Essential Safety with Essential Oils

But it’s in the Bible and they are Natural!

Maw-Maw Kelli, Herbalist

Did you get invited to an essential oil party?  Did they say, “it’s in the Bible,” or “it’s all natural”? Ok, I love house parties as much as the next person, but when your health is concerned, these are NOT the place to go for scientific, safe, or accurate holistic health information.  They will use emotionalism (and lots of it), and may throw out some terms to make you think THEIR way (and they will convince their way only) is solid science. Were you told that essential oils are in the Bible and are all natural?  Maybe they used some fancy words like esters, hydrocarbons or aldehydes, and they said that doctors in France use them in this method or that method.  You don’t really know what some of those terms means but the person sounded like they did so what’s the harm, right? Are you willing to bet your liver or your child’s liver (or worse) on it? Maybe you had chemistry but it was years ago and you forgot some of it – It’s ok – I am going to make this real simple for you (and for me too). Before you read any further I want you to know I do NOT affiliate with any essential Oil company nor do I get any kick back or benefits from anyone for writing this article.  This is simply about you and your family’s safety. Nothing more!

I think we all know by now that the term natural is thrown ubiquitously and really doesn’t mean crap. Tyson, need I say more?  So here’s the skinny on essentials oils and some of the safety protocols you may NOT hear promoted by these home parties, or social media, or in Internet memes.

Photo from PhotoBucketWould you sit down to drink 5-10 gallons of concentration peppermint tea at once?  Of course not, that’s a lot of peppermint, isn’t it?  Essential oils are CONCENTRATED distillation of a large amount of plant material (a lot of plants have to go in for that tiny bottle you bought). What does that mean? Think moonshine! Hang on you ain’t Appalachian? You don’t know moonshine? Well sugar, let me learn you; a heated still is full of fermented ‘corn mash’ and as that heats up and then cooled back down, what comes out is ‘White Lightening’  (thanks to George Jones for that) or a highly concentrated version of the low amount alcohol ferment that you started with.  So that gives you an idea of the concentration of essential oils. This means we need to think about them in this concentrated manner so we can better understand the safety protocols, and why they are so important.

Let’s talk a brief history. Oh come, on you know you love history, and we learn from it. So here’s a short introduction. A Persian Polymath named Avicenna invented distillation in the context we know now around 1000AD. That means essential oils were NOT available in Biblical times. They did use extracted oils, incense and other methods of aromatherapy, but not essential oils. So if you heard the claim that essential oils were in the Bible that’s not entirely accurate, and in fact extremely misleading considering the true history.

SAFETY! (Hopefully that’s why you are reading). I do wildlife rehabilitation and education programs, and like I say at programs ‘not everything you see on TV or on social media is true.’ This is the same for essential oil claims. People are trying to sell you something so the more YOU use, the more money THEY make. Good marketing ploy isn’t it? But good marketing and good herbalism are two entirely different things. So here are a few things that should get you started. I will some reputable resources for you at this end of this (just in case you don’t believe me, nor should you)!

DILUTE: that means dilute the oil. About 6 drops of essential oil (again depends on which one this could be LESS) to about 1 ounce of carrier oil would be appropriate for an adult in most cases (reduce the amount by at least half of the essential oil dose for a younger kid and just avoid all together with children under 2) NEVER ever use ANY oil NEAT –without dilution (no matter how ‘pure’ –which is another pseudoscience term they use) Its just not A. necessary nor, B. safe.

INGESTING: Just Pass. Just go the opposite of what Nike says. Just DON’T do it. I have the valid information to support this but is long and terribly complicated so just pass. If you want lemon water, buy a darn lemon. Are you willing to bet your liver, your child’s liver (or worse) on the pseudo-scientific information they presented? You may be doing that. I once witnessed a lady via a essential oil list on yahoo kill her dog because… “I love my oils…” she said.  That won’t bring her dog back for not seeking appropriate vet care. “I love my oils…” is emotionalism and it NOT a scientifically valid argument for ingesting or force ingesting on anyone.

TOXICITY: Not all are safe for children, elderly, gestation, lactation nor pet application, to name a few. Many are unsafe for babies, children under 6, under 12, etc. In most cases they are extremely toxic to cats and other small mammals. Sadly, sales people don’t always have the extensive amount of training to communicate to you what oil is safe for what age (and at what dilution rate). I recently saw a Meme for clove essential oil on baby’s gums. CLEARLY a HIGHLY DANGEROUS suggested use since it is not approved for young children! (even IF that particular oil was safe-and it wasn’t- the dilution rate was WAY off as well, making it completely unsafe advice). I have a personal rule. If the person cannot vocalize to you permission to receive the use of essential oils application, you do not have permission to use them.  It’s that simple.

None of these things I talked about are a complete list of proper essential oil safety.  There is just way too much out there to write about. BUT my hope to you after reading this, is that before you use anything you will go research it from a reputable highly trained person, and that you will not blindly follow any salespeople. I know for a fact that in a few years they probably won’t be selling it anymore anyway, they will be on to the next big craze, which is Alkaline Water Machines… Yes I went there, they are a scam too!


Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy
Mountain Rose Herbs:
Ingesting oils:


Essential Oil Safety  by Robert Tisserand and Tony Balacs
The Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger
The Chemistry of Essential Oils by David G Williams
Any books by Shirley Price, Jeanne Rose, Mindy Green, Robert Tisserand, or Demetria Clark (to name a few folks)

11146123_10205196319840443_353298940_nAbout Kelli:

B.A. Liberal Arts (heavy science focus) and M.A.Ed. I am a Community Herbalist, Naturalist, State and Federally Permitted Wildlife Rehabber, Reiki Master and Teacher, and avid student of Mother Earth. My blog:
My FB page:

Reputable Texts and Websites For Reference and Learning (in no particular order)


5 thoughts on “Essential Safety with Essential Oils

  1. Thank you! Unless you are a skilled aromatherapist /healer/ practioner, you should never ingest essential oils. Need to ingest peppermint? Drink peppermint tea! There are too many people – and by people I mean MLM companies giving unsafe advice. Thanks so much for sharing article!

    1. Yes marcyguyer totally agree with you on that. let’s get the word out and help people be safe! MLMs are not safe herbalism, they may be great at marketing, but there is a different with safety and marketing! <3 thanks for you comment! I have a saying and people get mad at me when I say this but…'you want lemon water buy a damn lemon..' not PC maybe but I think people get my point!

  2. We’ve been using a few drops of peppermint oil on cottonballs placed in a glass dish, to help us breathe through allergy season. Is it safe to inhale the oil like this without diluting?

    1. While I’m far from an expert, this is a pretty common way that our family uses them – as aromatherapy. By putting a few drops on a cotton ball in a dish, I believe you’re already diluting it by allowing it to disperse in the air. Let’s see if we can get Kelli or another practitioner to weigh in on it.

    2. Yes this is just a basic form of inhalation, as long as you are not snorting it up your nose (or putting it up too close to your nostrils or the nostrils of a child) or using something really strong and can’t get away from it, this should be fine. Certainly if it irritates you in any way back off on the drops (1 or 2 should be fine) or if you are allergic or are having sensitive to it, you should back off (of course). But certainly this seems very safe in the context in which you have described.

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