Here are some honest-to-goodness true stories of times I wasn’t careful with essential oils.

  • I asked a massage client if she wanted to smell the an essential oil while she was on the table.  I removed the cap, tilted the bottle toward her. There was no dropper to plug the opening and ….viola! right down her nose and throat. After 10 minutes of coughing, sips of water, giving her crackers and a promise of a free return massage, she was okay.  Lesson: Always check that your bottle has the orifice reducer inside before you use it!
  • I rubbed my eyes after pouring peppermint essential oils.  I had some on my hands.  OWWWWW. NEVER do this.  Lesson: Do not touch your eyes – or your mouth and nose for that matter – when you’ve got essential oil on them.  Peppermint contains menthol that is very irritating to the skin and mucous membranes.
  • I was in a hurry to “freshen up” and put lemongrass, neat, in my underarms and nearly screamed from the burning.   Lesson:  Never use oils high in aldehydes, like Lemongrass, on the skin without a carrier.  Learn your essential oil chemistry.
  • Soaked a tampon with tea tree when i learned it was good for yeast infections. DO NOT SOAK the tampon as a few drops are plenty. My husband nearly had to peel me off the ceiling. Lesson: Be extremely careful using essential oils in delicate areas with mucus membranes.  Less is more.
  • I put my son – then 5 – in a bath with eucalyptus oil when he had a cold. I neglected to first mix the eucalyptus with a veggie oil and the eucalyptus sat on top of the water. When I put him in it burned his little butt. Lesson: Add essential oils to whole milk or vegetable oil before adding to bath water.
  • In a hurry to heal a sore throat I added Oregano essential oil to salt water and gargled. It burned my tongue and the inside of my mouth. Lesson: Never use essential oils high in phenols, like Oregano, on delicate mucuous membranes.  Another reason to study the chemistry of the oils.
  • I left a bottle of Thyme oil on my workbench instead of putting it away. My son and his friend (both 8) played nearby and got curious. The next thing I heard was much yelling and calling “MOM”. They had opened the cap to sniff and touched the bottle to their noses.  Thymus vulgaris is highly irritating.  Lesson: Never leave essential oil out where kids can get them.
  • This one was a friend: she got in the dry sauna at the gym and threw eucalyptus oil on the rocks and nearly burned the place down.  Lesson: Essential oils are flammable.


Essential oils are very concentrated. Please use them with care and respect. Just because they’re natural doesn’t mean they are harmless. Before you experiment with these oils, get some education: take a class, or check out this safety page on the NAHA website.

1. Keep out of the reach of children.
2. Keep away from the eyes. If oils accidentally touch the eyes add a couple of drops of vegetable oil to a kleenex and swipe over the eye. The essential oil will grap onto the vegetable oil.
3. Do not use essential oils undiluted on the skin (exceptions may be lavender and tea tree and even those should be diluted to avoid becoming sensitized to the oil).
4. When an allergic reaction is a possibility, do a patch test 24 hour prior to use.
5. Extra precautions should be taken during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. If you wish to use aromatherapy during your pregnancy, contact a qualitifed aromatherapist.
6. Do not take essential oils internally without the guidance of a physician or trained aromatherapist.
7. Certain essential oils such as camphor, eucalyptus and peppermint should be avoided while taking homeopathic remedies as these oil will counteract the effects.
8. When using essential oils in the bath, swirl the water well to help disperse the oils. For children, or if you have sensitive skin, it is best to disperse your essential oils in a tablespoon full of vegetable oil or 1/2C of full fat milk.
9. Do not use essential oils before going out in the sun as many, especially some citrus oils, are phototoxic.
10. You can become sensitized to an oil that you use over and over, especially undiluted. Change the oils you use, try new ones.

Now it’s your turn to share.
Have you ever had any “oopsie” experiences
with essential oils?
Fess up!
We can all learn from each other’s mistakes!

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