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Ways To Use Aromatherapy Oils

Updated on November 26, 2007
Candles are optional when taking an aromatherapy bath.
Candles are optional when taking an aromatherapy bath.

There are many ways in which to use aromatherapy oils. If there weren't, this would be a bumper sticker and not an article. Some individual oils can be used in more ways than others, so you need to check up on the properties of each oil. If you are not sure, don't use essential oil in a certain situation. And please do not use this article in the place of a medical professional's advice.

Since there are so many therapeutic grade essential oils used in aromatherapy (literally hundreds), it is better to really get to know four or five oils rather than try to learn about everything every oil can do. This will save you a lot of headaches and lots of money on essential oils.

Suggestions for the oils you want to concentrate on are the most versatile and least expensive include

  • tea tree
  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • peppermint
  • marjoram
  • frankincense (ok, this is a little pricey, I admit)
  • patchouli
  • clove

Now that you have your oils, what can you do with them? Lots!


When most people hear the word "aromatherapy" they think of massage. This is not only a very enjoyable way of using your essential oils, but is also one of the most effective. You don't have to have a full body massage every time. You can just massage one body part, like your temples when you have a headache, or a clockwise rub on your bloated abdomen when you have cramps.

You can buy essential oils neat (full strength) or blended a certain percentage (usually 1-10%) with a vegatable based carrier oil. If your oils are full strength, blend 1 part essentail oil per 9 or 10 parts carrier oil. Good carrier oils include oilve, jojoba, rapeseed and more expensive kinds like apricot kernel. Try to have your massage oil be at lest room temperature before you slap it on!

The Bath

This is one of the easiest ways of using aromatherapy oils. Since you need to clean yourself every once in a while anyway, you can feel like you are multitasking when you take an aromatherapy bath.

Fill the tub and THEN add 6 to 10 drops of the essential oil. Some people need more drops, but only use 6 - 10 to start with and to be sure your skin doesn't get irritated. The reason you fill the tub first and then add the drops is because the good properties of the oil gets too agitated by the moving water and doesn't benefit you as much. Stir gently, step in, soak and say "AHHH!"

For just a footbath, 4 to 5 drops are usually sufficient.


The receptors in the nose trigger reactions in the brain when the smell certain smells, which can help alter your moods or help clenched muscles relax. You can inhale essentail oils in several ways:

  • straight from the bottle in emergencies
  • add a few drops to a tissue or hanky and sniff as needed
  • put a few drops on a aromatherapy oil burner (keep a close eye on it!)
  • place several drops in a bowl of water and place under a radiator to fill the room with the aroma

Steam Inhalation

This is a bit more labor intensive than the above inhalation meathods and should NOT be used is you are feeling as if you are going to faint. Ideally, you need to be sure someone can check up on you. Steam inhalations are great for taking care of your facial skin and for clearing up blocked nasal and bronchial passages. Sometimes it also helps for a sore throat.

Get a kettle of water bowling. Get a big bowl and your essential oil bottle and a towel. Also get a timer if you wish. Pour the boiling water into the bowl, add six or seven drops of essential oil, set the timer for ten minutes, lean you face over the steam and drape the towel over your head to make a mini sauna.

Come up for air when you need to. If you think you are going to faint, stop.


Aromatherapy oils can be added to hot or cold compresses. Cold compresses work better for headaches, sprains and burns. Hot compresses work better for menstral or digestive cramps, arthritis and earaches. If your doctor ever mentions alternating hot and cold applications, he or she means alternating a hot compress with a cold one.

With the exception of water temperature, both aromatherapy compresses are made the same.

  • Get a bowl, fill with appropriate temperature of water
  • Add a few drops of essential oil
  • Soak a clean tea towel or other bandage material for a few minutes
  • Wring out the excess water and wrap in another towel or plastic wrap
  • Place on hurting area. You might need another towel in order to prevent a burn, especially if you wrapped the compress in cling wrap


You can also add some aromatherapy oils to laundry, wash buckets, water misters or floor rinses. This can be kind of costly, though. But this is also a reason why more and more commercially available cleaning products contain essentail oils.

Mixing With Cosmetics

You can mix essential oils to cold cream, perfumes, unscented body loition, plain shampoos and hair rinses in order to reap the benefits to your health and emotions. Some people like to add tea tree oil to aloe vera lotion. Whatever you choose to mix, make it 1 part essential oil to 9 or 10 parts base material.

This is an inexact science at best, so this is best to tinker with when you are feeling well and alert. There are all kinds of aromatherapy recipes all over the web, in books and periodicals.


I've seen many aromatherapy books recommend gargaling for only a few kinds of oils like tea tree or clove. Personally, I've never been able to gargle for more than a few seconds, which is not long enough to reap the benefits. If you have trouble gargling plain water, let alone one with a few drops of nasty tasting tea tree oil mixed in with it, then you should pass on this.


There are very few aromatherapy oils where you can benefit by just sticking a drop on full strength. Most people can tolerat chamomile, lavender and tea tree neat. People like me can also tolerate marjoram neat (I wear it like a perfume every now and then).

Before you try this, though, please do a test patch first. Place a drop on your arm or leg and monitor it for 24 hours. If there are no adverse reactions, then you are good to go.

Antisceptic Washes

Many aromatherapy books and websites mention the use of essential oils as antisceptic washes for minor cuts, scratches, scapes and burns (less than second degree burns). Then each one seems to have it's own way of making the wash.

The most commented on way seems to be this:

  • Fill a clean bowl with clean warm to as hot a temperature of water as you can stand
  • Add 5-6 drops of the chosen essential oil (tea tree or lavender are the most versatile choices)
  • Mix thoroughly
  • Soak a cotton pads or clean cloth dipped in the mixture to clean out the boo-boo, then bandage accordingly

As A Douche Or Soaked Into A Tampon

I've never personally used any essential oil this way, but there are many that sware by it, especially for urinary infections. 5 to 10 drops of essential oil to every litre of warm water you will need and shake, then, use as a douche, in a sitz bath or soak a tampon in the mix and somehow insert. However, you really need to know what you are doing. If you are not sure, pass on it.

Massagenerd gives you essentials of lavender oil in about a minute.


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