Learning How to Dilute Essential Oils
Properly diluting essential oils is one of the most important things to learn about before diving into blending, internal use, or DIY recipes. The concentration and potency of EOs can be too powerful if used directly on the skin, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few simple dilution recommendations.
The easiest way to dilute essential oils is by using a carrier oil or a solution that contains fat like dairy milk, plant milk, etc. The reason for this is because oils mix well with other oils making it easy to disperse EOs throughout solutions without separating. Mixing with dairy (often used for internal use) will allow the essential oils to blend well enough for more comfortable digestion. Using carrier oils to dilute essential oils provides a great medium for absorption into the skin and is one my favorite ways to use them.
There are many different carrier oils to choose from like sweet almond oil, avocado oil, hemp seed oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, and grapeseed oil to name a few. One of my favorites, especially for high potency therapeutic use, is emu oil because it is the most transdermal carrier oil available. Just make sure you are sourcing this oil from sustainable companies who treat their emus with care!
Choosing a carrier oil depends on what you’re looking for as far as skin type and the feel you’re going for. Heavier oils are better during the dry winter months and make recipes for this time of year more effective because they stay on the skin. Lighter oils may be best for people with acne prone skin or for use under clothing because they are less greasy. Experiment and see what works best for your needs. You can read about over 80 different carrier oils HERE.
Recommended Dilution Ratios
Since essential oils are very strong, it is most often recommended that the EO content of any finished product only account for 1-2% of the total blend. To make this easier to envision we will use a 1oz size of carrier oil as an example which will make it very easy to convert into larger or smaller batches as needed. You can get 1oz size bottles here.
There are 30ml in 1oz of carrier oil which equals 600 drops total. 1% of 600= 6. For 1oz of carrier oil you would add 6 drops of essential oil for a 1% dilution. Make sense? I hope so!
Using the same method as above: 30ml= 1oz= 600 drops total. 2% of 600= 12. For 1oz of carrier oil you would add 12 drops of essential oil for a 2% dilution.
3% dilution would be 18 drops of EO for every 1oz of carrier oil, 5% would be 30 drops of EO, 10% would be 60 drops of EO, and so on. If you need help just ask me in the comments how to dilute essential oils for the amount you are working with 🙂
How to Dilute Essential Oils Based on Age
The dilution ratios used for adults is different for children, pregnant and nursing mothers, and the elderly so it’s very important to know what potency is safe. How much dilution is required also depends on what you’re trying to achieve like treating colds, chronic conditions, or for making preventative remedies, etc.
The ratios discussed below are intended to be a very general guideline and does not take into account essential oils that require dilutions below .25% (which I will be writing about shortly). I recommend using the lowest dilution first to see how a blend works out for you before exploring stronger formulas.
Ages 6 months-6 years
For a .25% dilution mix 1 drop of essential oil with 4 teaspoons of carrier oil.
For use in children younger than 6 months old please consult with a certified aromatherapist. Use essential oils with care in children 2 years and younger.
Ages 6+, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with sensitive skin, serious health issues, and compromised immune systems.
For a 1% dilution mix 1 drop of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil or 6 drops of EO in 1oz of carrier oil.
This dilution works well when applying essential oils to a large area of the body.
Ideal for most adults and can be used for most situations including daily skincare routines except during pregnancy or nursing.
For a 2% dilution mix 2 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil or 12 drops of EO in 1oz of carrier oil as mentioned above.
3% Dilution- 10% Dilution
A suitable dilution for most adults and can be used for most situations except during pregnancy or nursing.
This dilution ratio is best for short term therapeutic use when treating muscle injuries, respiratory conditions, or colds and flus. Using up to 10% dilution is generally safe with consideration of the age, health of the person being treated, and the essential oils used.
To make a 3% dilution mix 3 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. For 10% dilution mix 10 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
Used in healthy adults for the therapeutic treatment of severe pain, muscle cramps, or severe bruising, etc. This dilution is used for a very short amount of time that largely depends on the essential oils used and is not recommended during pregnancy or nursing.
To make a 25% dilution mix 25 drops of essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
Use with caution! Before I knew anything about EOs I blindly followed a recipe I found online for varicose veins and ended up with a bad rash after mixing a 25% dilution of lemongrass essential oil with 1 teaspoon of carrier oil. THIS IS A VERY BAD IDEA! Make sure to do research before using higher concentration recipes!
“Neat”- No Dilution
I typically do not use essential oils undiluted because I have very sensitive skin and react poorly to concentrated solutions of any kind. Unless you are under the care of a certified aromatherapist I recommend sticking to diluted applications of essential oils. People nowadays often believe in “the stronger the better” but this is not always the case with essential oils. Even 3% dilutions which is considered the lowest therapeutic dilution for adults, is more than adequate for treating a variety of different conditions effectively.
The main concern associated with using essential oils neat is the real possibility for phototoxicity, burns, irritation, and sensitization which is a negative and painful reaction to an essential oil that is often permanent or takes years to overcome.
How to Dilute Essential Oils for Different Applications
Aside from mixing essential oils in carrier oil for therapeutic use there are other ways you can enjoy and use EOs.
Serums, Lotions, and Creams
Depending on the serum, you would typically use a .5-2.5% dilution (depending on skin sensitivity) which would be 3-15 drops of essential oil per ounce. For serums and creams that treat wounds, scars, severe acne, and other conditions that may require a higher concentration of oils, I have used up to a 12% dilution.
When you want to relax, soothe sore muscles, increase circulation, or ease fatigue a bath with essential oils is just what you need! Depending on the oils used, you can add 2-12 drops of essential oil mixed in epsom salts, carrier oil, honey, or milk and add them to running bath water.
For congestion in the lungs or sinuses add 3-7 drops of clarifying essential oils to a bowl of boiling water and carefully hold your face above it (don’t burn yourself!) with a towel over your head. For relaxation add 1-3 drops of lavender or any other relaxing essential oil.
Room sprays or aromatic spritzers are typically a 2-3% dilution. Do this by combining 12-15 drops of essential oil to every 1oz of water. Shake well and spray onto linens, bath towels, or just around a room for a snapshot of fragrance whenever you need it. l;earn how to make a calming room spray here.
Room sprays are popular for freshening the air and instilling positive emotions.
You would of course want to follow the instructions that come with your diffuser, but typically you would use a 1-3% dilution in a diffuser depending on the essential oils used.
Diffusers are great mood enhancers and help with sleep, stress, anxiety, mental clarity, and a whole bunch of other useful things. Be sure to check out my guide on awesome essential oils diffusers here.
There are many ways to inhale essential oils like:
• Palm inhalation– you only need one drop of essential oil rubbed between your palms like peppermint or eucalyptus. Often used for immunity
• Directly from the bottle– breathe in slowly and deeply for 3 breaths. Often used for emotional support
• Salt inhalers– add 1-3 drops of essential oil to the salts and use as directed for 15-20 minutes a day. Often used for respiratory conditions. Learn about the benefits of salt inhalers here. This is my favorite salt in haler
• Inhaler tubes– add a few drops of essential oil to the cotton pad inside and breathe in slowly and deeply for 3 breaths. Some of the most popular essential oils for this method are peppermint, eucalyptus, and other clarifying oils. Inhaler tubes are often used for respiratory conditions, nausea, and mental clarity
As a final note on how to dilute essential oils always begin with the less is more mindset. Essential oils are very powerful and extremely potent and require care and respect while using them. I hope this guide was helpful and you’ve learned how to dilute essential oils!
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