So I've been toying around with essential oils and here is my understanding of what they are.
1) Basically they are parts of plants that are often (but not always) distilled down to a hydroponic liquid (fancy speak for it doesn't dissolve in water) that's a potent smell of the plant.
2) Some people claim that essential oils have healing properties. As far as I know there is one single study that shows that Frankincense cures cancer but I'm not sure how accurate the experiment was. I also know that some of them antifungal properties like Tea Tree oil. And since it's great for the skin, it is often found down the medicine aisle. Also there are common vapor creams with Euchalyptus oil. That said, essential oils are great for making things smell good.
3) You can use essential oils in three ways: diffusing it (that is putting some drops into a humidifying device), topically (that is mixing it with what's called a carrier oil: think cooking oils like olive or ones used in creams like jojoba oil and putting them onto your skin), or ingesting it (this isn't recommended but people do that).
4) Some people put essential oils in their cleaning products. As I said some of the essential oils have anti-fungal properties so some mix them in their cleaning products and some just to make their cleaning products (like vinegar) smell more pleasant. A lot of citrus oils are used in this manner.
5) Do your research when purchasing essential oils. Read the labels. Some things will say "oils" on them but they are actually synthetic fragrances. Some oil companies will premix their oils with a carrier oil and some will mix multiple types of essential oils with catchy labels like "sleep easy" or "tension relieving."
6) A lot of MLM (multi-level marketing- Avon or Pampered Chef are examples) will claim that their product is the best. They charge you a huge price for essential oils that you can get off the shelf at any health food store while claiming "it is the best." I say this with much love as I have a friend who has a side business selling essential oils for an MLM. Instead I suggest doing your research and deciding if you want to pay that top dollar and why. There are equally reputable companies out there who sell more directly to the consumer, and do not charge the same price.
7) Where is the product coming from? This may be a reason why you choose to pay top dollar. Not all essential oil companies control 100% of the essential oil making process. Some control everything from when a plant is planted to when it's distilled. Others instead purchase their plants from reputable farmers in areas where the plant is more commonly grown and then distill it down in house. Some use organically grown plants and others don't. The essential oils I purchased told me on the label where the plants were from and the company website explained their process. Most websites will tell you much the same or will be happy to explain what they do.
So why use essential oils?
They aren't synthetic. We've been using essential oils for a very long time. Remember that Frankincense I mentioned having cancer fighting properties and the three gifts from the Magi? Same stuff. I also have a hard time with smells in general. As a linen lady, I can tell you that I'm not the only one. A recent note by our head linen lady asked us to avoid using anything with a smell in it including our laundry detergent. We used to use essential oils in our care products but we don't that much anymore because it's cheaper to develop something similar in a lab. People or at least their noses are noticing.
That doesn't mean I enjoy myself or my house taking on a funky odor. Essential oils are versatile in that respect. House smells weird: diffuse. Want to make my cleaning products to smell "clean?" Add essential oil. Want to make my hand soap smell nice? Add essential oil (although if you buy a natural hand soap they often add their own essential oil anyway). Have a nasty cold? Add Eucalyptus oil to an unscented lotion or oil and rub on. Or diffuse it because a humidifier is always handy.
It's also way cheaper. Imagine buying a jar of vapor rub, using a quarter of it, and discovering later on that it's expired. Ask me how I know. Same if you get tired of the same smell. It's easy to change if the product you are using is already unscented. Want my wash to smell lemon or lavender or.....both? You get my point.
So do you use an essential oil? What your favorite scent? Leave a comment below. Thanks!