On one of my first days working for a large essential oil company I learned a valuable lesson about “hot” oils, and why carrier oils are important. When I started at this company I had no clue when it came to essential oils. I was smelling a little 5ml bottle of cinnamon and a co worker offered me a doughnut if I put just one drop of it in my mouth. Not knowing any better a quickly took my drop and my doughnut. Unfortunately, I got a little on my chin and learned for myself what they meant that cinnamon was a “hot” oil.
What are Hot Oils?
There are certain oils that are considered “hot” or in other words could possibly cause irritation of the skin. Pure essential oils are extremely concentrated botanicals and some of them should be handled with care. Take care when handling essential oils such as, basil, cinnamon, oregano, peppermint, and thyme. This is far from an exhaustive list of oils that may be considered hot. Also, because everyone’s skin sensitivity is different you may be more sensitive to an oil that another is not. It is always a good idea to be aware of your sensitivity and those you are sharing with, and never dare someone to do a shot of cinnamon.
What is a Carrier Oil?
Just because an oil is hot or warm, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have great topical benefits. Basil for instance is often used in regiments to aid with arthritis as it is extremely anti-inflammatory. How then can you get the benefits of an oil like basil without irritating your skin? Use a carrier oil. A carrier oil is generally made from a pure dense vegetable oil. Unlike essential oils it doesn’t evaporate quickly or have a distinct aroma. These oils are simply used to dilute the therapeutic oil, like basil, and carry them to the skin without irritation. There are hundreds of different carrier oils that you can use to safely use hot oils, but be careful they are pure and unadulterated. There is no point in using high quality essential oil if you are using a cheap carrier oil.
Which Carrier Oil Should I Use?
I use fractionated coconut oil for a couple of different reasons. The first is that it doesn’t go rancid quickly. Something to be mindful of when using a carrier oil is that many varieties will become rancid if it sit open for too long. Oils go rancid as the fats that make up its chemical composition start to deteriorate, becoming more and more unstable. Coconut oil is high in saturated fats meaning it is more stable than other oils choices.
Fractionation is a process where only a fraction of the oil is harvested for a specific purpose. In the case of carrier oils it is the medium-chain fatty acids are retained, being more stable, and the long-chains are removed for other uses. This gives the carrier oil a much longer shelf life.
So fractionated coconut oil has a high percentage of medium-chain saturated fats giving it an extremely stable constitution. I have used the same bottle for months now with now problem with it going rancid.
With what I could only describe as hot lava burrowing into my face, the last thing that I wanted to do was put more oil after that cinnamon. Finally I was persuaded and I tried the fractionated coconut oil. I felt instant relief. No coconut smell (unfortunately, I love that stuff!), and it absorbs well enough that I didn’t feel like I had WD40 on my face the rest of the day. If you haven’t yet experienced a carrier oil I recommend trying it out and start with the fractionated coconut oil.