Tag Archives: essential oil safety

Use caution with essential oils: 8 safety guidelines to follow

There is no doubt that aromatherapy and essential oils are great ways to enhance our health and lifestyles. But that does not mean that everything with aromatherapy is good. There are several toxic essential oils which can prove harmful or fatal to you. There are some essential oils which need to be used with caution. Also, you need to know how to keep your oils safe, preventing them from becoming rancid and keeping them out of reach of children.

Below are a list of safety guidelines you need to follow with essential oils:

1. Children and Pets: Essential oils are highly valuable, but they can be harmful if used improperly or when there is an overdose. Keep essential oils out of the reach of children or pets. Store them in a cool, dark place in tinted glass bottles as some oils are photosensitive (cannot stand sunlight). Check periodically on whether your oils are in good quality.

2. Strictly NO intake of oils: Avoid intake of essential oils unless suggested or recommended by a qualified and licensed aromatherapist or aromatherapy practitioner. Intake of toxic oils can even result in death.

3. Do skin patch test: Do skin patch test if you are applying an essential oil for the first time on your body. To do this, mix one drop of essential oil with a teaspoon of carrier oil and then, apply on the inside of the wrist. Leave the area dry for 24 hours and do not wash the oil off the skin. If there is no skin irritation, redness, swelling or inflammation in the oil-applied area, then you can be certain that the oil is compatible with your skin. If you are using a carrier oil for the first time, apply it and check before testing with essential oil.

4. Application procedures: When using undiluted essential oils, wash your hands immediately after usage. Do not apply essential oils on your eyes, mouth, insides of the nose, mucous membranes, sexual organs or other areas. Take great care when using essential oils on children. When nursing babies, take care to avoid skin transference

5. Carcinogenic oils: Some essential oils can be carcinogenic and are banned in aromatherapy. Such oils are calamus oil, sassafras oil, camphor oil etc. If you have cancer, follow these safety rules: keep massaging lightly, avoid deep massages over lymph glands, do not massage if you have skin cancer, and do not massage on areas that were subjected to radiation. Avoid the following oils if you have cancer: antiseed, bay, basil, clove, cinnamon, laurel, nutmeg, fennel etc.

6. Liver-toxic oils: Certain essential oils can have a toxic effect on the liver. Since liver is the seat of several activities like lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, bile juice secretion, protein synthesis etc., a toxic effect on the liver can be harmful to the body. To avoid this, do not take the following oils orally: antiseed, basil, bay, cassia, cinnamon, clove etc.

7. Oral, dermal toxicity-inducing oils: There are a few oils that cause oral and dermal toxicity, which include: bitter almond, boldo leaf, calamus, camphor, mugwort, rue, pennyroyal, sassafras, savin, tansy, thuja, wintergreen, wormseed, southernwood, mustard, nightshade and stinging nettles. You need to avoid certain oils like hyssop, rosemary, sage and thyme if you have hypertension. And never use rosemary, fennel, sage, spike lavender, tansy, thuja, wormweed, and camphor oils if you have epilepsy or other related problems.

8. General safety tips: Check for interaction of essential oils with prescription medications and use them accordingly. Abstain from alcohol when using essential oils. Avoid sunlight after essential oil massages as some oils can cause sun-sensitivity in people.

Way to the bin: How to dispose of essential oils safely?

Essential oils are not ordinary liquids that can be disposed off readily down the drain or in the garden. They are highly concentrated liquids which require proper mode of disposal. Since people are used to storing essential oils in ½ oz bottles, they tend to forget that oils are flammable substances and should be treated with care even while disposing. Essential oils are just like hazardous materials that can be compared to pharmaceuticals, paint thinners, chemicals, gasoline and fuels. You cannot dump them in your garbage can or flush them down the drain. Chances are, these oils may come in contact with water supplies, vegetation and other important organisms on the soil and spoil them for life. This is why there  needs to be a structured way of disposing essential oils. This article will throw light on how to do that.

Why is disposing essential oils important? First, you might wonder why you should dispose off essential oils considering their therapeutic value and uses. There are reasons. Essential oils can age with time and lose their therapeutic properties as years pass by. Some oils can go rancid and emit a foul smell, or a smell that is unlikely of pleasant aromas. Other oils can grow stale and be of no use. The problem of disposal is more if these oils are blends – mixed with vegetable or carrier oils. While pure essential oils at least evaporate with time, blends prepared with carrier oils are heavy and take a lot of time to vaporize. Another reason is, if bad essential oils come in contact with elderly people or children or pets in your home, the result can be devastating. When essential oils age, they cannot be used in skin care or for direct application. This complicates your problem of clearing them off your shelf. If you want to cope up with all these harmful effects of a bad/rancid essential oil, you can use the below guidelines to dispose them off.

How to dispose essential oils safely? It is always easy to dispose off small quantities of essential oils. But understand that with regard to concentric oils like essential oils, even less is more. Adding 2 or 3 drops down your toilet drain for aromatic purposes is fine, but making it a mode of disposal is not recommended. Especially so if you have a large inventory of oils to be disposed. Below are a few steps to help you out:

1. Contact the Waste Management Department of your region/community/city. Get from them tips on how to dispose essential oils. Some of their procedures may sound unreasonable and too complicated. But they are no big if you are willing to take on them. Follow the procedures and dispose all your essential stuff.

2. Most of the procedures recommends mixing the highly concentrated oils with an inert substance like sand and sealing them in an approved container. You can look into the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for the oils from your retailer or supplier. This sheet will have all the details on product safety, guidelines to follow during disposal, harms that the product/oil can inflict etc. Follow the MSDS and stick to it.

3. Another popular way of disposing essential oils is to dig a hole in your garden and pour your oils into it. However, you need to check how this may affect the growth of your garden plants and whether it will have an impact on your underground water system.

4. The best way is to find other uses for remaining oils. But for this, you need to first detect in which way your oils have aged – therapeutic or aromatic. If your oils have lost their aromas, you can get a load of old couch roll and pour it onto it and wrap in a bag and throw it in the bin. The oil will vaporize in a short period of time. If your oils have lost their therapeutic properties, you can always find aromatic uses for them as toilet fresheners, for drain scenting etc.