Introduction to Essential Oils

Intro to Essential Oils: I’ve gotten quite a few questions about what essential oils are and what they’re used for. After responding to numerous emails, I thought it would be helpful to share this information with everyone!

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated liquids distilled from plants, flowers, or trees. They are called “essential” not because they’re necessary (although I think they are), but because their extreme concentration brings out the medicinal and therapeutic essence of the plant.

As with many products, essential oils are made in different grades, or levels of quality.

  • Synthetic oils or fragrance oils are the lowest quality and are typically used in lotions or perfumes. These are often sold at craft stores.

  • Food grade oils are used to flavor things like cake mix, cereal, and so on. An example of this is the lemon or orange flavoring sold at the grocery store.

  • Therapeutic grade oils are the highest grade and can be diffused (spread via air) or used topically (on the skin). I only use and recommend therapeutic grade oils. Learn more about the oils I use here.

Because they are so concentrated, you only need a few drops to be effective. That’s why they’re sold in such tiny bottles!

How do you use them?

Essential oils are my first line of defense. I use them for cleaning, disinfecting, and in some cases, with/instead of medicine. The kids can help clean without danger of chemical exposure, and I don’t worry about spills or the dangers of mixing one cleaner with another.

And a single essential oil can be used in a variety of ways, which saves you money instead of buying multiple products.

For example: I don’t need to buy “Baby Bedtime Bath” for Little Peanut–I just add a bit of lavender oil to her bath water. A couple of drops of lavender on a cloth in the dryer gives our laundry a fresh scent. And finally, a teeny drop of lavender on a pimple helps to dry it up. That’s three separate products that I didn’t have to buy, from just one bottle of essential oil!

We use essential oils all over our house: to treat bumps and bruises, and in our homemade cleanersair freshener, insect repellent, and hand sanitizer.

Chat with other essential oil lovers and learners in my private Facebook group!

A few reminders:

This is a good time to remind you that I’m not a doctor or herbalist, and this information should not be considered medical advice. Do your own research and use good judgement!

Treat essential oils with respect. Keep them out of kids’ reach and away from heat and light. I store mine in a box in the linen closet, out of reach of little hands.

Some essential oil companies say that their products are safe to take internally, but because of their extreme concentration, I don’t recommend it. Don’t use them full-strength on your skin, either. Always dilute with a carrier oil, like sweet almond oil or fractionated coconut oil.

Would you like to know more? Buy essential oils:

My preferred essential oil reference guide is The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.

This article was shared on Make Your Own Monday, Your Great Idea, Small Footprint Friday, Simple Lives Thursday, Thank Your Body Thursday, Fabulously Frugal Thursday, Unprocessed Fridays, Party Wave Wednesday, Cast Party Wednesday, Fat Tuesday, The Thrifty Home, and Wildcrafting Wednesday.

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  1. says

    I love using essential oils. This is a really good guide for people to follow because I know many people get mixed up on what and how to use them. Thanks for sharing Visiting from Jill Home Remedies

  2. says

    I absolutely love essential oils for the very reason that they are so versatile—having a few very versatile types in your stash can replace many different cleaners and products, and that is so helpful!

    I’d like to invite you to share this post and up to two others at our From the Farm Blog Hop, which is live right now. Your style of blog posts would fit right in with the wonderful posts that are shared!

    From the Farm Blog Hop

    Hope to see you there!
    ~Kristi@Let This Mind Be in You

  3. Rebecca says

    I know you say you don’t recommend internal use of essential oils and for most brands I would agree. However with Young Living, the oils are so pure and natural they are able to be used topically, diffused and taken internally with amazing results! Of course everyone is different and should always be cautious, but YL is committed to excellence and purity. Please do your research before using just any essential oil as they will not all give you the same results

  4. says

    FYI – there is no such thing as a therapeutic grade essential oil. It is a trademark used for marketing purposes. Purchase your oils from a reputable company you trust. Also, most aromatherapists along with the NAHA do not promote ingesting essential oils. Yes, they are GRAS by the FDA , but the FDA intended their use for flavoring not thinking that folks would be drinking drops of essential oil! Why do MLM companies promote ingesting oils? Sniffing the oils goes a long way and your tiny bottle of oil will last many months, but if you ingest a few drops daily you’ll need to re-order another tiny bottle of oil much faster.

  5. says

    PLEASE be careful using essential oils if you have CATS!!! Cats do not possess a necessary liver enzyme to properly metabolize oils. The oils build up in their system over a long period of time and can cause all kinds of medical problems, even death!!! This is especially true for tea tree oil, cinnamon, all citrus oils, etc , but it applies to all the oils!! It does not have to be used ON the cat for it to be harmful!! I was very interested in using essential oils until I found this out!!!

    Here is one article: Also look up Lavender Cat for a more in depth explanation….

    If you google it you will find some people think they have ‘successfully’ used oils with cats, but this is simply because the toxic effects have not hit the cat yet…

    Other animals do great around the oils because they have the proper enzyme to metabolize them….

    I really wish anyone writing articles like this would put a small disclaimer in there about this. So many poeple think it will be safe because they are all natural…. but they are not really…. they are processed and highly concentrated!! …… Also, natural does not mean safe… Cocaine is natural too!!!

  6. says

    Looking forward to looking at your other posts, I agree with your stance on essential oils and the marketing, I to use Aura Cacia although I’ve never heard of plant therapy, I also use NOW, and Wyndmere, that I purchase at the local natural food stores. The only one that i use internally although I know it’s not recommended is Lemon, I add it to my homemade vitamin water to give it an extra zing, been doing it for 2 months now with no problem, I to like the complete book of aromatherapy,(It’s the only one I own) but I also want to get a book that lists the oils and their properties, like the essential oil encyclopedia or somthing like that, I’ve checked out several books from the library and those have also been some of my favorites, keep up the good work of not promoting the overpriced highly marketed oils,, Oh where do you get your Plant Therapy oils.

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