Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 2

Continuing on our last post, following are 7 additional safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Take extra care not to get oils or vapors in the eye. If you accidentally get some in your eye, soak a hankie or paper towel in a fatty carrier oil (i.e. sweet almond, sunflower, safflower, or even olive oil) and wipe the eye gently with it to soak up the essential oil. Essential oils are not water soluble but are readily absorbed by fatty substances. If you only have access to water then go ahead and flush the eye with cool water. Just be aware that relief may take a little longer!
  2. Avoid using essential oils while under medication, or if you have a health condition like high blood pressure, epilepsy or even asthma, unless they are used under the guidance and supervision of a trained health care professional
  3. Don’t ingest essential oils unless you are under the supervision of a medical doctor or a trained and certified aromatherapist or naturopath. Safe ingestion of oils requires significant training and experience, do not attempt this on your own!!
  4. Certain oils should be avoided during pregnancy, especially during the first trimester, and some essential oils should be avoided altogether due to their toxicity. Oils that are safe to use during pregnancy include Rose, Neroli, Jasmine Absolute, Lavender, Chamomile, Geranium, Sandalwood, Frankincense, and all citrus oils. To be safe, it’s probably best to avoid these oils during the first trimester too.
  5. Oils to avoid altogether include Ajowan, Arnica, Boldo, Buchu, Calamus, Camphor, Horseradish, Jaborandi, Mustard, Pennyroyal, Rue, Santolina, Sassafras, Spanish Broom, Tonka, Wormseed, and Wormwood. It is highly unlikely that you will readily come across these essential oils, but if you do, avoid them because they are highly toxic. Also, most essential oil marketed as Wintergreen is not true Wintergreen and should be avoided as well.
  6. The following essential oils are known to be either mucous membrane or skin irritants and should be used with caution: Allspice, Cinnamon, Clove, Oregano, Pimento, Savory, and Thyme (except for the Linalol variety).
  7. Always stay within the established guidelines for dilutions in all aromatherapy applications (see our blending guidelines or refer to our recommended reading list for more information on this topic).

Read more at Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 1.

Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 1

Pure essential oils are entirely “natural” substances. The fact that they are natural doesn’t mean that they are all good for us or that they can be used in any quantity or manner. Just as certain herbs and plants can be toxic or even poisonous, there are essential oils that are toxic or can be toxic if they are not used in accordance with generally accepted guidelines.

Anyone who practices or wants to practice aromatherapy should be fully aware of certain hazards and precautions involved in the use of essential oils. Below is a summary of the main safety concerns and precautions to keep in mind.

  1. Always use pure, unadulterated essential oils. Purchase them from a trustworthy and reliable source who can verify their authenticity.
  2. Keep oils stored in dark bottles, tightly sealed, and away from sources of heat and light to prolong their potency and lifespan.
  3. Keep essential oils out of reach of young children at all times.
  4. Many essential oils can be highly irritating to the skin if applied undiluted. Always dilute essential oils in a carrier oil before applying to skin. Lavender and Tea Tree are the exception to this rule. These two EOs can be applied “neat” (i.e. directly) to the skin for the treatment of minor burns, cuts, scrapes or other skin eruptions, except in individuals with extremely sensitive skin.
  5. If you are sensitive or highly allergic, perform a skin “patch” test before applying any oils. Place a drop of the essential oil in question on your upper chest area or in the crook of your arm. Wait 12 hours for signs of a reaction. If redness, itching or swelling occurs, avoid using that essential oil.
  6. Some citrus essential oils especially Bergamot, can cause photosensitivity of the skin if used prior to exposure to ultraviolet light. Oils to avoid on the skin if you plan to be out in the sun for awhile are Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Lime (cold-pressed), Lemon (cold-pressed), Grapefruit (cold-pressed), and Lemon Verbena (distilled Lime, Lemon, and Grapefruit oils do not pose this hazard). If you apply one of these oils to your skin then avoid UV exposure for at least four hours.
  7. Some essential oils may be harmful if used in their undiluted state over a prolonged period of time. If you use essential oils on a regular basis, it’s best to vary the oils you use every few weeks to avoid over-exposure to the chemical constituents of any specific oil.

Read more at Safety Tips & Precautions for Working with Essential Oils – Part 2.