Surviving the season with the benefits of essential oils
With the holidays upon us, lots of preparations are underway to bring family and friends together. It can be a hectic time for those hosting out-of-town guests, as well for those travelling away from home. Essential oils can help ease the stress and make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.
What are essential oils?
There’s a lot of buzz around essential oils right now with all kinds of claims about what they are and how to use them to improve health and home. With so much information it’s hard to know where to begin. Learning the basics doesn’t have to be difficult.
Essential oils are in a class of their own and go back thousands of years. In fact, in the Bible there are over 175 references to essential oils, the most well-known being the gift of frankincense and myrrh by the three wise men at Jesus’ birth.
Unlike ordinary household oils such as coconut or olive, essential oils aren’t oily. They are highly concentrated essences of the various parts of plants. These oils function, ahem, essentially, as the plant’s defense system—and can work the same ways in our environments as in nature. When used properly, they are generally, depending upon the oil, known to be antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. They can be used for a multitude of purposes including freshening the air, cleaning the home, and promoting emotional and mental well-being. Here’s a brief rundown of some of the easiest ways to use essential oils during the holidays and all year long.
Welcome guests with traditional scents of the season. A big part of the holidays is all the wonderful and comforting aromas associated with the time of year. Luckily, there’s a way to share the scents of the season in a healthy and safe way. Diffusers are an easy method to use essential oils and provide lasting coverage in your home. Depending on the size of your space, use a diffuser or two strategically staged around the area. Common diffusers can cover anywhere between 350 and 1,000 square feet. Choose a single oil, purchase a pre-blended concoction, or come up with your own unique blend to welcome guests for some holiday festivities. Popular holiday scents include cinnamon, clove, orange, rosemary, and ginger. Just add distilled water to your diffuser according to the instructions and add two to three drops each of your favorite oil. When guests walk through your doorway, they will be greeted by the welcoming and all-natural fragrance.
Make guest rooms cozy and comforting with fresh linens and towels. Clean and deodorize bed linens for guests by adding five to eight drops of essential oil to one portion of your favorite natural liquid laundry detergent. Citrus oils like lemon, grapefruit, and orange are often used for deodorizing. Other popular and comforting oils include peppermint and lavender. Whichever oils you choose, they can be used in combination or separately. Don’t have time to come up with your own blends? Several all-natural laundry products are available with essential oils already included to make washing and drying a breeze. Another easy way to freshen up a guest room is to prepare a simple spray ahead of time. Just mix a couple of ounces of distilled water with five or six drops of lavender and eucalyptus in a small spray bottle. Including a hand-written or typed note card with an invitation for your guest to use the personalized room spray will add just the right touch during the season of giving and go the extra mile to make them feel appreciated and welcomed.
Sanitize kitchen countertops and bathrooms naturally with do-it-yourself cleaners. When we come together during the holidays we unfortunately welcome more than friends and family into our homes. Deter common colds and germs before and after holiday festivities with easy-to-make cleaning solutions. By blending vinegar or food-grade hydrogen peroxide with up to 30 drops total of an essential oil such as tea tree, lemon, or black pepper, kitchens and bathrooms will sparkle and shine. This all-purpose cleaner can also be used at the front door. Ask guests to remove shoes before entering your home to avoid tracking in outdoor contaminants. Set up an adjacent area ahead of time with a bottle of essential oil sanitizer and spray bottoms of shoes.
There is virtually no limit to how essential oils can be used in the home. And, the variety of essential oils available is as great as the potential benefits they confer, their use being limited only by one’s imagination. From topical or aromatic application to cooking and cleaning, essential oils can help you inside and out.
Carriers and Essential Oils
When using essential oils, it’s important to remember how concentrated they are. As such, they typically should not be used full-strength and need to be diluted in a carrier to avoid irritation. For diffusing, distilled water serves as a safe carrier and prevents spoilage from contaminants found in the ordinary tap variety. For direct application to the skin, jojoba or coconut oil can be a nourishing carrier to deliver the benefits of essential oils. For cleaning, using vinegar as a carrier can help create potent concoctions. Unscented body lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and hand soaps are a few other safe ways to deliver the benefits of essentials oils. It’s wise to choose an opaque bottle for storage, as oils are sensitive to light. And remember, a good rule-of-thumb is to go slow. Start with just a couple of drops of oil per ounce of carrier. Add more as needed.