Essential Oils 101


What are Essential Oils?

They are the most powerful part of the plant. They are distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, bushes, fruit, rinds, resins, and herbs.
Oils consist of over 100 different natural, organic compounds.

Listen to the audio below or continue reading what are essential oils.

In humans, they provide support for every system in the body: your skeletal system, muscular, circulatory, endocrine systems, your hormones, respiratory system and immune system. They support brain health and a healthy weight. They are used extensively for emotional and spiritual support. An oil in a diffuser can soothe a child’s tough day at school and provide a calming effect when you’ve had a stressful day at work.
Oils can be used as an alternative to harsh cleaning chemicals in your home. You can literally start swapping out every single synthetic cleaning chemical in your home to live a purer lifestyle, and you can do it without breaking the bank!

There are about 300 oils on the earth, but you only need ten to twenty of them to build a good kit for yourself.
You do not need to be an aromatherapist to use them. In most cases, just rub a drop topically onto your skin. There are three main ways to get oils into your system: The English apply it topically – rub a tiny drop on the skin; the French ingest and cook with it; the Germans diffuse and inhale, which can be the most effective method because it doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system.

How do they enter – and how long do they last?
Tests have shown oils reach the heart, liver, and thyroid in 3 seconds when inhaled; they were found in bloodstream in 26 seconds when applied topically. Expulsion of oils takes 3-6 hours in a normal, healthy body, and it can take as long as 36 hours.

Do Essential Oils work?

I have used essential oils since 2012. Lavender smelled nice in my bath, but never had any significant effect on my body. I used to buy my Lavender cheap online, at farmers markets, or at bulk food stores. FDA has requirement that in order to label a bottle of essential oil “pure” or “therapeutic” grade, the contents of that bottle must contain at least 5 percent of essential oil!

All oils in the world fall into one of 4 categories: Grade A, B, C or D.
Grade A – is therapeutic, made from organically grown plants and distilled at low temperatures.
Grade B oils are food grade, but may contain synthetics, pesticides, ferilizers, chemical extenders, or carrier oils.
Grade C oils are perfume oils that often contain adulterating chemicals. They usually use solvents, for example industrial alcohol hexane, to gain a higher yield of oil per harvest. Solvents can be cancerous, and are in many store bought oils. They may also be diluted 80-95 percent with alcohol.
Grade D is called “floral water”, which is aromatic only and is usually byproduct of Grade A distillation. After all the oil is pulled out, the production leftover water is sold to companies which fill 5 percent of the bottle with this “leftover trash water”, and fill the rest with carriers, and label it “pure”.

Grade A is the only true pure oil. Grade D would be like walking into your fridge, taking a glass of orange juice and diluting it 95 percent before you drank it! It wouldn’t have the full benefits of orange juice, would it?

That’s why you want Grade A oils. Before you purchase, check to see to what degree the company controls the whole production from end to end. Do they use previously farmed land, control which seeds are used, add and pesticides at any point, grow their own plants, and control the entire process from Seed to Seal – from the seed to the sealed bottle. Do they test each produced batch? Pesticides, pollution, previously farmed land, simplified distillation, not enough testing – all of it can effect the quality of an oil.

Young Living’s oils are Grade A. Why would you go the extra step of using an oil to get away from a harsh chemical – and then use an oil laden with synthetic chemicals? It makes no sense.

One of the things that stands out to me is Young Living’s Seed to Seal process. It’s a promise of integrity. Gary Young once has said that he never makes an oil for profit, he makes it for purpose. Seed to Seal means each plant is hand-weeded, there are no pesticides used, no harsh chemicals, and no weed killers other than derived from plants only. The plants are harvested at their peak. They are then put through a rigorous testing process. Then they go from the farm directly to your home. Seed to Seal is not a slogan, it’s a promise.

You can learn more by checking out the Young Living story, and fall in love with the company as I have, at

Why do oil companies sell cheaper oils?

To save money. If you spray the crop with pesticides, you have more crop to distill. If you use a chemical solvent to extract the oil, you pull more out. If you dilute it with a cheaper oil or a carrier oil, you stretch the oil you have distilled. Most essential oils are sold cheaper because companies cut corners.

How oils are made

It takes a great deal of work to produce a tiny amount of essential oil!

  • 60 thousand rose blossoms provide only one ounce of rose oil
  • Lavender is abundant – 220 pounds will provide 7 pounds of oil
  • Jasmine flowers must be picked by hand before the sun becomes hot on the very first day they open, thus making it one of the most expensive oils in the world!. It takes 8 million hand-picked blossoms to produce 2.2 pounds of oil.
  • A Sandalwood tree must be 30 years old and 30 feet high before it can be cut down for distillation.

But a little goes a long way. A 5 ml bottle contains 85 drops, and 15 ml bottle contains about 250 drops. Each application is 1-3 drops, meaning even a small bottle will get you 45 to 90 applications.
Thieves cleaner bottle replaces a multi-purpose cleaner, heavy degreaser, glass cleaner, floor and carpet cleaner, at a price lower than organic version of any of those.

Are they safe?

There are certain oils that are photosensitive, meaning you don’t want to wear them and go right away to the sunny outside. These are mostly citrus oils, like grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, orange and bergamot.
When using on your skin, always watch for redness and dilute with a carrier oil. Dilute oils on children, because their skin is more permeable and absorbs the oils more quickly. Carrier oil is a fatty oil like olive oil or coconut oil, jojoba or sweet almond. Its molecules are much larger than those of the essential oils, and therefore they slow down the rate the body can absorb the essential oil, because it has to ping pong through the large molecules of the carrier oil to get into your skin.
Be wary of putting the oils topically near your eyes, on any membranes or sensitive parts. Don’t place oils in your ears. Some “hot” oils, like peppermint, can cause a burning sensation. Dilute liberally with carrier oil if that happens.

You can become desensitized to an oil if you use the same one day after day, so I rotate my oils every five to seven days.
What about internal use of essential oils?
NAHA, one of the top aromatherapy schools in the US, doesn’t advocate essential oils for internal use. Why? Most oil companies don’t carry any GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) essential oils which have been cleared by the FDA. NAHA also bases a lot of their decisions on the British model, which advocates topical use only. Many of the British studies are flawed, for example, done at the extremely high doses or in ways the oils aren’t used, like pouring a bottle inside the body.
Young Living utilizes all three methods, British, French and German. The French have been safely using some essential oils internally for ages. Young Living has created a Vitality line (“+” in Canada), with distinctive labels so you can easily recognize which oils are safe to take internally.

On the flip side…

Look at the ingredients list of what you have in your bathroom and kitchen. Every day we put products on our skin, in our body, on our lips, and breathe them, but many of these products contain damaging chemicals. The average woman applies over 300 synthetic chemicals a day to her body just through soaps, makeup, shampoos, and hair products. Eighty of those before breakfast!

When you are using Young Living essential oils, you are using a product with one ingredient, like Lemon, Oregano, Tangerine – no additives and no chemical yuck.

Is all this a bit overwhelming? Let me tell you how I started my oils journey: with a Young Living starter kit. It’s the only thing on the Young Living website that is priced way below its value. If you are a frugal Mom like me, this is the best bang for your buck! It comes with 11 bottles of oil and a diffuser.

Pass around the Premium Starter Kit with Home Diffuser, open the bottles and smell them:

Frankincense. One of the top spiritual and skin oils. Helps smooth the appearance of skin. A key ingredient in Young Living’s “Brain Power” essential oil blend. Diffuse during meditation time to help with grounding and purpose.

Lavender. Oil of relaxation. Diffuse for a calming, soothing aroma. Unwind by adding a few drops to a nighttime bath. One of the top oils to support healthy skin. Called the “Swiss army knife” of essential oils because of its many uses. It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

Peppermint. Supports gastrointestinal comfort. Promotes healthy bowel function and enhanced healthy gut function. Helps maintain efficiency of the digestive track. May support performance during exercise. It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

Purification. Diffuse to freshen the air and eliminate odours. Add to a carrier oil to moisturize your skin or for a soothing massage on your feet. Use in a spray to enjoy an annoyance-free outdoor experience.

Thieves. Helps support a healthy respiratory system and helps maintain overall wellness when taken as a dietary supplement. Add a drop to warm drinks for a spicy zing! It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

Northern Lights Black Spruce. Diffuse this rich, woodsy and invigorating scent during meditation to create a fresh aromatic atmosphere.

Lemon. Has refreshing and cooling properties. Its fresh, citrus scent is an instant pick-me-up. In Aromatherapy can be used topically or inhaled to reduce the symptoms of cold & cough. A key ingredient in Thieves and NingXia Red. It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

PanAway. Apply after exercise to soothe muscles. Has a stimulating aroma. Apply to back and neck for a soothing aromatic experience. Supports the appearance of healthy skin coloration.

Copaiba. Promotes overall wellness. Supports nearly every system in the body. Also a great skin oil.

DiGize. Top oil for supporting the digestive system. Add two drops, along with a drop of peppermint, to water for a stimulating beverage. Take in a veggie capsule internally. Use with Essentialzyme at every meal to support a wellness regimen. It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

R.C. Supports a healthy respiratory system. Diffuse for a comforting aroma. Contains eucalyptol. Rub on feet and chest. Encourages an atmosphere of comfort. It is certified in Canada as Natural Health Product.

How do you order? Simply go to Young Living membership page and become a Member.

Welcome to the world of oils!

* Content of this page is based on Sarah Harnisch classes, and published with her permission. Sarah is Young Living Diamond leader and educator, certified Aromatherapist, a Mom of five, and an author of the book “The Game Plan”.

What are essential oils?
Image from the Young Living Experience Centre in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, September 2017