Essential Oil Basics: Use and Application

When my kit of essential oils arrived in the mail, I stared at them for several days and thought “now what?!”  For new essential oil users, my goal in this post is to get you to open your bottles and/or kit sooner than I did and start seeing how they can help you in your everyday life.  Or, maybe, you like to plan ahead and the thought of buying something you don’t know what to do with simply doesn’t make sense.  I’m with you there, too.  So, another goal of this post is to reach out to you and let you know some very practical ways essential oils can be added into your daily routine.  Lastly, for avid essential oil users, I hope that you learn something new either directly from this post or by the principles inspired in this post to take your essential oil experience even deeper.  So, let’s get started.


There are several methods of use with essential oils.

1. Cleaning

One of the easiest ways to use essential oils is to add them to your DIY cleaning products.  I frequently add a few drops to my DIY All Purpose Cleaner.  I will also add a few drops to a 1:1 mixture of vinegar:water to soften the vinegar smell and enhance its cleaning and disinfecting power.  When I’m removing stubborn stains like the grimy buildup on the bathtub or removing stickers from jars, I apply lemon essential oil directly to the stain and scrub with 1:1 vinegar:water and baking soda.

2. Aromatherapy

Another easy way to use essential oils is to inhale them directly from the bottle.  You can put a couple drops in your palms and cup your hands over your face and inhale (a side note: any time I have leftover oils on my hands from applying elsewhere I will use the cupping method in order to get added benefit from the oil).  Or, you can use a home diffuser.  The beauty of a home diffuser is that everyone in the room benefits from the oils.  I enjoy diffusing citrus oils when I’m waking up.  I like diffusing calming lavender to wind down and relax.  I often diffuse Thieves when I am concerned about supporting my immune system and/or reducing germs.

2. Topical Application

Another easy way to use essential oils is to apply the oils directly to the skin.  Neat refers to applying oils to the skin undiluted.  Most often with topical use, you will likely want to dilute your essential oil with a carrier oil.  A carrier oil refers to any vegetable oil; olive oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, and argan oil are all common carrier oils.  You want to dilute “hot oils” like cinnamon, peppermint, and oregano even more because they can burn and/or irritate the skin.  Diluting the hot oils doesn’t reduce their power, if you think about it, you’ll still be getting the same amount of the oil in your system (one drop, two drops, etc.); however, it does slow down the absorption rate of the oil so they don’t burn and/or irritate your system as much.  Another reason you may want to dilute your oils is to allow them to cover a larger surface area like if you’re trying to comfort a sunburn, rash, or stomach ache.  Therapeutic grade essential oils are very potent so a little bit goes a long way in terms of finding relief.  You’ll also want to take care to dilute oils if you’re using them on children, probably even more than you would on yourself.

Where and how you apply your oils will vary depending on which oil you’re using and what you are focused on.  Generally, when I have an ailment I apply my oil on that location. For example, if I have a headache I apply to the oil to my temples and forehead, for a stomach ache or digestive issue I apply the oils to my abdomen, for respiratory issues I apply to my chest, and so on.  For other things like mood and sleep you can apply to pulse points like the wrists and neck, up the spine where lots of nerve endings can be found, or on the bottoms of the feet.  The soles of the feet have very large pores so they absorb oils very well.  Avoid putting essential oils in your eyes or ears; if you do get some in by accident, flush with carrier oil to dilute.  Another way to apply oils is on the Vita Flex points.

Vita Flex points are places on hands, feet, spine and ears that relate to organ systems and activate their reflex, also known as reflexology.  Acupressure and acupuncture techniques work with these same electrical and energetic pathways to stimulate a bodily response.

3. Ingestion

Last, but not least, the third way to use essential oils is to ingest the oils.  We ingest food, pharmaceutical drugs, vitamins, etc., so ingesting essential oils doesn’t seem like a far stretch of the imagination for me if I have an ailment of some sort I’m trying to find relief from.  However, just as not all plants are safe for human consumption, not all essential oils should be consumed either.  Many high quality essential oils are safe to consume, but some are not, so make sure you do your research. Personally, I only ingest therapeutic grade essential oils for the reasons described in the previous post.  Make sure the essential oils you’re ingesting are guaranteed for purity.  Each oil has specifications and safety information printed on the label.

When ingesting, I prefer to drop my essential oils in a glass of water.  You can also drop them on a spoonful of raw honey, or on a slice of bread.  Again, “hot oils” should also be significantly diluted for internal use just like with topical application so they don’t cause stomach upset or irritation.  Internal use of essential oils with children should be done with extreme caution, if at all, because they are so potent.  If you’re considering internal use of essential oils, do thorough research and only do what you are comfortable with.  Personally, I’ve used essential oils internally myself, but not with my children because that’s what I’m comfortable with.

Aside from these three main uses, essential oils can also be used to make homemade body products (soap, lotions, lip balm), sunscreen, bug spray, bath salts, etc.  As an avid DIY-er, I’ve had a lot of fun crafting with them.  So, I’d encourage you to have fun with them, too!


Do your research and experiment with different uses and application methods to see what works best for you and your family, that’s the best way to learn!  Now that we’ve covered the basics of how to use essential oils.

If you’re looking for a good reference book, I own, use and like Essential Oils Pocket Reference.  There’s a section explaining potential uses for each oil and blend and another section explaining various ailments and what may assist that particular ailment.  There’s also a brief section on essential oil chemistry, application (more thorough than I’ve described above to be sure), massage and more.  I know there are other great essential oil reference books out there, but this is the one I use most.


New users to essential oils, I’m not saying all this to overwhelm you!  So, let’s all take a deep breath…and, another.  Okay, now, if you remember from the previous post, I’ve been using essential oils for several years now.  When I first started, I used peppermint, lavender, and lemon.  And, that was the extent of my essential oil usage…at first.  However, as I began to see the effectiveness of therapeutic grade essential oils, I gradually started branching out and using oils for other ailments, conditions, and in crafts.

If you’re ready to get started, but aren’t sure how, I covered the basics of my recommendations for getting started in the previous post.  Up next, I’ll write about the chemistry of essential oils, particularly what essential oils are made of and how they work.  Last month, I started teaching a class of the same name to some local essential oil users with tremendous success, so I’m going to try my hand at relaying the information in blog form, too.  Oh, and I promise you won’t need a chemistry background to understand what we’re talking about, so I hope you’ll come back!



FDA Disclaimer: The products and statements made about specific products in this presentation have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, and are not intended to diagnose, treat cure, or prevent disease. All information provided during this presentation, or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging, is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. Any testimonials presented are based on individual results.


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