An Expert View on Using Essential Oils Safely
Amy Furman, aka Momma, is a chemist and owner of Momma’s Home, LLC, in Southwest Michigan. She started the all-natural soap and body care company because she was frustrated by the inability to find soap that didn’t irritate her skin or the skin of her son. After her second son developed an allergy to typical detergent soap, Furman put her chemistry degree to good use and developed her soaps.
Now an award-winning company, Momma’s Home still makes products in small, carefully controlled batches and likes to educate people on skin sensitivities and safe use of skin-care products.
Here is Furman’s take on essential oils for people who want to ensure they are correctly interpreting labeling and directions for use.
What the first thing someone should look for on the label before buying an essential oil?
Check what extraction method was used. It’s important to look for an oil that has been steam distilled or cold pressed. Avoid oils that are solvent extracted because it’s nearly impossible to remove all the solvent. Hexane is an example of a solvent used to extract essential oils and it’s classified as a neurotoxin by the CDC. Just because a label says it has organic ingredients, that doesn’t mean it’s hexane-free. The extraction process is crucial.
What is the best concentration of an essential oil to use?
Most essential oils are not safe to use at 100-percent concentration, yet even Momma’s Home sells them this way. The most common acceptable concentration for application on the skin is 3 percent. This simply means that they must be diluted with a carrier oil before use. Good carrier oils are lightly scented, such as jojoba, grapeseed or marula.
There are many ways to use essential oils and there are books and guides if you want to create your own products or blends. One that I suggest is 500 Formulas for Aromatherapy by Carol and David Schiller. It covers many different blends for a variety of uses as well as suggested percentages.
How does one determine if a particular oil is safe?
Education is the key to safe use of essential oils. Be sure that you understand the potential effects and possible hazards before using any essential oil. Tea tree and lavender are two essential oils that have been found to be safe when applied undiluted on the skin, but I strongly suggest that people dilute oils.
Everyone has their own sensitivities, so I would also advise a patch test when using new oils. Place one drop of the oil to be tested in 30 drops of carrier oil and stir. With a cotton swab, put a thin layer of the mixture on a small patch of skin near the crook of the elbow on the lower arm. Don’t wash for 24 to 48 hours. Watch for signs of skin sensitivity. Discontinue if sensitivity occurs and consult a health professional if it continues. If there is no reaction, the oil is likely safe for you.
You create products with essential oils for your business. What is your favorite combination of oils?
I have put my favorite blends into our line of Essential Rollers, but your mood might determine what your favorite blend is. For example, if you want to relax or if you want to feel more energetic, you’ll probably choose different blends at those times. My favorite-favorite probably goes without saying: it’s called “Momma’s Signature Scent” and it’s a blend of coconut, neroli and rose essential oils.
Do you think that essential oils provide important health benefits?
Essential oils and aromatherapy have been around for centuries. There are very good uses and proven results when they are used properly; however, they should always be used in conjunction with other health care practices, both modern and ancient, with open lines of communication between all providers and patients.
Julie Peterson has contributed to Natural Awakenings for more than a decade. Contact her at JPtrsn22@att.net.
For more information on essential oils and products that are ready to use, contact Momma’s Home at 616-951-1397, email firstname.lastname@example.org or see MommasHome.com. See ad page 19.