A Glance at Essential Oil Safety
Essential oils are concentrated and thus very strong. It is important that essential oils are stored away from children, cognitively impaired individuals or people that are unfamiliar with essential oils. Children should never have free access to essential oils and if you see a child consume essential oil, call poison control immediately. The same goes for your pets. Essential oils can be hazardous in the wrong hands.
Quality essential oils should come with a warning that states that the oils should be kept out of reach of children, not ingested and away from the eyes. Essential oils are highly flammable. Keep them away from open flames and please do not drop a few drops on your lightbulbs. This is an old practice.
If essential oils get into your eyes, irrigate with milk or vegetable oil as rapidly as possible and then rinse with water. Seek medical attention immediately. If you have a skin reaction, dilute with vegetable oil because the components of the essential oil are more likely to be removed with another oil. Then rinse with water and a non-scented soap (Buckle, 2015).
Essential oils should be kept in a cool, dry, and dark place. Undiluted essential oils kept in a thermostatically controlled area can remain fresh for several years. Those that have been opened are therapeutically sound depending on the date of distillation. The date that they are distilled will be the date that they start to lose their potency. Citrus oils have the shortest shelf life typically. All essential oils should be kept in darkened bottles (blue or amber) with a euro dropper to help prevent spillage. Bottles which are opened should be kept away from heat or sun. It is okay to keep your essential oils in your refrigerator.
When looking for essential oils, all bottles should have a label with states the botanical name, supplier’s name and potentially a “use by” date. Good quality essential oil companies will have these key elements available to you: Production Date, Shelf Life (number of years), Country of Origin, Batch Number. Should you have questions or concerns regarding the oil, all these identifiers will assist you.
Do you “patch test”? Patch testing can assist you to avoid skin reactions. The amount of diluted essential oil should be at around 2% which means that it should be diluted in a carrier oil first. You can use olive oil as a carrier (you might find this right in your kitchen), or another favorite oil such as almond, sunflower, coconut or shea butter. You are not limited. A 2% dilution equates to about 10-12 drops per ounce of carrier. If you apply the mix on your forearm, and you are sensitive to it, you should see irritation quickly. Do not use any essential oil that you patch test and notice subsequent irritation. As always, check with your health care provider before applying anything to sensitive skin.
Note that these tips about essential oil safety are not comprehensive but only an introduction to some basics.