Where Do I Even Begin?

By now, you’ve certainly heard about essential oils. You’ve likely got a friend or two (or five) that rave about them on social media daily. You may be wondering if they’re up to all the hype (depends on what you’ve heard). You may be wanting to check them out yourself. But where to even begin?

There are really two ways to begin this journey. You can buy one or two oils at a time and ease in gently. Or you can buy a handful of oils and jump in both feet first. There are pros and cons to each way and neither is really right for everyone.

eo begin

Easing in- You’ll buy one or two oils and slowly start building your collection. You’ll likely want to start with lavender, lemon, or peppermint. Those are the common oils that can treat a whole slew of maladies and complaints. Rub lavender on boo-boos. Use peppermint for heartburn or as a pick me up. Use lemon to clean, kill offensive odors, or help wake you up in the morning. You’ll find dozens of uses for the basic oils.

There are pros and cons to this method. You’ll spend less initially. You’ll be able to grab the same two or three oils across several brands to compare them if you wish. You’re not putting a lot of money into the start up. The downsides will be that you’ll be less likely to spend money for a diffuser, which is an awesome way to use your essential oils, since it will only add to the initial cost. You’ll not get into the habit of reaching for an oil to help. You’ll likely find you want an oil for coughing, but only don’t have one on hand or you’ll want an oil for deodorant and none of the few you’ve got are adequate. You’ll find yourself a little frustrated at the lack of variety. And you’ll be running out of oil and having to replenish it eventually, slowing down your accumulation plan. Essential oils in an amber bottle should never expire. Exposure to heat will lessen their effectiveness, but they won’t go bad. They’ll survive the apocalypse with you. A bottle of essential oil lasts me anywhere from 6 weeks to years, depending on the oil and what is going on in our household. The common oils you’re likely to buy in the beginning will run out faster than obscure oils simply because you’re using them more often. (I find cheaper oils don’t last as long, because I’m having to use double or triple the number of drops for the same strength.)

Jumping In- This is how many people prefer to go about it. You can usually buy a starter kit that makes the overall “deal” better than wading in slowly. For example, a Young Living Premium Kit contains 11 oils plus a diffuser and some samples for $150 (plus tax and shipping). My DoTerra Family Physician Kit contained 11 oils for $150. If this doesn’t seem like a deal to you, know that lavender, lemon, and peppermint oil alone from either company would be over $50. So, you get more bang for your buck.

There are pros and cons to this way, too. You’ll be putting more money in up front. And say, you wanted an oil for thyroid function, well, that isn’t in the kit. You’ll have to add that to your collection. The kits generally contain basic, widely used, oils. Oils for relaxation, immune boosting, boo-boos, skin care, coughs, etc. They aren’t going to have the more specific oils like myrtle, helichrysum, ocotea, myrrh, etc. You will  build the habit of using oil when you have this many, though. You’ll find ways to use it. You’ll likely find you have an oil on hand for most things you find you need. And in some cases, you’ll also have a diffuser to diffuse oils, which is an awesome way to use them. (You can also buy essential oil diffusers on Puritan’s Pride and Amazon for relatively low prices.) But the initial cost is going to be more. For some people, that means they’ll actually make themselves use it. For others, they don’t want that much money investing in something they aren’t sure they’ll enjoy.

So which oils should I try?

Lavender is the most common, basic oil to have on hand. It is especially good when you’ve got kids, since it is a good first aid oil. It can be used on cuts, scrapes, bruises, burns, stings, and more. Some people (The Pastor included) report it helping reduce allergy symptoms. It is also calming, helping you relax and sleep.

Lemon oil is also very common. It can be used in cleaning, both your house and yourself. It makes your house smell clean. It uplifts your mood and helps you focus. It is great to use in the morning to help wake you up. (This really goes for all citrus oils. They just smell so uplifting. It is a great scent to start the day.) Can be used to help smooth the skin on your feet. It can also help in the dishwasher for those with hard water. You’ll find so many uses for lemon oil.

Peppermint oil is very common with many uses. Of course, you know it will freshen your breathe. The smell can also help uplift you and help with nausea. Peppermint is also good for heartburn. Many people use lemon and peppermint together to help them on their weight loss journey. Peppermint is also of great help for people with headaches. Use it to help keep you awake and alert.

Thieves/On Guard is an oil blend. Most oil companies carry some version of this oil. (Clove, lemon, eucalyptus, cinnamon, rosemary) Also similar is just straight cinnamon bark oil. This is the oil used for immune boosting and germ killing properties. Many people get into essential oils for this blend. You can use is for cleaning (I personally mop and clean my counters with cinnamon bark oil), homemade hand sanitizers, diffusing to kill germs and boost immunity, rubbing on your feet to help boost your immune system, on toothaches, and as a natural air freshener. Some people drip it in their vacuums or rinse their carpets using a steam cleaner. This blend is what makes many fall in love with essential oils. (If you get a food grade version, know that a couple drops in a simple sugar glaze makes an awesome addition to spice cakes.)

Melaleuca (Tea Tree Oil) is also a great starter oil. You’ll want to be cautious with this one with pregnant women. (Well, you always want to be cautious with pregnant women and kids. Check oil safety and dilute them!) It is great for cleaning! Use it in your steam cleaner, mop water, counter spray. You can use it on your pets (and sometimes kids) for lice, fleas, and ticks. It is also a good oil for fungus and parasites, like yeast and ringworm. It is also great for skin issues like razor burns, athlete’s foot, and other skin conditions. You’ll find so many ways to use it. There are several different varieties of melaleuca. Melaleuca Alternifolia is the common “tea tree oil” variety. Other varieties may be milder or better for specific issues.

Frankincense is another common oil that is all the rage. You may be curious about this one, since it was a gift for the baby Jesus and all. And most people aren’t really sure what on earth frankincense is even good for, or what it smells like. It is great skin care. I personally use it in my hand cream. It has healing properties and kills germies. It is calming, and meditative. It can help reduce the appearance of scars. Seriously, skin LOVES frankincense. It helps with anxiety, stress, sadness, and moodiness. It helps boost your immune system. It soothes itchy skin. It can help back and joint discomfort. This oil is so soothing. You can use it on scrapes, and I do, especially if they are on the face. There are also lots of stories about frankincense being used by those with cancer. You’ll have to search for those personal stories, since I have none personally to share.

Those are the most common oils. There are others than many would argue are more important than those above, like thyme (great for congestion), eucalyptus (there are several varieties), oregano, patchouli (a personal favorite), valerian, tangerine, orange, lime (another personal favorite, dubbed “happiness in a bottle” by me), cedarwood, copaiba (there is a Wild Kratts episode about Orangutans that talks about copaiba). The lists just go on. Really, any essential oil is going to have its great uses and its own cautions. What becomes your household favorite remains to be seen. Then there are blends by various brands for anxiety, stress, depression, energy, grounding, etc. I found the Young Living blend Joy is one of my favorites. Right now, I’m also digging Gentle Babies by Young Living. I loved DoTerra’s InTune blend, as well as their Balance and Slim & Sassy blends.

What essential oils are not.

Essential oils are not going to make you loose weight while you eat cheeseburgers on your couch. They can help you crave more wholesome foods and help give you the energy to get started on that work out plan you’ve been saying you’re going to start.

They aren’t going to make up for years of bad decisions. They’ll help balance you. They’ll help with your symptoms. They’ll help get you on the road to better health. But they aren’t going to erase years of damage overnight.

They are not the be all and end all. There are other things you need for your health. Essential oils are one preparation of something. You might need something different for different issues. You may find dandelion tea is much better for your water retention than lemon essential oil. Essential oils are just part of a healthy lifestyle. They’re not the whole thing. We still use herbs, tinctures, teas, vitamins, food, and when needed, pharmacologicals in my house. Things have their place.

They are not a scam. Essential oils have worked for centuries. Just because we in the west have forgotten does not mean they aren’t valid and useful. Sure, some oil quality is better than others. You’ll find a slew of info floating around the internet about various oil quality issues. But they do work. They’re not going to be a miracle cure for every ailment. But they can help alleviate some of your discomfort and address many of your issues.

How not to use essential oils. 

One drop is good, so ten drops is better, right? NO! Wrong! Less is more when it comes to essential oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated. And yes, some oils are such quality that you will have to use more, but you work up to that. A single drop of oil on a boo-boo is all you generally need. 4-5 drops of oil in a diffuser is usually plenty. You don’t have to douse yourself in it for it to work. You can use too much.

Dilution makes it weak, right? Wrong! Dilute 2 drops of essential oil in 2 drops of vegetable oil and you still have 2 drops of oil. Sometimes dilution HELPS the oil work. It helps it absorb slower, which is a good thing. It can help your skin absorb the oil better. It can add soothing properties to your oil. Always dilute with kids. Always dilute if you’re not sure about dilution. If an oil isn’t working the way you want, don’t add more oil, dilute the oil and see how it helps. You might be surprised.

Do not ingest all oils! Some oils can be ingested. There is a lot of debate on when, how much, what, and who should be in charge of these things. But some oils are edible. But not ALL oils are edible. If you don’t know, don’t eat it. And ingestion isn’t the best way to deal with every problem. A cough is better helped by diffusion. A cut is better helped by direct contact. A tummy ache is better cured rubbing diluted oil on the outside of your tummy. Where ever your research with ingesting oils takes you, be cautious. (And actually do the research!)

How do I even use essential oils?

There are several ways to use essential oils. You can diffuse them. A machine puts the tiny oil droplets into the air where you will breathe them in and enjoy their scent. Diffusing is great for many oils and many issues. You can rub them onto your skin. Some oils need to be diluted (see above). You can rub them onto the troubling spot, be it a sore neck, upset tummy, scraped knee, etc. You can rub them on your feet (this is an especially good option for kids). You can look at a reflexology chart and see where on the bottoms of your feet corresponds with which body system. You can add them to your homemade cleaning products and personal care products. (That links to some recipes I posted.) Some people ingest them, adding them either to water, milk, or empty gelatin capsules. (You want to research that option fully and make sure the oil you purchase is a quality that is edible. I wouldn’t ingest any oil from a company that says not to.) You can add a drop to a damp cloth and place on a sore muscle or over your chest. You can place a drop or two in warm water and cover your head with a towel to inhale. You can add a drop or two to your scarf, to smell while you’re out and about. (I especially like to do this with mood uplifting oils.) You can put a drop in your hands, rub your hands together, and inhale from your cupped hands.

You don’t want to heat the oil. A candle warmer isn’t a great diffuser. (Believe me, I tried using my Scentsy warmers to diffuse oil before buying a diffuser. It just doesn’t last long and the oil get broken down by the heat. If you insist on trying it anyway, add water to the warmer, then a drop or two of oil. You’ll only get 5-10 minutes of scent. Though therapeutic range is 15 minute intervals of diffusion, so it is something, I guess.) You don’t want to add it to a simmering pot on the stove. You won’t get benefits from cooking it into your soups or stews. (If you want to add it to cooked items, add it post cooking. And make sure your oil is edible and don’t use too much! A drop of oregano oil IS NOT equal to a pinch of dried oregano. It’s more like an entire oregano plant up in your spaghetti!)

How do I decide who to purchase oil from?

I used essential oils from the natural food store for years. I used their tea tree oil in my carpets and for my kids who just had a diaper rash his entire time in diapers. I used their eucalyptus oil to make shower soothers when I had a cold. (15 drops of their oil on a wet wash cloth in the bottom of the shower.) I’d add a couple drops of their thyme to the kid’s bath water when they were snotty. I was fairly happy with it. I didn’t always get the results I wanted, particularly from their lavender, but overall, I was pretty content. The Pastor used their patchouli for cologne for quite some time. You may find yourself happy with these brands, too. You may find that they are enough for you. That you don’t mind 15 drops of eucalyptus for your cold to be too much. You don’t mind the carpets getting cleaned with their tea tree oil. You’ll likely find the lavender doesn’t do anything people say lavender does, but it’ll smell nice at least.

You may want to try a company like Plant Therapy. Their prices are low. They aren’t a club or multi-level marketing set up. You just go on the website and buy oils. Simple. Their quality is better than I found at the mass natural food store. So, it is a step up from that. But they aren’t quite as good as DoTerra or Young Living, in my opinion. However, you’ll find some oils, like vanilla, that DoTerra and Young Living don’t have. There are other companies like this one. Eden’s Garden, Native American Nutritionals, Rocky Mountain Oils, etc.  (Note that I have not tried any of those companies. It is on my to-do list. But I cannot speak to the quality of those oils.)

You may decide you want to buy in bulk from a company like Liberty Natural Products. Their prices are extremely low and you can buy a lot of oil! Think of the oil you could split in a co-op! My midwife recommends this company. I haven’t had an opportunity to try them yet. They also have various bottles and containers you can purchase for your oil concoctions.

You may decide you want to try one of the current big two: Young Living or DoTerra. They are MLM set up, but both offer wholesale membership instead of insisting on you being a distributor. The ordering is a bit more complicated. You’ll have to do things like give them your social security number (for taxes, since you have the potential of being paid by the company). They both now have pretty minimum order limits per year to maintain your “membership” or distributor status. They get all complicated with the MLM set up. But the oil quality is really there. (I personally found Young Living to be slightly better than DoTerra for my needs.) Both have great kit set ups if you want to go the “jump in” route. But both are MLMs, and that turns a lot of people off. Just know, you’ll be personally giving part of the money from your kit to your distributor, if that makes you feel better about your initial purchase. (I personally get about $50 from every $150 kit that someone buys with my member number 1650325. Just to give you an idea of how much of your purchase is going to help a family out.) I found this to be a great way for me to go, especially for the kits,  but know it isn’t really for everyone.

Ultimately, it is up to you who you choose to purchase oil from. There are also likely herb shops in your community that sell oils. (Though many sell oils from one of the other places I listed above.)

Why I Chose Young Living Oils For My Family

diffuser

I have used essential oils for several years, but the ones I purchased at the health stores just never did quite what they promised. Eucalyptus to open sinuses required me to liberally pour 20 or more drops of the stuff out to get any therapeutic use. So, I started looking into oils a little more and realized the quality of the oils I was using was really low. They were basically perfume grade. So, I started looking for better oils.

Being initially turned off by Young Living’s dated marketing, I turned to DoTerra. I bought their Family Physician Kit for $150 which included 11 oils. These oils were significantly better than the previous health store oils I had been purchasing. But I still was not feeling that the oils were the best. I thought they were good, a huge leap better than the perfume grade, but I still didn’t feel that I could really count on them fully when it came to therapeutic results.

A friend invited me to an oil class she was hosting, which I found out would be Young Living. I thought I would check them out, and if nothing else, buy a bottle of Orange Oil to support my friend. I was so surprised by the quality of Young Living oils. I was also intrigued by the way the oils were presented vs. the way they were presented by the DoTerra rep. (And this isn’t a company standard or anything, just a rep vs. rep which says very little about the company.) But the Young Living oils were presented in a Christ centered way. The oils were made from plants, given by God for our healing. Applying the oil with prayer was something that hadn’t even crossed my mind until the Young Living rep suggested it. (At that point, I had not tried the oils, so I was simply determined to use their advice with my DoTerra oils.) After smelling the Young Living oils, I decided to buy their Premium Starter Kit. For the same $150, I got 11 oils, plus a diffuser, plus samples, plus a roller bottle top. I decided to do a side by side comparison since I’d have both oils. My initial plan was to buy the oils from the cheaper of the two companies.

dt vs yl kit

(Pricing for both companies is very similar. I really don’t understand either side trying to make the case for cheaper oils. Some are cheaper here. Others are cheaper there. It really does even out in the end. Although, the Young Living Kit is clearly the much better value.)

DT vs. YL prices

As far as marketing, DoTerra wins that hands down. Their look is better. Although, since DoTerra is essentially an off shoot, and they’ll not like that I called them that, but whatever, of Young Living, the colors, catalogues, and reference books are ridiculously similar. The bottles are clearly different, but the rest of it looks like an updated Young Living. It is even comical how closely the wording in the reference books were. (And both companies have reference books specific to their products that never mention the company’s name and try to look third party which is annoying.) The DoTerra website is prettier and easier to use.

Young Living Customer Service has proven to be far more helpful than DoTerra’s customer service. Young Living goes above and beyond to make things right. DoTerra is efficient and gets the problem handled, but has never seemed to try to exceed my expectations.

The oils themselves- on my personal smell and usage comparison, Young Living is far better than DoTerra. This is purely anecdotal and not scientific at all. But when I put a Young Living oil on, I know I am going to get the desired effect. Not so for DoTerra. The DoTerra peppermint oil smells like candy canes. Young Living peppermint oil is strong, knock-your-socks-off peppermint. The DoTerra lemon oil smells like lemon drop candy. Young Living lemon oil smells like concentrated lemon peel. For DoTerra, 3-4 drops of peppermint in your water made it refreshing. Young Living, seriously only try a single drop! I found I could use less Young Living oil for better results. A smell test at my house with my friends, and most said of the oils that were different, they preferred Young Living. They agreed the Young Living smell, feel, and act stronger, or more concentrated.

DoTerra does not offer nearly as many oils as Young Living. The blends are so similar is is comical and makes you understand the lawsuit between the two companies. (Breathe and Breathe Again. DiGize and DigestZen. Thieves and OnGuard. Deep Blue and PanAway. All so similar.)

So, when it was all boiled down, did I want flash or a consistently great product. I chose to take the lame labels, quirky website, greater variety, and greater quality offered by Young Living and fully switch. (Which you’ll recall was not my initial plan or my second plan.) I now buy only Young Living oils and recommend them highly to my friends. My friends that are happy with DoTerra, I think that is great. If you find yourself in need of one of the many oils DoTerra doesn’t offer, I’m here. If you’re using health food store oil, you’ll be amazed by either company. I just personally chose Young Living for my family. I can trust the oil to do what I need it to do.

Shameless plug: If you don’t have a Young Living rep, consider using my link  and my number is 1650325 and supporting my family. If you have a Young Living or DoTerra rep, go buy from them.   (Please know that I have the ability to sell DoTerra, as well, I simply choose to buy and sell Young Living based on my personal use and interaction with each company.) If you have any questions about my experience with either company, feel free to ask.

Carpet Cleaning with Young Living Thieves Cleaner

Some of you recall that I have posted about carpet cleaning before. Once again, I’m telling you how to clean your carpets. I now have 5 kids ages 7 and under. We homeschool, so we spend most of our days here in this house on this cheap rental home carpet. (Still dreaming of owning my own home one day so I can be rid of carpet- at least in the main areas of my home.) I also have 2 dogs. (One is small and is now senile. He has taken to marking his territory in the house. Fun, right? Anyone want a small senile dog? One is a large English Sheepdog. He tracks in mud on his massive, hairy paws.) I clean my carpet often. Way too often. (Spot cleaning constantly thanks to the senile dog and the toddler.) And while my Oxiclean system works really well, I always holdout hope for a more natural product. (Especially since I have a little one crawling around on it all the time.)

mainI was introduced to Young Living oils a few months ago. They have an all natural cleaning product called Thieves Cleaner. (That is a link to my personal Young Living site where you can find Thieves cleaner to purchase.) It is a multi-purpose cleaner for everything from countertops to hands to floors to windows to laundry. It does it all. Of course, my first thought upon buying a bottle was, “I’m going to put this in my steam cleaner and see what it’ll do for my carpets.” I’ll go ahead and give you my pros and cons up front and then go step by step though carpet cleaning with Thieves Cleaner.

cleaner

First, this cleaner is all natural. No chemicals. No harsh fumes. No RINSING necessary. No worries about baby crawling around on it.

Second, because of that no rinsing bit, this is much faster than my traditional OxiClean route.

Third, your carpets will feel softer when they dry using Thieves Cleaner than using OxiClean.

Fourth, it smells amazing.

Fifth, it kills germs and viruses and fungus.

Now, this is not going to get your carpet as super duper white as OxiClean, Dawn, and TTO. If you’ve got thick gummy gunk in the carpet, you may want to go the OxiClean route. I personally now view the OxiClean routine as my heavy duty carpet cleaning and this Young Living Thieves oil as my routine, most-of-the-time carpet cleaning.

beforeStep One: Clear out all the furniture. Yes, you need to. And this picture is why. I found about a dozen empty fruit snacks wrappers from some sneaky little person. I also found random toys, papers, rubber bands, buttons, change, a glow stick, a straw, several crayon nubs… you get the picture. If you don’t move your furniture, all that stays hidden. Also, if you have pets- they tend to mark their territory on chair legs, table legs, side of the couch, etc. So, if you don’t move the furniture, you won’t get to all of that. Plus it is just easier to clean a big empty room than clean around stuff.

before 3

before 2

Vacuum. Note my before picture. You’ll see chocolate milk stains, turmeric stains, jello stains, slime stains, muddy dog feet stains, dog pee stains (it wasn’t set in, fresh, yay- see my sarcastic font?), something red, and something blue. And yes, I cleaned this carpet in full less than 2 months ago.

cleanerNow, add one capful of Thieves Cleaner into each fill of clean water in your steam cleaner. It does foam a little, so add the water (preferably hot) and then the cleaner. Steam clean the entire room. I used 4 fills of my steam cleaner (4 capfuls). Then I used my upholstery attachment and spot cleaned the stains that didn’t want to let go. (This is different from my OxiClean routine where I scrub the spots with Dawn.) Since this is an all natural cleaner, it leaves no residue, so I have no reason to rinse the carpet. And I’m done. Like that. That fast.

after

after 2

Chocolate milk stain- gone. Senile dog pee- gone. Slime and jello- gone. Tumeric- still there. (This turmeric has been in my carpet for over a year now. Even a professional carpet cleaner couldn’t get it out. Moral of the story- keep turmeric laden foods off your carpeted areas.) Red stuff- gone. Mud- gone. Blue stuff- gone. Bright and shiny carpet again.

Let your carpet dry fully before you put your furniture back.

Now, more shout out about this Thieves Cleaner- I used it to then clean my brick fireplace, baseboards, windows, back door, outside windows, kitchen countertop, and coffee table. And I cleaned all that with one capful of cleaner. My bottle is still about 3/4 full! Now that is awesome.

**Disclaimer- Using any cleaner in your steam cleaner other than the brand your steam cleaner company makes will void the warranty. I want my carpet clean and don’t care how I have to get it that way. Warranty schmarranty. You, however, might care. And now I have informed you. Do as you wish with this disclaimer. **