Therapeutic Essential Oils

Hello readers, this is Brigette welcoming you to another installment of Backwoods Living. Backwoods living doesn’t just describe a location but a way of life. It signifies self-sufficiency, learning to use what you already have, and understanding the value of nature in your day-to-day life. Although many are now recognizing and using plants instead of over the counter drugs there is another aspect to nature’s medicine chest that is often overlooked, essential oils.

Like most, I never paid much attention to the scents in the products I was using. After all a scent is a scent and they were there to make the product smell nice but had no other value. Was I ever wrong! When I began to understand the complex structure of essential oils and their therapeutic value I became an essential oils snob.

My journey with essential oils actually began with soap. A chance meeting with a soap maker opened my eyes to the difference between real soap and ‘beauty’ or ‘deodorant’ soap (a subject for another time). As I grew to understand the impact topical applications have on your body I was lead to start making my own healthy bars of soap with pure, natural ingredients. While research ingredients for soap I discovered the benefits of essential oils as opposed to the fragrance oils commonly used today.

Essential oils have been used throughout history in ointments, incense, perfume, and for anointing the sick. The use of essential oils for medicinal purposes is recorded in Dioscorides’ first century writings entitled De Materia Medica.  In 1937 Rene-Maurice Gattefosse, a chemist, published Aromatherapie: Les Huiles Essentielles a book praising the benefits of essential oils. Gattefosse relates the story of burning his hand and using lavender essential oil to treat it. During World War II French surgeon Jean Valnet used essential oils as an antiseptic for wounds.

Today essential oils are used in a variety of ways,  aromatherapy, massage therapy, personal care, and household cleaning solutions to name a few.

What are Essential Oils

Essential Oils are not true oils but are the aromatic, volatile liquids distilled from plants. The oil is most commonly extracted from the seeds, flowers, stems, roots, leaves, fruit, bark, or branches of a plant through steam distillation. Distillation draws out the aromatic essence of the botanical leaving you with a highly concentrated and complex liquid that is used for its therapeutic properties.

Pure therapeutic grade essential oils are expensive and while there are cheap alternatives out there please remember what our mothers taught us, “You get what you pay for”. To make a high quality essential oil takes thousands of pounds of plant material to make one pound of essential oil. If you are only concerned with the scent then low cost oils might satisfy your needs but remember you are only getting the scent not the benefits.

Essential oils are infused into the air or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the skin. Some websites recommend apply the essential oil directly to the skin, this is called ‘neat’. However, I do not recommend it, I always advice the use of a carrier oil when essential oil is to be used on the skin.

A carrier oil such as olive, jojoba, or any of the many wonderful oils out there will:

  1. Help to dilute the extremely concentrated essential oil.
  2. Act as a lubricant to help the essential oil glide onto the skin.
  3. Help prevent the evaporation of cialis price the essential oil.
  4. Aid in the absorption of the essential oil into the skin and tissues.

Fragrance Oils or Essential Oils.

Although many people do not distinguish between essential oils and fragrance oils they are not the same. Think natural versus synthetic. As we have already discussed essential oils are extracted plant compounds. They maintain their aroma but most importantly have therapeutic benefits.

Fragrance oils are lab created synthetic scents. They are a combination of synthetic and natural chemicals blended together to mimic the scents in nature. Although scientist can duplicate the scent of essential oils they have failed to duplicate the benefits. Fragrance oils are sold under a variety of names such as fragrance, fragrance oil, parfum, and scent. They are used extensively in the cosmetic and beauty industry, as well as others, due to their much lower cost.

The Four Grades of Essential Oils

At this time there is not a formal standard grading system for essential oils. There is, however, a general grading system of four separate grades of essential oil:

  • Therapeutic grade oils are usually extracted from organically grown plants by steam distilled methods. It is believed this helps to maintain the beneficial properties of the oil.
  • Food grade oils may contain fertilizers or pesticides. The may also be extracted from the plant through chemical or heat extraction.
  • Perfume oils, like food grade oils, may contain chemicals and pesticides. It is generally believed that perfume oils contain no therapeutic benefits. These oils are traditionally used in commercial cleaners, candles, and fragrances.
  • Floral waters or hydrosols are a byproduct of theraputic grade essential oils. They are often used in beauty products.

Taking Care of Your Essential Oils.

Your essential oils should be stored in dark, glass bottles away from heat and light. Make sure the lid is tightly closed to avoid evaporation. Since essential oils are not true oils, such as olive oil, you do not need to worry about them going rancid. Most essential oils can be stored indefinitely with the exception of citrus-based oils, which should be used within one year of opening.


Essential oils are a valuable asset to your emergency preparedness supplies as well as your day-to-day living. When purchasing your oils you will want to consider the grade of oil to ensure you are receiving a pure product. Although therapeutic grade oils are more expensive you will use less due to their higher concentration of essential nutrients. Less is more! With proper storage you essential oils should stay fresh, eliminating waste.

If you would like to purchase therapeutic grade essential oils from me please visit me here.

If you would like to purchase some of my exquisite cold-process soaps please email me at

I would love to hear your testimony of how essential oils have helped you. You can post your comments below or email at


    It’s Your Turn:

    What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts, and encourage you to share your experience and insights in the comments box below.


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  1. Dawn R says:

    I had no idea that food grade oils would have pesticide and other chemicals in them. Who wants to eat inceticides? Yuck

    • Brigette Dennis says:

      I was shocked at first too, then when I thought about it made since, much of the food supply has pesticides in it. There is always someone willing to make or grow something cheaper then sell it for less. Quality takes time.
      Thanks for reading.

  2. Kelly says:

    I use eucalyptus oil whenever my kids get a runny nose. A few drops on the feet before bed with socks does such wonders for their coughing at night