By Brian Barth
Synthetic fragrances are out, aromatherapy is in. From beauty products to insect repellent to room diffusers, folks are gravitating toward fragrances made by nature—not the lab. But what exactly are these quasi-mystical substances called essential oils? Are they farmed or foraged? What part of the plant do they come from? Can I produce my own? Here, we answer the seven most common questions we get about essential oils.
A friend of mine calls lavender the “Swiss Army Knife” of essential oils because you can use it in so many ways. I prefer to think of it as the perfect way to start and end my day. From fresh lavender bouquets to dried lavender petals to essence of lavender oil, Mother Nature has created a seemingly endless way to incorporate this delicate plant into our lives. Here are some of my favorites.
Add lavender oil to ointment you use to relieve aches and pains. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
1. Mosquito Repellent – Add 10-12 drops of essence of lavender oil to an 8oz spritzer bottle filled with water, and spray.
2. Perfume – Dab a drop of lavender oil behind each ear, on the inside of each wrist and on the nape of your neck. You don’t want the scent to be overpowering, just present enough to smell special.
3. Bath Oil – Add several drops of lavender oil to a warm bath. Soak, and relax. I like to add the oil right under the running water to diffuse the scent a bit more. If you don’t have oil at hand, you’ll easily be able to find lavender-infused soap.
4. Laundry Freshener – Put a few drops of lavender oil on a towel and then toss the towel in with other laundry to dry. What a natural way to skip dryer sheets.
5. Reduce Swelling and Sore Muscles – Add lavender oil to ointment you use to relieve aches and pains. Some moms I know dab a little lavender oil on swollen lips.
6. Deodorant – My favorite deodorants are baking soda-based, then infused with lavender oil.
7. Bouquets – Fill small vases with fresh sprigs of deep purple lavender in bloom to add texture and cheer to any room. Dry bouquets of lavender flowers and leaves, then add them to other dried blooms and thistles for a dried arrangement full of color and texture.
8. Overall Aromatherapy – Dry lavender flowers, then mound them in a small bowl or basket in your bathroom, laundry room or bedroom. Every now and then, crumple the flowers a bit to release their wonderful smell. You can also fill small mesh bags with dried lavender and tuck them in your sock drawers or among your lingerie, or let them dangle off the head rest facing the back seat in your car. Put diffuser sticks in small bottles of lavender oil to let the scent infuse living room, family room or office. Sprinkle a few scant drops on your pillowcase for greater ease in drifting off to sleep. Choose lavender-scented soy candles.
9. Tea and Chocolate – Lavender is showing up in tea, chocolate, cookies, mints and more.
What’s your favorite use for lavender?
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