Safety Precautions For Oils & Essential Oil Storage

Use essential oils only in diluted form on the skin and never internally. Always be careful when using essential oils with children. Give them only low doses, or better, consult a qualified aromatherapy expert before using. Always use essential oils with care and only under the proper guidance of an expert while pregnant or if you have liver damage, epilepsy, cancer or other serious health problems.

Safety is of fundamental importance in the practice of aromatherapy. The factors that need to be considered to ensure the safe use of essential oils include:

  • Quality of the essential oils being used
  • Packaging and labeling
  • Chemical composition of the essential oils
  • Identifying essential oil hazards.

Essential oils are very beneficial, pleasurable and safe to use as long as a few common-sense precautions are followed:

  • Avoid contact with the eyes or mucus membranes
  • Essential oils can sting when they get in the eyes or on mucus membranes. Rinse the affected area with a plain vegetable oil.

Taking essential oils internally

The International Federation of Aromatherapists strongly discourages the internal use of essential oils. They are highly concentrated substances that can damage the delicate lining of the digestive tract. Some essential oils are toxic when taken internally. Essential oils should only be ingested under the direct supervision of a professional aromatherapist.

Essential oil contraindications

People who have epilepsy or high blood pressure, pregnant women, infants and children all have special considerations in the use of essential oils. Please check the safety precautions for each oil before using it.

Diluting essential oils

Essential oils are very concentrated. They should always be diluted for use on the skin. With the exception of only a few oils, they should only be used directly on the skin under the supervision of a trained aromatherapist.

Using essential oils on sensitive skin

Some oils can be skin irritants. To check for sensitivity to an oil, put a few undiluted drops on the inside of the wrist. Cover with a bandage and check the skin in two hours.

Essential oil phototoxicity

Some oils, particularly citrus oils, accelerate skin pigmentation when used on the skin before exposure to sunlight. When using Bergamot, Orange, Lemon and Angelica Root on the skin, wait at least six hours before exposure to sunlight.

Essential oil storage

Essential oils are volatile. They can be damaged by exposure to heat, oxygen and sunlight. A good quality oil comes in a dark bottle, either brown or cobalt blue. After use, the cap should be securely fastened and the bottle stored in a cool, dry place out of the reach of children. Many essential oils come with a plastic dropper insert in the bottle, allowing you to dispense one drop at a time. This makes blending more accurate and prevents spills. When properly cared for, most essential oils have a shelf life of two to five years. Citrus oils oxidize easily so they have a much shorter shelf life - about six months. The test of freshness in an essential oil is its fragrance.