Essential Oils For Beginners: 7 Helpful Tips You Must Know

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Congratulations! You’ve just learned about essential oils and you want to know more about them! These oils are AMAZING and you can use them in many different ways during your everyday routines.

Essential oils are a staple in my daily routines and I use them in various ways such as cleaning, elevating my mood and for cooking.

There are many legitimate companies that sell high-quality essential oils but this essential oils beginner guide will increase your knowledge of essential oils before you purchase!

I created this blog post to help new essential oil enthusiast learn some basic facts regarding them. Since essential oils are potent and powerful it’s important to understand the proper usage of these helpful oils.

Okay ready? Let’s get oily my friends!

1. Where Do Essential Oils Come From?

Essential oils come from many different sources found in nature. They come from leaves, flowers, citrus rinds, seeds, berries, resin, wood, and a variety of other plants, trees, fruits, herbs, and spices.

Plants store essential oils either in external secretory structures, which are found on the surface of the plant, or internal secretory structures, which are found inside the plant material (1)

2. Where Did the Name “Essential oils” Come From?

When I first began learning about essential oils I was curious as to how the name was created.

I knew the oils could have a significant impact on a variety of subjects such as pain, emotions, illness, stress, and countless other things, but are they “essential” to the wellbeing of human life?

Well, they’re not exactly essential to life’s well-being, but let’s break down the name.

First, “essential” is because the oils capture the essence (fragrance) of the plant it’s derived from.

Whether that means capturing its odor, such as the woodsy scent of Cedarwood or its flavor such as the citrusy taste of the lime, essential is used to show how the oil embodies the plant it originates from.

So when you smell grapefruit oil, your nose will tingle with the sour, sweet, tart essence of a grapefruit.

Not only do the oils capture the plant’s odor and flavor, but also the potential healing properties from the oils.

Calling the oils “essential” truly captures the essence of its name.

 Now that we’ve dealt with the essential part let’s talk about the “oil” portion.

Essential oils are not actually oils! Even though they are called oils, they lack a major component of an oil which is fatty acids.

Essential oils in their purest form are concentrated plant compounds. They are not oils like common cooking oils such as vegetable or canola oil.

So don’t confuse essential oils with cooking oils. Essential oils are in their own class.

Other names for essential oils are volatile (easily evaporated at normal temperatures) oils, ethereal oils, and aromatic oils.

3. How are Essential oils extracted from plants?

Distillation is probably the most common way to extract essential oils.

Distillation is achieved by putting raw plant material such as flowers, leaves, or fruit peel into a distillation apparatus called an alembic.

The Alembic is then placed over water that is heated. The steam that is produced by the heating process is passed through the raw plant material and then collected through a coil.

The essential oil is then collected into a vessel. This process is more difficult than explained here and must be done very skillfully and slowly in order to prevent oxidation of the oils and to prevent destroying them from excessive heat.

Expression (cold-pressed) (citrus fruits)

The process of expression is somewhat specific to citrus fruits. Unlike the distillation method, there is no heat used in the expression or cold pressed method.

This method is done by pressing the rind of citrus fruits.

The original method to express oils was done by using a sponge to press out the oil. Now expression is done by placing citrus fruits into expression machinery, which cut the surface of the peel and cause tiny sacs on the surface of the peel to release the contents stored inside the peel.

Water is then passed over the citrus fruit in order to collect the essential oil that was released. The essential oil is then separated from the water.

4. 3 Methods to use Essential Oils (aromatic, topical, ingestion)

Aromatic

Essential oils are aromatic.

Since they are volatile (they evaporate quickly and are rapidly absorbed by the body) they have the ability to reach directly to the olfactory bulb in the brain.

By reaching this portion of the brain, the complex chemistry of the essential oil is sent as a message to the amygdala, which is apart of the center for emotions in the limbic system. This is where our emotions become connected to our memories and where we sort our emotions.

Ok, that’s that’s enough for the anatomy and physiology lesson but the science behind aromatherapy is important and can be very beneficial.

  • The first way to aromatically use essential oils is through the direct inhalation method.

Simply breathe the oil directly from the bottle. You can also place one drop of oil in your hands, rub them together, cup the palm of your hand around your nose (without touching your nose) and inhale deeply.

This is one of my favorite ways to do the direct inhalation method.

  • The second way to aromatically use essential oils is through diffusing.

There are four types of diffusers: atomizing, vaporizing, fan, and heat.

The best of these is an atomizing but I like to recommend a vaporizing diffuser because that’s what I have the most experience with.

Using a vaporizer is really simple. Combine water and whatever oils you desire to use in the designated area on your diffuser. Set the timer and the oil should instantly mix with the water to form a vapor that will spread throughout your room.

I LOVE to use my diffuser when I’m cleaning and when I’m sleeping. I like a diffuser by doTERRA. It’s a little pricey but I’ve been using it for 3 years and it still works well!

Here are links to other great diffusers that you can purchase on Amazon:

Diffuser #1

Diffuser #2

Diffuser #3

Topical

Topical application is another common way to use essential oils.

However, it’s very important to note which oils are safe enough to use on their own without a carrier oil, and which ones to use with a carrier oil.

Always think about protecting your skin, especially if you’re prone to sensitive skin.

Use of carrier oil has different benefits (I wrote an in-depth post on carrier oils, here) and can really enhance the effect of the essential oil and add protection to your skin.

  • With topical application, you can also layer more than one oil together. This enhances the effect of the oils and aids in targeting multiple issues at once.
  • Common sites to use when applying oils topically are bottoms of feet, neck, forehead, temples, abdomen, and chest. My rule of thumb is to apply them wherever there is thick skin. Personally, I always avoid my eye area.

 Ingestion

I must advise you to consult with your doctor before ingesting any oils.

With anything that you decide to put into your body, it’s important to take the utmost caution to make sure that it is safe.

Many of the plants and fruit that we get essential oils from can be consumed in their raw form like, orange, lemon, cinnamon, and clove. Since EO’s are very potent, you don’t need a lot of the oil to get the job done.

One of the most common ways that oils are ingested internally is sublingually meaning under the tongue. Another way is to put a few drops of the essential oil in a veggie capsule or gelatin cap.

You can also put the essential oil into your tea or water to give it a boost in flavor.

Some essential oils like cinnamon and oregano are thought to be more effective when ingested.

5. How Long Do Essential Oils Last? 

For a short answer, essential oils can last anywhere from 1 year to 10 years. It depends on the oil and the composition of that oil.

In an effort to help preserve your essential oils its important to protect them from heat, light, and oxygen. Heat can cause the oils to evaporate more quickly so store them in a cool dry place.

Some people even store some of their essential oils like lemon oil in the refrigerator.

My experience with storing them in my kitchen cabinet (furthest away from the stove) has worked well. Always store your oils in an amber colored bottle because they work best to keep ultraviolet light away from the oils.

Also, always remember to recap your oils after use because the more it’s exposed to the air, the more it will become oxidize, which can potentially affect the therapeutic properties of the essential oil.

 

6. Buying High-Quality Essential Oils

There are a lot of “essential oils” that you will find in grocery stores, health stores, and online that are labeled “essential oil”.

However, a lot of these oils are packed with fillers and other synthetic ingredients, which causes them to lack the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

As a rule of thumb, if an essential oil is priced at only $5.00 for a 15ml bottle, then more than likely, it is not a pure essential oil and is packed with fillers and other synthetic ingredients.

Good quality essential oils come with a high price tag, so the cheaper the oil, the more chance the essential oil is not 100% pure. It takes a large number of plants to make one bottle of essential oil, and that’s why 100% pure oils are expensive.

To ensure that you are buying a high-quality oil always consider this information:

  • Label reads 100% pure essential oil (stay far away from oils labeled fragrance oil, aromatherapy oil, and perfume oil, these are not essential oils)
  • Packaged in an amber or dark colored glass bottle
  • Ring Test- Place a drop of the essential oil on a white sheet of paper. If a ring remains then it’s a good sign that the oil is mix with other ingredients.
  • Research the company and determine what purity of oils they sale based on the information they provide on their website or the essential oil bottle.

7. Where to Buy High-Quality Oils

I promote and use doTerra brand oils. This is the first brand I experienced when I was introduced to essential oils.

doTerra uses a third party company to test their oils purity and quality. I am able to get my oils at a wholesale price because I am a wellness advocate and love that I can get high-quality oils at a good price.

There are many other places where you can purchase great quality essential oils online. I will provide a link to some of the places where I have purchased essential oils.

  1. Plant Therapy
  2. Mountain Rose Herbs

Let’s Close This Blog Post Out

My hope with this information is that you will learn and know the basics of essential oils and why they are a great asset to have in your home.

Essential oils have been a delight to keep in my medicine cabinet and I find myself reaching for them on a daily basis. There are so many oils that you can use and experiment with.

So are you ready to give essential oils a try? Let me know in the comments!

Also, check out my blog post, 10 essential oils every beginner should know, to help you decide on some essential oils you may want to try first.

Grace!

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Hi, I'm Grace! I created this blog, The Purple Pamphlet and I'm so glad you're here. I am a child of God, wife, Bachelor's prepared registered nurse, aspiring world traveler, lover of southern food, history enthusiast and collector of cozy blankets and fuzzy socks. Oh, and you guessed it, my favorite color is PURPLE!