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Essential Oils vs. Carrier Oils

What is a Carrier Oil?

A carrier oil is an oil derived from nuts or kernels or seeds of plants.

Here is a list of common carrier oils, but there are many more:

  • Avocado
  • Olive
  • Coconut
  • Grapeseed
  • Almond
  • Walnut
  • Etc.

Why is it called a Carrier Oil?

It is called a “carrier oil” because it can carry other ingredients into the skin. This can be beneficial. For example, carrier oils are used in aromatherapy, or for massage or for moisturizing the skin. If you add a little essential oil to a carrier oil, it will carry the essential oil into the skin. Each carrier oil has a unique quality unto itself.

What is the difference between a carrier oil and an essential oil?

Carrier oils are made by crushing and spinning the seeds, or nuts or kernels of plants in order to release the oils within. Cold-pressed oils are best because they contain more nutrients than heat pressed oils or oils obtained by chemical extraction. We don’t like applying chemicals to the skin, so we recommend using “cold-pressed” oils only.

An essential oil is very different from a carrier oil. An essential oil is the pure essence of the leaf or bark or root of a plant, and it is very highly concentrated. That’s why the essence or smell is so strong. In fact, essential oils are so concentrated and so strong that they must be stored in glass or metal containers only. They can not be stored in plastic because they will break down the plastic and leak out over time. They also differ from carrier oils in that they are volatile, which means they will evaporate rapidly, so it’s important to keep them tightly capped. Carrier oils, on the other hand, do not evaporate.

A little bit of essential oil goes a very long way, but it MUST be combined with a lot of carrier oil before it’s applied to the skin. It’s never a good idea to apply essential oil directly to your skin as it can seriously irritate your skin or cause other reactions.

How much essential oil should be added to the carrier oil?

The best combination is 2% essential oil to 98% carrier oil.  A quick and easy formula is to add 12 drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil.


One has to be careful in handling essential oils. They must be kept from children and away from eyes and mucous membranes.  And one should never use an essential oil or a carrier oil if allergic to the substance from which it is produced.

But when used responsibly, essential oils are really special and can be very beneficial. They are distilled down to the pure essence of the plant itself and because of that, they each have a special and unique quality that can benefit a person’s health or well being or mood in different ways. There is a vast amount of information about the specific qualities of each essential oil, which is a study all in itself, and worth learning more about.

– by Christina Moss

1 thought on “Essential Oils vs. Carrier Oils

  1. Thanks for the useful information.
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