Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Essential Oils (EO)

The essence of plants can be collected in a few different ways, but the end result is always the essential oil of the plant. Essential oil's (EO) smell good and can also be good for you in a number of ways. I like to use them to make bath salts for myself, and gifts for friends. EO gets used as a hair product by me too. Commercially you can find EO's in perfumes, makeup, soaps, scented cleaning products, incense, and aromatherapy products.


There are 3 ways that EO is gathered from plants:

1- Distillation: Flowers, leaves, wood, bark, roots, seeds, peel all can be used for this process. Most EO's are made this way.

2- Expression: Flowers (leaves, wood, etc.) are pressed, and processed like olives are for olive oil, then collected.

3- Solvent extraction: Method used when flowers (leaves, wood, etc.) are too delicate for distillation or expression. As suggested, a solvent like alcohol is used in the process. Alcohol easily evaporates leaving behind the extracted oil. Supercritical carbon dioxide is used in this method too. This is how decaf coffee is made.


There are TONS of essential oils for sale out there. Some that I see more frequently than others are:

Lavender- This is probable my favorite EO. It can help asthma, be used as a bug repellent, relieve headaches, and help sooth the scalp.

Myrrh- Can help itchy and chapped skin

Cinnamon- I LOVE cinnamon. I don't use the oil, but the sticks and power I use in abundance. It helps with headaches, stress, and can be added to tea to help sore throats and coughs.

Patchouli- Used to treat dry scalp in oily hair and for chapped skin

Rose- Can be added to shampoo and help with hair loss. It can also be massaged into the scalp for the same benefits.

Frankincense- Helps stop dry scalp

Sandalwood- Great anti-inflammatory and anticeptic

Tea Tree- Another fav of mine! It can help with acne, itchy skin, and dandruff.

Jasmine- Great for sensitive skin that's dry

Vanilla- Used mostly for its sweet scent

Chamomile- This one is very useful, but you should be careful with it. Some people can have allergies or sensitivities to the flower. Even chamomile tea can have this effect. It helps damaged cells from the sun, and can be useful against flakes from psoriasis.

***Tips on buying EO***

~Beware of words such as therapeutic grade, fragrance oils, perfume oil, nature oil, and/or aromatherapy oil. These aren't pure EO's, usually have additives, and other chemicals mixed in.

~The bottle EO comes in should be a dark amber (sometimes blue or other dark shade) colored glass. This helps filter and control the amount of sunlight that can enter the bottle. Heat and direct light can damage the oil and degrade it. The bottles are usually very small, containing only a few ounces. Some oils can deteriorate plastic, and contaminate the oil itself. This is also true for rubber, so avoid bottles that have a rubber dropper for the top.

~Certified organic EO's are very good, but I find are hard to find. As with all things organic they're chemical/pesticide free, which is always a plus.

Uses for Essential Oil:

Conditioner- Take 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil and mix with 3 drops of Lavender EO
  • After washing hair with warm water, massage the mixture into your hair. Concentrate on your scalp and the ends of your hair. Leave on for about 20 mins (wearing a shower cap or towel), rinse well, and continue as usual.
  • Helps fight dry scalp and hair
  • An alternative to jojoba oil could be olive oil, or tea tree oil. The amount of base oil can be modified to your needs, but EO goes a long way so you won't need many more drops of it
  • The Lavender EO can be substituted with any EO you enjoy for a different scent
Air Freshener- Use a few drops in an oil heater to scent the room
  • An alternative is to heat water on the stove (in a pot you're not using for food) on low. Add a few drops of EO and let the steam scent the room. Don't leave it unattended or on while you sleep. Be mindful of the water level too
  • Try different EO's for their therapeutic properties and just relax
Bath Salts- A mixture of EO and sea salts can be used to make bath salts. These are SO relaxing!!
  • The salts and oils will help condition and soften your skin
  • It can also be used as an exfoliate for feet or hands
  • Again, you can substitute Lavender EO for any of your choosing

Here is a batch of bath salts that I made using Lavender EO. I used a seashell for decoration and as a scooper! As soon as I open the jar the bathroom fills with the lavender scent. I love it!! I've made salts with vanilla, and cherry also. All have been successes.

Bug Repellent- I mostly use this for my dog, Scrappy.
  • Heart worms and other illnesses can be transmitted by mosquito's, fleas, and ticks. I'm not one for creepy crawlies, so anything safe to keep them, and their disease away I'm for.
  • In a handy water bottle I put warm water (for Scraps comfort) and a few drops of my trusty Lavender Essential Oil!
  • Spray on Scrap and hes bug free and smells good. My house does too when he runs around it, because I'm squirting him!
  • You can also spray it lightly on your pets bed, or spots it lays in a lot to help keep fleas and critters away
Body Mist- Oil can help condition your skin after a shower or bath.
  • Using the water and EO mixture, lightly spray yourself after a shower and let your skin absorb the oil.
  • You'll smell good and your skin will love you!
  • The Lavender Essential Oil can be substituted for any EO that you enjoy.
Hair Refresher- Your water bottle will be your bff soon, if you couldn't tell!
  •  When you wake up, or just to freshen up during the day you can spritz your hair with the EO/water mixture instead of plain water
  • Leaves a light fresh scent
I'm always experimenting and am sure this list will grow. There are endless ways to use essential oils. Do research and find some you like, or qualities you'd like to explore. Don't let the price tag scare you!! Can't forget to mention that. The bottles of EO are small, and the price tag that I usually see is around $12. This depends on the EO though!! Oils such as lemon or orange will be cheaper, because there's a lot of peel with oil to extract from. Other EO's will be more pricey, because it's harder to extract the EO from the plant. Often times companies will let you buy a sample size for cheap. This is a good way to try out different oils and find what you like!

Are there any EO's that I didn't list that you like? Do you have different uses for EO's? Post them below!!

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