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How to Dilute Essential Oils

How to Dilute Essential Oils

We all know how powerful essential oils can be by their laundry list of amazing benefits and beautiful aromas. This power and potency comes from an extreme amount of phytochemicals packed into a small amount of oil. Applying undiluted essential oils to our skin can possibly cause skin irritation and sensitivity because of their potency. By diluting essential oils in our favorite carrier oil or in a more complex recipe, we can safely enjoy the many topical benefits. Adding essential oils to our custom lotions, creams, oils, and roll-ons does not alter the amazing properties of the oils and may make them more accessible and longer-lasting. The volatile nature of essential oils means that they evaporate quickly and cannot easily absorb into the skin. When diluted in a carrier oil, the oils can penetrate deeper into the skin and stay there longer, allowing us to enjoy the benefits and aroma for a greater amount of time. Diluting essential oils also ensures that the scent of our favorite oils are at a palatable level. Essential oils are very concentrated and so is their aroma, sometimes to the point of being overpowering to the senses. Blending and diluting essential oils before applying them topically gives us a pleasant scent that lingers all day.

When choosing essential oils to use topically and how to dilute them, it is important to consider how they will be applied and for how long. We recommend doing a patch test when trying a new essential oil to insure your skin will not have a reaction. 

For adults we recommend the following dilution rates:

- A concentration of about 3% is recommended for regular long-term use. This applies to products we might use every day and on many parts of our body like lotions and creams.
- A concentration of about 5% is recommended for occasional long-term use. This applies to products we might use regularly but not every day such as our trusty roll-on blend, hair treatment, or massage oil.
- A concentration of 10% is recommended for rare use. This applies to things we may use every once in a while or on a very small area of the body like perfumes or joints and muscle rubs.

Below is an easy to follow essential oil dilution guide:

Using essential oils topically for children

As the skin of infants and children is often more sensitive than the skin of adults and their bodies are still developing, essential oils should be used at lower concentrations with them. Below are some safety precautions to follow when using essential oils on children. 

  • ALWAYS DILUTE 
Essential oils are highly concentrated and can easily cause skin irritation if applied directly. 
It is very important to dilute essential oils before applying them topically, especially on children. 
- For children 6 & under, a 0.25% dilution is the normal recommendation. 
- For children 6 & up, a 1% dilution is the normal recommendation. 
Do not use essential oils topically on children under 2 years old.
  • DO A PATCH TEST
A patch test on the skin gives you the chance to see if an essential oil will cause any irritation.
Simply apply a small amount of diluted essential oil to a patch of skin on the child’s leg and wait 24 hours while closely monitoring.
If any signs of a reaction, such as itchiness, blistering, swelling, or redness occur, stop use and wash the area immediately with warm water and soap. 
  • NEVER APPLY ESSENTIAL OILS, DILUTED OR NOT, TO A CHILD’S FACE

Keep essential oils away from eyes, mouth, and face. If seeking to relieve congestion or something involving the face, diffuse, steam, or use on a separate part of the child’s body, such as the chest or legs.  

Please visit our blog Are Essential Oils Safe for Kids? for more useful information about using essential oils for children.

These dilution recommendations work for most essential oils but there are certain oils and particular circumstances that may require special dilution rates or precautions. Some essential oils, especially citrus oils can be photosensitizing and we should avoid using them before going out in the sun. Other oils, such as camphor, wintergreen, wormwood, and others should be avoided while pregnant. We should always do thorough research on any essential oil we like before adding it to a topical blend.

Of course, the suggested amounts and dilution rates are just general safety guidelines and we should listen to our bodies when using essential oils topically. If there is any redness, burning sensation, or any other signs of skin irritation, such as redness or a burning feeling, stop applying the oils immediately. Wash the area with mild and gentle soap to remove the essential oil blend and keep an eye on it for further signs of irritation. 

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