Essential oils - general precautions

In general, you should treat essential oils like other medications, supplements, or harmful materials. This means practising caution when purchasing, storing, and using them.

Keep essential oils out of reach of children and pets 

It’s not enough to keep your essential oils out of view. In order to ensure safety, place all essential oils in a lockable case and store them in a cupboard out of reach. Alternatively, store them in a high-up cabinet and add a child lock.

When diffusing, don’t exceed 30- to 60-minute intervals

With essential oils, less is often more. Exceeding the ideal times doesn’t amplify the oil’s benefits. In fact, it can actuallycreate stress on your body, especially the nervous system.

Only diffuse in well-ventilated areas

As a general rule, if all you can smell is the essential oil, your area is not well-ventilated. In such cases, you risk irritating your respiratory system.

Ventilation is especially important in the presence of pets — and it includes leaving doors open for pets to remove themselves.

When in doubt, dilute the oil 

When using topically,carrier oils shouldn’t be overlooked. Not only are they useful in spreading the essential oil onto a larger surface area, they protect your skin from rash and irritation.

Never use photosensitizing oils before UV exposure 

Safety guidelines recommend waiting a full 24 hours after using photosensitizing oils before visiting a tanning booth or spending time in direct sunlight. 

Always wash your hands after using essential oils

If you have remnants of essential oils on your hands and you rub your eyes or scratch the inside of your ears, you could experience a serious adverse reaction. Essential oils shouldn’t come into contact with eyes and ears.

Keep all essential oils away from flames

Essential oils are highly flammable. They shouldn’t be used or stored near candles, gas stoves, lit cigarettes, or open fireplaces.

What to do if side effects occur from essential oil use

Practising caution and following safety guidelines will help ensure your experience using essential oils is a positive one. However, adverse reactions can still happen. Part of responsibly using essential oils is knowing what to do if side effects do occur. 

In most cases, minor side effects can be taken care of at home. 

If essential oils get into your eyes, you can do one of two things:

    • Soak a cotton swab in a food-grade fatty oil like sesame or olive. Wipe the swab over your closed eyelid.
    • Immediately flush the area with cool, clean water.

    If you’re experiencing skin irritation: Use a fatty oil or cream to absorb and wipe the essential oil away.

    If you’ve accidentally ingested or over-ingested an oil, immediately contact your local poison control centre. Then, follow these precautions:

    • drink full-fat or 2 percent milk
    • avoid vomiting
    • keep the essential oil bottle handy to show the emergency response team

    Popular essential oils that can be diffused without any potential risks to children or pets:

      • cedarwood
      • fir
      • grapefruit
      • lavender
      • lemon
      • spearmint
      • tangerine 

      Popular essential oils that should be diffused with caution, because they’re mucous membrane irritants:

        • bay
        • cinnamon bark or leaf
        • clove bud or leaf
        • lemongrass
        • peppermint 
        • thyme
        (This was retrieved from