Updated: Feb 3, 2021
Straight to the point, no fluff, here's the basic gist of how to use essential oils safely.
Dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil if you plan to use them on your skin. Typically, a 1-2% dilution (6-12 drops per ounce of carrier) is normal for skin application. Facial application is 1% or less depending on the essential oil used. What is a carrier? Sweet almond oil, avocado oil, unscented lotion, jojoba oil, etc... Keep in mind that essential oils can oxidize over time and have a shelf life. Don't use older oils on your skin to avoid potential irritation, but you can still diffuse them or use them for cleaning. You can use a higher dilution for a more concentrated area, say, for sore muscles, where you may use up to a 10% dilution but always start with a lower dilution and work your way up if needed. Not only can a lower dose be as effective, it is more economical and better for plant conservancy.
Dilute essential oils when adding to a bath. You can add 5-6 drops to a carrier oil, then mix with some epsom salts before adding to your bath. Choose your oils carefully as the potentially irritating effects of some oils may be exacerbated by the warmth of the water. Use fewer drops for kids.
Do not ingest essential oils casually. Essential oils and water don't mix so don't add them to your water, you could damage your very delicate digestive lining. Do not ingest essential oils as a daily supplement, there is no nutritional value, there is no reason to do this and it could be harmful. Yes, there are occasions when ingestion is appropriate but you better know what you're doing if you decide to do this. Do not ingest essential oils unless you have a LOT of experience and know how your body metabolises and excretes these powerfully concentrated substances. It's always best to get the advice of your physician or an aromatherapist trained in internal use (me!) prior to ingesting essential oils. Most injury reports are due to ingestion. You can see some of those here: https://atlanticinstitute.com/?s=injury+report
The easiest and safest way to use essential oils is to diffuse them (undiluted). Depending on the size of the room and the oil used, just add a few drops to the diffuser and let it run. I like the diffusers with a timer because you can easily oversaturate your air space by letting a diffuser run too long. Keep in mind that some essential oils should not be used around kids and pets.
Essential oils should be used with caution for children, the elderly, those who are pregnant or nursing or who are on certain medications (like blood thinners). A lower dilution is recommended for people in these categories...even for diffusing. Some essential oils should be avoided all together. It's best to ask before using, just shoot us a quick e-mail and we'll help you have more peace of mind when using your oils.
Before you apply an essential oil to your skin, do a skin patch test. Apply a small amount to your inner arm and wait a day to check for a reaction. Many oils are very safe when diluted but individual reactions can vary and it's best to play it safe.
More on safety here: