Often times when I post recipes for essential oil blends or I am consulting with some one in the proper use of essential oils, I reccomend using a carrier oil. As soon as I say the phrase carrier oil, many people get confused and over the last year, one of the number one questions I get has been about carrier oils. Because of the high volume of questions I get on carrier oils, I realized that a blog post explaining all the ins and outs of carrier oils might be helpful.
First let me explain what a carrier oil is and why you should be using it. According to wikipedia “A carrier oil, also known as a base oil or vegetable oil, is used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin in massage and used in aromatherapy. They are so named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin. Wikipedia“. Essentially a carrier oil is any oil you mix with an essential oil to safely dilute that oil before applying it on the skin or, when making a blend that you will store for multiple uses.
Now that we know what a carrier oil is and what it does, let’s talk about the different options to use for a carrier oil. There are almost limitless options out there but, some are better than other for various reasons. I am going to talk about my top choices and then give you a few choices I personally avoid. This is where my expirence not only with essential oils but, also as a massage therapist comes in handy.
1. Jojoba oil
My number one go to oil is and probably always will be jojoba oil. Interestingly enough, this oil isn’t actually an oil. Chemically it is classified as an ester. The chemical make up is unique because, it is the closest thing in nature to your skin’s natural oil. Your skin’s oil is also classified as an ester. The similarity to your skin oil means, jojoba oil is hypoallergenic and when you massage it into your skin, it absorbs right in. It won’t leave you feeling greasy or like you need to shower. Jojoba oil also won’t stain your clothes! Every other carrier oil will to some degree or another stain fabric. 😢 Jojoba oil’s unique chemical make up also makes it the perfect essential oil dilutant/ carrier oil because it is almost entirely odorless and will take on the smell of any oil it is mixed with. This leaves you with a pure scent. The only bummer, is the price. This is a spendy option. You can buy it in almost any health food store but, it runs around $30 for a 16oz bottle. You can also purchase it from a company online called “the jojoba company”. They have a variety of sizes and when I was a massage therapist, this is where I purchased my jojoba oil. Despite the price, the smooth and rapid absorption, its ability to readily take on the scent of essential oils and the fact that it doesn’t stain fabric, makes jojoba oil a clear first choice for a carrier oil.
2. Fractionated coconut oil (FCO)
This carrier oil is a coconut oil that has been altered so that it stays in a liquid state at room temperature. FCO is a popular carrier oil because of its low price and high quality fats. Over all it mixes well with any essential oil and is relatively odorless. You can find it in health food stores or online for a great price. I usually have this carrier oil on hand and use it for the majority of the time because of its low price. There are however two main drawbacks. FCO is slighty greaser than jojoba oil and will stain fabric.
3. Olive oil
This carrier oil is special. I don’t use it for topical applications because it doesn’t absorb into the skin very well and will most assuredly stain fabric. I actually use this oil for internal dilution. First let me say, DO NOT ingest essential oils you buy from the store. I use a very specific brand of essential oils that are purifed above and beyond all other oils on the market. This allows me the safety to ingest certian oils for specific benefits. For example I will take a few drops of lavender in a gel cap when I am getting on a plane. This helps me calm down and overcome my fear of flying (AKA fear of falling out of the sky and to my ultimate doom). If you would like to know what brand of oils I use, please message me. I would be more than happy to point you in the right direction and explain why I only use one brand of essential oils. Anyways, back to the olive oil. When taking oils internally some people still like to dilute the essential oil. I find this can best be done with a high quality olive oil. Simply add a few drops of essential oil and a few drops of olive oil to a gel cap and you are good to go.
Now that I have given you my top carrier oils, let me share three I avoid.
Apricot oil and almond oil
These oils are greasy, have what I consider an unpleasent odor and can cause some serious allergic recations in some who are allergic to nuts. These oils can also go rancid. The happens when they are exposed to heat or are not used quickly enough. Their chemical structure actually changes and instead of helping the essential oils, they can actually damage the structure of the essential oil. This renders the oil useless and wastes your precious resources.
Grapeseed oil has simlar disadvantages however, it will not cause the same allergic reactions as apricot and almond oil.
Ok so, you now know what carrier oils are and which ones I consider to be the best. Now let’s talk about how to use them. We are typically using carrier oils to dilute essential oils before putting them on the skin. Dilution ratios however, can be confusing. The important thing to keep in mind, is that essential oils are potent. This means while you may pay $30 for a bottle, you can use that bottle one drop at a time and still see amazing results. When you do that, your bottles will last you for months.
For adults- 1 tsp of carrier oil to 5 drops of essential oil
For children or individuals with sensitive skin- 1 tsp of carrier oil to 2 drops of essential oil
A real world example would be a relief blend I use any time my body is feeling a little rough or my joints feel overused.
- 15 drops arborvitae
- 10 drops frankincense
- 20 drops massage blend
- 15 drops muscle blend
- 3 tablespoons (12 tsp) of carrier oil
Store in a dark colored glass bottle and use as needed.
I hope this post answers your questions about carrier oils and gives you a guide for safe dilution. Essential oils are powerful tools when used properly and I want you to be able to get the most out of your precious oil. If you have any questions feel free to comment. If you are interested in using essential oils and you want to know what oils I use on a daily basis, please send me a message using the contact form on my page. I would be happy to fill you in on the amazing source I am using.