(NaturalNews) This holiday season scent your home naturally with pure essential oils like cinnamon and pine. These highly aromatic plant extracts are a healthier, more beneficial alternative to commercial fragrances, and you may already have the tools you need to disperse them in your home. However, there are certain precautions you should take when choosing and handling your essential oils.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are physically extracted and distilled from natural plant materials, such as the rind, leaves, and flowers. They are very concentrated and chemically complex, made up of dozens of known components -- and even more unknown components. Many of these have therapeutic, antiseptic, and fragrant properties.
They are very powerful, and nearly all must be diluted before being used internally or externally. According to "Aromatherapy: a Complete Guide to the Healing Art" by Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, a 2% dilution is typical and safe when using most essential oils. That translates into about 10 drops per ounce.
The Purity of Natural Essential Oils
It is impossible for the average consumer to determine if an essential oil is pure and unadulterated with synthetic fragrance oils, cheaper essential oils, or other chemicals. Tests do exist to analyze essential oils; however, according to the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), even these may not be accurate. The NAHA recommends buying only from trusted suppliers.
How to Diffuse Essential Oils
One of the easiest ways to diffuse a holiday essential oil is to place several drops in a small saucepan of boiling water. If you live in the cold, this has the added benefit of warming and humidifying the air. You may want to use an old pot that you do not use for cooking in case any residual oil remains on the implement afterward.
Metal and clay lightbulb rings can be filled with a small amount of oil and fit on most incandescent bulbs. These release the oil`s scent as they are warmed by the bulb. They are a safe, energy-saving method of scenting a room because they harness wasted heat; however, they do not work with energy saving bulbs.
You may also mix several drops of essential oil into a clean spritzer bottle of fresh water. Buy an empty bottle from the supermarket or hardware store. (Because traces of chemicals may remain, never reuse a spritzer bottle from a commercial cleaner or other household product.) Shake this mixture and spray around your home.
Small diffusers that use a tealight to heat a dish of oil are sold in many metaphysical stores. However, smoke from candles may contribute to indoor pollution. If you prefer this method, use lead-free candles made of soy wax or other natural wax, not paraffin.
Essential oils are highly concentrated and many are irritating to the skin and other tissues. Some are extremely toxic when taken internally, so do not ingest them. Keep out of reach of children.
"Aromatherapy: A Complete Guide to the Healing Art," Kathi Keville and Mindy Green, 2nd edition, 2009
Christie Bailey, BSN is a practicing RN with a passion for holistic health and natural products. In addition to writing health articles, creating herbal concoctions, and pursuing her Masters degree, she keeps a blog about natural products and health at http://savvybynature.blogspot.com/