You’ve perhaps heard by now that essential oils are unsafe to topically apply to the skin by themselves, and that they first need to be diluted in a carrier oil. But what exactly is a carrier oil, and how is it different from an essential oil?
Unlike essential oils, which are the pure essence of a plant, carrier oils do not contain therapeutic properties. However, their value to aromatherapy cannot be understated. If you use essential oils, it is absolutely vital that you keep a few different carrier oils in your arsenal.
Carrier oils can be thought of as neutral oils; they have no smell or a neutral smell, and thus do not provide aromatherapy benefits by themselves. They are generally made from vegetarian sources, and unlike essential oils, they are not volatile. This means they are ideal to use as a vehicle for diluting essential oils in order to apply essential oils to the skin.
Because of the purity and high level of concentration of essential oils, they carry the natural smell of whichever plant they are made from and are volatile, evaporating rapidly when exposed to air. They are too strong to be applied topically by themselves. Since carrier oils are not volatile and have neutral, mild smells, they are great for diluting most essential oils. Carrier oils help reduce the concentration of an essential oil without removing the oil’s therapeutic properties – the entire reason you’d be using an essential oil in the first place! You also have control over how much carrier oil you can use, meaning you can dilute an essential oil to your preference.
Note that not all fatty kitchen ingredients should be used to dilute essential oils. While some carrier oils can be found in your pantry, like olive oil, other fats like margarine, butter, or even vegetable shortening should not be applied to your skin. Petroleum jelly and other mineral oils should also not be used as carrier oils.
Carrier oils are organic materials that are high in fat, so they will not last forever sitting on the shelf. Make sure your carrier oils have not gone bad before you use them. Some go bad within six months, while others can last for up to a year. Make sure to label your oils with the dates you procured them, and store them correctly: in a dark, cool place, sealed in their original, air-tight containers. Essential oils should be stored in a dark, cool place, as well.
If you want to combine properties of different carrier oils, feel free to mix and match them – it won’t disrupt the essential oil properties you’re looking for!
Here are some of the best carrier oils to use with your favorite essential oils for your next aromatherapy massage:
Comments will be approved before showing up.