Tips for Essential Oil Safety

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Essential oils have been used in folk medicine for hundreds of years. The earliest known mention of the techniques used to distill essential oils dates to Al-Andalus in the 1200s from the notes of a Spanish Muslim physician.

In more recent times, the field of aromatherapy has sought to develop a body of knowledge around using essential oils and other aromatic compounds to affect holistic, spiritual, or clinical changes in the client.

Aromatherapists use essential oils in a variety of ways including massage lotions, nebulizer treatments, incense blends, candles, and even internal or topical uses. Today, practically everyone can purchase essential oils and create aromatherapy products right at home.

As our exploration of this art continues to grow, so too should our understanding of safety when working with the oils. Many classes are offered online that can help you better learn how to more safely practice aromatherapy.

Safety Guidelines

In the meantime, here are some simple guidelines to get you started:

  • Keep your essential oils in a safe, cool, dark place out of reach of children.

  • If pregnant, avoid: cinnamon, clove, clary sage, fennel, and wintergreen. Always research possible contraindications before use.

  • Unless trained to do otherwise by a qualified practitioner, always dilute your essential oils in a carrier such as vegetable oil, lotion, salts, or a cream.

  • For creams, lotions, and massage oils, a 2.5% dilution (about 15 drops of essential oil per ounce of carrier) is a good place to start.

  • Always perform a skin test before regular use: apply a small amount of the oil (the size of a dime) to the skin on your inner arm, and observe whether there is any sort of redness or irritation.

  • Apply more carrier oil to further dilute essential oil applications if irritation occurs.

Other Resources

For additional learning, check out these organizations and schools:

National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy

AromaHead Institute

Heart of Herbs Herbal School

New York Institute of Aromatic Studies


Pat Mosley (NC LMBT #16882) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Winston-Salem area. His work is rooted in compassionate touch, permaculture, and deep ecology with the resilience of all Earth's children in mind. Connect with him via email to

AromatherapyPat Mosley