Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils

New to essential oils? Check out my beginner’s guide to essential oils. Learn the basics of essential oils, how to get started, sample recipes and more.

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Closeup of essential oil bottle

Interested in essential oil but not sure where to start? Learn everything you need to know about essential oils – from its history to how oils are made to how to begin using them in your home.

You can also sign up for my free 5-day Essential Oils Email Course and my Essential Oils 101 webinar (watch from the comfort of your own home). I’ll share a LOT more details about how to use essential oils for your home – like cleaning, wellness, beauty, skin care, emotional support, swapping out household products like air fresheners, cleaners and more.

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What Are Essential Oils?

Have you ever smelled fresh lavender and felt relaxed? Or tasted fresh-cut mint on a salad or smoothie and felt refreshed? Well then, you’ve experienced the therapeutic benefits of essential oils.

Essential oils are the highly concentrated, aromatic essences of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses, resins and flowers. They are the oil of the plant from which they were extracted. They’re basically concentrated herbs. They contain all the goodness that protects and maintains the plant, and we can use them to help support our own bodies’ health and wellness.

While essential oils may seem trendy now, they’ve actually been used for thousands of years by different cultures, including the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. There are hundreds of references of oils used in the Bible, and even Jesus himself was given Frankincense and Myrrh (which were considered more valuable than gold) at the time of his birth as a gift.

How Essential Oils are Made

Essential oils are extracted by many different methods like solvent extraction, cold pressing, maceration, and enfleurage, but most commonly by steam distillation. This is why it’s important to know how your essential oils are made.

Some low-quality essential oils can be made from plants that were treated with pesticides and extracted with chemical solvents. These are NOT the oils you want to use for you or your family. Instead opt for pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils made from high-quality plants and herbs that don’t contain GMOs, pesticides, harmful chemicals or chemical solvents, such as Young Living essential oils.

Making an essential oil takes a lot of work and in some cases, tons of plant material to make even just a tiny amount of essential oil. For instance:

  • To make just 1 oz of Rose essential oil, you would need 60,000 roses
  • To make almost 1 gallon of Lavender essential oil, you would need about 220 lbs of lavender flowers
  • For some oils like Sandalwood and Jasmine, you need to have precise timing. Jasmine must be picked as soon as the flowers open, and sandalwood must be 30 years old before harvesting

It’s no wonder high-quality essential oils may seem expensive. Have you ever thought of purchasing 60,000 roses? Another factor that affects pricing is the rarity of the plant needed and each distiller’s quality of standards. But when you consider you can replace DIY and household cleaning products with essential oils, it usually come out to be cheaper and more natural.

Each essential oil comes from specific parts of the plant they come from too. For example:

  • Myrrh and Frankincense come from the tree resin
  • Lemon, Lime, Orange, Grapefruit and Bergamot come from the peel of the fruit
  • Cinnamon comes from the bark of the tree
  • Ginger and Vetiver come from the root
  • Rose comes from the petals
  • Pine comes from the needles and twigs

Take Lavender for example, you can grow the same exact type of lavender plant in France and one in your garden and they will have similar but different properties. This is because the soil, climate, altitude, and many other factors will be different, therefore producing a very different oil with its own unique properties and constituents. Be sure to choose essential oils that are sourced from reputable farms without the use of GMOs, pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

Closeup of essential oils with a purse

How to Use Essential Oils

There are three ways to use essential oils. Keep reading to learn how to do it safely…

1. Aromatically

Scents are powerful and the best and fastest way to reach the mood center is through our nose! In less than a second, essential oils hit the limbic system and have the power to affect our mood.

  1. Inhale the oil directly from the bottle: simply smell it! You can rub a drop or two on your hands and cup your nose or just inhale directly from the bottle.
  2. Diffuse the oils with a diffuser which disperses the oils in a micro-fine vapor throughout the air. A diffuser does not heat the oils which can damage their therapeutic properties.
  3. Breathe in steamy vapors deeply by carefully pouring hot water into a glass bowl, adding in a couple drops of essential oils, and covering the bowl in a tent like fashion with a cloth or towel. This technique is called tenting.

2. Topically

Essential oils are rapidly absorbed by the skin, which is not surprising considering the skin is the largest organ of the body. In fact, one of the best places to apply essential oils is the bottom of the feet – which have over 2,000 pores and some of the largest pores on your body.

You can also bathe in the oils. It is best to mix 15-20 drops with Epsom salt in a separate bowl, then pour the bowl in the bathtub.

Look on the essential oil bottle for suggested dilution ratios. And remember to always dilute when using essential oils for kids. Find out how to dilute essential oils for kids and which essential oils are safe for kids.

What Are Carrier Oils?

When using essential oils topically on the skin, consider using them with carrier oils – which are fatty or nutty oils like coconutalmond, sesame, jojoba, avocado, or even olive oil. Look for organic and cold-pressed oils. They help to dilute essential oils to make it easier to use on a larger area of the body (like the back) and help to time release essential oils to make them last longer. Carrier oils are also suggested for use on kids.

3. Dietary

Essential oils can be taken as a dietary supplement, but this is where it really depends on the quality of the essential oil.  Remember look at your product labels. Young Living is the only brand of essential oils I use to take internally.

You can get benefits from ingesting these Young Living essential oils by putting them in an empty vegetable capsule and taking them as a pill. Other ways to ingest oils are to add a drop to your water, or even your cup of tea. You can cook with the oils and add them in your food.

Want more details on how to use essential oils and how they can help you? Check out my free 5-day Essential Oils Email Course and my Essential Oils 101 webinar.

Why Choose Young Living

One of the most important things I’ve learned in my journey to healthy living is that it’s not just what something is it’s where it comes from, how it’s grown, and how it’s processed. Just like we go to the farmers market to buy our food and want to know who grows our food, I wanted to know where my oils were coming from.

I did many hours of research to find an essential oil company that I felt I could trust with my family’s health. Young Living is that company. They have been around for more than 20 years and the only essential oil company that owns farms all over the world (including France, Oman, Ecuador, and here in the U.S.) and oil distilleries. In fact, Gary Young, the founder of Young Living, built the first essential oil distillery in the U.S.

Their commitment to quality is called Seed to Seal. They have set the highest standards for planting, harvesting, and distilling on the farms they own and co-op. And best of all, you can see it first hand. Young Living members are encouraged to visit the farms (I’ve been to four myself) to experience Seed to Seal.

Why Not Buy Oils on Amazon or the Health Food Store?

The essential oils at the health food store are simply not the same quality as Young Living. Many have been adulterated with synthetic chemicals or contain cheap essential oils produced from crops with pesticides. Check the labels – they typically say not for “internal use” or “do not put directly on the skin”. I even challenge you to smell the difference. Peppermint, for instance, shouldn’t smell sweet or like candy. It should smell like a fresh-cut herb. When you compare Young Living’s Peppermint with another company – there’s simply no comparison.

And Amazon is no better, unfortunately. There are some imposter oils that are labeled Young Living, when actually they are diluted or replaced with fake oils. Yes, really. Young Living does NOT sell oils on Amazon. You can only get them direct from the company itself or through an independent distributor (like me).

How to Get Started

I recommend getting a starter set of oils. It’s hands-down the best way to get started and the most affordable option too. You’ll get 12 oils, a diffuser, other goodies and bonus gifts from me too. Find out more about how you can get this set for 60% off retail, plus get access to our team exclusives too.

Row of Young Living Essential Oils

Sample Recipes

Here’s a list of DIY recipes on how you can replace conventional products from the store with your own homemade versions for cheaper AND without the harmful chemicals.

Check out my 100+ DIY Beauty Care Recipes featuring essential oils and check out my full list of DIY tutorial and recipes with essential oils.

How to Get Started with Essential Oils

More DIY Recipes You Might Like

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  1. Please tell me the difference between Thieves and Thieves Vitality. I have Thieves oil and several of the Thieves cleaning products.

    1. They are actually the same oil. The label is different because Thieves Vitality is for internal/digestive use. They do this so it’s easy for people to tell what oils are for internal use, and what oils are for aromatic/topical use.

  2. Thanks for this info!! It’s so refreshing to not go to a blog that’s ALL about pushing buying oils in your face but instead informative and including a link to what you recommend is so helpful. I have been to many sites that push a certain brand and they all say the same thing and have the exact lotion bar recipe word for word. This is a very refreshing blog!