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The Dangers of Working With Essential Oils

The Dangers of Working With Essential Oils

The Dangers of Working With Essential Oils


Let me warn you about how working with essential oils can be quite dangerous, by giving a brief explanation of the oils I have personally encountered (the hard way): I’ll explain what you could experience , and the best way to ease the extreme pain that comes along with it.  My intention with writing this, is to encourage you to treat essential oils as the powerful tool they are, which need to be given the proper level of respect and care when working with.


Essential oils are powerful reagents which normally only need a few drops to have their desired effect.  When working with essential oils, you’ll probably be using much more of course, say creating a gallon of lotion or several bottles of balm.  Because of the large quantities that are involved with making multiple dose batches, it’s possible you can do what I did and suffer some severe burns on my hands.


 If you are unfortunate enough to experience this, here is some advice on what to do.  Of course, if the wound seems too severe, or treatment doesn’t seem to help, please see your medical practitioner.


1.       These kinds of burns are considered chemical burns, so begin by attempting to remove any lingering essential oils by flushing the burned area with cool (not too cold, freezing water is worse!), gently running water.  Flush this way for at least 15 minutes.

2.       Remove any clothing or jewelry that might have become contaminated by the essential oil.  You’re going to want to make sure there isn’t any remaining oil to re-burn yourself when you re-wear the items.

3.       You may need to rewash the area if you experience continued burning after the initial washing.

4.       Drink plenty of water to help flush any absorbed oils out of your system.

5.       After this, water can and will become your worst enemy, as it can dry out your skin, causing it to split and crack.  This brings on such a burning that it is close to being unbearable.

6.       Either wrap loosely the affected area with a dry, sterile dressing or a clean cloth.  If the burns are on your hands, you may want to wear a pair of clean rubber gloves so as to not affect them while working on other projects, cleaning, etc.

7.       Take an over the counter pain reliever if needed.


The worst part about these types of burns is how they always seem to get worse over the next day or two, before beginning to get better. 


DO NOT TREAT WITH ANY ESSENTIAL HEALING TREATMENTS!  That means “NOT ALOE”!  Ointments can be difficult to remove from any burn and can seal in contaminants like the chemicals you’re trying to remove!


Over the next few days, you can begin light treatments like yogurt (keep on for 15 minutes before removing), honey (a few drops; it has anti-fungal and anti-microbial effects, it can be left on under a bandage as long as you change several times a day).  With each of these treatments, you can add a few drops of vitamin E (up to twice a day) to minimize burns.


Ultimately, there is no fast way to get over these types of burns. Also make sure that if you start feeling sick to your stomach; burn areas start to spread, feel nauseated, dizziness, shortness of breath, then Call 911 and get professional help. 


Below you will find a list of the oil's that will cause you the most damage, but the safest prevention is to always wear your P.P.E ( personal protection equipment) No matter what oils you are mixing. Better to be safe than sorry!


There are only 2 essential oils that are safe to apply directly on the skin, these are lavender and tea tree oil, and even then, only two or three times a day. There are those who might disagree with me, but from all that I have read, researched and learned from online courses, those are the only two.



This one burns like mace.

This is the reason: cinnamon bark oil is 40-50% cinnamaldehyde, and 4-10% eugenol.  What does this mean?  It BURNS!  You may recognize the -aldehyde chemical name from some of our favorites like "formaldehyde," which is used to pickle animals for biology class.  Another aldehyde is "cuminaldehyde," which is responsible for the bite in cumin--a main spice in Mexican food and curry.   (Cinnamon leaf oil, although by no means a comfortable eyewash, is relatively less nasty with around 3% cinnamaldehyde and 80-96% eugenol.) 

As cinnamon oil is both toxic to the skin and a powerful sensitizer (not de-sensitizer, which would numb pain).


This one made most of my hand go numb, but I didn't feel the effects for at least a hour after wiping the oil with the palm of my hand.

Peppermint contains 29-48% menthol, that stuff they put in arthritis rubs to numb pain.  The interesting part I noticed, however, was how the effect spread from the point of contact through the surrounding area. I noticed that with cinnamon, too.


Is also a very nasty oil to get on your skin.


In addition, here are some common oils which my reference lists as "Hazardous," meaning they should NOT be used because of severe skin irritation: bitter almond, arnica, bitter fennel, camphor (brown and yellow), common sage, dwarf pine, mugwort, oregano, pennyroyal, red thyme, rue, sassafras, tansy, tonka, wintergreen, wormwood. These aren't all of them and I will keep you posted as I find more information and the effects they can have on your body inside and out.



Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses at all times!

Be very careful not to touch your face, or other sensitive areas, as even your rubber gloves will transfer the danger to any part of your body.

Buy plenty of the disposable eye droppers.



Please  remember: Safety First!  Always Expect the Unexpected!  And More Is Not always Better!

Number to Poison Control 1-800-222-1222

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