Aromatherapy and bathing have been ancient healing partners for centuries. Egyptians as far back as 3000 BC bathed with essential oils and flowers up to three times a day. The Romans used essential oils in daily massages and bathing to maintain health. We may also enjoy the relaxing and soothing effects of essential oils when we bathe.
The marriage of aromatherapy and bathing can quickly end in divorce if essential oils are not properly diluted into a carrier oil before being placed in your bath. Just as using undiluted essential oils on the skin can be unwise and harmful, placing undiluted essential oils directly into a hot bath may potentiate the volatility of the oils and cause mild to severe irritations of your skin. These irritations can last up to a few hours and can be painful.
Robert Tisserand reminds us all to use a vegetable-based oil such as sunflower, avocado, or organic olive oil to dilute the oils before placing them in the bath water. Oils mix with oils. Coconut or jojoba organic oils are good choices for those who want a less slippery feel. Just be careful getting in and out of the tub when using aromatherapy dilutions in your bath.
A common amount of essential oils for one adult bath is 5 to 10 drops in 1/2 ounce (one tablespoon or 15 ml) of your carrier oil. I make a fresh blend each time I take an aromatherapy bath. Epsom salts, whole milk, aloe vera gel, aloe vera liquid, baking soda, cornstarch, witch hazel, and glycerin are not suitable to dilute the volatile essential oil constituents. These latter items are water soluble — they completely dissolve in your bath water. Remembering that essential oils do not dissolve in water, that is why these normal bath additives are inappropriate for use with essential oils. The oils stay in the tub and remain directly on the skin thus causing mild to moderate inflammations of the skin. http://tisserandinstitute.org/learn-more/bath-safety/
In summary, oils mix with oils. Lavender oil mixes with sunflower oil. They blend like a good marriage. Epson Salts and undiluted peppermint, for example, need to get a divorce. So, give careful consideration when pairing carrier oils with your preferred essential oil before bath time. When done right, your essential oils will embrace your safe carrier oils in harmony and create a soothing, relaxing, peaceful bathing experience. A marriage made in heaven!
Disclaimer: Please consult your qualified aromatherapist before considering essential oil use when bathing infants and young children. This is an educational blog for general information and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional advice from your physician, nurse midwife or nurse practitioner.