Split image showing wood diffuser on left and bottles of essential oils on the right

Essential oils are hydrophobic liquids concentrated from plant compounds and used for their therapeutic benefits when used as aromatherapy.

Essential oils work by using aroma to engage the limbic system, a part of your brain responsible for emotional response. These fragrant liquids provide pleasing aromas and can be used in a variety of ways both at home and on the go.

Used topically in combination with oils and lotions, essential oils can provide relief for common ailments.

What Are Essential Oils?

What Are Essential Oils?


The best essential oils

Essential oils come in four different grades, with each one serving a purpose. Choosing the best essential oils is all about understanding the different grades.

Certified essential oils are safe to use for therapeutic benefits. Be cautious of synthetic oils, which contain added chemicals, and follow manufacturer instructions.

Synthetic oils

Synthetic oils are crafted in the laboratory to provide the scent of an essential oil without being an essential oil. They can be used to as an air freshener but aren’t typically used for therapeutic benefits.

Natural or pure oils

It is very common to see essential oils referred to as “natural” or “pure.” These oils are derived from plants but do not have certification. They are a readily available, less expensive alternative to better-quality essential oils.

Although they are not therapeutic grade, they are useful for creating custom home fragrances and bath products.

Therapeutic grade essential oils (certified)

When using essential oils for therapeutic results, make sure to look for bottles with certification.

Therapeutic grade oils are created using a process of steam distilling and provide beneficial compounds when used in a diffuser or topically.

Organic essential oils (certified)

Organic essential oils with certification are a safe and pure grade essential oil. The original plants used are free of pesticides and verified organic.

They are then steam distilled to produce a pure, chemical-free product.


Creating a collection of essential oils

There are a wide range of essential oils to choose from. Build up your personal collection of essential oils with ones that suit your specific needs. If you are just beginning your collection, there are a few commonly-used oils that will help provide a well-rounded foundation. Start with the essentials and slowly grow your collection.

In addition to providing therapeutic benefits individually, they can also be used together to create a custom blend that aid in a variety of ailments. Eucalyptus and peppermint are commonly added to tea tree and lavender to relax while relieving congestion. While lavender promotes relaxation and sleep, citrus oils help energize.

Play around with combinations of these oils to create a blend that suits your current needs.


Commonly used essential oils

  • Eucalyptus: Reduces coughs, congestion, allergies, and respiratory problems.
  • Peppermint: Relieves respiratory problems and headaches.
  • Lavender: Used to promote relaxation and reduce anxiety.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Relieves congestion, eliminates mold, kills germs, deodorizes.
  • Lemongrass: Reduce stress, relieve headaches, helps with nerve pain, and deodorizes.
  • Rosemary: Relieve headaches, lift moods, and fight fatigue.
  • Orange: Helps energize, lift moods, and boost immunity.
  • Lemon: Provides an uplifting effect.
  • Patchouli: Helps deodorize.
  • Bergamot: Used to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Frankincense: Promotes tranquility and calmness.
  • Clary Sage: Relieves anxiety, stress, and inflammation.

For even more convenience, choose a few essential oils already blended to provide a specific therapeutic result. Blended oils are available to promote relaxation, energy, sleep, focus, and stress relief. These pre-blended oils are convenient for on-the-go use.

You might also like: Arometherapy Guide


Diffusing essential oils

One of the most common ways to use essential oils is to diffuse them with an oil diffuser for aromatherapy. Traditional diffusers are used by adding drops of oil to water, which then agitates the solution, creating a fine and consistent vapor.

There are also non-water diffusers available referred to as nebulizing diffusers. These take the oil and use pressure to disperse fine particles of the oil into your air for a higher concentration of oil dispersant. Diffusers are functional, stylish and come with a variety of features to look for.

Wood diffuser on bedside table with essential oil vapor misting out from the top


Choosing the right diffuser for you

  • Style: Diffusers come in a wide range of different designs. Choose one that complements your décor so it becomes a decorative addition to your space.
  • Lights: Some diffusers also offer a light in a variety of shades, combining Chroma therapy with aromatherapy for enhanced results.
  • Convenience: Look for convenient features, such as automatic shut-off, remote control use, or even battery operated designs.
  • Size: Larger units are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms. Enjoy your essential oils on the go by ordering a compact diffuser designed for car use.

Topical use

Oils don’t have to be diffused, they can also be used topically to provide therapeutic benefits. Highly concentrated essential oil can easily irritate the skin when applied directly. Minimize the chance of irritation by adding a few drops of the essential oil or oils of choice to a carrier oils.

Carrier oils protect the skin and can enhance your custom blend with additional benefits. Put them in a small roller and apply them to your feet, wrists, neck, and other areas. Add printed labels to easily differentiate between your different blends.

Woman applying essential oil to the inside of her wrist


Commonly used carrier oils

  • Almond Oil: Moisturizing oil that helps stimulate blood circulation.
  • Coconut Oil: Used as a moisturizer.
  • Castor Oil: Used to promote hair growth and relieve dry scalp.
  • Jojoba Oil: Reduces irritation and clears the skin.
  • Argan Oil: Used as a repairing oil for dry or cracked skin.

Ways to save on essential oil products

Essential oil products can be pricey. Save on the cost of these items by establishing a collection of quality essential oils and using them to create your own custom blends and products.

Household cleaners, air fresheners, candles and bath products are just a few of the items you can create using a selection of essential oils and a few additives.

Homemade products made using essential oils also make thoughtful gift ideas for birthday and holidays. Try out different products for yourself to discover the ones that make the best addition to your daily routine.

How to Use Essential Oils

With a few essential oils at the ready, it is easy to make spa-worthy bath products, safe and effective cleaning products, and topical treatments that will help you make the most of your day in a therapeutic way.

How to Use Essential Oils

With a few essential oils at the ready, it is easy to make spa-worthy bath products, safe and effective cleaning products, and topical treatments that will help you make the most of your day in a therapeutic way.

Create custom cleaning products

Making your own household cleansers at home is easy when you have a few base ingredients and an assortment of oils. Store-bought cleaning process contain many chemicals. Making your own allows you to control the ingredients.

Start with a base of water, or water and vinegar, and add in essential oils to create custom cleansers for your kitchen, wood furniture or hard floors. You can even add a few drops to air filters and vacuum filters to help provide a pleasing fragrance throughout the home.

Lemon, lavender, rosemary, melaleuca and orange are a few of the oils commonly used to create all-purpose cleaners. As an added benefit, the homemade cleansers you make are safe for kids to use around the house.

Crafting bath products

Enjoy a luxurious bath or shower experience by adding a few drops of essential oils to your bath water or Epsom salts. Custom bathroom products enhanced with oils can promote relaxation and treat a variety of ailments.

Fragrant bath salts, therapeutic bath bombs, decongesting vapour pads, shampoos and lotions can all be crafted with the use of top-quality essential oils.

Legal: This article is intended as general information. To be sure a product is right for you, always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be held responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.