Understanding the basics of dilution

What exactly is dilution and how do you know when you’re doing it correctly?

When I began my journey with essential oils, I loved them for their aromas and I wanted to interact with them as much as possible. However, I didn’t know much about them so I often overused them in ways that could have been harmful. I did not fully understand dilution – the practice of making essential oils less concentrated – and this limited what I was able to do.

Dilution is the process of making an essential oil less concentrated by adding the essential oil into another medium. Most of the time, this other medium is referred to as a “carrier” because it carries the essential oil effectively and can help with its dispersion. Essential oils are readily absorbed through the skin, and at full strength can create irritation or adverse skin reactions in some cases. Remember that when it comes to EOs and skin, less is most definitely more.

There are many topical carriers for essential oils, including massage and skin care oils, face creams, body moisturizers and lotions, foot scrubs, body mists, and beyond. Anything with a fatty component makes an ideal carrier, as there is a level of protection for the skin.

Oftentimes, it only takes a few drops of an essential oil to get the desired results – especially in skin care. This is due to the strength of the oil. When you dilute the essential oil in the right medium, you can actually get more usage out of the oil as it slows the rate you absorb the essential oil into your skin. This means that every little drop counts – you don’t need to use as much as you might think!

When in doubt, a safe ratio to follow is 6 drops in 1 ounce of a carrier substance (a 1% dilution), which is something you can go up from, if needed. Each essential oil varies in how much can be used for different applications, so do your research first to know if you can use more or less of your favorite oils.

Not only does dilution make the oil a bit friendlier to your skin, it also helps you get the most out of each drop, and that’s friendly to your wallet, too.

Charlynn Avery
Contributor & Founding Member

An avid aroma enthusiast, I have devoted my career to understanding the connection between mind, body and spirit. I come from a diverse background in education, health and wellness and have practiced and taught in the arenas of bodywork, holistic therapies, yoga and plant medicine. I've been teaching about essential oil usage for 14 years with the last six years at Frontier Co-op educating about essential oils on behalf of the Aura Cacia brand. My passions are my family, reading, writing, gardening, natural healing, yoga, hiking, & travel. I believe the world is made a better place by small acts of kindness.

Share Your Thoughts

Leslie H

October 19, 2018 - 3:23pm

I learned the hard way that dilution , especially for some is important. I have severely sensitized myself to several oils and can even breathe them now without a severe allergic reaction. When I’m doubt . Dilute!!!  Do your homework and read about the oils before using!

Constance M 977760611

June 27, 2018 - 8:16am

What is the best brand of essential oils. I have used DoTerra before but vmcan be a little pricey.

Patricia J 2019872654

June 16, 2018 - 8:51am

Just starting to learn oils that will help not only for relaxation but also my health too. Thank u

Charlynn Avery

February 12, 2018 - 11:56am

You are most welcome!  I am so happy to share some important basics around essential oil usage.

sandra H

February 11, 2018 - 6:06pm

Thanks for the info. I never knew that dilution was the important factor

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