Latest News. Read more

22 Things You Should Know About Essential Oils

shutterstock_115110742While the use of essential oils may be in the spotlight at the moment, it is certainly not a new concept. Essential oils have been in use since as far back as 3500 BC, when the Egyptians made the connection to religion, cosmetics and medicinal purposes.

An essential oil is liquid distilled by steam or water from the leaves, stems, flowers, barks or roots of a plant. The oil generally carries the characteristic odour of the plant, giving wonderful scent to many things, including massage oils, cosmetic butters, emulsifiers and waxes, specialty soaps, gels and bath salts.


While many of us use essential oils in our daily life, you may be surprised to learn some of the facts surrounding them. Essentials oils are complex and a valuable tool for more than you may recognise. Here are 25 facts about essential oils you may not know:

Essential oils are not really oils

Essential oils don’t contain the fatty acids that are normally associated with other oils. Some believe that essential oils are actually the extracted life force or soul of the plant!

Fragrance oils and essential oils are not the same thing

Unlike essential oils, which are extracted from the various elements of a plant, fragrance oils are manufactured using artificial scent. Companies commonly use fragrance oils as an alternative to essential oils, as they are much more affordable. It’s important to remember, however, that while scientists have been able to mimic the natural scent, they are yet to mimic the extra benefits that come with using essential oils. As a general rule, if you see the word “fragrance”, “fragrance oil” or even “perfume”, you can probably assume that the scent you are smelling is synthetic.

It takes a huge number of plants to produce essential oils

Creating an essential oil isn’t an easy process and it takes multiple plants to create a small amount. On the extreme end, it takes nearly 2,000 kilos of Bulgarian roses to produce half a kilo of oil, while others – such as lavender – take just 45 kilos.

Essential oils are not to be ingested

Essential oils can be used in products such as toothpaste, but must be well-diluted first. It’s generally recognised that essential oils should not be taken internally.

Essential oils are miniscule in molecular size

Because the molecular makeup of oil is so tiny, essential oils are absorbed well by the skin. They also don’t build up in the body.

Each oil has a unique scent

Being extracted directly from the plant, essential oils adopt the same scent the plant offers. Rarely would you ever find a plant that smells the same as another. Even within the same botanical family, plants can smell different from one another.

Each oil has its own purpose

Be it for its scent or its cleaning qualities, essential oils each have a wide variety of different uses. Peppermint oil can be used to deter rodents, while chamomile’s most well-known purpose is for tea.

The Ancient Greeks loved essential oils

shutterstock_123121285When the Ancient Greeks discovered the use of essential oils in Egypt, they quickly absorbed it into their own culture.

The term “aromatherapy” was coined by French perfumer Maurice Gattefosse

The term “aromatherapy” was first used by French perfumer Maurice Gattefosse in an article he wrote in 1928.

There are about 300 essential oils in general use

While essential oils can be created from virtually any plant, there are around 300 oils that are used regularly.

The ten leading essential oils are…

The most popular essential oils in use are: lavender, chamomile, marjoram, rosemary, tea tree, cypress, peppermint, eucalyptus, bergamot and geranium.

Essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties

Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, making them ideal replacements for cleaners and salves. Popular cleaning oils are lavender, lemon and eucalyptus.

Essential oils are 100% natural, therefore cannot be patented

Pure essential oils cannot be patented, therefore pharmaceutical companies don’t waste their money on studying them.

Essential oils should be not be used undiluted on the skin

Most essential oils need to be combined with carrier oils, waxes, butters, alcohols or other diluting measures before being used on the skin.

The purity of essential oils is easy to test

If you are unsure of the purity of your essential oil, a simple test can be carried out using a piece of blotting paper. Place one drop on a piece of blotting paper and leave it overnight. If there’s no residue in the morning, you have a good quality oil.

Essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties

Most essential oils are high in antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties, making them ideal replacements for cleaners and salves. Popular cleaning oils are lavender, lemon and eucalyptus.

Essential oils are 100% natural, therefore cannot be patented

Pure essential oils cannot be patented, therefore pharmaceutical companies don’t waste their money on studying them.

Essential oils should be not be used undiluted on the skin

Most essential oils need to be combined with carrier oils, waxes, butters, alcohols or other diluting measures before being used on the skin.

The purity of essential oils is easy to test

If you are unsure of the purity of your essential oil, a simple test can be carried out using a piece of blotting paper. Place one drop on a piece of blotting paper and leave it overnight. If there’s no residue in the morning, you have a good quality oil.

Essential oils last for 5 years

shutterstock_158992583Because essential oils need to be diluted, a very small amount needs to be used each application. This means one bottle could last its full five year shelf life.

Essential oils were first used for massages in 1950

In 1950, diluted essential oils were mixed with vegetable carrier oil and massaged into the skin. This is a practice still carried out today.

Essential oils should be kept in a dark bottle

Most manufacturers package oils in dark bottles to prevent direct sunlight from weakening the oil.

There are six main ways to use the aroma of oils

There are six ways to use essential oils in aromatherapy: inhalation, bath, compress, facial steam, massage or diffuser.

Some essential oils should be avoided when pregnant

Certain oils, such as aniseed oil, cedarwood, cinnamon, ginger and rosemary should be avoided during pregnancy.

Essential oil can be tested on sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, dilute one drop of oil with ½ teaspoon of carrier oil (like olive) and rub on the inside, upper portion of your arm. If after a few hours there is no sign of redness, you’re good to go.

New methods of extracting essential oils are being introduced

One new (but expensive) way to extract oil from plants is through carbon dioxide. The result is an essential oil that’s extremely close to the plant itself.