - "white essential oil diffuser on table with brick background" • monicore - "bottles medicine oils" • mitchf1 - "oil holistic treatment" • Pexels - "alternative aroma aromatic" • annca - "stones black oil"

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