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Most people have probably heard of essential oils. You've probably seen them on the shelves at your local stores. Maybe you've thought about giving them a shot, or maybe you have even bought them, thinking you'll find something to do with them later. In today's post, I'll share with you how I came to use essential oils and the ones I can't live without.
I first became interested in essential oils in 2015 after discovering how toxic commercial cleaning supplies and toiletries are. Most store-bought supplies are full of phthalates (which are known endocrine disruptors), nasty chemicals, and fake "fragrances." All these things can be quite harmful to the human body, especially when you're exposed to them over long periods of time, such as when you're cleaning your home on a regular basis, or, you know, bathing with them. This article has some great information on how specific toxins affect your body.
The production and disposal of these chemicals also lead to pollution of the air and environment. When we clean our bathtubs or take a shower and the water and chemical residue mixture runs down the drain, it has the potential to contaminate waterways. These chemicals are toxic to marine and plant life in the waterway as well as anything that eats or comes into contact with that life. SFGate has a great article that talks about these dangers more in-depth.
Once I learned how bad most commercial ingredients really are for us and the world, I knew I wanted to make some changes. I started doing some research and I found out that essential oils (EOs) don't just smell nice, they pack a mighty punch when it comes to killing germs. Not only are they much safer than most commercial products when used properly, they even have health benefits.
While I now have many essential oils in my arsenal (kept on this gorgeous shelf that my amazing husband built for me), I want to tell you about the five I just couldn't get by without. These are some of the first ones I used because they were common ingredients in many things I wanted to make, and I still use them all on a daily basis.
I'd like to note at this point that I am not a doctor and I do not play one on the internet. Please use your own judgment when using essential oils in your home or on/around yourself or your family, just as you would with anything else. Also, my statements aren't medically evaluated, they are based on research and my own experiences. Please consult a doctor before using anything new.
I have two books, "The Naturally Clean Home" * by Karyn Siegel-Maier and "Essential Oils and Aromatherapy" * by Sonoma Press, that helped me a lot when I was getting started. The first one emphasizes EOs for cleaning your home, while the second one is more about aromatherapy and medicinal uses. Both have fantastic information and recipes. I recommend them to anyone, whether you're just starting out or you're an EO veteran.
So, without further ado, here are the five oils you'll always find on my shelf.
First on my list of must-haves is lavender essential oil. It smells amazing and it offers so many benefits. It is antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. It is also great for pain, nausea, and calming the nerves.
I use lavender oil most often for homemade toiletries, medicinal purposes, and in our diffusers. It has a calming effect and that makes it great to diffuse in our children's rooms. It is added to our nightly sleep blend (recipes to follow this list). It smells great when mixed with many other EOs, so you can tailor blends to suit your preferences.
I also like to use lavender oil to soothe aching muscles. Mixed with a carrier oil like this one * and massaged into sore muscles, lavender can really soothe aches and pains. Another great use for lavender EO is to mix about ten drops into one teaspoon of carrier oil, then stir it into 2 cups of Epsom salt and dissolve it into a warm bath. Soaking in this mixture is calming and soothing to sore, tired muscles.
This Plant Therapy * brand lavender oil is my favorite.
Next on my list is peppermint essential oil. High-quality peppermint oil smells amazing. It pairs wonderfully with lavender oil in a diffuser and can make a room smell inviting in no time. It is also in our sleep blend.
Peppermint oil is great for headaches, nausea, and muscle pain. It's also antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral, making it great for many medicinal and household uses.
I like to use peppermint oil mainly for aromatherapy and medicinal reasons. I am prone to migraines, and when I feel one coming on I reach for my peppermint EO. I simply put three drops onto a cotton ball and rub it onto each temple, across my forehead, and at the base of my skull on either side of my neck. It does wonders for the pain, especially if I catch it early. Applying an oil without a carrier oil like this is called "neat" application. Use caution with neat application and do your research; not all EOs are recommended to apply this way.
I also like to use peppermint oil to keep bugs at bay. Summer in the deep south means bugs of all sorts, and eventually, they try to make their way into our homes. A few drops of peppermint oil spaced a few inches apart along window sills and doorjambs will help keep bugs outside where they belong.
I like this peppermint oil * by Plant Therapy.
3. Sweet Orange:
Sweet orange is the third oil on my list. It is antibacterial and has a great clean scent. It also helps fight insomnia and stress and eases tension. You may have guessed, but it's the third EO in our sleep blend.
I also like to add sweet orange oil to cleaning sprays, such as the orange vinegar cleaner I told you about in my previous post. If I don't add the Medieval Mix, I use sweet orange. It adds a germ-killing boost and a great scent. There is a great recipe for dusting spray in "The Naturally Clean Home" that uses sweet orange oil, too.
I like Plant Therapy's * sweet orange oil.
4. Tea Tree:
Up next is tea tree oil. Tea tree oil is a potent antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial essential oil. It is also helpful to treat small wounds, acne, and respiratory issues.
Tea tree EO is a great and natural way to kill black mold. We had to put this to the test several years ago when our water heater burst and leaked into the crawlspace under our home. Not wanting to spray a bunch of bleach down there, I went looking for natural options. Tea tree oil and water in a spray bottle did the trick, and the mold did not come back.
While tea tree oil has a much stronger scent than many oils and not everyone finds its scent pleasing, I like to diffuse it when someone in the house may be ill because of its germ-fighting properties. I also add it to a homemade shampoo I make.
I recommend this one * by Plant Therapy.
Last but certainly not least on my list is eucalyptus essential oil. Eucalyptus is also antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial. It is also beneficial when treating headaches, muscle aches, respiratory concerns, and inflammation.
I add eucalyptus to the diffuser if anyone is feeling ill or is congested. I also make a homemade alternative to Vick's Vaporub that contains eucalyptus oil. It smells great without any harsh odors, and it's all-natural.
I also like to use eucalyptus oil to clean our bathrooms because of its germ-fighting abilities. I put one tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds * and one teaspoon of eucalyptus EO in the toilet bowl to kill germs and fight odors. I've been using this method for years. I also put five drops onto a wet washcloth and use it to scrub the sinks and tubs, along with Bon Ami * cleaning powder. I love how clean the bathrooms look and smell.
I use this eucalyptus oil * by Plant Therapy.
You may have noticed that all my oils are Plant Therapy brand. I have tried so many brands of oils, and these are my favorites. Plus, they are much more affordable than some of the other popular brands. I've bought some oils that didn't even remotely smell like the plant they supposedly came from. Others were high-quality but simply cost too much. Most of the oils in my collection are Plant Therapy brand and I buy them all from Amazon.
Another thing I really love about Plant Therapy oils is that they mark oils that are considered safer for use on and around children as "kid-safe." You can probably see that on some of the bottles in my pictures. While caution should always be used when using any EO on or around children, the ones labeled as "kid-safe" are considered generally safe to use. You should still avoid any known allergens and use EOs on only a small area of your child's skin before applying to a larger area, just to be sure.
I'd like to share a couple of the recipes I mentioned above.
Sleep blend diffuser mix:
3 drops of lavender oil
3 drops of peppermint oil
3 drops of sweet orange oil
Simply put all the oils into your diffuser and place it near where you will be sleeping for a calming night's rest. I like this diffuser by Guru Nanda,* but I don't recommend their essential oils.
Soothing chest rub (Vick's Vaporub alternative):
1/2 cup of coconut oil*
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of beeswax pastilles*
20 drops of eucalyptus oil
20 drops of peppermint oil
Put all the ingredients except the essential oils into a glass pint-0r quart-sized mason jar. Place a saucepan with about two inches of water over low heat on the stovetop and place the jar into the pot. Slowly stir the oils and wax over low heat until everything is completely melted. Remove the pot and jar from the heat and stir in the essential oils, then transfer the liquid to a storage container. I used a half-pint glass mason jar. Allow the mixture to cool completely and solidify, then cap tightly and store out of direct light and away from heat.
To use, simply run on the chest as you would Vaporub. I have safely used this on all my family members, including children as young as three years, but please use your own judgment and do a small spot check for sensitivity before using.
I use essential oils every single day, and I can't recommend them enough. I'll admit, I was skeptical when I first read about them. I wondered if they really could work the way people claimed they do. But I am here to say, they really do. I'll be an EO user for life.
Do you use essential oils? If so, which ones? I'd love to hear about the ones you can't make it without.