Learning about essential oils will help you feel more confident about where they come from and how to use them in your home. Let’s dive into the history and composition of essential oils.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are volatile organic liquid compounds that have been extracted from plants. Most essential oils are steam distilled. Citrus oils are an exception to this; they are cold-pressed from the fruit rinds. Various oils come from different parts of the plant. Cinnamon essential oil comes from the bark. Eucalyptus essential oil comes from leaves. Rose essential oil comes from flowers, of course. Other essential oils are steam distilled from roots, branches, seeds, or other parts of the plant.
History of Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used throughout history. There are Chinese manuscripts and Egyptian hieroglyphics that point to the ancient use of these precious liquids. Essential oils are referenced in multiple places in the Bible. Frankincense and myrrh are well-known examples of essential oils in the Bible.
Today essential oils are highly regarded across the globe for their many uses. Essential oils are found in some air fresheners, chewing gum, cleaning products, deodorant, perfumes, soaps, and many more commercial products.
Purity and Strength
It’s important to use only 100% pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils in any recipe. You want to avoid any diluted or altered oils. Make sure that you buy only 100% pure essential oils so that you’re getting all the natural benefits available without any fillers or additives that will alter their effects. See why we’ve chosen to use only Young Living essential oils.
Essential oils can be up to 70 times as strong as dried and fresh herbs and plants. Dried herbs retain only about 3 – 5% of the essential oils from the original plant. Essential oils are superior in flavor and potency over dried herbs. The essence of the plant is preserved and carried into your recipes when you use essential oils.
How Do I Use Essential Oils?
Essential oils have three primary types of uses: aromatic, topical, and internal.
The aroma of essential oils is how most people recognize and appreciate them. Perfumers and beauty companies have been using essential oils since the beginning of time to stimulate our senses. Your beauty products would not be the same without those scents.
The same is true for household products. Most of us smell lemon or pine essential oil and it just makes us think, “Ah…clean!” That’s the power of aroma!
The easiest way to inhale essential oils is straight from the bottle. When I need a little pick-me-up I’ll open a bottle of peppermint essential oil. So refreshing!
Anyone can use oils this way! It’s so easy. Fill a sink or large bowl with warm water. Add an aromatic essential oil. Lean over the basin and cover your head and bowl with a towel to hold all the lovely smells in.
Another favorite aromatic use is with an ultrasonic diffuser. You’ll want to avoid heated diffusers and humidifiers since they were not designed to properly disperse essential oils. See 5 of our favorite diffuser blend recipes here!
You can also place essential oils on a cloth (pillowcases or handkerchiefs work great) to allow the oils to infuse the air in a room. If you’re on the go and don’t have your diffuser with you, you can place a drop of oil on a cotton ball and place it in an air vent or attach it to a ceiling fan.
Many essential oils also carry with them benefits for our bodies when applied to the skin. The lotions, shampoos, and bath gels that you use today most certainly have essential oils in their formulas.
Many essential oils offer therapeutic benefits to the skin as well as a lovely scent. You can find relief through relaxing bath recipes or warm compresses that use certain essential oils.
It’s easy to make DIY natural beauty recipes at home. In this way, essential oils can be used to cleanse and beautify the skin on your body and face.
Caution: Essential oils are very potent and may irritate sensitive skin. If irritation occurs, apply pure vegetable oil to the area. Never use water if irritation occurs. Citrus oils and blends containing citrus oils may also cause photosensitivity. Use caution if exposing your skin to sunlight after application. Get more usage safety tips here.
It may seem odd to suggest ingesting an essential oil, but many are already used in the food and beverage industry today. Even your toothpaste probably contains essential oils. The flavors and aromas of essential oils combine to provide us with many uses for these essences in our foods and drinks. See all of our delicious cooking recipes here.
In fact, essential oils are many times a better alternative than dried or fresh herbs and flowers since they are more concentrated and last longer. Even your favorite soda might have been originally created with essential oils.
The US Food and Drug Administration has an extensive list of oils approved for internal use when used as a food additive or flavoring. These are referred to as GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe). Only oils with this designation should be considered safe for internal use. You can read more about the Food and Drug Administration’s official stance on essential oils here.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy essential oils?
Find out more:
- How to Safely Store and Handle Essential Oils
- How do you replace extracts/flavorings with essential oils?
- What are our favorite essential oil resources and tools?
- How do I order Young Living Essential Oils?