Carrier and Essential Oils: Differences and Dilution Guide


Carrier oils, sometimes called vegetable or base oils, help in diluting essential oils before applying essential oils on the skin. Basically, carrier oils carry essential oils onto our skin. When combined with carrier oils, essential oils impart healing properties, as well as aroma, to them.

Mostly found as cold-pressed oils extracted from fatty plant parts, carrier oils not only benefit our skin in a number of ways, but also help our hair tremendously.

There are a number of different varieties of carrier oils, and what variety is used depends on the goal at hand, or the benefits being expected from use.


Let us understand the main differences between carrier oils and essential oils:

1. Carrier oils tend not to be too potent, and therefore, can be applied on the skin directly. However, essential oils tend to be quite potent, and so, applying such oils directly on the skin may cause burning sensation or severe irritation.

2. Carrier oils do not normally have a strong scent, but essential oils almost always have a somewhat concentrated and strong aroma.

3. Carrier oils refuse to evaporate easily, but essential oils can get evaporated pretty easily.

4. Carrier oils can be found in stores inside bottles of 60ml or more made of plastic that are clear or transparent. Essential oils, on the other hand, are found inside bottles of 10ml or similar made of dark glass. Essential oils are sold in very small volumes because of their high potency.

5. Carrier oils normally do not get evaporated or degraded easily. On the other hand, essential oils can get degraded or evaporated fairly easily after being exposed to light.

6. Carrier oils do not eat into plastic, but essential oils do, and that is why essential oils come inside glass bottles.

7. Carrier oils can get rancid sometimes. But, essential oils do not get rancid. Note that carrier oils which are completely unadulterated and natural do not go rancid easily, though. Also, carrier oils that contain Vitamin E do not go rancid as Vitamin E has preservative properties.


Essential oil Dilution

Remember that you MUST never use essential oil without carrier oil unless you have an extensive knowledge of essential oils.

For normal use, you want to dilute your essential oil in order to obtain a final 2% solution for adults and 1% for children under 6. To do that you mix  12 drops of essential oil with 30 ml of carrier oil for adults or 6 drops with 30 ml of carrier oil for children.

In case of short term injury, you can go up to 10% but you should test at 6 or 8% before.

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