Why Dilute Essential Oils

Why Dilute Essential Oils

If you’ve been using essential oils for a while, then you’ve probably come across information about dilution (using a small amount of essential oil in a carrier oil before skin application). Maybe you don’t see what the harm could be in placing a few drops of a pure, natural essential oil on the skin. But we’re here to tell you, do not underestimate these potent chemical cocktails.

Essential oils are produced by the aromatic plants that we as humans have been using for thousands of years in health and healing. However, once these oils are contained in our little bottles, they are incredibly concentrated. The average yield of essential oil is between 0.01-1%. That means for every pound of a high-yielding plant, we might get 10 or more milliliters. This will be much less for a low-yielding plant.

So just consider for a moment how many Rosemary leaves or Lavender flowers you’d need to get what’s in a single drop of concentrated oil. Placing this much plant material on our skin has never been common practice, nor has our skin adapted to it as such.

Why you need to dilute your essential oils:

  • It increases the possibility of absorption by spreading the oil over a larger surface area. More surface area can absorb the blend, whereas neat (undiluted) oil can only go so far before evaporating.
  • It decreases the likelihood of a negative reaction. (Super plus!)
  • It helps the environment by preserving the oils, since we are using less of them. A single bottle can last 10x as long with dilution.
  • As neat oils evaporate, they are very drying to the skin and can cause irritation, sensitization, or phototoxicity.

Dilution is simple and easy. In general, using up to 15 drops in 1 ounce of carrier oil is a good, general recommendation that will get you approximately 2.5%. The recommended dilution can vary, however, depending on the oils used, the objective, and the person they are being used on.

If you want to get more detailed in your dilution, consider purchasing our Aromatherapy Practitioner Reference Manual. (It’s a mini-course on its own!)

You can also join us in the Atlantic Aromatic Library, where we discuss dilution and so much more. It’s our goal to help create safe and effective aromatherapy practices.

And remember, the more you dilute, the less likely you are to experience a skin reaction! Don’t find yourself filling out an injury report on our growing database.

So, we want to know:

  • Have you been diluting your essential oils?
  • If not, has something we’ve shared started to change your mind on using them neat?

Leave us a comment with any questions you have about dilution. We’ll be sure to answer them here or even in-depth in a future post.

Be safe out there with those precious oils!

Aromatically Yours,



Essential Oil Safety Resources

Essential Oil Safety Resources

Are there really still people out there regularly using undiluted essential oils? Are there really people out there using essential oils who haven’t heard of sensitization? The answer is yes. I keep learning over and over that the answer is most definitely yes.