Essential Oils 101: Learn The Basics

Essential Oils 101: Learn The Basics

The power of essential oils (EO’s) is real - and if you have been following me for awhile, you have likely heard me talk about them here and there. But have YOU made them part of your everyday life yet?

I’m going to lay out all of the basics so you can get on this one bandwagon, because it’s here for the long haul. And when you learn about the history of EO’s, you’ll know that they’re not even new. In fact, EO’s have been around for centuries!

Some essential oils come from seeds while many others are extracted from the leaves of the plant. Because EO’s are so highly concentrated, it takes a tremendous amount of plant to produce just one ounce of oil.

Due to this level of concentration, essential oils are incredibly powerful, so a little bit goes a long way!

Some “essential” terms you should know:


Essential oils are basically the natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Diffusion is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils and a great way to get started using them.


This refers to a lipid- or fat-based liquid used to dilute EO’s. Olive, coconut, almond, jojoba and argan oils are the most common ones.


The process of extracting essential oil from plant material.

Steam distillation is the most common distillation method that uses low-heat pressurized steam to circulate through plant parts and extract oils. 

Cold press distillation uses a mechanical press to squeeze essential oils from plant parts, and is the most commonly used method for obtaining citrus oils - a classic ingredient in DIY household cleaning products. This is to preserve their aromatic bounty!

History of Essential Oils

Despite being suddenly catapulted into popularity, essential oils are not a new thing.  

The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use aromatic essential oils for daily life, and pure EO’s were prized and saved for priests and royals.

Other ancient civilizations, such as those in China, Greece and Rome used EO’s for aromatherapy, illness, and personal hygiene.

The more we research, we learn more about how oils have been used for thousands of years!

Essential oil starter kit:

Are you a newbie to EO’s?

Here are 4 of the most popular ones to try first, and a few suggested uses. They make great staples in your medicine cabinet too!

Tea Tree Essential OiL (Melaleuca)

Tea Tree oil is known to be soothing, cleansing & healing.

  • Combine 1–2 drops with your preferred facial cleanser (or moisturizer) for added cleansing properties

  • Mix 1-2 drops with pure aloe vera gel and apply to skin after shaving

  • Use diluted with water and/or vinegar as a surface cleaner - see recipe below!

  • Add a few drops to shampoo and massage into the scalp - use in your conditioner too

  • Add a drop to toothpaste or swish with water for a quick and easy mouth rinse - but do not swallow or ingest and make sure you are using PURE essential oils that are improved for internal use.

Lavender Essential Oil

Lavender oil is known to be soothing & calming

  • Add a few drops to your pillow or bottoms of your feet for a restful night’s sleep - or use in a diffuser near your bed

  • Apply topically to help heal pimples, skin inflammation and irritation - be sure to test a drop on your skin to test for sensitivity; dilution may be required

  • Soak away stress! Add a few drops to a warm bath

Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon oil is known to be cleansing, revitalizing & uplifting

  • Use to remove gum, glue, or any other sticky residues from surfaces

  • Use in a diffuser to purify the air, creating an uplifting & refreshing aroma

  • Add to a spray bottle full of water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces - see recipe!

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil is known to be cooling & energizing

  • Apply a few drops directly to the skin of the back of your neck to cool off

  • For a refreshing aroma, diffuse at night by your bedside

  • Feeling tense? Rub on head and neck for a soothing, calming sensation

  • Add to shampoo or conditioner for a stimulating & invigorating scalp massage

  • Use as a natural bug repellent

Some other popular Essential Oils for beginners are frankincense, clove, eucalyptus, clary sage, sweet orange, grapefruit, and rosemary.

Applications, skin sensitivity & ingestion

Essential oils can be used topically, which means you can apply them directly on the skin, mix them with carrier oils or mix with other personal care products.

DILUTE — A category of essential oils that should be mixed with a carrier oil. The carrier oil will help transport the EO’s onto the skin and reduce sensitivity.

NEAT — A category of essential oils that can be applied topically without dilution because of a chemistry that is considered mild.

INGESTION—While there may be indication for internal ingestion of EO’s for therapeutic purposes, many of the ailments that we experience do not need such a heavy dose internally and may be more effectively addressed through inhalation (diffusers, personal inhalers, etc.) or topical application (salves, massage oils, baths, etc.).

Be sure to consult a professional aromatherapist before ingesting essential oils. Always make informed choices and do your own research when choosing to use EO’s.

Essential oils are incredibly powerful and serve many purposes for the home, and in daily health routines. With some basic knowledge, and having a few high-quality oils on hand, you can DIY dozens of homemade products, and enjoy many therapeutic benefits.

Here’s an easy recipe to try out in your home:

Natural All-Purpose Household Cleaner Recipe


  • ½ cup plain white vinegar

  • 2 Tb baking soda

  • 10-15 drops tea tree, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus &/or rosemary essential oil (or any combo of these) for their disinfectant properties

  • water


In a clean 12-ounce spray bottle (glass is best), mix the vinegar, essential oils and a splash of water before adding baking soda *important*.

Then fill to top of bottle with water, and gently shake to mix ingredients. Then spray area, wipe with a clean cloth, and allow it to dry. Dirty areas are now clean and disinfected!

There are SO many ways to use Essential oils. I have a few more Essential Oil blogs below so you can keep reading and learning!

Related reading:

Essential Oil Diffuser Blends

Stressed, Tired or Low Energy? There’s An Oil For That!

Getting Started With Essential Oils

Shop for Essential Oils

With the holidays coming up, I have a fun, free guide to help you use Essential Oils to thrive this season!

Click the button below and sign up with your name and email and it will be sent right over!

Gaylene Gomez, NNCP, C.H.N.

A little bit about me! I'm Gaylene, a Holistic Nutrition Coach for women. I work with busy, professional women to help them learn about healthy, simple lifestyle changes they can easily implement to reduce belly bloat, lose weight and get through their day with sustained energy. My clients are committed to their health and excited to learn about healthy eating and natural living. I feel proud of them for taking charge of their health and I'm so lucky to work with these amazing women. 

Learn more about me here: About Me