Getting Started with Essential Oils

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I love essential oils.  You can cook, clean and improve your health both physically and mentally.  The cost can seem a little daunting at first, but remember you literally use it by the drop which takes a little getting used to.  You will be amazed at the literally hundreds of things that you can do with the 5 oils listed here.  You’ll also find that you can use one mixture for several different things.  For example, I keep a spray bottle with 1 part apple cider vinegar, 4 parts water and about 10 drops of lavender oil.  After I shampoo, I towel off the excess water and spray my hair with that mixture as a conditioner, and the results are amazing (especially if you shampoo with baking soda).  I also use that same spray bottle to replace products like Febreeze and Oust. Both chemical laden making them not so great to touch or breathe and are expensive too.  My mixture costs pennies, it’s safe around children, pets & Grandma and I don’t have to spot test fabrics either.  That very same mixture works great in my carpet cleaner too, although I use white vinegar for the carpets.  I choose lavender because I like the smell but you can choose whatever essential oil appeals most to you.  Even just few drops of essential oils on your furnace filter will have you in a better mood in a matter of minutes!  Try sweet orange & clove, cinnamon & nutmeg or fir around the holidays, lemon for the first of spring, sweet basil for summer… it’s all up to  you.

 

Just a few basic principles to remember when dealing with essential oils: 

  • First, NEVER put them directly on the skin.  (Including lavender, peppermint or tea tree.)  They should always be diluted using a “carrier” oil such as coconut, olive or jojoba oil, etc. I use extra virgin organic coconut oil for anything on my skin.  It’s lighter than olive oil, it absorbs well like jojoba but I find it to be less expensive and it will solidify. 
  • Second, essential oils NEVER go in plastic, always glass for mixtures and storage.  They will leach or break down the plastics and you don’t want that in your mixtures, especially if it’s something that you’re planning on ingesting or applying to your skin.
  • Third, always look for 100% pure (or even organic if you choose) essential oils and purchase from a reliable source.  Remember, you’re using them by the drop so the price is worth it.  You can find some great prices if you do your home work, so don’t be fooled into thinking that more expensive is better.  Also remember that there is no standardized grading system for essential oils – it’s either 100% pure or it’s not, it’s either organic or it’s not.  That’s it.

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Most purists will tell you that Lavender and Peppermint are the top 2 that you should have on hand.  My #1 go to for many, many years starts here…

 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree essential oil is antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral as well as an immune stimulant.  Think about that one for a minute.  Think of all the chemicals you buy right now to accomplish all those things in your home.

It can be added to homemade cleaning spray (or as I like to call it, vinegar, baking soda or castile soap and water) to kill germs around the house without the harmful side effects of commercial cleaners.

Diffused during cold and flu season to replace products like Lysol to keep your home and family healthy and germ free. 

A few drops mixed with coconut oil makes a perfect homemade antibiotic ointment.

Traditional uses include skin issues such as athlete’s foot, chicken pox, corns, warts, acne and boils, infected burns, scrapes, wounds, insect bites and stings.  Internally it can be used for things such as cystitis, mononucleosis and post viral fatigue, ring worm, sinusitis, oral infections, gum disease and sore throats, as well as topical and vaginal yeast infections, warts, whooping cough….

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Lavender

Lavender essential oil is great for soothing – both the nerves and your skin.   

I keep a glass spray bottle with witch hazel and lavender oil as hand sanitizer, it also doubles as first aid spray. 

Use lavender oil on burns, behind the ears to soothe earaches or on the temples or back of the neck for headache.

5 drops in a hot bath with a half cup of Epsom salts and your muscle aches are a thing of the past.

Diffusing lavender aromatically before bed works to induce peaceful sleep, or put a few drops of oil on your pillow under the pillow case.

Lavender essential oil is also safe for use on babies – as long as it’s pure and diluted, of course. I like to use it and tea tree essential oil in homemade diaper rash ointment.

Additional uses include: acne, allergies, anxiety, asthma, athlete’s foot, bruises, burns, chicken pox, colic, cuts, cystitis, depression, dermatitis, flatulence, insect bites, insect repellent, itching, labor pains, migraine, scabies, scars, sprains, stretch marks, vertigo, whooping cough… the list goes on.

 

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Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil is antibacterial, analgesic/anesthetic, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

It’s also refreshing and cooling and great to use in the summer time when you’re too hot.  To help cool off, dilute 3 drops of peppermint essential oil in a tablespoon of coconut oil (or other carrier oil) and apply to the back of your neck and chest and the undersides of your forearms. 

On that same note, the very same mixture can also be as a sore muscle rub or used on your forehead and temples for headaches. It’s an instant ice pack.  (Caution: don’t get it in your eyes! Trust me when I tell you, it’s not a great feeling and will completely derail your day.)

As an inhalant or diffused it will help open breathing and congestion due to a cold as well as if it’s mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed on the feet then put socks on.

Peppermint is also used for asthma, colic, exhaustion, fever, flatulence, headache, nausea, scabies, sinusitis and vertigo as well.

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Lemon

Lemon essential oil is very handy for cleaning and as a degreaser.

Hands sticky from the wood pile? Need to remove one of those super sticky labels?  Kids like to play with clay on the table? Just a drop or two will get the funky residue off in no time.

Add a few drops to dish water to help cut grease on dishes.  

Mix a few drops with 3 parts olive or vegetable oil and 1 part white vinegar and I promise you’ll never buy Pledge for your wood furniture again.

For a stinky fridge, add a few drops of lemon essential oil to a cup of baking soda and let it hang out in there to absorb odor.

Combine one part water to one part vinegar in a glass spray bottle with 10 drops of lemon essential oils as a deodorizing spray for my wooden cutting board.

A drop or two in a glass of hot water with a pinch of sea salt makes a great sore throat gargle, to treat canker sores or gingivitis. 

A few drops in a half cup of local honey works wonders to soothe your throat during a cold too.

Other uses include: athlete’s foot, chilblains, colds, corns, dull skin, flu, oily skin, spots, varicose veins, warts, just to name a few. 

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Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is most recognized for breathing issues but as an essential oil its antiseptic properties make it a great addition to DIY cleaning recipes. A couple squirts of liquid castile soap and 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil to mop water and you’ll be amazed!

A spray of water and eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle will clean both yoga mats and hardwood floors.

A few drops on the dog’s bed will help keep away fleas. 

Mix some eucalyptus oil with a little castile soap and give your pets a flea bath.  Follow up by mixing eucalyptus oil with carrier oil and give your pets a massage.  They’ll enjoy the attention, the oil will be great for their skin and coat and it’ll keep your home flea free.  Make sure to work it down to the skin where pests hide. 

Eucalyptus is also a great expectorant and can be diffused in the air when you have respiratory issues. You can also add a drop or two to a tablespoon of coconut oil to massage on your chest and back to help you breathe better during a cold or again on the feet and covered with socks.

Massaging joints can help to relieve rheumatic joints, pain and stiffness as well as to aid in circulations


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