Safe Scenting Essential Oil Safety Recommendations

Essential oils are oils extracted from a plant or tree’s flower, bark, stem, leaf or fruit. These potent oils are anywhere from 50 to 100 times more concentrated than the original plant or tree, making them therapeutic powerhouses as well as a great asset to have in your regular wellness routine.

These concentrated oils can help ease conditions from anxiety to insomnia and even pain relief. Just like any mechanism with known therapeutic applications, can pose potential health risks if not used properly.

Understanding the risks and following safe-use recommendations of essential oils means you’ll be able to soak up the joy and benefits of your favourite scents without putting yourself, your pets and other people who share your space at risk. Welcome to your go-to guide for essential oil safety, a comprehensive and routinely-updated list you can turn to anytime. If you have any questions or feedback regarding the information on this page, we’d be thrilled to hear from you! Reach out to us at:

1. Getting Started With Essential Oils

Getting started with essential oils is simple! Before you dive into the essential oils scent-scape for the first time, we do recommend consulting your medical practitioner, especially if you have any medical conditions. Some essential oils may not be appropriate for use during pregnancy, around children, some pets, or people who have conditions such as epilepsy.

Everyone is different and will react differently to any one essential oil. Follow the rules of moderation and speak with your physician for professional advice on what may or may not be right for you. If applying an essential oil, make sure you dilute the essential oil following proper dilution ratios.

2. Purity Testing & Grading

While essential oil purity really is a thing, claims around what makes an essential oil pure (or not) are not always accurate. Many small vendors don’t do their own testing, because properly batch-testing essential oils is expensive. At Fern & Petal, we batch-test every oil to make sure you are getting the cleanest products. Yes, it’s expensive and it’s more than worth it to us.

Purity-Testing At Fern & Petal

We’ve tested a lot of oils from different suppliers over the years. It is not uncommon to find providers with impure oils; we have even found some well-known local suppliers to have impure oils from our testing. We do our GCMS testing through Phytochemia. GCMS (Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry) is a testing method that breaks an oil down into its core components. These components are then analyzed and compared against a control sample (or reference sample) that is known to be pure. If this sample does not match the compounds within a certain degree, or different compounds are found within it, those discrepancies are noted in the results.

Essential Oil Grades

One of the most common questions we get are about whether our oils are “food or “therapeutic” grade oils. The truth is, there is no federally regulated essential oil grading system in Canada or the United States. Essential oil grades are marketing terms used by companies to classify their oils separately from others. There is also no industry standard for what makes an essential oil "food" or "therapeutic” grade. This means that one company's ‘food grade’-labelled essential oil can be entirely different from another, if they have any internal requirements for what that grade actually means.

At Fern & Petal, we have consciously chosen not to use any of these essential oil grade marketing terms. Our goal is to be as transparent as possible, while providing the highest quality oil available.

At-Home Essential Oil Purity Testing

There is a lot of information circling about testing essential oils at home. Maybe you’ve heard of freeze testing, blot testing, smell testing, drop testing, or styrofoam testing, to name a few. While some of these tests may provide fringe or placebo results, the only accurate way to evaluate an essential oil is through GCMS testing. Essential oils are often cut with agents to increase the profitability of the farms selling them, while some chemical fragrances are sold as true essential oils. There is no accurate way to test for any cutting agents without a proper, professional analysis of an essential oil.

Unfortunately, small vendors who do not have the resources to properly test their oils, may truly believe they are pure themselves. Label indicators like: Latin/inci/Scientific name, origin, purity, cost, etc. are not always good indicators of the quality because of this.

3. Ingestion

The safe ingestion of essential oils is a complex topic. Injury reports from ingestion compiled by the Atlantic Institute of Aromatherapy show that the worst injuries related to the use of essential oils tend to happen with ingestion. That report is no longer available on the web but we've downloaded the original report for you to view: 2014 - 2018 and 2019.

For the safety of all of our customers, unless under the care and direction of a medical practitioner or a certified aromatherapist, we don’t recommend ingesting essential oils.

4. Topical Application

Our blends are hand-mixed with special attention to dilution ratios. You can also create your own blend for topical use, keeping the concentration of essential oils between 1 and 5 percent, depending on the oil.

A one-percent dilution ratio is one drop of oil to about 30ml or one fluid ounce of a carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil.

Before you apply oils topically, do a small patch test to see how your skin reacts. Keep an eye on the test patch for about a day. If your skin starts to itch, blister or swell, don’t use it topically.

Create a Dilution Ratio

5. Child Safety

Certain oils can be unsafe to use around younger children. While some oils may be safe to use around kids ages 2 and under, we like to err on the side of caution and don’t recommend using essential oils for this age group without specific advice from your pediatrician.

If any of our products are empirically known to be safe for children under 2 years old, we will communicate that product as “safe for all ages” in the product description.

We also recommend extreme care when using essential oils topically on kids ages 6 and under. Dilution for topical application is particularly important for kids. A good, safe practice for child-safe dilution is about 0.5%, or about four drops in 4 teaspoons of carrier oil.

Get a List of Child Safe Oils

6. Pet Safety

Essential oils are generally safe to diffuse around adult cats and dogs intermittently. Keep your area well-ventilated and have a safe, scent-free space your pet can retreat to if it desires. If you notice any adverse reaction, discontinue use. Do not apply essential oils topically to your pet and avoid diffusing around young pets, small animals or pets with health problems.

While all essential oils are generally considered safe to diffuse around adult pets, some essential oils are considered safer than others. Like people, every pet is different. Some pets may be allergic, or have reactions to any ingredient or oil. Keep an eye on your pet and consult your vet to get professional advice.

Follow these steps you can take to minimize risk to pets:

  • Don’t diffuse any oil, even pet-safe scents, for more than an hour at a time
  • Never apply any essential oils topically or allow your pet to ingest them
  • Keep your diffuser and oils out of reach from your pet (so they don’t get into them and ingest them accidentally)
  • Diffuse in a well-ventilated space so the aroma doesn't become too overwhelming
  • Keep a safe, aroma-free space for your pet to retreat to if it becomes too much
  • Moderation is key. If you have essential oils that may contain some oils considered unsafe for pets, use them more sparingly and look for signs your pet may be reacting negatively
  • Be mindful of rollers and topical applications. If you apply a roller to your skin and then touch your pet, you’re leaving oil residue that can enter their systems.
  • Keep an eye on your loved ones; like people, no pet is the same. If you find your pet to be reacting negatively (even if it's subtle), discontinue use and consult your veterenarian.
  • If you’re not sure, we always recommend having a chat with your vet on your next visit for professional advice.
Get a List of Pet Safe Oils

Fern & Petal's Essential Oil Safety Guide

This guide provides safety information for Fern & Petal products only.

We don’t recommend ingestion by people or pets out of an abundance of caution.

We don’t recommend topical applications for pets.

This list was created only as a guideline. All essential oils are generally safe to diffuse around adult cats and dogs, however, some oils are generally recognized as safer than others.

If pregnant, speak to your medical practitioner before using essential oils. Avoid using any oils topically and never ingest any essential oils. Use caution with essential oils classified under category 3, follow safe diffusing practices and moderation. Avoid use through your first trimester..

This guide is based on our own research and may be subject to change. Please consult your vet, or medical practitioner, for professional feedback according to your particular situation

Fern & Petal's Essential Oil Dilution Calculator

This guide provides safety information for the dilution of essential oils.

Always start small when trying to determine the dilution ratio for essential oils. When deemed safe, increase the dilution ratio as desired.

Before you apply oils topically, do a small patch test to see how your skin reacts. Keep an eye on the test patch for about a day. If your skin starts to itch, blister or swell, don’t use it topically.

We do not recommend the dilution ratio over 5% unless directed by a professional for targeted application.

Do not use undiluted essential oils on your skin

A 2% dilution ratio is recommended for leave-on body products (i.e. massage oils), a 1% dilution ratio is recommended for facial applications, and a 3-4% dilution ratio is safe for rinse-off bath and body products.

Safe dilution ratios for children (2+) are considered 0.5 - 2.5%

Essential Oil Dilution Calculator Choose the type of Formula Usage

The formula I am creating will be used on:

Essential Oil Dilution Calculator Safety Check: Photosensitivity

Does your blend contain any of the following oils, greater than the percentage listed?

  • Angelica: 0.8%
  • Bergamot (Not FCF): 0.4%
  • Orange: 1.25%
  • Cumin: 0.4%
  • Grapefruit: 4%
  • Lemon: 2%
  • Lime: 2%
  • Mandarin: 0% (any)
  • Rue: 15%

Essential Oil Dilution Calculator Choose the Formula Strength

The topical formula I am creating requires a strength of:

Essential Oil Dilution Calculator Enter your Formula Volume

My formula consists of this much volume (i.e. the size of container you are using):

Essential Oil Dilution Calculator Your Formula Results

Based on your criteria, we've added directions for up to the maximium dilution you should use.

Have questions or feedback on the results? Reach out to us at:

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