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Essential Oil Safety

Unlike some of our other products, such as incense or soap, essential oils are not all similar in their applications.  Just because you can use one essential oil in a specific way does not mean that you can do it with another.  Generally, you can use an oil burner to diffuse the scent of any essential oil, but other than that, it is important to do some research before you use a new type of essential oil or try out a new use for an essential oil you already own.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant essences, and therefore can cause irritation or harm if not used with care.  It is important to keep in mind that these are strong medicines, powerful if used correctly, and potentially harmful if used carelessly.  The following guidelines should guide you towards safe and enjoyable use of your essential oils.  If you are ever unsure about a use for an essential oil, please consult a licensed aromatherapist.

1.  Never use essential oils undiluted on the skin.  Some sources will say that you can use lavender oil and tea tree oil undiluted, but in many people, even these can cause severe sensitivity and long lasting skin reactions.  A licensed aromatherapist may advise you to apply certain essential oils directly to the skin, but they will perform a sensitivity test first to make sure that you will be safe.

2.  Always test essential oils before use.  If you are going to apply an essential oil to your skin in a diluted form, either in a carrier oil or in a bath, be sure to do a skin test on a small area of sensitive skin, such as the inside of your elbow.  Apply the diluted oil and place a bandage over it, then wait 24 hours.  If there is any form of reaction, do not apply the essential oil to your skin.  Essential oils that are completely safe for some people can still cause serious reactions in others.

3.  Certain essential oils should not be used by individuals who are pregnant or who have asthma, epilepsy, or high blood pressure.  Certain essential oils, such as clary sage, contain hormone-like compounds, for example, and can cause problems with a pregnancy or induce labor.  If you have any of these conditions, please consult a licensed aromatherapist AND a doctor before using essential oils!

If you are pregnant, avoid basil, cedar wood, clary sage, coriander, hyssop, jasmine, juniper, marjoram, oregano, myrrh, peppermint, rockrose, rosemary, sage and thyme.  Also avoid peppermint oil while nursing.

If you have a seizure disorder, avoid basil, fennel, hyssop, rosemary and sage.

If you have high blood pressure, avoid pine, rosemary, sage and thyme.

4.  Using too much of an essential oil can cause skin irritation. Use only the minimum amount of essential oil.  If you add too much essential oil to a carrier oil or to a bath, it can be irritating to the skin.

5.  Some essential oils, such as horseradish, rue, and sassafras, should only be used by very experienced aromatherapists, as they can be very toxic in the wrong applications or doses.

6.  Essential oils are just like any other medication you might keep in your home - it is important to keep them away from children!  Some essential oils, such as citrus oils, smell nice and seem to a child like they might be good to drink, but can be very poisonous if consumed in large amounts.

7.  Never take essential oils internally.  Some essential oils can be diluted and consumed in very small amounts, but it is essential that you receive instructions from a qualified aromatherapist before you consume a particular essential oil.

8.  Essential oils are very flammable.  Be sure to keep them away from open flames, and be careful when putting them in to oil burners.  It is generally safer to put your essential oil in to the burner before lighting the tea-light.

9.  Certain essential oils can cause severe photosensitivity and sun damage to the skin.  These include all cold pressed citrus oils, verbena, angelica, cinnamon, patchouli, and cedar wood, among others.  These essential oils should not be applied to the skin before strong sun exposure, or you may risk serious sun damage.

10.  Be sure to always wash your hands after handling undiluted essential oils!  You don't want to accidentally get oil in your eyes or mucus membranes as this will inevitably be very painful and possibly damaging.
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