The Safe Use Of Undiluted Essential Oils & How To Make Long Lasting Aromatherapy Shower Steamers
Are Undiluted Essential Oils Safe To Use?
Essential oils can be used in many ways. They can be diffused for inhalation, applied topically, or used for cleaning. Clinical studies have shown that aromatherapy by inhalation can have real benefits for people with anxiety, problems with mental focus, depressive symptoms, and menstrual pain. When it comes to essential oils used in skin care, things tend to get a bit complicated and controversial. While several oils may aid in healing, toning, and brightening the skin some can cause serious skin reactions and even chemical burns due to allergies and phototoxicity.
First, let me hit on the undiluted or “neat” application of essential oils. The neat application is the use of a pure essential oil directly to the skin without the use of a carrier or base oil. With undiluted application, the oil is often applied in a small amount to a specific localized area. With the risk ranging from mild dermal irritation to severe dermatitis and sensitization, the undiluted application of essential oils is a highly controversial topic. Within the aromatherapy industry, there are those who believe the undiluted application of essential oils is extremely beneficial and appropriate under certain circumstances and those who believe that it is extremely hazardous and that essential oils absolutely should not be placed on the skin undiluted for any reason.
Of the aromatherapy practitioners who believe in the neat application of essential oils, many believe that only the following essential oils should be used undiluted — Lavandula angustifolia, Melaleuca alternifolia, Helichrysum italicum and Chamaemelum nobile. According to The School for Aromatic Studies, the specific essential oils that tend to be safe to apply undiluted include tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) **Be sure it has not oxidized!, lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), helichrysum (Helichrysum italicum), Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), rose (Rosa damascena), and sandalwood (Santalum album or Santalum spicatum), Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens), Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus radiata or globulus), Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis). These and other essential oils of similar chemical make-up (which may also be considered safe for undiluted application) should only be applied under proper conditions by a trained and knowledgeable therapist or individual. Essential oils that can be irritating, sensitizing, or are rich in aldehydes or phenols should be avoided all together for undiluted application.
When used on the skin, the more an essential oil is diluted, the less risk there is of an adverse skin reaction. If you’re unsure how essential oil to carrier oil much you should use to achieve a certain ratio, Robert Tisserand, an essential oil educator and aromatherapy expert from Californa, has a chart to offer guidance. Regardless of the method of use, only oils that should be used are the ones that are considered safe and allowed for internal consumption.
Now that we’ve got the use of undiluted essential oils and skin care out of the way let’s talk about some great things that you can make with them. Such as creating natural products for yourself, friends, and family. Who wouldn’t like to receive a homemade aromatherapy candle or some handmade soap? How about some bath bombs or shower steamers in your favorite scent?
Refreshing, enhances alertness and strengthens the memory
|Cherry Blossom Oil
Used to uplift mood and make the day better
Used to improve mood and reduce anxiety
Used to relieve stress and promote peaceful sleep
Enhance mood and feelings of well-being
Contribute to alleviate anxiety and irritability
We recently received a 100% Pure Essential Oil Set from Aofmee containing Rose Essential Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Cherry Bloom Essential Oil, Gardenia Essential Oil, Wild-Bluebell Essential Oil, and Freesia Essential Oil so we decided to try our hand at making some shower steamers. For those who have never had the pleasure of the shy little sister to the beloved bath bomb — a shower steamer is basically a bath bomb for your shower. They’re super easy to use. You simply place one somewhere in your shower, and as water hits it, it fizzles, and releases an amazing mix of essential oil scents into the air.
Long Lasting Aromatherapy Shower Steamers
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1 cup citric acid
- Witch hazel or 91% Isopropyl Alcohol (pour into a spray mist bottle)
- Essential oils – see suggestions below
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons Menthol Crystals (optional, but they will make your steamers work better)
- Silicone, metal, or plastic mold(s) (You can use any you like… good ones to use are ice cube trays, regular and mini muffin pans, candy molds, soap molds, etc.)
- Medical mask and disposable gloves
- dry coloring pigment or liquid soap colorant (optional, needed only if you want to color your steamers)
Essential Oil Suggestions:
You can use up to two teaspoons of your favorite essential oil.
For a cold/flu symptoms: 80 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil & 40 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
For a soothing shower: 80 drops of Lavender Essential Oil & 40 drops of Geranium Essential Oil
For sinus relief: use 1/4 cup of Menthol Crystals, 40 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil & 40 drops Peppermint Essential Oil
To ease seasonal allergies: 40 drops each of Lemon, Lavender And Peppermint Essential Oils
For romance: 50 drops Ylang Ylang essential oil, 30 drops Patchouli essential oil, 30 drops Wild Orange or Bergamot essential oil
For detox and immunity support: 30 drops Rosemary essential oil, 30 drops Geranium essential oil, 20 drops Lavender essential oil, & 10 drops Tea Tree essential oil
To deodorize & kill bacteria in your toilet: 60 drops each of Lavender, Peppermint, & Lemon Essential Oils (divide finished mixture into approx. 48 toilet bombs) Check out these 5 other uses for toilet bombs.
- Since you will be working with citric acid and baking soda, put on a medical mask (or any available face covering you have) first. These powders are so fine, they will be irritating when you stir them together if you don’t. Also, you will want to put on a pair disposable gloves since you will be mixing and pressing these steamers with your hands.
- Place the baking soda and citric acid in a large bowl. Using a fork or whisk, remove any lumps. Mix until well combined. If you are using a dry coloring pigment to color your steamers, add it during this step. Set aside.
- Dissolve the menthol crystals. Place them in a small dish and add your essential oils. Stir, if not completely dissolved you can add a few drops of alcohol. If you’d like to color your steamers with a liquid color, now is the time to add a few drops of liquid soap colorant.
- Add the essential oil mixture to the baking soda mixture. Mix with whisk until well combined.
- Lightly spritz the surface of the mixture with witch hazel/alcohol. Then, give it a good mix with a whisk. From this point on you will want to mix with your hands. (You have to be very careful because if you add too much liquid too soon, the whole thing will fizz up.)
- Continue spritzing and mixing until you end up with a consistency of wet sand. (It doesn’t take much. When it feels like sand that would be perfect for making a sandcastle, you’ve added enough.)
- Now you can divide your shower steamer mixture evenly between the sections of your silicone mold.
- Using your hands, the back of a spoon, or ice cream scoop pack the mixture into your molds as tightly as you can and smooth it out. (I put mine in a silicone ice cube mold and used a wine cork that I happened to have lying on the counter to press the mixture down. It worked fabulously!)
- Leave to dry, a minimum of 2 hours or overnight.
- When dry, carefully remove from molds and and let them dry overnight.
- Package in a Mason jar or clear gift bag.
To Use: Take into the shower with you, wet it under the stream of water to get it going. Place the steamer at the far end of the bath/shower stall. You want it to last and if it stays under the stream of water it will disappear too quickly.
Caution: Because you are introducing oil into the shower, be sure you use a shower mat and wipe out the shower floor when you are done.
Precautions for Using Menthol Crystals in Shower Steamers: The maximum dilution rate for using menthol crystals is 5% in order to protect respiratory system and skin from any distress or discomfort. This is a case where more is not better. It is important to note that menthol crystals are not recommend for use by children ages 7 and under. Likewise, if you are pregnant or nursing you should consult a physician before using menthol crystals. You should also seek out guidance from your doctor before use if you have cancer, heart-related ailments, skin disorders or hormone-related ailments. Additionally, do not use menthol crystals if you have an open wounds as high levels of absorption may be toxic and take care to keep menthol crystals out of contact with mucous membranes. If you will be using these steamers for young children or have any of these conditions, consult your pediatrician/doctor before use or err on the side of caution and omit the menthol crystals from your steamers.
- When placed in an air tight container, these can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.
- If you live in a humid area, it might take longer for your shower steamers to dry.
- If your shower steamers are not drying as fast as you’d like, you can dry them out faster in a low temperature oven (250-300 degrees).
- You can omit the essential oils from the recipe. Then, just add a few drops of whatever essential oils you want to the shower steamer right before you want to use it.
- If you are not using essential oils, the menthol can be dissolved with a small amount of alcohol. Menthol crystals are insoluble in water, witch hazel, and glycerin. They are soluble in alcohol and essential oils. With a melting point of 107°F, menthol crystals are quickly solubilized in slightly warmed oils.
- For menthol shower steamers dissolve 1/4 cup of Menthol Crystals in your essential oils before adding them. Adding menthol also intensifies and helps your essential oils get released into the air so you will not need to use as much of them.
- If you don’t want to make your own you can find shower steamers like the ones pictured above for sale on Etsy.
- If your steamers are expanding in the mold, this means the mixture is too wet and the fizzing reaction is happening prematurely. Also, if you make them on a rainy day they can fizz prematurely due to moisture in the air.
- Place your steamers in a container with uncooked rice while they dry
- For child safe steamers and bath bombs avoid using peppermint oil for children under 3. Read this post for more information on the use of peppermint and eucalyptus oil for children.
Whether you’re an experienced essential oil user or a total beginner, it’s always a good idea to consult an expert before using them. Additionally, remember to use safe practices when using essential oils and ensure that your oil comes from a reputable source. Essential oils are not safe to consume and can cause significant poisoning even if small amounts are ingested.
Looking for more essential oil ideas? Check out this post for Some Surprising Lemon Essential Oil Uses and this How To Make Your Own DIY Sea Salt Spray and Air Freshener at Home post.