Essential Oils Guide (THE ULTIMATE LIST OF BENEFITS, USES, RECIPES, & MORE)

What if you could keep your home clean and your family healthy without relying on strange manufactured chemicals?

With essential oils, you can!

Ahead, in this essential oils guide, get answers to your essential oil questions, such as:

  • Do essential oils work?
  • What are essential oils good for?
  • What do I need to know about how to dilute essential oils?
  • What are some essential oils recipes?

There is even a handy reference guide for essential oils at the bottom to help you learn more about the benefits of essential oils.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are fragrant oils derived from plants. They can come from the bark, roots, stems, flowers or seeds of a plant. They are most often obtained from the plant through a process of distillation.

What are essential oils, then? They are highly concentrated compounds that come directly from plants and can bear the healing or therapeutic benefits of that plant.

You may be wondering "How do essential oils work?" The oils are comprised of very small molecules that your body can absorb through the skin or nose. Once in your system, they interact with your body in various ways.

How do essential oils work when it comes to killing germs on surfaces? Do essential oils work for that purpose? Yes, research has shown that essential oils can be effective against bacteria, especially Gram-positive bacteria. They can penetrate the bacterium's cell wall and act on the bacterium from within.

Do Essential Oils Really Work?

Although research on essential oils is somewhat limited, there are scientists who have asked the question "Do essential oils really work?" and the results of their studies have backed up anecdotal claims about the effectiveness of these oils.

Cinnamon oil, for example, has been shown to be effective at combatting bacteria. Tea tree oil has been shown as useful an acne treatment as traditional topical creams. Studies have shown that peppermint oil helps those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome feel better and that other oils can encourage sleep.

How to Use Essential Oils

There are multiple ways how to use essential oils, and the approach you choose will depend on which oil you are using and your intended goal. Some of the most popular approaches involve diluting and diffusing oils.

One of the easiest uses for essential oils involves simply breathing them in so their beneficial properties go straight for your nasal olfactory passages. Hold the bottle to your nose, breathing deeply to inhale the oil's scent.

Another way to breathe in essential oils is to make a steam inhalation preparation. Learn about this method in this video by Gina Loves Oils:

Some essential oils benefits may be obtained by ingesting the oils. Please take care when taking oils internally. Swallow only oils labeled "therapeutic grade" or "food grade."

The essential oils uses chart below does recommend some internal applications, but you may want to consult your health care provider before using any ingestion suggestions from this essential oils guide.

How to Dilute Essential Oils

Applying essential oil to the skin is one of the smartest uses for essential oils, but only if you do it right. Because these oils are fat soluble, your skin can absorb them and their beneficial properties.

However, because they are strong, you should not usually put them on your skin at full strength. Instead, first dilute the oil with a carrier oil.

The following oils are good choices for carrier oils:

  • Avocado
  • Sweet Almond
  • Jojoba
  • Grape Seed
  • Coconut
  • Sunflower

Easy Dilution: 1 drop essential oil to 1 teaspoon carrier oil

In many situations, one drop of essential oil should be paired with a teaspoon of carrier oil. However, sometimes you will need stronger or weaker mixtures. Consult an essential oil uses chart before preparing your blend.

Rub the diluted oil onto your skin. Popular spots for application are feet, wrists and temples.

See the dilution process in action in this video by Joanna Banana Strawberry:

Diffusing Essential Oils

If you've asked around about what essential oils are good for, you've probably received the suggestion to try diffusing essential oils, but you might not know what that means.

Diffusing oils puts the benefits of essential oils into the air around you so you can breathe in their goodness. Although there are multiple ways to diffuse essential oils, the easiest is to use a diffuser designed for the job.

Some of the best diffusers are ones that plug in. You put water and the oil in the diffuser's chamber, and the device converts them to microparticles that are distributed in the air. They smell good, benefit your body and clean the air.

Diffusing for short periods of time, such as in 30- to 45-minute stretches, is usually enough time for your body to benefit without wasting oils.

The Best Smelling Essential Oils

Because diffusing oils will fill your room with their scent, you'll want to choose some of the best smelling essential oils for this job. Consider diffusing any of the pleasantly fragrant suggestions on this list of essential oils:

  • Peppermint
  • Lavender
  • Lemon
  • Cedarwood
  • Cinnamon
  • Lemongrass

The Top Essential Oils You Should Have On Hand

Essental oils uses vary depending on the oil that you use; therefore, you may want to buy every variety that you see. However, budget constraints can limit your initial oil purchases. When first starting out with exploring essental oils uses, consider using the following list of essential oils to guide your shopping:

  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Oregano
  • Lemon
  • Tea Tree
  • Frankincense
  • Eucalyptus

List of Essential Oils Benefits, Uses, & Recipes

The list of what essential oils are good for could go on and on, but to get you started, here's an essential oils uses chart.

This reference guide for essential oils will help you get started with using them in your home. You'll even find simple essential oils recipes to help you learn what to do with them beyond diffusing and applying them topically.

Bergamot

Bergamot fruit and leaves

Bergamot Benefits:

  • Reduces stress
  • Cleanses skin
  • Deodorizes
  • Disinfects
  • Supports digestion

Do Not:

Easy Bergamot Uses:

Easy Natural Bergamot Recipes:

  • Earl Grey Tea: Brew a cup of tea. Add a drop of therapeutic-grade bergamot oil to give your drink an Earl Grey flavor.
  • Foot Massage Oil: Dilute with coconut oil. Apply this mixture to hands before beginning a foot massage.

Cedarwood

Cedar Tree

Cedarwood Benefits:

Do Not:

Easy Cedarwood Uses:

  • Add five drops to bathwater to help relieve eczema
  • For a holiday air freshener, splash a few drops on a fireplace log half an hour before lighting the fire
  • Apply to cedar furniture - This restores the natural scent
  • Inhale for menstrual benefits
  • Put on cotton balls - Place these in storage areas to repel moths

Easy Natural Cedarwood Recipes:

  • Dandruff Control: Mix oil into hair conditioner. Let stand on hair before rinsing.
  • Skin Treatment: Blend with a small amount of witch hazel. Swipe over red or acne prone skin.

Chamomile

Chamomile Tea

Chamomile Benefits:

  • Calms, soothes, & reduces anxiety
  • Helps you fall asleep
  • Reduces nausea & motion sickness
  • Fights diarrhea, indigestion, & acid reflux
  • Relieves pain & inflammation
  • Contains antioxidants to help prevent cancer
  • Helps fight skin disorders

Do Not:

  • Ingest - Chamomile tea is made by crushing the dried chamomile flowers

Easy Chamomile Uses:

  • Diffuse in your home, inhale on the go, or drink Chamomile Tea
  • Pink Eye Relief: Apply warm Chamomile tea bags to the eyes

Easy Natural Chamomile Recipes:

  • Natural Sunburn Ointment: Combine 10 drops of chamomile oil with 5 tablespoons of coconut oil and apply to the burn.
  • Natural Toothache Relieving Mouth Rinse: Combine warm water, a chamomile tea bag, vanilla extract, and lemon juice. Brush your teeth, then swish the chamomile mouth rinse around in your mouth, and spit out.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon sticks

Cinnamon Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Hold the bottle directly up to your nose - Diffuse for short periods of time only
  • Use for children under 6 years
  • Use cinnamon bark oil topically - Only cinnamon leaf oil is for topical use

Easy Cinnamon Uses:

  • Simmer in a pot of water to freshen the air after cooking
  • Apply topically to help your circulatory system
  • Diffuse to take care of airborne bacteria

Easy Natural Cinnamon Recipes:

  • Hair Health Oil: Blend cinnamon oil into your hair serum. Rinse out after a few hours.
  • Face Wash: Blend one part apple cider vinegar, one part coconut oil, three parts honey and several drops of cinnamon oil. Use to wash face.

Clove

Cloves

Clove Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Swallow the oil - It can cause stomach upset
  • Apply to skin without diluting
  • Use on children under 2 years

Easy Clove Uses:

  • Inhale or diffuse for nausea relief
  • Add to bathwater to ease sore muscles
  • Use store bought clove toothpaste

Easy Natural Clove Recipes:

  • Insect Repellent: Mix one part clove oil to 10 parts rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle for use as a bug spray.
  • Oral Pain Reliever: Mix clove oil and olive oil. Rub on sore gums. Do not swallow.

Cypress

Cypress branch

Cypress Benefits:

  • Has a fresh scent
  • Promotes wound healing
  • Is calming
  • Provides pain relief

Do Not:

  • Inhale Arizona cypress oil - Stick with the other varieties, such as Monterey cypress oil
  • Use on babies under 6 months

Easy Cypress Uses:

  • Apply cold water and cypress oil to a rag - Use as a compress for nosebleeds
  • Add to bathwater - You'll feel refreshed afterword
  • Soak feet in water with cypress oil to deodorize them

Easy Natural Cypress Recipes:

  • Varicose Vein Treatment: Combine 1 ounce each of shea butter and coconut oil. Add 30 drops of cypress oil.
  • Bruise Salve: Mix cypress oil into coconut oil. Apply to bruises.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus Benefits:

  • Calms coughs and loosens mucus
  • Keeps bugs away
  • Is an anti inflammatory

Do Not:

Easy Eucalyptus Uses:

  • Purchase an insect repellent that contains eucalyptus oil
  • Apply with a carrier oil for a cold sore treatment
  • Use with steam inhalation or as a chest rub when congested
  • Diffuse to improve mood and alertness on a rainy day

Easy Natural Eucalyptus Recipes:

  • Antiseptic: Combine equal portions of eucalyptus oil and apple cider vinegar. Apply to wounds or bug bites.
  • Fever Cooler: Fill a spray bottle with 1/2 cup of a carrier oil, and add 15 drops of eucalyptus oil. Spritz it over feverish skin.

Ginger

Ginger Root

Ginger Benefits:

  • Alleviates nausea and stomach discomfort
  • Reduces headache
  • Boosts immunity
  • Helps with respiratory concerns
  • Works as an aphrodisiac

Do Not:

  • Expose skin to direct sunlight for 24 hours after application
  • Use on children under 2 years

Easy Ginger Uses:

  • Place a few drops on a tissue - Hold it to your nose on a car ride to relieve motion sickness
  • Apply topically to feet or abdomen for a libido boost
  • Drink ginger tea

Easy Natural Ginger Recipes:

  • Vomiting Relief: Brew a cup of tea. Add a drop of ginger oil. Sip slowly.
  • Bath Booster: Stir a few drops of ginger oil into a small bowl of milk. Pour this into a warm bath. Relieve sore muscles with a soak in the tub.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit slices

Grapefruit Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Go out in the sun right after application
  • Use on babies under 6 months

Easy Grapefruit Uses:

  • Spritz a mixture of water and grapefruit oil around the house for an air freshener
  • Use diluted oil on dogs or horses to keep away fleas
  • Massage over stiff body parts
  • Diffuse to cleanse the air or ease a headache

Easy Natural Grapefruit Recipes:

  • Craving Reducer: Put a drop of grapefruit oil in a glass of lemonade. Drink to reduce sugar cravings.
  • Cellulite Treatment: Stir a touch of grapefruit into coconut oil. Every night before bed, apply the mixture to parts of the body plagued by cellulite.

Lavender

Lavender Field

Lavender Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Give orally to babies
  • Use on babies under 3 months

Easy Lavender Uses:

Easy Natural Lavender Recipes:

  • Carpet Cleaner: Combine two cups of baking soda and 30 drops of lavender oil. Shake over carpets a few hours before vacuuming.
  • Sleep Spray: Mix witch hazel and lavender oil in a spray bottle. Spritz on pillow. Get full directions in this video by Oily Mama RN:

Lemon

Lemon Tree

Lemon Benefits:

  • Boosts immunity
  • Cleans surfaces and skin
  • Brightens and heals skin

Do Not:

  • Go out in direct sunlight for several hours after application - Lemon oil is phototoxic
  • Use with babies under 6 months
  • Apply topically on young children

Easy Lemon Uses:

  • ​Flavor water
  • Add food grade oil to a bowl of water before rinsing produce in it
  • Heal skin tags by applying directly to the spot - See details in this video:

Easy Natural Lemon Recipes:

  • Pan Cleaner: Pour boiling water in a pan, and add five drops of lemon oil. This combination can help loosen burnt-on food.
  • Dishwasher Detergent: Put three drops of dish soap, 5 tablespoons of baking soda, 3 tablespoons of sea salt and 5 drops of lemon oil in your dishwasher's detergent compartment.

Lemongrass

Lemongrass

Lemongrass Benefits:

  • Eases headaches
  • Calms the mind
  • Improves immunity
  • Relaxes muscles

Do Not:

Easy Lemongrass Uses:

  • ​Put lemongrass oil on clothing before going outside - This keeps away insects
  • Apply diluted oil to acne prone spots
  • Drink lemongrass tea
  • Diffuse for stress relief

Easy Natural Lemongrass Recipes:

  • Body Scrub: Sprinkle Epsom salt with lemongrass oil. Stir in coconut oil to make a paste. Rub this over skin and rinse clean.
  • Skin Toner: Dilute lemongrass oil with witch hazel. Apply to the face to improve the look and feel of the skin.

Lime

Lime slices

Lime Benefits:

  • Calms the stomach and increases appetite
  • Is astringent, antiviral and antibacterial
  • Improves breathing
  • Carries a refreshing scent

Do Not:

  • Go out in direct sunlight for up to 24 hours after application
  • Use on children under 2 years

Easy Lime Uses:

  • Freshen the bathroom by placing a few drops on a cotton ball and stashing it in an out-of-the-way spot
  • Try steam inhalation to relieve common cold symptoms
  • Wipe on a dry-erase board to remove old marks
  • Inhale to increase appetite
  • Flavor water

Easy Natural Lime Recipes:

  • Sugar Scrub: Blend equal amounts of olive oil and brown sugar. Add a few drops of lime oil. Use this scrub to soften hands.
  • Deodorant: Freshen underarms with a mixture of coconut oil and lime oil.

Myrrh

Bowl of Myrrh

Myrrh Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Use during pregnancy
  • Use if you have diabetes or blood sugar conditions
  • Use with children under 2 years

Easy Myrrh Uses:

  • Add a drop to your toothpaste to promote oral health
  • Treat inflammation with myrrh oil in a cold compress
  • Diffuse or inhale at times when you need reassurance
  • Add myrrh oil to your sitz bath after giving birth to promote vaginal healing

Easy Natural Myrrh Recipes:

  • Stomach Soother: Blend a drop food-grade oil into honey and water. Drink to relieve stomach troubles.
  • Anti-aging Lotion: Stir a drop of myrrh oil into your face lotion to help reduce fine lines and wrinkles

Oregano

Oregano Plant

Oregano Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Use with kids under 6 years
  • Use with pregnant or nursing women
  • Use for more than 3 weeks straight
  • Use if you are allergic to any members of the Lamiaceae family
  • Use on broken skin

Easy Oregano Uses:

  • Use steam inhalation when you have a cold
  • Mix oregano oil and water in a spray bottle for a household cleaner
  • Add flavor and support digestion by adding a drop of food grade oil to tomato based sauces
  • Rub diluted oil over palms as hand sanitizer

Easy Natural Oregano Recipes:

  • Nail Fungus Treatment: Mix oregano oil into coconut oil. Spread this on nails with fungal infections.
  • Rosacea Soother: Mix an equal number of drops of olive oil and oregano oil. Dab onto rosacea prone skin at night.

Peppermint

Hot Peppermint Tea with Mint Leaf

Peppermint Benefits:

  • Supports the digestive system - Studies have even explored its effects on Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Relieves headaches
  • Stimulates circulation
  • Encourages hair growth

Do Not:

  • Use if you have epilepsy
  • Use when pregnant
  • Use with children under 6 years

Easy Peppermint Uses:

  • Inhale when riding in the car to ease motion sickness
  • Massage diluted oil on the stomach area to improve digestion
  • Diffuse to help with colds or allergies
  • Treat a headache by rubbing diluted oil on temples
  • Sprinkle peppermint oil on cotton balls - Set these around your house to repel ants

Easy Natural Peppermint Recipes:

  • Hair Growth Formula: Mix peppermint oil into your regular shampoo so you apply it to your hair with each shower. The oil can help improve the health and strength of your hair.
  • Homemade Mint Tea: Add one or two drops to a cup of freshly brewed tea. It makes a tasty mint tea that can relieve stomach complaints.

Rose

Rose Bush

Rose Benefits:

Do Not:

Easy Rose Uses:

Easy Natural Rose Recipes:

  • Massage Oil: Blend a few drops of rose oil into jojoba oil. Use this on your partner as a libido-boosting massage oil.
  • Redness-reducer: Add rose oil to your regular lotion. It can relieve skin redness and encourage broken capillaries to heal.

Rosemary

Rosemary Plant

Rosemary Benefits:

Do Not:

Easy Rosemary Uses:

  • Diffuse when you need to concentrate or recall information
  • Drop oils in your hand. Cup your hands over your mouth - Breathe in deeply to help a headache
  • Apply to scalp after a shower
  • Rub diluted rosemary oil over the gallbladder area to encourage its healthy function

Easy Natural Rosemary Recipes:

  • Hot Oil for Hair: Carefully warm equal portions of castor oil and coconut oil on the stove. Add a few drops of rosemary oil. Massage warm oil into scalp. Rinse off after 15 minutes.
  • Hair Mask: Whisk together one egg, 1 teaspoon each of honey and coconut oil, and several drops of rosemary oil. Coat hair in this mixture. Wash out after one hour. Allow hair to air dry.

Sandalwood

Indian Sandalwood

Sandalwood Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Ingest
  • Use on babies under 6 months

Easy Sandalwood Uses:

  • Inhale when you need to wake up your body or mind
  • Use at lower concentrations to promote restfulness - diffuse or massage
  • Improve your meditation experience by placing a drop of diluted sandalwood oil between your eyebrows
  • Apply diluted oil to eczema patches - Use only on skin that is not broken
  • Place a few drops on the air conditioner vent of your car to improve alertness while driving

Easy Natural Sandalwood Recipes:

  • Pedicure Booster: Mix sandalwood oil into a thick foot cream. Treating with sandalwood makes it easier to slough away dead skin.
  • Hiccup Cure: Add a drop or two of sandalwood oil to sweet almond or jojoba oil. Rub this onto the neck and diaphragm area to relax the muscles involved in hiccuping.

Spearmint

Spearmint Leaves

Spearmint Benefits:

  • Has a more mild scent than peppermint oil and can be used with children
  • Relieves abdominal and stomach discomfort and relaxes muscles
  • Cools skin
  • Repels insects

Do Not:

  • Use on children under 2 years

Easy Spearmint Uses:

  • Diffuse in your office to give you energy
  • Use steam inhalation to combat congestion
  • Add to a cold compress to improve headache symptoms
  • Gargle with spearmint oil in water to freshen breath

Easy Natural Spearmint Recipes:

  • Lemon and Cucumber Water: Fill a jar with water. Add lemon wedges, cucumber slices and spearmint leaves. Place a drop of spearmint oil on one of the leaves. Chill. Stir before drinking.
  • Tea bag Enhancer: Put one drop of spearmint oil on your tea bag. Steep tea as usual.

Sweet Orange

Orange Tree

Sweet Orange Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Use on babies under 6 months
  • Go out in direct sunlight within 12 hours of application

Easy Sweet Orange Uses:

  • Sprinkle on a tissue - Breathe in the scent to alleviate morning sickness
  • Diffuse or apply topically to help with stomach complaints
  • Spritz water and orange oil as an air freshener

Easy Natural Sweet Orange Recipes:

  • Insecticide: Steep household compost in a bucket of water for one week. Combine 1 cup of this "compost tea," 2 ounces of orange oil and 1 ounce of blackstrap molasses in a gallon of water.
  • Gargle Solution: Stir 1/2 teaspoon of salt and five drops of orange oil in a cup of warm water. Gargle to heal and prevent sores.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca)

Melaleuca

Tea Tree Benefits:

Do Not:

  • Use on babies under 6 months
  • Ingest

Easy Tea Tree Uses:

  • Place on a cotton ball - Leave at the bottom of the trash can to reduce odors
  • Rub undiluted tea tree oil over toenails with fungal infection
  • Apply to insect bites after diluting

Easy Natural Tea Tree Recipes:

  • Makeup Remover: Mix 10 drops of tea tree oil in 1/4 cup canola oil. Store in a glass jar.
  • Acne Wash: Blend two teaspoons of raw honey with five drops of tea tree oil. After applying to face, leave for one minute before rinsing.

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Essential Oils Guide: The Ultimate List of Benefits, Uses, Recipes, & More

Written by Ashley

Chief editor here at Nontoxic Reboot. I'm passionate about providing you with the best and easiest ways to make your world healthier and a little less toxic.

What if you could keep your home clean and your family healthy without relying on strange manufactured chemicals? With essential oils, you can! In this essential oils guide, get answers to all of your essential oil questions.

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