Guide to Essential and Base Oils

Quality essential oils are those distilled from fruit or vegetable tissues, and these have been around since ancient times as natural remedies for both medicinal healing and personal wellbeing.

Ancient civilizations were no stranger to the benefits of these substances, and many people from those lands today practice the traditions they learned from ancestors. These teachings are easily learned and technology has improved on the old methods of applying the oils both topically as lotions and aromatically as airy fragrances. Diffusers are now increasingly used to rapidly spread the scents of essential oils throughout a room or other indoor space, letting users immediately enjoy invigorating scents in their own homes. Click this link to read the best essential oil aromatherapy diffuser reviews.

There is another type of plant or mineral oil known as base or carrier oils, which include vegetable oils like palm and fruit oils like coconut. These complement the absolute substances we know of as essential oils, for the bases are used to dilute or “carry” the essentials before their application as lotions or other products to the skin. Base oils are very useful as parts of blends in minimizing the burning effect of concentrated pure oils. They also serve to slow the rate at which the oil is absorbed into the skin so that the effect can stretch out longer.

Essential oils

  • Essential Oils have a history with the ancients. Aromatic products like essential oils and the plants they are derived from have been mentioned in over six hundred instances in various texts of the Bible. The word “incense” occurs more than sixty times, and others like myrrh and frankincense more than fifty times. So for a trendy movement the the use of these powerful substances is as old as it gets.

  • Among ancient Hebrews, to anoint someone meant to apply an essential oil to a person, usually on the head. These were substances which were traditionally used for medicinal purposes and not derived from animal fat or vegetable oil. For example, the essential spikenard was known for many benefits, and was popular as a medicinal substance and also as a fragrance for use in religious ceremonies in earlier times, in India and later Europe. The authors Luke and John wrote that the feet of Jesus were anointed several times with spikenard before he supped for the last time with his apostles.
  • The oil Spikenard is derived from a plant species known since ancient times as nard/nardin, musk/muskroot, and valerian, for these all fall under the same genetic family. Users generally find themselves feeling relaxed and solid in the fragrant presence of this oil. It also offers medicinal benefits in terms of antifungal and anti-bacterial properties, and has been used for sedation and to counter inflammations. Spikenard’s oil exudes a strong earthy smell which is good for masking many deodorants as well.
  • People define and experience essential oils in many ways. One way to describe what they provide is in terms of the plant life they come from, which is invariably sustained by water. Without water, plants shrivel up and expire. The oils formed from the tissue in their flower, stem, and leaf cells are essential to the living functions of many flowering plants bushes and almost all trees. All earth-based life derives energy and materials from the sun and other stars, and only the photosynthesizing cells of green plants are known to directly convert radiant light energy into a living store of chemical energy in their tissue.
  • Many of a plant’s beneficial aspects are centralized in its oil-rich parts, the aromatic substances produced in its cellular processes. The plant’s scent in effect is its essential aspect to us. Most such plants are from specific regions where their species thrive in specific environments suited to their prosperous growth.

Base oils

  • Primrose, jojoba, apricot, almond, sesame, olive, and avocado oil are among the more common natural base oils used in skincare products. These oils’ carrier properties help the accompanying essential oil to better spread on the skin. Base oils have varying properties, so their chemical effects should be considered when selecting the proper blends for a particular therapeutic purpose.
  • Unlike essential oils, base or carrier oils do not evaporate and usually have weaker or less distinct aromas, and thus cannot be used in blends meant for diffusers. The quality advantage of these carriers is that these can be produced as the cold-pressed product of fattier plant tissue in lieu of chemical processing. Although base oils do not readily evaporate or exude aromas as strong as that of essential oils, when correctly blended they can provide a soothing and healthy combination.
  • Baby’s oil made with mineral oil does not allow essential oils to be readily absorbed by the skin. The cheaper grocery oils used in common cooking are usually not cold-pressed, these are normally produced with heat and have hardly any therapeutic value.
  • A user can buy or blend his own essential oil combinations to achieve whatever he likes. In the world of fragrances, scents are said to have notes, where top, middle, and bottom indicate a range of intensity from the high to low end. For example, an oil-based perfume once applied may smell a bit different later on. During the day its fragrance progressively alters both in flavor and intensity as its blend slowly evaporates. The notes are said to be evaporating as time goes by.


Beginners can get ideas for fragrant blends which are good for diffusing in the air as well as skin application, by perusing books on essential oil categories and notes. The best method is to blend oils found in the same category since their aromas naturally go well together.

For therapeutic purposes there are a number of time-tested methods. For example, in treating stomach aches, teas flavored with chamomile and ginger are recommended. For relaxation and inducing sleep, Chamomile teas with a spot of honey can also be effective.

Modern medicine has developed pharmaceutical methods which mimic the medicinal properties of natural plant and animal tissue, usually in formulas which result in complications worse in effect than the original condition. The big drug firms cannot derive much profit from directly marketing these natural remedies in their whole form, because the derivative species cannot be patented in most cases. In contrast, nature in its original forms has been provided with less harmful properties which can be directly beneficial for our health and wellbeing, many of which still being discovered.

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