Properly Diluting Essential Oils
Even essential oils with strong safety concerns can be used safely if properly diluted. Knowing how to dilute properly will help us use essential oils safely.
Concentrated substances are rarely intended for use “as is” – and essential oils are no different. There is almost never a time when you would not want to dilute the potency of an essential oil. Diluting essential oils is done by adding a drop (or more) of the essential oil into a carrier oil, such as jojoba oil (more on carrier oils next). This not only provides a good medium for the oil to absorb into the skin, but spreads the oil over a larger surface of your skin for more effect.
How much to dilute really depends on the issue you are wanting to address. Here is a handy guide for diluting essential oils:
.25% Dilution (1 drop per 4 teaspoons of carrier oil) – for children between 6 months and 6 years. Please only use if you absolutely must. I personally prefer to avoid EOs altogether for children under 2, and use hydrosols and/or herbs instead. If your child is sick, you may increase up to .50% if needed.
1% dilution (1 drop per teaspoon of carrier oil; 5-6 drops per ounce) – for children over age 6, pregnant women, elderly adults, those with sensitive skin, compromised immune systems, or other serious health issues. This is also the dilution you want when you are massaging over a large area of the body.
2% dilution (2 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil; 10-12 drops per ounce) – ideal for most adults and in most situations. This is also a good dilution for daily skin care.
3% dilution (3 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil; 15-18 drops per ounce) – best used short-term for a temporary health issue, such as a muscle injury or respiratory congestion. Up to 10% dilution is fine, depending on the health concern, the age of the person, and the oils being used.
25% dilution (25 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil; 125-150 drops per ounce) – occasionally a dilution of this strength is warranted. This might be for a muscle cramp, bad bruising, or severe pain.
Using oils “neat” (undiluted) – Lavender is one of the few essential oils that can be used neat, on occasion, and only for short-term use. A bug bite, burn, or sting, might be a good reason to use Lavender neat. Just use caution when using undiluted, as some individuals can experience irritation or sensitivity when essential oils are used neat.
Some exceptions can be found here: Safe Dilution Guidelines for the Topical Use of Essential Oils.
Keeping safe use of essential oils in mind, always use the lowest dilution possible that gives you effective results.
The best rule of thumb is one drop of essential oil per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil for a 1% dilution. View the chart below for other dilutions…
Here is another chart which you may find more visually appealing (sharing with permission):
And one more showing how much you’d have to dilute a 15ml bottle of essential oil to get a 2% dilution (sharing with permission):
Essential Oils Measurement Equivalents
100 drops = 1 tsp = 5ml = 1/6 ounce
200 drops = 2 tsp = 10ml = 1/3 ounce
300 drops = 3 tsp = 15ml = 1/2 ounce
400 drops = 4 tsp = 20ml = 2/3 ounce
500 drops = 5 tsp = 25ml = 5/6 ounce
600 drops = 6 tsp = 30ml = 1 ounce
Drops Per Milligram
Each drop of essential oil is roughly 30mg. 1ml = 900mg.
“Essential oil dilution is important for two safety reasons. One, to avoid skin reactions: irritation, sensitization and phototoxicity. Two, to avoid systemic toxicity, such as fetotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity and neurotoxicity. Adverse skin reactions are obvious when they happen, but systemic toxicities may not be.” Robert Tisserand (as quoted from the page Why Is Essential Oil Dilution Important?)
Most of the information taken from the e-report, Using Essential Oils Safely. FREE when you sign up for our newsletter here.
|Lea Harris is a Certified Aromatherapist with Advanced Graduate training from Aromahead Institute in July 2013, but she is not a doctor. Please consult a trained aromatherapist or your doctor before using any of the suggestions on this website, as the user's age and health conditions must be taken into account before using. The information contained in this website is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.|
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