How to Dilute Essential Oils
Using Essential Oils on the Skin
When applying essential oils to the skin, the most important thing to remember is that they should be diluted first. And a lot.
For most situations, the percentage of essential oil to carrier should be around 2%. For kids and older folks, the percentage goes even lower (we’ll get to that later).
Okay . . . so how do I dilute essential oils?
First, you’ll need a ‘carrier’ oil as your base. A carrier oil is any vegetable (fatty) oil that you like using or happen to have on hand. Some examples include Sweet Almond, Grapeseed, Jojoba, Olive, Soy, Coconut and Avocado. Lotion also works as a carrier if it’s unscented.
We get a lot of questions about using oils straight on the skin, or using half essential oil, half carrier oil with the thinking that stronger is better.
We understand why this might seem right, but from a therapeutic perspective, there’s no advantage to using such a strong dilution. And, actually, higher concentrations of essential oils can be harmful, leading to skin irritation and sensitization.
Unlike most things in life, when it comes to essential oils, more does not mean better.
Now . . . for The Nitty Gritty (aka measurements):
Let’s say you have one ounce (the same thing as 2 tablespoons or 30ml) of a carrier. To make a 2% dilution, you’d add 12 drops of essential oil. If you have two ounces of carrier oil, you’d add 24 drops of essential oil. And so on.
How’d we get those numbers? It’s all about conversions. So, for example:
5ml = 1 tsp = approx 100 drops and
30ml = 1 ounce = approx 600 drops
To get 2% of a one ounce blend, you’d multiply 600 (drops) x .02 (or 2%) = 12 drops.
Confused? Use our chart:
Dilution Rates for Essential Oil Blends
If you’re making larger blends, multiply (who knew aromatherapy required so much math?) the number of ounces by the number of drops.
Measuring out drops gets tedious after a certain point, so here are a few other conversions for you.
30 drops = 1ml
60 drops = 2ml
We recommend stocking up on some plastic measuring pipettes. They have markers for .5 ml, 1 ml etc and will make your life so much easier.
Let’s say you’ve decided to make up 4 ounces of a 2% blend. Looking at the chart, you know you need 12 drops per ounce. So you’ll need 48 drops total, or approx. 1.5 ml of essential oil.
For most purposes, we recommend the 2% dilution, but if you’re making up a blend to use on your face you’ll want an even gentler blend, so go with 1%.
Likewise, if you’re using massage with children or the elderly, definitely go with a 1% blend. And when using oils with children, please be sure you’re using oils deemed safe for kids. We highly recommend the book Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child by Valerie Ann Worwood.
Questions? We’d love to hear them.
Next time, we’ll go into the many ways of using essential oils and why delivery method can make such a difference.