Essential Oils For Beginners

This post may contain affiliate links. I only choose products I use myself and trust. If you purchase using my special link, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Read my full disclosure policy here. Thank you for supporting Simple Natural Mama!

As you begin to learn more of being a natural minded mama, or maybe you are a seasoned expert at this point, there is one topic topic that is bound to come up with the words natural remedies… And that would be essential oils.

Basically, essential oils are natural oils extracted from plant and plant parts – they are oils from plants! Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in natural remedies, embalming techniques, and even as offerings to royalty. Today, essential oils are used for a wide variety of things. You can read more about the biblical history of essential oils as well as uses of yesterday and today in this article.

Yet instead of diving into the history and significance, here I will cover the basics for a beginner.

I’ll be taking notes from the book, Essential Oils For Beginners, available from my affiliate, Simply Earth; Also, if you are a newsletter subscriber, you can find your own copy to print out in the resource library!

Let’s start with the three main methods of using essential oils: inhalation, topical application, and ingestion.


Inhalation means inhaling essential oils. This is ideal for those with sensitive skin, for times of stress and for on-the-go.

Direct inhalation is done by inhaling undiluted essential oils from a bottle or aromatherapy inhaler. This is very strong and not recommended for long term use.

Indirect inhalation is most often done by using a diffuser which disperses essential oils throughout the room aromatically. This is the most common usage, and this is the diffuser I love and use each day. For a smaller size, my parents use this diffuser.

Topical Application

Topical application involves using essential oils on the skin. This can either be done neat or diluted. Neat means directly applying to the skin, and diluted means mixing with a carrier oil before applying to the skin. Some examples of topical usage include massage oils, lotions, salt and sugar scrubs, body butters, balms, and soaps. For a fun essential oil recipe like these each month, check out this subscription box!


The method of ingestion involves the consumption of essential oils. The International Federation of Aromatherapists does not recommend that essential oils be ingested unless under the supervision of a medical doctor who is also qualified in clinical aromatherapy. Basically, essential oils are powerful! Do not put them into your body unless directed by a doctor and aromatherapist who has been trained in the usage of them. Read that again. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean you can use it however you want to benefit your body – there is a method!

Anything Else To Know About Safety?

When using essential oils, it is always important to first read safety information, and to know the source you are getting the information from. Believe it or not, there are some companies out there who do not follow recommendations by aromatherapists and give out unsafe information of usage, especially when it comes to children. Not all essential oils are suitable for all people. You can check out a profile for each oil I love at this website. Included in each profile are oil specific safety guidelines. Not all oils are equal and each needs special considerations!

Diluting Essential Oils

Essential oils should never be used directly on the skin (neat) unless under the supervision of an aromatherapist or doctor who is certified in aromatherapy. When diffusing at home, you should always dilute in a carrier oil. Popular carrier oils include coconut oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil. Read more on this dilution rate guide here, available as a free download. (P.S. Read my article on coconut oil over at The Joyful Life Magazine and order your copy here!)

What Can I Do With Essential Oils?

Truly, the possibilities are endless! There are so many choices on what to do with your oils and how to use them. Pick a recipe, get the oils, and create with them accordingly. The best way to use essential oils is to experiment and try new things, under direction of a professional.

This is why I love Simply Earth, mother-owned by certified aromatherapists. In their monthly recipe box, you get four essential oils and all the extras and instructions to create six unique recipe creations. Plus, every month has a fun theme! It’s a great way to involve your kids into your love for natural remedies – learn new things about oils, and create useful projects. Check it out here to get started, and don’t forget to join me on Facebook where I will be sharing more this week in a live video on the monthly recipe box!

Keep Quality In Mind

It’s all about quality when it comes to essential oils. These are some things you should be looking for, as you search oily companies:

  • the plants and where they are grown

The best oils are derived from the best plants grown in the best locations. That means GMO-free plants grown in the right conditions are ideal for optimal-quality oils. Basically, the plants must be grown in the location in the world and in the way in which they will best thrive.

  • how the plant was farmed

You should seek to buy oils that were farmed responsibly. That means workers were treated fairly and the land and the oil were both flourishing. The plants should be pesticide-free – or else these can be concentrated in your oil, meaning it’s no good to use. The oils you get should be tested for pesticides with every batch to ensure quality, because cross-contamination between farms does occur.

  • how the plant was distilled

There are six different distilling methods: steam, water (hydro), steam/water, expression, solvent extraction, and CO2 extraction.

Steam: Steam passes through the plant material (leaves, grass, roots, etc) causing them to release their aromatic components. The steam is then condensed and the essential oil is extracted.

Water(hydro): The plant materials (bark, wood, etc) are submerged in water to make a “soup.” As they are heated, they release their aromatic components into the steam which is then condensed and the essential oil is extracted.

Steam/Water: Indirect steam is applied ot the plant material (normally leaves), while water sits underneath the plant material.

Expression: Plant materials (generally citrus rinds) are pressed by machines to squeeze out oils. Also known as “cold pressed.”

Solvent Extraction: Delicate plant parts (such as petals) are extracted by chemical means. These plant parts are placed on a tray an washed repeatedly with a solvent. The solvent is then extracted and refined, but the resulting product (the absolute) may retain a small amount of solvent. Many prefer not to use this method for that reason.

CO2 Extraction: Carbon Dioxide is put under high pressure until it becomes a liquid. It is then used as a solvent to extract aromatic molecules from plants. Once the CO2 returns to room temperature and pressure, it turns back to gas and only the aromatic components are left.

  • how the oil was packaged and stored

All oils should be stored in dark bottles as essential oils are light sensitive. Two common options are aluminum containers or amber glass bottles. The oils should also be stored in temperature-controlled environments for optimal preservation. Exposure to heat can cause the oils to expire much faster, losing its therapeutic benefits. Most can last 2+years.

  • has the oil been tested?

The type of testing oils undergo to examine purity is called gas chromatography and mass spectrometry- GC/MS for short. Every oily company comes up with their own unique terms and phrases for this, as well as their own phrasing for notating the purity of the oils, so be careful about getting sucked in to ultimatums or what you’ve always been told, and do your due research for the companies you look into. This information should be very transparent and easily found on the website.

GC/MS testing breaks down the essential oils to reveal each of its unique chemical components. A trained aromatherapist then compares those amounts to the components in a standardized chemical composition for that oil to test if it truly is 100% pure. GC/MS testing will reveal if anything has been added or remove from the oil, and shows you clear results on its its tarnished or not.

When It Comes Down To It…

The benefits of aromatherapy are hard to beat! Very few products compare to using lavender essential oil to help you sleep, to help your kids calm down, or for a spa experience in the bath after a long day….And that’s just the beginning!

Next up in our talk of essential oils for natural minded mamas… 5 Essential Oil Mistakes To Avoid!

~Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama

If you like this and want to hear more, consider sharing with your friends, signing up for the mailing list to gain access to our members-exclusive resource library {free Essential Oils For Beginners eBook mentioned, included!}, and joining our Simple Natural Mamas! Facebook community for learning, chat, and support.

Don’t forget to keep an eye for for essential oils mistakes to avoid AND details on the monthly recipe box from Simply Earth! Be sure to sign up for the mailing list to stay in the loop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *