As an Amazon Associate and affiliate with other programs, I may earn revenue from qualifying purchases through affiliate links. This does not affect the price you pay. Privacy Policy / Disclosures. This site is for educational purposes only.

Starting Guide for Essential Oil Use

This guide for essential oil use gives you information related to aromatherapy and essential oils, how they work, how to use them, and more.

Essential Oil Bottle Surrounded By Leaves | Aromatherapy Guide

FAQ Guide for Essential Oil Use

What is aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy uses essential oils to promote health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. You will come across various definitions—for detailed discussions, see the "What is Aromatherapy" articles at AromaWeb and the Tisserand Institute.

Although aromatherapy implies that beneficial effects result from the scent, essential oils also work through other channels. See How Does Aromatherapy Work? You might also be interested in the History of Aromatherapy.

What is an essential oil?

Essential oils (sometimes inaccurately called aromatherapy oils) are concentrated liquid extracts made from plants. Depending on the specific plant, a plant may produce essential oil in various parts such as in the flower, seeds, bark, root, leaves, resin, or wood.

The word "essential" comes from "essence," as in the essence of the plant. For the plants, the components of these oils provide natural defenses against disease and pests. These components also have beneficial effects for people.

Unlike fatty oils (used as carrier oils), essential oils are volatile, that is, they are not "oily" and do not leave behind oil stains. However, some brightly colored oils, such as German chamomile or turmeric can cause a color stain.

What do essential oils do? Each essential oil has a unique combination of chemical components that gives the oil its own scent, properties, and benefits. See profiles of essential oils.

Are essential oils safe?

Used properly and according to accepted guidelines, most essential oils are safe for most people. Remember, anyone can have a bad reaction to anything. To use essential oils safely, learn about the ones you want to use and be aware of any cautions or contraindications. Seek professional advice if in doubt.

When using essential oils on the skin, proper dilution in an aromatherapy carrier oil is important. See this essential oil dilution chart for guidelines.

For more safety information, see:

Do aromatherapy and essential oils work?

Scientific studies are limited and incomplete, though you can find studies that support the efficacy of specific essential oils for specific uses.

Many people report receiving benefits from using aromatherapy and essential oils. But what works for one person may not work for you. The Healing Power of Essential Oils says it best:

"If you lived in Australia a thousand years ago, for example, your family lived off whatever the land provided, which meant you used tea tree and eucalyptus and other native herbs for your Health concerns. If you lived in Haiti, you use vetiver. If you lived in France, lavender was your go-to solution. Same with Italians and citrus plants like bergamot and lemon. ... With this in mind, remember that there is no slam-dunk essential oil that is going to work the same way for everyone. We all have a unique road to healing, and you can quite possibly use different oils to achieve the same results."

What is the shelf life of essential oils? Do they expire?

Although pure essential oils don't go rancid in the way that fatty oils do, essential oils can oxidize and deteriorate over time, gradually losing their aroma and therapeutic value. Many factors affect the shelf life of an essential oil, including how it was distilled, the quality of plant material used, the care used by the suppliers in bottling, storing, and handling the oil, and how you store the oil after receiving it.

See this detailed information on shelf life from aromatherapy expert Robert Tisserand.

Can I make essential oil at home?

It's possible, with the correct knowledge, equipment, and plant material. See How to Make Essential Oil for how to produce essential oil and essential oil hydrosol using a homemade still.

See Essential Oil Distiller to learn how distillers work and where you can buy one for home use.

Any tips for choosing an essential oil diffuser?

See Aromatherapy Diffusers for descriptions and pictures of different types of essential oil diffusers.

How can I find a qualified aromatherapist?

To find a qualified aromatherapist, ask about the person's training, experience, liability insurance, and what you can expect from each session. Also, know what you want from your consultations and determine if you feel comfortable with the aromatherapist. A qualified aromatherapist will ask about your health and medical conditions to make sure the suggested essential oils are appropriate for you.

Aromatherapy certification is not required to practice aromatherapy in the United States. Plus, no organizations exist that confer any type of official certification. However, a number of education programs offer a completion certificate that confers an unofficial certification.

You can become a Registered Aromatherapist (RA) by passing an exam given by the Aromatherapy Registration Council.

The programs listed here appear to offer quality training but it's your responsibility to check out any training program to make sure it meets your needs.

American College of Health Care Sciences, Aromatherapy Department offers a range of aromatherapy certificates, diplomas, and degree plans.

Aroma Apothecary Healing Arts Academy offers certification in clinical aromatherapy.

Aromahead Institute (aromatherapist Andrea Butje) offers two levels of certification. Free Webinar: How to Become a Certified Aromatherapist

Aroma Hut Institute (aromatherapist Rebecca Park Totilo) offers beginner, professional, and clinical courses.

Aromatic Wisdom Institute (aromatherapist Liz Fulcher)

Aromatic Studies not only offers certification courses online and also has advanced classes and short specialized courses, some of which meet in person.

Atlantic Institue of Aromatherapy

Institute of Integrative Aromatherapy offers certification in clinical aromatherapy.

Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy

JennScents Aromatherapy (aromatherapist Jennifer Hochell Pressimone) offers three different certification courses.

Pacific Institute of Aromatherapy (aromatherapist Kurt Schnaubelt, PhD) is one on the longest running (since 1985) certifications programs available.

R.J. Buckle Associates offers courses open only to licensed health professionals and massage therapists.

Sedona Aromatherapie (aromatherapist Sharon Falsetto)

Animal aromatherapy courses from Kelly Holland Azzaro.

Also see the NAHA-approved school directory that includes schools that meet standards set by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

For training in Canada, see the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists.

For self-education, see recommended essential oils books.

More Information

Plant Resin Used in Aromatherapy

Ayurveda and Essential Oils

You can also visit the other sections of this website and find aromatherapy essential oil blends for:

Buy Eden's Garden Essential Oils on Amazon
Click Here to Buy Massage Supplies at Massage Naturals
Hydragun self massage tool on leg. Click for more information about hydragun.

Image Source: 123RF Stock Photo