Essential Oils – Techniques for Use Archives

Essential oil perfumes and after-shaves

Just wrote a post on Wellbeing’s blog – Making essential oil perfumes – in which I show you how I can replace dangerous synthetic perfumery with essential oil blends, and I give you some tips on how you can make these.

Till next time



Making up essential oil blends

Just wrote a short post on Wellbeing’s blog –  The magic of essential oil blends – in which I describe the benefits of blends and how you can actually create your own essential oil blends.

Till Next Time



Ok, I’m going to cut to the chase on this one. If you want the full therapeutic benefit from your oils, don’t use them in an oil burner. These typically operate by placing the oil in a ceramic dish (or even metal tray), with or without water and using a candle or some other heat source underneath to vaporize the oils into the surrounding room. Yes I know. They look great. I even had one myself many years ago.

However, the heat from the candle will actually damage your oils. Furthermore, the most volatile compounds in the oil will be dispersed first, with the heavier molecules coming later. That means you don’t receive the oil in its natural balance.[1] Aside from not receiving any therapeutic benefits, oils can catch fire in the presence of a flame. And if the essential oil is diluted with an alcohol such as methanol or propanol (as is the case in some dodgey oils), they can become dangerously flammable. [2]

If you’re only interested in the ‘nice smell’ from an oil in a room, then Ok, use an oil burner. But don’t expect many therapeutic benefits from it. And in that case, don’t waste good quality therapeutic grade oils. Buy a cheap, fragrant oil. The only problem there is that you’re not really sure ‘what else’ is in the oil. You may be using something that could be toxic or become carcinogenic when burnt.

The same goes with incense sticks. They may provide the desired scent, but much of the oil is actually destroyed. If you want more than just a scent from the aroma in an oil, then diffusers are the way to go.


There are a number of different diffusers. There are those that use water. The oil is placed on a water in a tray and a fan blows through to disperse the oil into the air. One problem with this is that the lighter constituents in the oil are blown off before the heavier ones, thus upsetting the balance in the oil. The other problem is that some oils won’t float on water, e.g. Cinnamon and Cassia.

Cold-Air Diffusers or Nebulizers


These operate on the principle of “atomization”, whereby the oils is forced through a pinhole by a stream of air at high pressure. The result is a micro-fine vapor, containing all the constituents of the oil in the same balance as the liquid form, that remains suspended in the air for some time.

Because the oil is forced through at high velocity, it is also energised, with the levels of oxygen carried by the molecules actually increased. This raises the healing potential of an essential oil to a greater level. [3]

The benefits of diffusing an essential oil in this manner are that you can purify and clean the air in a room and remove airborne pathogens and things like toxic black mold and fungus. I’ve already written of one example in which to use essential oils in this manner (check out my post on Thieves ). In addition to this essential oils can be diffused in this manner to :

  • Relax the body, relieve tension, and clear the mind.
  • Improve concentration, alertness, and mental clarity.
  • Stimulate neurotransmitters.
  • Stimulate secretion of endorphins.

The possible applications are endless – homes, schools, offices, factories, clinics and hospitals.

Ultrasonic Diffusers


Ultrasonic diffuser

In 2008, Young Living introduced their ultrasonic diffuser. The ultrasonic diffuser operates by atomising both water and essential oils, breaking up the molecules to create like a microscopic mist. It is capable of diffusing any essential oil, has a larger well to allow for less frequent re-filling of oil, a timer and 3 different diffusion rates.

Are the new ultrasonic diffusers better? Well, both diffusers serve a very different purpose. The ultrasonic diffusers are very quiet compared to the cold-air diffusers. Not that they’re loud, but if you want a perfectly quiet room you’ll certainly notice the cold-air diffuser in the background. The ultrasonic diffusers are also cheaper. The cold air diffusers on the other hand are better suited to removing and preventing something like mold and mildew in a room. Research from Dr Edward Close found that the ultrasonic diffusers actually increased the amount of mold in a given space. On the other hand he found the cold air diffusers to be most suitable for eliminating toxic black mold in the home.

So one suggestion might be to use the ultrasonic diffuser when you want the benefits of a diffuser at night time, while you sleep; but use the cold-air diffuser in a room when you’re not present (and so not worried about any noise) and are tackling something like mold and mildew.

Here is a blend you can make to freshen the air. Mix these together and diffuse :

  1. 20 drops lavender
  2. 10 drops lemon
  3. 6 drops bergamot
  4. 5 drops lime
  5. 3 drops grapefruit

Till next time



Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.

[1] The Chemistry of Essential Oils Made Simple, by Dr David Stewart, Chapt 12, p436

[2] Ibid, p437

[3] Ibid, p444

Can Essential oils be toxic? Part One

Some of you may have been told by an aromatherapist or naturopath, that certain essential oils may be toxic. Well some essential oils may be.  The question is which ones.  In order to answer this, we first need to understand our aromatherapist’s mind-set a little.

Three Schools of Thinking.

You may be surprised to know that there are 3 schools of thought in the field of aromatherapy.

The German school of aromatherapy teaches the use of essential oils via inhalation. The French school teaches the use of essential oils in anyway that’s appropriate – orally, rectally, through the skin and through inhalation. Gary Young has added a number of other ways to this school, including intravenously and hypodermically.

The British school of thought, which has largely influenced the American and Australian aromatherapist community, focuses more on the burning of oils (inhalation) and the dilution of oils.

Therapeutic Grade vs. Perfume Grade

At his recent visit to Sydney, Dr David Stewart (an aromatherapist and prominent researcher in the field of essential oils) [1] made reference to a number of British aromatherapy text books, such as Essential Oil Safety and Clinical Aromatherapy for Pregnancy and Childbirth. In page 45 of the latter book, a number of oils were listed as forbidden: cinnamon, calamus, cassia, fennel, clove, oregano, wintergreen, tansy and yes, Vanilla (incidentally, the bible makes reference to people being anointed with calamus and cassia thousands of years ago).

Dr Stewart made the following points about much of the British research in aromatherapy, much of which has a long impressive list of citations:

  • The research was conducted on animals (They’re far more sensitive to oils than humans.)
  • They will take one compound in the essential oil, which in isolation is toxic (but which in combination with other compounds in the oil, render it safe) and label the entire oil as toxic and to be avoided.
  • Much of the research utilizes perfume grade essential oils and NOT therapeutic grade essential oils (we’ll come back to this point later).

The Sum of the parts…

Let’s elaborate on the second point that Dr Stewart made, as it’s an important one. We’ll use a couple of examples.

The compounds Scatole and Indole are not very nice ones. Scatole in fact can be found in animal droppings. Yet the essential oil Jasmine has both of these. In fact perfume companies deliberately put Indole in their perfumes, as it intensifies the fragrance.

Another compound, Xylene (found in hazardous waste), can be found in Myrrh, another oil referred to in the scriptures. It was given to the Christ child by the 3 Wise Men. The point is many compounds are dangerous on their own, but when placed in combination with other compounds, have a totally different effect.

As Dr Stewart puts it, “one cannot deduce the properties of an essential oil by knowing the properties of its individual compounds as isolates… a compound that is highly toxic alone can be safe, non-toxic, and therapeutic when occurring as an ingredient in an essential oil. Many aromatherapists who fear certain oils have been trained in a school that teaches the fallacy that properties of isolated compounds studied in laboratories apply to the natural oils in which they are found. Thus, many aromatherapists avoid perfectly safe and therapeutically effective oils because a laboratory has found one or more compounds in the oil that, by themselves, are harmful.”(My emphasis) [2]

Synthetic vs. Natural

We now come back to Dr Stewart’s third point, that many lab tests are conducted on perfume-grade essential oils and not therapeutic grade essential oils.


The first perfume oils in the world were basically essential oils. Two thousand years later, there is very little in our perfumes that are natural or essential oil. Advances in chemistry over the last 100 years, have meant that the perfume industry relies largely on synthetics that attempt to mimic the best that nature has to offer. And it’s not just the perfume industry that relies on the synthetics.

To be continued…

Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.


[1] About David Stewart, Ph.D.

[2] The Raindrop Messenger, Official newsletter of C.A.R.E. (Center for Aromatherapy Research and Education) Vol 8, No 1 Jan-Feb 2010. To subscribe