Thursday, June 16, 2011

Carrier Oils

A common question asked when beginning to use essential oils is, “What are carrier oils and why should I use them”. Carrier oils are very important to getting maximum benefit from your essential oils so understanding and using them correctly is important.

Carrier oils have three main purposes but the most important is for dilution. Most essential oils are so concentrated that they need to be diluted with a carrier oil before applying to your skin to prevent irritation and also to make your essential oils last longer. If it only takes one drop of your essential oils for your treatment but you need to use 10 drops to spread it around the area, then you are wasting your precious oil. Most essential oil guides will give you a dilution rate for your oil based on how concentrated it is. If no dilution rate is given, then a safe rate is 50:50. Meaning 1 drop of carrier oil for every drop of essential oil you use.

The second purpose of carrier oils is to reduce evaporation of your essential oil. When you apply an essential oil on your skin you are entering a small time race with evaporation. Your goal is to get your skin to absorb as much of the essential oil as possible before it evaporates. The carrier oils act as a conduit for the essential oil. As it is absorbed into the skin, the essential oils are trapped with the carrier oil and absorbed as well.

The third purpose is to aid in the ease of application. If you are using an oil and the directions say to apply it to your abdomen that is a pretty large area to cover. If you only had one or two drops of essential oil and tried to apply it you wouldn’t get very far. However, when mixing with a carrier oil you are then able to cover large areas of skin and evenly distribute the essential oil.

Carrier oils can include almond, coconut, apricot, olive, vegetable, grapeseed, jojoba, safflower, avocado, black cumin, and calendula oils. You can safely use any of the above oils to apply and dilute your essential oils, however some are better than others.

The best all around carrier oil I have found is Almond Oil. It is inexpensive, has no aroma, a long shelf life is light and easily absorbed. Coconut oil would be my second choice. It has a pleasant aroma, is light and easily absorbed. The only drawback is it will often turn to a solid in colder temperatures.

Olive Oil, Jojoba, and Avocado oil would not be my top choices for your everyday use of oil due to their long absorption time. Due to their thicker properties their rate of absorption far exceeds that of almond or coconut oil therefore allowing more of your essential oil to evaporate. These oils do have wonderful, nourishing, properties and in many instances have healing properties of their own. It may therefore, be best to combine the healing properties of the heavier carrier oils with your essential oil, for maximum benefit.

Don’t be tempted to pre mix your carrier oil and your essential oil. Doing so will rapidly break down the therapeutic properties of your essential oil. Instead mix the carrier oil and essential oil in your hand and apply immediately . If you use your carrier oils effectively, you will see that your essential oils will last much longer and you will see greater healing as you are able to get more of the oil into your system.

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