Essential Oils For Your Home, Medicine Cabinet, and Perfume Bottle

by Becky Rider

Essential oils (EOs) have many uses, so they can replace lots of synthetic compounds you use every day. Their versatility and usefulness make them indispensable once you know how to use them.


Essential oils are the vital essence of plants. Not a greasy-feeling fixed oil, but rather light and volatile essences, evaporating relatively quickly, true essential oils will never leave an oil spot on paper or washable fabric. Make sure when you purchase essential oils that they are the pure essential oil and not diluted in an inexpensive fixed oil like soybean or canola oil.

Like any natural product, essential oils can cause allergic reactions or sensitivities. If you have sensitive skin, do a patch test with each oil before using. Dilute the EO 1:10 in a fixed oil like jojoba, olive or canola oil, or use vodka, brandy, whiskey, denatured alcohol (high-proof) or pure grain alcohol (Everclear) to dilute the essential oil in the same proportions - one part EO to 10 parts alcohol. You don't need to make much - 1 drop EO to 10 drops diluent should be plenty. Dip your finger in the mixture and spread it on the inside of your elbow near the crease. If you are going to have a reaction, it should happen within a couple hours.

The only fragrant material that could be contaminated with gluten might be hay (new-mown hay, or foin coupé) absolute. Because hay is mowed from unsowed fields, it is possible that gluten-containing grains could have self-sowed in the field and contaminated the material. If you know of any other essential oil, absolute, concrete or extract that may have gluten, contact me and I'll post it here.

Home Care

You can replace harsh disinfectants and cleansers with safe and mild alternatives like baking soda, vinegar, or just plain hot water when you add essential oils to them.

Most essential oils disinfect; many of them have strong antibacterial properties, and some of them even have anti-fungal and anti-viral properties.

Essential oils are powerful - you only need a drop or two to do the job. Using more than this for most applications is unnecessary and wasteful. The aroma doesn't have to be strong for the essential oils to be effective.

* You can prevent the spread of colds and flu in your house by using lavender, oregano and thyme to clean the bathrooms and the kitchen. Use a tablespoon of vinegar or borax mixed with a few drops of EO, and dissolve this mixture in a gallon of hot water. Use this to wash all hard surfaces. Sprinkle a few drops of essential oil in your toilet bowl after cleaning to kill any residual germs, and put a few more drops in the tank for the next flush.

* Clean the sink with baking soda mixed with a few drops of essential oil. Add a little liquid dish soap to the baking soda to make a paste to remove stubborn stains.

* Wash your non-wood bare floors using a gallon of hot water with a tablespoon or so of borax mixed with a sprinkle of EOs. Stir well to dissolve borax. For wood floors, you can use a tablespoon of oil soap mixed with a drop of a woody scent like cedar or spruce, or a citrus EO like lemon, lime or orange in a gallon of warm water. Wring out your rag or mop well, and wipe the floor thoroughly.

* A few drops of EOs in your soapy dishwater and rinse water, if you wash dishes by hand, will kill most of the germs and prevent colds and flu from spreading through contact with dishes, glassware and silverware.

* Sprinkle a few drops of rosemary EO on your vacuum cleaner bag before vacuuming, and a few drops of lemon EO on your dust cloth, allowing the EO the evaporate for a few seconds before using the cloth. Essential oils can dissolve some finishes, so make sure to give the EO sufficient time to spread through the cloth and evaporate.

* Put several drops of EOs in your clothes washer when it starts its wash cycle. If you prefer, you can mix them in with the laundry soap before adding it to the water. Put several more drops on a clean washcloth and toss it in the dryer to scent and further disinfect laundry. Eucalyptus, tea tree, oregano, and lavender impart a fresh scent and contribute their antibacterial properties.

* When you wash your sheets, mix a spritzer with several drops of essential oil in warm water. Mix the EOs in alcohol first if you wish. Shake the spritzer well and lightly spray the pillows. Let them air dry or fluff them in your dryer on the air cycle for a few minutes.

* Clean mirrors and glass with a strong mixture of vinegar blended with a few drops of a citrus EO, in a little hot water. Wash mirror with one piece of newsprint, and dry it with another, and enjoy the fresh scent. You can also use vodka or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) to clean mirrors, glass and crystals. Don't bother with the essential oils if you use rubbing alcohol; the smell of the alcohol will overpower the scent of the oil, and you really don't need to disinfect most glass anyway.

* Freshen carpets by mixing one box of baking soda with 50 or more drops of essential oils. Blend well, and store for eight hours or more in a sealed glass container or zipper seal bag. Sprinkle on carpets just like the commercial powder fresheners, let set for 10 or more minutes, and vacuum thoroughly. Test on a hidden corner of your carpet if you are not sure your carpet is color-fast. If it is not, avoid the citrus oils, which have a slight bleaching effect.

*Freshen and scent the air before entertaining - or just for you! - by one or more of several methods. Moisten a cotton swab with a bit of your favorite EO and wipe the oil on a cool light bulb. When the bulb is turned on, the heat will radiate the scent. EOs are volatile and can flame, so only place fresh EO on cool bulb. Mix your favorite essential oils in a spritzer with water (dissolve the EOs in high-proof alcohol first, if desired) and spray the air. Be careful about getting overspray on wood, or on items that are sensitive to water or alcohol stains, or are not color-fast. You can also put the EOs in a pot or pan with water on the stove top, or in a hot pot designed for stewing potpourri. You could also go directly to the herbs and spices, and place cinnamon sticks, slices of ginger root, thyme sprigs, sage leaves, and other fragrant items in a dry frying pan or in a sauce pan with water, and allow to heat gently on stove on the lowest setting to release the fragrances.

* Put a drop or two of mild essential oil in your dog's shampoo. Lavender will help repel bugs, at least for a little while, chamomile will calm a dog with nervous energy - at least for a short time. Don't put more than a drop or two in the shampoo bottle, since dogs are more susceptible to the oils' effects than humans are.

* Never put essential oils on your cat! Cats do not have the mechanism to eliminate EOs from their systems, so the oils build up in the fatty tissues and slowly poison them. EOs are toxic to cats, so make sure to keep EOs away from the reach of cats (I know, I know! But there has to be somewhere the EOs can go, even if they have to go with you to work.)



Personal Care

I have made my own soap for decades now, strictly to avoid the detergents and chemicals found in so many commercial soaps.

I scent my soaps with essential oils or keep them unscented, so I know they'll always be safe for me to use.

Soaps can be grated or shaved in order to dissolve small amounts in water for specific purposes, but I usually just use the bar as is.

I use my soap for washing my skin and hair. My hair turns out soft, shiny, clean and manageable, so I don't need to use conditioner. Sometimes I rinse it with a little cider vinegar just to give it a bit more shine and make sure the pH is good. If my hair gets dry, I rub a little organic coconut oil into my hair and scalp, sit in a hot bath for about 30 minutes, then wash it out with my soap.

After a warm bath or shower, I rub into my skin a small amount of organic coconut oil into which I've put a drop of two of essential oil. I use oils therapeutically, so I choose EOs to accomplish my therapeutic goals and mix a few drops of my selected oils into my coconut oil to moisturize and scent my skin. Jojoba oil also works very well for this, too, and closely resembles the sebum our bodies produce.

Make sure that you know which EOs are non-toxic, because they are very small molecules and pass easily through the skin. Coconut oil and jojoba oil also pass through the skin, so using high-quality, organic oils and non-toxic EOs is very important.

I keep a small jar of organic coconut oil (scented with basil to aid concentration) at my desk to rub into my hands during the day, and another tub of coconut oil scented with chamomile and rose in my nightstand for use just before I go to bed.

I use coconut oil mixed with raw honey, jojoba oil and rosa mosqueta oil, with palmarosa, rosewood, chamomile, rose, sandalwood and other wonderful essential oils mixed in to moisturize and condition the skin on my face and neck. All these oils, both the fixed oils and the essential oils, are non-comedogenic, and are as good for young skin as they are for older skin.

In the summer. I keep a spritzer filled with a mixture of a few drops of one or two "cooling" essential oils, like mint, mixed in a half-cup of witch hazel stirred into distilled water. This cools, refreshes and lightly scents my skin. It does need to be shaken before use. In the winter, I mix several drops of "warming" essential oils like ginger and cardamon into coconut oil, or a mixture of fixed oils, and smooth this oil lightly over my skin to protect and scent it.

Citrus oils can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so use citrus oils judiciously if you will be in the sun.A spritz of lavender- or oregano-infused water under the arms and on the feet, and I'm ready to get dressed and face the day.

The finishing touch: a dab of perfume.

Read instructions for basic natural perfumes made from essential oils and other natural ingredients here.



Therapeutic Uses of Essential Oils

Essential oils work on several levels.

They work on the physical level by addressing specific areas or systems in the body, and on an emotional level by addressing specific areas within the brain.

They also stimulate the limbic area of the brain, which is associated with memory and emotions, and they affect other organisms nearby - including your family, friends, coworkers, and any animals in your home.

Anti-fungal

Patchouli * Lavender

Garlic * Onion

Antiviral

Lavender * Blue Mallee Eucalyptus

Red Thyme * Oregano

Garlic * Onion

Tea Tree

Anti-Yeast

Patchouli * Lavender

Antibacterial

Lavender * Oregano

Red Thyme * Blue Mallee Eucalyptus

Tea Tree * Lemon Eucalyptus

Clove Bud * Peppermint Eucalyptus

Pine * Juniper

Cedar * Sage

Lemon * Cinnamon

Rosemary * Fir Needle

Disinfecting

All essential oils have a mild to strong disinfecting ability.

Other Effects

Spearmint : Uplifting

Bergamot : Antidepressant

Citrus : Refreshing and Renewing

Rosemary : Raises Blood Pressure, Accelerates Hair Growth Rate

Cinnamon : Regulates Blood Sugar/Insulin Ratio

Clove : Eases Toothache/Nerve Deadener

Basil : Aids Concentration and Memory

Pimiento : Stimulates Hair Follicles Palmarosa : Stimulates Cell Regeneration

Rose : Relaxes and Soothes Jangled Nerves

Ylang Ylang : Eases Depression and Brings Joy

Sandalwood and Frankincense : Aid Meditation and Prayerfulness

Citronella : Mosquito and Tick Repellent


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