Beginner’s Guide to Diluting Essential Oils

Knowing how to calculate dilutions is crucial to the safe practice of aromatherapy. It’s not enough to simply say “dilute before use on the skin”—this is insufficient information. You need to know which dilutions are safe and how to calculate them.

The active chemical constituents found in essential oils are powerful – so powerful that they can cause some very serious health problems if not used correctly including: neuro-toxicity, mucolytic irritation, convulsions, headaches, skin burning & discoloration, dermal sensitivity, danger to pets, infants and pregnant women, preexisting condition aggravation, illness or even death when swallowed (for particular oils). This is why it is so important to use caution when handling and applying the oils.

CARRIER OIL Drops of `EO for 10ML Drops of `EO for 15ML Drops of `EO for 20ML Drops of `EO for 30ML Drops of `EO for 50ML Drops of `EO for 100ML
0.50% 1 2 3 4 7 14
1% 3 4 6 9 15 30
2% 6 9 12 18 30 60
3% 9 13 18 27 45 90
4% 12 18 24 36 60 120
5% 15 22 30 45 75 150


While some oils are downright poisonous when ingested, many of them are also dangerous when applied topically if not properly diluted in carrier oil. By adding essential oils to a carrier oil, like coconut, or jojoba oil, the active chemical compounds are not only better absorbed into the skin but they are also more easily spread over the surface of your body for better therapeutic benefits.

When working with small quantities of essential oils, the easiest way to measure is by the drop. Unfortunately, one drop of one essential oil may be bigger or smaller than another because of the viscosity and temperature of the oil and the size of the dropper or orifice reducer. As such, measuring by the drop is not the most accurate method of measuring essential or carrier oils, but it is acceptable for creating small topical blends.

For instance, a good rule of thumb when seeking to make a 2% dilution is to add 12 drops of essential oil to each fl. ounce (20 ml) of carrier oil.

5ml 100
7ml (¼oz) 150
10ml 200
15ml (½oz) 300
39ml (1oz) 600
120ml (4oz) 2402
240ml (8oz) 4850

 According to a leading Aromatherapy Expert , Robert Tisserand, ‘Essential oil dilution is important for two safety reasons. One, to avoid skin reactions: irritation, sensitization, and phototoxicity. Two, to avoid systemic toxicity, such as fetotoxicity, hepatotoxicity, carcinogenicity, and neurotoxicity. Adverse skin reactions are obvious when they happen, but systemic toxicities may not be. Skin reactions are totally dilution-dependent, and safety guidelines exist to minimize risk.”

In other words, we dilute essential oils before applying to the skin to minimize adverse reactions and systemic toxicity.



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