Essential Oils- Not all are as safe as you think

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Not all Essential Oils are safe

When reading upon the subject of Essential Oils, the overwhelming troughs of content could leave you confused as all git up. Do not fear! Grow-Stuff is here to help! Today we visit with our friend Krista who is a trusted source for essential oil education.

The definition is a concentrated liquid containing volatile aroma compounds from plants, otherwise known as volatile oils.

What does that mean?

Well, the aromatic compounds can be found in flowers, seeds, bark, stems, roots etc of the plant. It is what gives the plant its smell. Everyone knows what a lemon or rose smells like, in fact I’m sure you’re imagining it right now.

Over 3,000 varieties of aromatic compounds have been found to date. They vary by species and even plant to plant, just as there are different varieties of say tomatoes or apples.

Each have their own unique characteristics. Some constituents found in any given essential oil are what make it unique and give it specific benefits. The benefits can vary greatly depending on time of day harvested (much like picking herbs in the garden), season, location, method, and duration of distillation, year grown, and even weather can affect the oil and its properties.

Okay, so now we know what an essential oil is-

How are they made?

There are a few ways, but the most common are steam distillation, cold press extraction, and water distillation. They affect quality.

Some methods work best for certain plants, for example lemons need to be squeezed to get the most out of the peel so cold press is the method used for them.

Ok so now oil has been produced

Why are some essential oils so expensive? Why do prices vary so wildly?

That’s a complicated answer! But I’ll do my best to explain. First you have to understand how much material is need to get a single bottle of oil.

I’ll give a few examples

  • It takes 75 lemons to make 1   15ml bottle of oil.
  • It takes 27 sq/ft of lavender to make 1   15ml bottle of oil.
  • 1 whole pound of peppermint to make 1    15ml bottle of oil.

So yes, it takes a lot of work

  1. Someone has to grow and pick the plant(s).
  2. You need special equipment to process the oil.
  3. The glass bottles cost money as well.

Some oils aren’t grown locally, which is actually a good thing when it comes to oil, and need to be transported sometimes across the sea.

Some companies do more testing to ensure quality, and pay fair wages to the growers all over the world. So now that 10$ bottle of lemon seems more fair right?

 Some essential oils are more rare or expensive to make

Rose and Jasmine are extremely expensive. You can expect to pay 150$ for a bottle of rose. It takes pounds of rose petals to create one   5ml bottle, and you know how expensive a dozen are. Another example is frankincense. When you compare frankincense grown in its native land vs here, it is more expensive, and also much more potent because it was grown in the conditions ideal for that plant, and therefore the oil is just an overall better product.

Different species vary as well, Sacred Frankincense will set you back around 85$, Serrata around 20$, and Carterii around 60$. All frankincense essential oil ,but the quality varies, and the prices reflect that.

So can essential oils be pricey?

Absolutely! But you get what you pay for when it comes to essential oils. You only need a single drop for many applications because they are so concentrated.

If you get a cheap bottle from some random company off Amazon, you may be getting oils that are diluted, a mix of oils much like fruit cocktail juice vs real juice, and you may end up using 8-12 drops vs 1 from better companies, so in the end you may not be saving as much as you initially think.

It’s worth it to buy from a reputable company

So how do we use oils?

Well that varies and depends on your individual wants/needs! You can diffuse them, apply topically, and some can be used internally (note if you do decide to use internally make sure to go with a company that specifies that their oils can be used internally).

These oils are potent and should be used with caution, just because it it natural doesn’t mean they can’t be as dangerous as modern medicine. Do your research, especially with internal use, while pregnant/breastfeeding, and children/babies.

Diffusing is simple. You buy a diffuser (you can find a decent one for a small room or bedroom for less than 15$ on Amazon), add water and oil(s) and push the button.

Cold mist sprays into the air and you reap the benefits. It takes only a few seconds for the compounds to reach your brain. As an added bonus, some oils kill virus, fungus, and bacteria in the air. Perfect for the upcoming season.

Topical use you either use “neat”, which is undiluted, or diluted with carrier oils and dilution amount varies by age. Some oils should never be used neat as they are hot and can burn the skin, and should never be used on babies and small children.

There are different carrier oil options. Fractionated coconut oil and sweet almond oil are popular. Avocado, grapeseed and castor are also common, and you can even use regular ole olive oil from your pantry.

So you’ve gotten your essential oils, carrier oils, and diffuser. Now what? What can we do with them?

So many things! They are amazingly versatile! Feeling sleepy at work? Diffuse some sweet or wild orange to perk you up without caffeine or dangerous energy drinks.

Are you over 10 and have the sniffles? Call on trusty Eucalyptus.

Have a label or residue stuck to a glass jar? Lemon will get it off in a jiff!

Feel like making your very effective non-drying hand soap without nasty chemicals? Why not use an antiviral like thyme, basil, or oregano, or antibacterial like tea tree or rosemary? Why not both with a hint of lemon(antiviral).

They can be used in so many ways and in many aspects of daily life. How much you want, depends on you. I use them in multiple aspects. From making my own non-toxic yet effective cleaning supplies, to managing anxiety, headaches, a bee sting, a burn cooking dinner.

They are worth the money to me to keep my family healthy and out of the doctor’s office as much as possible. They have been very effective for us and my toddler will ask for his roller bottle of lavender and jasmine when he feels like he will have a meltdown.

The combination of relaxing scents and taking a deep breath helps him control his emotions, an important life skill to be sure. A drop of fennel to a tsp of carrier oil rubbed on my baby’s feet and tummy can help with gas and tummy upset.

A little clove and copaiba and coconut oil rubbed on teething baby’s gums can instantly stop the tears. The list goes on and on and the possibilities are endless!

One last thing.

I take essential oil safety very seriously

especially when being used around my children. Always buy quality oil, and always do your homework.

There is so so so much misinformation out there on the internet. Even some of the best oil companies insist their oils are safe for newborns (in my humble opinion after many, many hours of research they are not; in general oils should not be used at all in newborns, which are 3 months or younger).

Some essential oils are safe for certain ages. I will touch on that in a later post. If you do experience any sensitivity, stop using that oil immediately. If you applied topically, add more oil to your skin do not use water it will not help. People do have sensitivities to oils, and even allergies.

I am not a doctor, I can’t promise similar results to those I have personally experienced, and any information provided cannot, and should not replace the advice of your medical professional.

Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, let your care provider know if you are, or plan to use any oils.

Health and Happiness!
Kris in the kitchen