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Base and Carrier Oils

There are so many different grades, qualities and brands of base or carrier oils that deciding which oil to use can be quite overwhelming. The general rule of thumb is that the less processing the oil has undergone the better the oil and potentially the higher in nutrients it will be especially as certain vitamins are heat intolerant and will be destroyed by heat. The more organic the seed, nut or plant, the darker the oil usually is and the stronger the odour. This can have a deleterious effect on the end product for creams and lotions if you are trying to achieve a certain colour or scent.

Base oils should be pure and preferably cold pressed and, especially with olive oil, extra virgin. Oils that have been heat extracted or solvent extracted (usually with petroleum derivatives) have lost a lot of their vitamins and other nutrients as the heat and chemicals destroy these. Cold processing is where the nut or seed is crushed or pressed in temperatures below 80°C. Manufacturers found that heating the seeds and nuts to 100°C made the extraction of the oil easier and there was less waste. Solvent extraction started from the manufacturers desire to extract every amount of oil possible from the seeds and nuts. The solvent usually used is hexane which is a petroleum product. Another extraction method is using steam distillation for oils that are difficult to extract, such as grapeseed oil.

Mineral (or baby) oil is made from petroleum and is relatively useless because, although essential oils will dissolve in it, it has very low penetration power so you won't get the absorption for the essential oils into your skin. They are dead oils and diminish the positive effect of essential oils. Since the human body cannot cope with mineral oils when they are absorbed they are deposited in the tissues as toxins and can accumulate there and cause skin eruptions. For this reason it is important to read the labels of any commercially made product (especially if using the product on a baby) to ensure that it does not contain parafin or petroleum based mineral oils.

As yet I have been unable to find conclusive proof that all of the nutrients contained in base oils are actually absorbed into the skin and then transported to the organs of the body that the oil is said to aid but my personal preference is to try and decrease the number and amount of toxins that I come into contact with. For this reason I try and use mainly organic oils or extra virgin oils.

When blending essential oils with a carrier oil it is important to blend at the appropriate dilution taking into account the following:

An easy test to check the person's skin type is to have them wash their hands with soap to remove any handcreams and oil build ups. Pour a very small amount of an oil into their palm and have them rub it into their hands then check for the amount of absorption. Repeat this with each of the oils, washing the hands thoroughly between oils. In this way you can determine which oils the person's skin will absorb easily and which ones it won't.

Body Massage - 50 drops essential oils to 100 mls base/carrier oil
Facial Massage - 25 drops essential oils to 100 mls base oil
Children 1yr to 12yrs - 25 drops essential oils to 100 mls base oil
Elderly people - 25 drops essential oils to 100 mls base oil
Babies up to 12 months - Do not use any essential oil, massage with base oil only


1ml = 20 drops 5mls = 100 drops or 1 teaspoon 28.4mls = 1 fl. oz. or 568 drops 568mls = 1 pint 1000mls = 1 litre

All edible oils and fats come under the biological description of 'lipids' and are largely composed of fatty acids with small amounts of glycerine. The fatty acids themselves are large molecules made up of long chains of carbon atoms. Fatty acids vary in structure and may be saturated or unsaturated. Just as the composition oils differs from one kind to another, so do the effects they have on the body.

Saturated fats are mostly of animal origin such as red meat and dairy products and are the easiest to identify as they tend to be solid at room temperature (for example lard, cheese and butter). The exceptions to this rule are coconut and palm oils, both from the plant kingdom and both also high in saturates.

There are two types of unsaturated fats - poly and monounsaturated - most of which are vegetable in origin. The term saturation describes how many hydrogen molecules are attached to the carbon chain, or, how saturated the chain is with the hydrogen molecules. Unsaturated chains have one or more double bonds between their carbon atoms so they have less hydrogen atoms, hence referred to as unsaturated. Monounsaturated have one double bond, poly unsaturated have more than one. If you would like more information on this or pictures to explain it more clearly, click here.

Apart from vegetable sources, fish also contains significant levels of polyunsaturates although these have a slightly different structure to those from vegetable sources. Polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower or safflower oil, reduce the levels of harmful LDL in the bloodstream and are often promoted in low-fat diets.

Cooking Oils

soya bean
rapeseed (canola)
groundnut (peanut)

There are a few ground rules to follow to help decide what oils to buy:-

Sweet Almond Oil

Dilution can be used as 100%

Colour pale yellow to light golden brown

Odour mild typical almond, nutty aroma

Saponification Value Approx 198

The Oil The fixed oils of almond are extracted from two types of almond tree, the bitter almond and the sweet almond. Only the latter is used in therapy. The typical specifications of this oil are: oleic- 64-68%, palmitic- 6-9%, linoleic acid- 26-29%, and linolenic- 0.3%. Almond oil is said to balance the endocrine system in particular the pituitary, thymus and adrenals. Cell regeneration is said to be improved with almond. Almond oil is highly nutritious, being a good source of nutrients such as trace minerals and the essential polyunsaturate linolenic acid.

Uses Almond oil is a good lubricant, nourishing and revitalising. It is wonderful for dry, wrinkled hands, but it is also beneficial for eczema and skin irritations of any kind. It is especially suited to body massage blends. It is the most versatile oil, inexpensive, light and easily absorbed by the skin. It nourishes and revives the skin without clogging pores. It stores well under any conditions but heat will shorten the shelf life of the oil.

Apricot Kernel Oil
Dilution Use as a 10% addition to other oils

Colour pale yellow

Odour smell of bitter almonds

The Oil this oil is extracted from the kernels, the pip from within the stone of the fruit. It is very emollient and will help with any skin inflammation. It has a very light texture making it very easily absorbed by the skin. Typical specifications are: oleic- 62%, palmitic- 5.1%, linoleic acid- 33%, linolenic- 1%

Uses Its light texture is especially suitable for facial massage blends. Good for the more mature, dry, sensitive or inflamed skin. It is said to have the effect of balancing the pancreas and the thyroid and helps the gall bladder. This oil is excellent for restoring a glow to devitalised complexions. It heals scar tissue, especially when mixed with wheatgerm oil. An expensive oil to use on its own so blend with almond, grapeseed or jojoba oils. Its moisturizing, revitalizing properties are also popular in many cosmetics for dry or aged skin. Stores well under any conditions but heat will lessen the shelf life.

Avocado Oil
Dilution use as a 10% addition

Colour dark green/brown for unrefined and lightly golden for refined.

Odour mild nutty smell

The Oil This is a rich, heavier and more expensive oil which is rarely used on its own. Its derived from the flesh of a fruit that grows in tropical and subtropical zones. Its traditionally the beauty oil which was used by the tribeswomen of Mexico and Arizona. Since it is similar to sebaceous fat, the oil quickly merges with it. Avocados are highly nutritious being rich in protein, lecithin and vitamins A, B and D. Avocados do not contain any cholesterol but do have high levels of beneficial linoleic acid acid. Typical specifications of unrefined avocado oil is: oleic- 66-76%, palmitic- 10-16%, linoleic acid- 8-12%, linolenic- 2 max. Typical specifications of refined oil is: linoleic acid- 10%, linolenic- 0.8%, oleic- 53%, Palitic- 15.8%

Uses Good for dry and oily skin, especially dehydrated and eczema conditions. Good for maintaining skin elasticity. Its healing qualities regenerate skin that has been damaged by parasites. Also promotes the regeneration of scarred skin. It is a time-tested skin soother and softener. The unsaturated fatty acids of the avocado make it useful as a light ultraviolet filter in sun protection oils as well. If possible, use only cold-pressed. Due to the darker colour of the unrefined oil it may alter the colour of any creams or cosmetics it is used in. The refined oil has a high viscosity and particular fatty acids. Because of the relatively unstable nature of this oil it is recommended that you use the material as soon as you receive it, and store away from heat and light.

Borage Seed Oil (Starflower Oil)
The Romans called borage the herb of gladness and used an infusion from its leaves to treat depression. Its flavour is similar to that of cucumber. During the Middle Ages borage was a popular anti-inflammatory agent and was also used to treat rheumatism and heart disease. Borage seeds contain over twice as much GLA as evening primrose oil.

Calendula Oil
Dilution use as a 10% dilution

Uses This oil is one of the most useful skincare products and is extracted from the petals of the plant by steeping them for a fortnight in pure vegetable oil such as almond or olive. Good for all skin types. Valuable oil for treating wounds, scars, burns, inflammation and other injuries as it aids in tissue regeneration. This oil contains natural steroid substances called sterols and is especially good for treating skin conditions like eczema or cases where the skin has been damaged by steroid abuse. A half and half mixture of calendula oil and St John's Wort oil is an especially effective remedy for the repairing of scarred or damaged skin and for burns. It is especially useful to boost the vitamin content of homemade moisturisers. It has anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic qualities.

Canola(Rapeseed Oil)
This oil has the highest percentage of unsaturated fats of any vegetable oil. It contains over 90% mono and poly unsaturates and is a light oil with no flavour. It must be protected from light and heat to delay rancidity and is best stored in the fridge.

Carrot Oil (use as a 5% diution)
This carrier oil is produced by a process of maceration and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Used to help heal scar tissue and is useful for facial blends to combat acne and irritated skin.

Castor Oil
Dilution use as a 10% addition to other oils

Colour colourless

Odour slight fragrance

The Oil It is the seeds of the castor plant which are pressed for oil. It was known to the Greeks and Romans as a purgative or laxative, which is still a major use of this oil today. The oil has a very viscid consistency and is disagreeable to taste. The major constituents are oleic 3.0%, palmitic 1.0%, linoleic acid- 4.2%, linolenic 0.3%, Ricinoleic 89.5%, and glycerine.

Uses Rarely causes an allergic reaction and is used in many ointments. Useful for numerous skin complaints ranging from eczema to dryness of the skin. Because it is so viscid, it is better to mix with another carrier oil. A good drawing agent to draw toxins out in a warm compress on the skin for boils - a good mix is benzoin and caster oil. It is good for removing splinters or foreign bodies in the eye and soothing eye irritations. It is also used in soap making to increase sudsing of the soap. Stores well under any condition but extreme heat will lessen the shelf life.

Coconut Oil
This oil is an important ingredient in the beauty business and is mainly used in soaps as a hardener and natural cleansers. It has a low-lathering cleansing action and is often added to shampoos and the more expensive detergents.

Evening Primrose Oil
Dilution Use as a 10% addition to other oils

The Oil This is a tall, spiky but elegant plant that only blooms in the evening, hence its common name and the oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. In Europe this plant is known as the "King's Cure All". Evening primrose contains high gamma linolenic acid (GLA), vitamins and minerals. When applied externally this oil is good for psoriasis, eczema, and wounds, acts as a moisturizer and is excellent in the prevention of prematurely aging skin as it helps the regenerative process of cell growth, stimulates the circulation of the skin and revitalizes aging cells. It may also help to clear up wrinkles and blemishes due to skin dryness. This oil can be found as an active ingredient in many of the world's most famous skin creams and lotions. Use as a 10% additive. It is good for dry and mature skin. soothes inflammation, good for eczema and dermatitis. Typical specification include: gamma linolenic 10.1%, linoleic acid 73.5%, oleic 6.9%, palmitic 6.1%. This particular oil should be kept refrigerated as it goes rancid quickly.

Uses Excellent for face and body massage blends especially to combat dry, devitalised skin, psoriasis and eczema. It is considered to be good internally for pre-menstrual syndrome, breast pain, menopausal problems, multiple sclerosis and heart disease. It is expensive to use on its own so add a small quantity to the massage blend.

Grapeseed Oil
Dilution Can use either by itself or as a 10% addition to other oils

Colour pale greeny yellow

Odour little to no smell

The Oil Comes from the grape pips. The oil is very pure, high in polyunsaturates, and extremely light - almost as thin as water therefore easily absorbed by the skin. Most of the grapeseed oil on the supermarket shelves has been solvent extracted so it is worth checking with the manufacturer to see what extraction method they used. Typically contains oleic, linoleic acid and linolenic fatty acids.

Uses Favoured for its light texture and lack of smell. It is non-greasy and excellent for body massage blends. It is suitable for all skin types and is easily absorbed. It is slightly astringent in nature making it useful for conditions like acne.

Hazelnut oil
Dilution Can use at 100% but a mix of 50/50 is good for massages

Colour Light Yellow

Odour Light nutty odour

The Oil This is a light and easily absorbed oil with a delicate aroma. Tones and tightens the skin, strengthens capillaries, assists in cell regeneration and is very good for damaged skin. It contains good levels of essential fatty acids, including linoleic acid acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid and oleic acid. This oil is highly penetrative, with a slightly astringent effect on the skin. It is good for acne and combination skin types. It is a popular oil for skin care preparations and for massage blends. Keep away from direct sunlight and high temperatures.

Hemp Seed Oil
Dilution Use as a 100% base or as a 20% dilution

Colour Green

Odour Slightly nutty odour

The Oil Hemp oil is known as nature's most balanced oil and contains a high level of polyunsaturated essential fatty acids while ranging in the lowest levels of saturated fats. An analysis shows that it contains linoleic acid Acid, Alpha and gamma linolenic Acid (commonly known as Omega-6), palmitic acid, Stearic acid and oleic acid.. The oil also contains the natural anti-oxidant vitamin E and sterols which blocks cholesterol absorption. Unrefined hemp oil can be used for cooking in place of olive or safflower oils. It has a unique nutty flavour and adds EFA.s (essential fatty acids) as well as other nutrients to your diet. Refined oil is more clear and lighter in colour which is beneficial for use in making soaps, body and aromatherapy products.
Hemp seed oil has anti-inflammatory effects, which makes it extremely useful for arthritis and auto-immune disorders. It is an excellent skin moisturizer and has shown, in some cases, to stimulate hair and nail growth. Hemp oil contains many healing and regenerative properties and may be applied topically to restore vital organs as well as heal various skin conditions. The essential fatty acids in hemp oil are critical in warding off various age related diseases and osteoarthritis. Research has proved it to be beneficial in reducing blood clots and high blood pressure. A sensitive oil that will degrade to light exposure and any flux in temperature. Must be refrigerated.

Jojoba Oil
Dilution Can use by itself.

Colour golden

Odour none

The Oil This oil is extracted from the beans of a plant that lives as long as one hundred years and thrives in temperatures as high as 122°f without noticeable absorption of water. Jojoba oil is not actually an oil, but rather a liquid wax. It is rich in Vitamin E and will not turn rancid like other oils as it has antioxidant properties and is therefore ideal for blends, particularly for the face and hair. It requires little to no refining and has several specific skin care properties. Its chemical composition is close to the skins own oil, sebum, making it good for all skin types.

Uses Excellent for skin and hair care products. Good for inflamed skin, psoriasis, eczema and all skin types. Because of its natural affinity with the skin, jojoba oil is especially good for sensitive complexions or oily and acne skin conditions that require delicate treatment. When massaged into the skin it combines with sebum and gently unclogs pores to free embedded dirt and grime.

Linseed Oil
Dilution Use as a 10% addition to other oils

Odour strong

The Oil This oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant. Linseed is the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids (50-60% Omega-3s) and contains almost twice as much of the Omega-3s as fish oil. Contains Alpha-linolenic Acid (omega-3), linoleic acid Acid (omega-6), oleic Acid, Stearic Acid and Palmitoleic Acid. Also contains betacarotene, Potassium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Calcium, Sulfur, Sodium, Chlorine, Iron, Zinc and traces of Manganese, Silicon, Copper, Fluorine, Nickel, Cobalt, Iodine, Molybdenum and Chromium. Use of linseed oil can be traced back to Hippocrates who recorded that it was useful for stomach and skin disorders.

Uses Linseeds are a very effective and gentle bulking agent and can be used as a laxative when swallowed whole with plenty of water. The mucins and water-binding substances in the linseeds work by increasing the volume of the stool. This then presses against the intestinal walls and triggers the action of peristalsis (bowel movement). In addition, the mucins form a protective and gliding film which covers the sensitive mucous membranes. This can then help heal any intestinal wall irritation. Crushed seeds make an excellent poultice and have the ability to draw out excess fluid from body tissues. Some aromatherapists also use them in conjunction with massage to tighten slack skin tissues and combat cellulite. One drawback is that it needs to be used fresh as it spoils faster than other oils. Flax oil should be stored in the dark and in the refrigerator; it should not be used for cooking.

Macadamia Oil
Dilution Use at 10%
Colour Golden colour
Odour Mild nutty odor with sweet undertones
The Oil This oil is made up of approximately 80% mono-unsaturated fatty acids. It contains oleic acid, Palmitoleic acid, linoleic acid acid, and linolenic acid and is the only plant-derived oil that contains a large amount of palmitoleic acid over 21%. Palmitoleic acid is usually derived from fish oils with a strong odour. This is not the case with Macadamia. It is self-stabilising and requires no antioxidants. The overall fatty acid profile closely resembles human sebum. There is evidence that the skin loses palmitoleic acid as we age. In a recent study it was shown that the presence of palmitoleic acid plays an active role in the slowing down of lipid peroxidation and thus has a cell protection function.

Uses Macadamia is a very unsaturated oil providing a silky emollience to the skin and is very quickly absorbed leaving a smooth, non-greasy feeling. Its an unrefined oil that is sensitive to light and will degrade accordingly.

Olive Oil
Dilution can use as either 100% or as an addition to an oil blend

Colour pale to greenish-yellow. In some very pure forms can be a darker green that can overpower other oils used in creams and cosmetics.

Odour mild to spicy scent but in some very pure forms can have a heavier scent that overpowers the smell of other oils

The Oil Olive oil is the king of oils and has legendary health and beauty properties. Spain is the worlds leading olive grower and the olives grown for pressing are soft and squashy, unlike the firmer varieties grown for the table. Olive oil varies in taste and colour from year to year depending on the variety of olives used and the times of harvesting. Extra virgin olive oils are classified as having less than 1% acidity. Typical content includes: oleic- 76.7%, palmitic- 10.5%, linoleic acid- 6.6% and linolenic- 0.7%

Uses The cosmetic benefits of olive oil have been recognised for thousands of years. Very beneficial for dry, damaged or split hair. Soothing to the skin, good on inflammation such as eczema. Very good for rheumatic conditions. A source of Vitamin E which protects the body against harmful free-radical cell damage. Traditionally used for stomach disorders; stimulates bile production; promotes pancreatic secretions and may even protect against stomach ulcers. Best if used close to purchasing date. Do not expose to light.

Pumpkin Seed Oil
Dilution Use as a 10% addition to other oils

Colour Clear yellow to green

Odour Mildly Rich

The Oil The flesh of the pumpkin contains vitamin A but it is the seeds which cluster in the centre from which the oil is extracted. The seeds contain approximately 30% protein, oleic acid, linoleic acid acid, palmitic acid, Stearic acid, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, which are known to promote energy levels, brain function, and overall health and vitality. It also contains high levels of Vitamin E, as well as Vitamins A and C, Zinc, and other trace minerals and vitamins.

Uses This oil is useful as a diuretic for urinary complaints, as a demulcent and as an anthelmintic to expel worms from the intestine. Used as an alternative to fish liver oils for lung problems, to strengthen the lungs and mucous membranes. Because of its delicate nature, this oil should be stored in a cool and dry place, away from light and we recommend refrigeration to prolong shelf life.

Rosehip Oil
Rosehip oil is produced in Chile and has recently become a popular oil, particularly in regenerative skin care. The oil has been used successfully to reduce wrinkles and signs of premature aging and provides excellent results in the treatment of burns, scars and unsightly spots on the skin. It also helps to counter the drying effects of the sun which are usually noticed by the fine wrinkles or 'crows feet' around the eyes and mouth.

Safflower Oil
Dilution can be used as 100%

Colour Faded yellow, golden colour

Odour nutty

The Oil Belongs to the thistle family and originates from India. The oil is extracted from the seeds of the plant and has a bland, slightly nutty flavour. Is rich in the omega-6 group of essential fatty acids and also contains oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid acid and linolenic acid and is also a good source of vitamin E. Has the highest percentage of unsaturated fats of all vegetable oils.

Uses Good for body massage because of its light texture and penetrative power. Has diuretic properties and it may be beneficial for painful inflamed joints.. Used externally for skin allergies and arteriosclerosis. This oil oxidizes very easily but can be used in massage blends.

Sesame Seed Oil
Dilution use as a 10% addition to other oil blends

Colour slightly yellow to golden brown

Odour Delicate nutty smell and taste

The Oil Sesame plant bears small nuts about an inch long. The seeds are contained within the nuts which is divided into four compartments. Unrefined oil contains the B vitamins, vitamin E and the minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorous (good for nerve function). Also contains oleic acid, linoleic acid acid, and linolenic acid. It blocks about 30% of the suns UV rays and can therefore be used as a sun protection oil.

Uses Unrefined sesame oil contains vitamins, minerals and lecithin and is excellent to add to a facial massage blend. Sesame oil enriches the blood and stimulates blood platelet count. Is effective against spleen disorders. Because high in calcium, the oil is not acid forming and therefore an ideal laxative for those who suffer stomach disorders. Needs to be mixed with a vegetable oil that inhibits oxidisation or an essential oil such as benzoin. Heat will lessen the shelf life. Great as an all-over body moisturizer or massage oil. Sesame oil is light, odor-free and spreads easily over skin. It absorbs readily, with no greasy feeling. It is rich in nutrients and because its rich in nutrients, this is a good choice for those who like body oils or need extra moisturizing.

Sunflower Oil
Dilution can be used at 100%

Colour Pale yellow to clear

Odour slightly bland, sweet taste, bland smell

The Oil Sunflower seeds contain vitamins A, D, E, and B-complex and are also rich in minerals such as calcium, zinc, potassium, iron and phosphorus. Contains between 50 and 70% linoleic acid acid (depending where the flowers grow). Also contains oleic acid, palmitic acid and linolenic acid.

Uses Good for all skin types used for beauty and skin care. Does not absorb quickly and should be diluted with an other carrier oil such as Sweet Almond. Considered to be an effective diuretic. Also good for building strong, healthy teeth in children. Relieves the burn of sunburn. Helps in respiratory tract infections especially if blended with sympathetic essential oils. Helps strengthen the energy within the spinal column. Stores well under any condition but extreme heat and light will lessen the shelf life.

St Johns Wort Oil
Dilution Used in small amounts only

Colour Slightly pink oil when infused.

The Oil The plants flowers contain oil glands and its petals may be macerated or infused in pure vegetable oil to produce an attractive pink oil.

Uses This valuable healer can be used on the skin to hasten wound healing and reduce scarring from burns. It is useful in skin-care remedies designed for sensitive skin.

Soy Bean Oil
When unrefined, it is the second best oil for Vitamin E after wheatgerm oil and contains more lecithin than any other vegetable oil. As soy bean is one of the cheapest cooking oils, it is almost impossible to find it in an unrefined state because of the low oil content and for reasons of economy must be extracted with solvents.

Wheatgerm Oil
Dilution use as 10% addition to other oils

Colour Golden yellow to dark brown

Odour Heavy odour strongly of wheat

The Oil Rich in phosphorus, zinc, potassium, sulphur and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6 and E - especially useful for neutralising acid and toxic wastes in the body. Also converts albumen to fibrin which improves nerve function. Is a natural antioxidant and will preserve the potency of all oils but unrefined Wheat Germ oil is a very sensitive oil that will degrade quickly when exposed to extremes in temperature fluctuation and oxidization. Unrefined oil is very dark in color and heavy in odor. Contains the fatty acids oleic, palmitic, linoleic acid and linolenic.
Uses Good for healing scar tissue and burns. Internally strengthens the nervous system and helps remove the fatty plaque from arteries. Helps regenerate tissues and promotes skin elasticity. Strengthens dry and split hair when massaged into the split ends and left for about 15 minutes before washing the hair (always apply shampoo first into the oiled hair before rinsing under water). Good for aging skin, wrinkles and stretch marks. Also good for psoriasis and eczema. Warning: May cause sensitization in some individuals.