Posted on

Bathing-or not with essential oils

During my studies at Aromahead Institute, we made a bath blend that mixed the essential oils with jojoba oil, then added that blend to epsom salt. This blend worked well, with no safety issues.

Image by andrea candraja from Pixabay

Oil and water do not mix in the bath! So how do I use essential oils?

So knowing that, essential oils cannot be dumped into the bath! Essential oils are lipophilic-meaning they are attracted to the fat in your body. Ouch! According to Robert Tisserand, of Tisserand Institute, if you want to use essential oils in the bath — or dilute them in any water, to use for things like body mists and sprays — this is the product we recommend: Solubol.(1) Solubol can be purchased from reputable essential oil sellers.

To use Solubol in the bath, use a 1:4 ratio. That is for every one drop of essential oils, use 4 drops of Solubol before adding to the bath.

Then there are things people use to think they can add essential oils to the bath-milk, cornstarch, baking soda, epsom salt, witch hazel, glycerine and alcohol….

None of these work for the bath.

Here is a brief explanation according to Robert:

Regular cornstarch is oil and moisture absorbent in its dry form, but it cannot “hold” the essential oil. Once it is added to bath water, any essential oil added to the water will float or cling to surfaces and skin.
Baking soda
Baking soda is fully water soluble but will not “hold” or disperse carrier or essential oils. The oils will float in the tub.
Epsom salt or regular salt
Salt is fully soluble in water and will dissolve once added to your bath. However, adding essential oils to salt and then stirring does not properly dilute or solubilizing the oils, even if the salts appear dry. Salt is not a carrier for essential oils. You can first dilute your essential oils with a vegetable oil and then add to salt to create a “wet” mixture. The salt will mostly stay incorporated with the carrier oil/essential oil, but only until added to a bath. Then, the oils will be released to float and cling to skin and surfaces.

Milk (animal or vegetable)
Animal milks are an emulsion of fat in water. Nut and plant milks are created as stable emulsions of oil (fat) in water. All milks are water soluble and are not suitable carriers, dispersants or solubilizers for essential oils, again, because water and oil don’t mix. While you may be able to create a temporary emulsion between essential oils and milk, particularly in high fat content animal milk, at a molecular level there is nothing holding the drops of each liquid together except for the mechanical action of vigorous whisking. Once in the bath the essential oils float on the surface, perhaps slightly more dispersed than if undiluted oils were added, but not much. You will still have virtually undiluted essential oils coming into contact with your skin.
Witch hazel
Witch Hazel Distillate is all water and completely water soluble. Witch Hazel with 14% alcohol is also completely water soluble. Remember, water and oil don’t mix! The alcohol proof and percentage is too low to be an effective solubilizer for essential oils.
Glycerin is completely water soluble. Essential oils are oil soluble. Glycerin is not an appropriate carrier for essential oils because oil and water don’t mix!
At least 160 proof alcohol is necessary for proper dispersion of essential oils with 190 proof being preferable. Everclear and perfumer’s alcohol fall into this category and the purchase of both is restricted in some areas. (You cannot dissolve essential oils in vodka.) So long as you first dissolve the essential oil in the alcohol, a certain percentage of water can be added with no separation. However when added to a bath, any solution of alcohol and essential oil floats on the surface with an oil slick appearance. The alcohol rapidly evaporates, leaving the essential oil virtually undiluted to attach to your skin.
Aloe vera
There are several types of Aloe Vera leaf extract – Gel, Jelly, Juice and Liquid. There is also a powder that is meant to be reconstituted in water. None of these are appropriate carriers for essential oils in the bath. Aloe Vera Jelly, which has added thickeners and preservatives, may be used as an essential oil base for direct application to the skin. However, if added to the bath, the essential oils will separate and float, as with other watery bases.(2) 1,2 Robert Tisserand, Safety in the Bath,

If you use jojoba, castile soap, shampoo or shower gel, blend 5-20 drops of essential oils into

1 Tablespoon of product. Avoid peppermint or any mints, cinnamon, oregano, thyme ct. thymol, savory, or any oil that is a potential skin irritant. We’ll get into chemical families in a future blog…..phenols, aldehydes–oh my.

Use lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, rose, geranium, sandalwood, oils that are not irritating to the skin. Sign up for my FREE PDF an “Introduction to Aromatherapy”.

As always, Happy Blending,