What are essential oils?

Essential oils are super-concentrated oils distilled from plants. They are also known as volatile oils, which means they dissipate into the air rather easily. This is different from your standard cooking oils, as oils such as these are much heavier and do not vaporize like essential oils do. Essential oils have long been used for their possible therapeutic effects.

Prior to taking the plunge into the essential oil abyss myself, I read a ton of articles about the safety of oils, and an equal amount of articles on their lack of safety. It was terribly confusing for a newbie and a perfectionist, and frankly, it was a bit intimidating and overwhelming too!

Generally, I’ve learned that essential oils can be used safely and effectively in most people, but not without pause or caution!

Are you ready to take the essential oil leap yourself, but don’t know where to begin? It is important you grasp how to use essential oils safely! Start your journey here! Follow the steps below to determine if you have an essential oil sensitivity, and learn the basics of diluting essential oils for your specific need!

Let’s BEGIN!

➡️ FIRST, test for sensitivity!

Regardless of whether you plan to use your essential oil diluted or undiluted (also known as neat), it is a good idea to test on your skin the essential oil of choice to determine your sensitivity. This is particularly true if you are sensitive to many things!

  1. To determine a specific oil sensitivity, begin by mixing one drop of your chosen essential oil with one teaspoon of a carrier oil (examples include: jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc.). Mix well. I prefer this carrier oil for sensitivity testing and dilution. NOTE: Use 1 tablespoon of carrier oil to 1 drop of essential oil for children under 6 years old. The safest way to test the oil mixture on a child is by placing it at the bottoms of the child’s feet.
  2. Rub a small amount of this mixture onto your wrist or forearm. DO NOT WASH THIS SPOT FOR AT LEAST 24 HOURS! If there is no sign of itching, swelling, or redness during this time frame, the oil should be safe for you to use correctly. If you have any discomfort, discontinue use. Continue to dilute the tested area with your carrier oil, and seek treatment as necessary.

➡️ NEXT, KNOW how to dilute essential oils!

Since essential oils are very potent alone, they are often diluted when used! Dilution also inhibits the amount of oil you use at a time, thus it is a cost saver! The most common ways you will find to use essential oils include:

neat (undiluted),

diluted for children, elderly, and the most sensitive,

diluted for adults,

and diluted for specific uses or health issues.

Using essential oils NEAT (undiluted): If essential oils are used neatly, please do so carefully and under the direction of the bottle’s label and an individual trained in the use of essential oils; the later is particularly true for those who may be compromised in some way.

Also, it is best NOT to use “spicy” or “hot” oils undiluted. Common examples of essential oils which fall into these categories include cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, peppermint, oregano, thyme, and others.

Dilution for CHILDREN, ELDERLY, and the SENSITIVE: Because children and the elderly have sensitive skin, it is best to dilute essential oils for them.

There are SEVERAL oils that are not recommended for use in children or those with respiratory issues. Please consult a trained professional to determine if the oil you would like to use is appropriate for the recipient. You may also want to invest in the book, Gentle Babies, by Debra Raybern, for additional information regarding essential oil use in children.

If you decide to use an approved and diluted essential oil on your child, consider using a medium viscosity carrier oil to mix only, as it will slow the rate of absorption. Examples of these include jojoba oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. Place the mixture on the bottom of their feet; skin here is less delicate.

Noting the information above, use an oil appropriate (and sensitive-tested) for your child (or older or sensitive loved one) and circumstance! Please see the chart below for correct ratios of essential and carrier oils.

*If you prefer, Young Living offers several essential oils pre-diluted and especially for kids! Ask me for recommendations!*


Diluted for ADULTS: Essential oil mixtures diluted for adults and those NOT sensitive to a particular oil tend to be a bit stronger – both in function and aroma. Because essential oils are very powerful, it is still best to use less essential oil to prevent any irritation. To dilute for adults, use one of the following carrier oils: jojoba oil, almond oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc. You may also want to invest in an essential oil guide to broaden your understanding of essential oils. I have this book. Please see the chart below for the correct ratio of essential and carrier oils.

Please also advise that some oils are inappropriate for use in pregnancy and nursing!

Diluted for a REMEDY or SPECIFIC USE: Essential oils diluted for a remedy or specific uses have different ratios depending on the function of the oil in each situation. The chart below gives general recommendations. Please note below the ratios of essential and carrier oils, and chart.

Oil Safety Percentage Key:
0.5%: for use in infants to 2 years old
1%: for use in children over 2 years old, the elderly, immunocompromised, and in daily skin regimens
2%: for use in adults and the maximum dilution for children 2+
3-5%: use acutely for short-term application (small areas and specific use)

Easy print-out: Essential Oil Dilution Guide

I like to use these roll-on bottles to dilute different oils. Since some oils are light sensitive, be sure to get a shaded glass bottle!


Aside from the neat and diluted functions of essential oils, essential oils can also be used in aromatic diffusion, massage, compress, the bath, and others!

Please always consult the label carefully before beginning use of any essential oil. If you have a particular question about essential oils or dilution, it is best to seek advice from a trained essential oil professional before use. Use without supervision is at your own risk.

For more information on essential oil safety, please check out Young Living’s facts!

If you are ready to begin your essential oil journey, please start here. While here, take the opportunity to learn more about Young Living (one of the most trusted essential oil companies), and view their essential oils and prices! Sign up by clicking the Become A Member link at the bottom of the screen. As a Young Living member, you will receive a 24% discount!


Thanks for stopping by to learn more about essential oils! Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions regarding essential oils or the member sign-up procedure and/or benefits!

Keep checking Our Path Less Traveled for more essential oil tips!

Disclaimer! The information (and products offered) in this post are not meant to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease, but is only what I, a Young Living distributor, have chosen to do to take charge of my family’s personal health. My statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Please seek medical attention before using these products if you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition, or if you are on any medications.
Please use the information provided on this page in conjunction with your own research and health care provider’s advice. This information is meant for educational purposes only, not to determine your specific health care plan.
*I may receive compensation through purchases made from the Young Living link!

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