Guest post by Nina Nelson
There are some crazes I steer as far away from as possible. Beanie Baby collections? Nah. Mullets? Shudder. Any comeback of ’90s fashion? No thanks. But essential oils? I’m shouting from the rooftops how much I love them. (OK, so mostly I’m just casually talking about them from my little corner of the web – I am an introvert, after all).
Why am I so in love with essential oils?
First, they’re a natural alternative to so many synthetic options. Derived from plants, essential oils are distilled from roots, leaves, stems and flowers. These natural aromatic compounds have a myriad of properties, from healing to cooking to cleaning.
Second, they’re multi-purpose. As a minimalist who lives in a 275-square-foot school bus, I appreciate that the tiny shelf I’ve dedicated to my essential oil collection is all the space I need to keep my family healthy, clean our tiny space and make it smell amazing.
Third, they’re easy to use. Sure, I still use a handful of herbs on a regular basis, but my EOs are my first line of defense because they work so quickly and I simply need to open the bottle to use them.
How do you use essential oils?
So how do you use essential oils? Well, there are three ways:
Open the bottle, hold it to your nose and inhale deeply a few times. That’s an easy way to use essential oils and one that will help if you’re feeling nauseated, dealing with stress or need to feel energized.
According to the Mayo Clinic, aromatherapy is thought to work by stimulating smell receptors in the nose, which then send messages through the nervous system to the limbic system — the part of the brain that controls emotions.
You can also place a few drops of essential oils in a diffuser (I recommend the Greenair Spa Vapor Mist) and turn it on to uplift moods and purify the air.
Got some irritated skin? Dilute 2 to 3 drops of lavender essential oil in a tablespoon of coconut oil and rub it in. Or use tea tree oil. Dealing with athlete’s foot? Make an athlete’s foot blend to attack the offending fungus.
Essential oils are typically used topically when you’ve got skin irritation or pain or anything else that would benefit from applying a soothing/cooling/analgesic essential oil.
Dilute in a bit of carrier oil for easier application and absorption (the above ratio works well unless you’re using them with kids – then do 1 drop in a tablespoon of carrier oil). You can also apply essential oils to the bottoms of the feet. The skin there isn’t as sensitive as the rest of your body but the oils still absorb quickly.
This method is up for debate, as not all essential oils are created equally. Only purchase essential oils that have been tested and shown to be free of fillers, synthetic compounds and harmful chemicals if you plan on using them internally.
Even then, you’ll want to do your research and consult an essential oil expert before taking them internally. (I actually recommend doing your research before ingesting … anything.) If using them internally, you can add one drop to four ounces of water, put a few drops in a veggie capsule, use them in cooking or put a drop under your tongue.
Top 8 Essential Oils to Keep in Your Home
There are lots of essential oils available out there. And I’m the first to admit that I have several. But if you’re new to essential oils or you just want to keep it really simple (high-five, friend), consider these eight essential oils a must-have in your home:
Widely known as the calming oil, lavender essential oil use is pretty mainstream. And for good reason. Lavender essential oil is great for soothing you when you’re stressed, calming down crazy kiddos and helping you ease into peaceful sleep. But did you also know it’s great for burns? And that it soothes irritated skin? It even takes the sting out of bug bites and makes for some great headache relief.
Ways to Use …
- Add 5 to 8 drops (depending on your preference) to 2 oz. of water in a mini spray bottle and spritz on pillows and linens before bed.
- Mix 2 drops each lavender and frankincense in 1 tablespoon coconut oil and apply to temples to take away headaches and relieve stress.
- Apply neat (undiluted) to fresh cuts, scrapes and wounds to speed healing and kill bacteria.
- Add 5 drops to a homemade cleaner for antibacterial properties.
- Diffuse 5 drops in your house to promote peace and calm.
- Add 2 to 3 drops to one cup of epsom salts and stir into a hot bath for extra relaxation.
Eucalyptus essential oil is antimicrobial and makes a wonderful addition to any homemade cleaning recipe. It’s also used as an expectorant and can be diffused in the air for respiratory issues.
Ways to Use …
- Add 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap and hot water to the mop bucket to clean your floor.
- Add 2 to 3 drops eucalyptus to 1 tablespoon coconut oil and rub into your chest when you have a cold.
- Add 5 drops to your diffuser to clean and freshen the air.
- Add 5 drops each of eucalyptus and tea tree oil to a 16 oz. glass spray bottle full of water and spray down your shower after each use to inhibit mold growth.
- Mix 3 to 4 drops into your pet’s shampoo to keep away fleas.
Lemon is the ultimate degunkifier. Not only will it get the gunk off of your dishes and surfaces, but if you’ve got a congested chest or gunky throat, it will take care of that as well.
Ways to Use …
- Add 1 drop to 1 teaspoon of honey to soothe a dry or sore throat.
- Diffuse 5 drops in a room to kill nasty odors and to lift your mood.
- Apply 1 to 2 drops neat to remove sticky residue (either from your hands or surfaces).
- Use 3 to 5 drops neat to remove gum from fabric (or hair).
- Mix 5 drops with 4 oz. unscented liquid dish soap for extra grease-cutting action.
Apply topically with caution if you’re putting it on skin that will be exposed to the sun – it may cause sensitivity.
Peppermint can be used to help relieve nausea, increase energy and ease headaches.
Ways to Use …
- Apply 1 drop to temples and forehead to relieve pain. Don’t get it in your eyes. Trust me.
- Add 5 to 7 drops to a 16 oz. glass spray bottle of water and use as a cooling spritz when it’s hot out.
- Inhale deeply from the bottle to relieve nausea.
- Apply 1 to 2 drops to the bottoms of feet to reduce fevers.
- Add 5 to 7 drops to a 16 oz. glass spray bottle full of water and spray around molding to keep pests out.
- Combine lavender and peppermint to make this super simple balm.
Don’t get it in your eyes!
Yes, frankincense is a pricier oil, but there’s a reason for the saying, “If in doubt, use frankincense.” I use it regularly to relieve stress and deal with any headaches that might pop up. It also gets added to my baths with lavender and epsom salts for a super relaxing experience.
Ways to Use …
- Apply 1 drop to minor cuts to speed healing and relieve pain.
- Apply 1 drop to bug bites and stings for immediate pain and itch relief.
- Apply to temples with lavender to relieve stress and headaches.
- Apply 1 drop to the temples or bottoms of the feet daily for immune system support.
- Apply 1 to 2 drops neat to scars on a daily basis to reduce their appearance.
- Massage 2 drops mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil to soothe painful muscles and joints.
6. Tea Tree
Tea tree essential oil is a must in any home. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it a powerful addition to homemade cleaners. And its skin-soothing properties work wonders on rashes and owies.
Ways to Use …
- Apply 1 to 2 drops neat around the base of the ear to treat ear infections naturally. (This is the only reason I’ll use it on my kids, otherwise I keep it out of their reach – make sure they do not ingest it.)
- Apply 1 drop neat on skin rashes to stop itching.
- Add 1 to 2 drops to your homemade shampoo and hair rinse.
- Add 5 drops to cleaning spray recipes to help kill germs.
- Apply 2 to 3 drops diluted in 1 tablespoon coconut oil to toes and feet twice a day to stop athlete’s foot.
While oregano essential oil makes few appearances in our home, it’s still a must-have. Oregano has powerful antibacterial properties, and, while it will leave you smelling like pizza, it’s great at helping your body fight illness.
Ways to Use …
- Dilute 2 drops in 1 tablespoon coconut oil and rub onto toenails plagued with stubborn fungus twice a day until its gone.
- Dilute 2 drops in 1 tablespoon coconut oil and dab on skin tags to remove them.
- Apply 1 to 2 drops, diluted, to the bottoms of the feet when you’re fighting a bacterial infection (every 4 to 6 hours).
- Add 1 to 2 drops to homemade cleaners for potent germ-killing properties,
Avoid during pregnancy and always dilute before using.
8. Wild Orange
While you’d probably want to use wild orange for its amazing smell alone (I know I do), you’ll be pleased to find that it’s got a lot of great properties. It’s antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, sedative (seriously!) and used for digestive upset.
Ways to Use …
- Mix 1 drop with 1 tablespoon coconut oil and rub onto an infant’s upset tummy for relief (a stronger mix can also be used on adults).
- Massage 2 to 3 drops mixed with 1 tablespoon coconut oil onto the chest at the onset of a cold.
- Diffuse 3 drops wild orange and 2 drops lavender for a soothing effect (and amazing smell).
- Diffuse 5 drops in any room to kill bacteria.
- Mix 3 drops wild orange, 3 drops peppermint and 20 drops liquid carrier oil in a roller bottle. and rub on the back of the neck for help with focus.
If applying to skin, wait at least 6 hours before sun exposure as it can cause photosensitivity.
Phew! Even though that was just eight essential oils, you’ve still got over 40 ways to use them. And that’s not even all you can use them for! But it’s plenty to help you get started so you can start enjoying the benefits of essential oils.
Want to learn more about how to use essential oils in your home? From today until August 1st, Nina is offering her ebook, DIY Natural Remedies, at 30% off!
Do you use essential oils? What are your favorites?
Nina Nelson writes at Shalom Mama and loves helping families simplify natural living, especially with essential oils. Click here to find out more about where to find high-quality essential oils plus get a free essential oil user guide.