Essential oils have been used for centuries by many nations and civilizations for treating common conditions of the body and mind. Extremely concentrated extracts of plants, essential oils have a variety of different uses, depending on the properties of the plant of origin. There are also a number of different methods of use for specific ailments and purposes. And each method requires a certain amount of essential oil.
Used in the bath, essential oils can release their powerful scents in the warm water while making diluted contact with the skin. Skin, stress, muscle, and respiratory benefits can all be gained from using essential oils in the bath. An appropriate amount to use is 5-10 drops of the essential oil for a bathtub full of water, being more frugal with stronger oils and avoiding oils that can cause irritation with contact.
When skin contact is not appropriate but the goal is diluted inhalation, facial steams are an excellent choice. Use only 1 drop of strong oils or up to 5 drops of weaker oils. Place this into a pot of hot (not boiling) water. Cover your head with a towel and lean over the water to steam your face. This is a helpful solution for facial treatment, headache relief, sore throat, respiratory, and sinus problems.
Massage is a great way to relieve tension, improve circulation, and to deliver soothing essential oil. There are variations of concentrations for different oils used for massage, in large part depending on the type of oil and its purpose. But in general, 1 drop of essential oil to 15 drops of carrier oil (or 2.5% concentration) is best for massage. This can also be translated to 15 drops of essential oil to 1 ounce of carrier oil.
To make an essential oil compress for aches, skin problems or bruises, place 10 drops of essential oil into 4 ounces of hot water. Stir it to spread the oil through the water. Then take a clean washcloth and soak it in the solution. Gently ring it out and place over the face or area of concern and leave for a few minutes. When the cloth cools, you can refresh it by re-dipping it in the solution.
Be careful to follow professional instructions for the use of any essential oils as all are highly concentrated and have very different natural chemical compounds. Some are gentle while others are very powerful. Citrus oils, for example, can increase sensitivity to UV rays. And essential oils inhaled too closely or in too high a concentration can irritate the nasal membranes or throat. Some can be dangerous if taken into the body, while others can cause reactions just with skin contact. Always avoid contact with the eyes and read the instructions that come with the oil as some have special concerns.