The purpose of carrier oils is “to carry” or act as a vehicle for administering the essential oils to the skin or when taking them internally. Carrier oils aren’t essential oils but are squeezed from nuts and seeds like almond, seseme, or avodado or jojoba. When I look at their chemistry-I find they are long carbon chains. For the most part. they lack any particular fragrance and if left out in the open air, they will go rancid–some more quickly than others so they have what is referred to as “a short shelf-life.”
Carrier oils provide the necessary lubrication to allow your hands to move freely over the skin and not cause skin friction while massaging and at the same time carry the Geranium Oil into the body. When rubbing the whole body, you want the carrier oil to be light and non-sticky for penetration to take place effectively, and preferably have very little odor. You wouldn’t want the carrier oil to be in competition with the fragrance of the essential oils.
Carrier oils also make a great vehicle for taking GRAS (generally regarded as safe) essential oils internally. Using a veggie capsule, place one drop of, for example, olive oil in the capsule before putting your essential oils in the capsule. Some of the oils like thyme oil (a good antibiotic oil) will start to dissolve the capsule before you can get it swallowed. The carrier oil will help dilute the stronger essential oil and give you enought time to swallow it.
Do Carrier Oils Really Play a Significant Role in Aromatherapy?
Carrier oils contain vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids, and many of them will even soften and improve the condition of the skin–a real plus. Some carrier oils are also highly effective in treating irritated, sensitive conditions such as eczema and psoriasis and will help to reduce wrinkles and scar tissue. And in case you haven’t already done the math, carrier oils generally make up 90-98% of an aromatherapy massage treatment. The most significant role in aromatherapy though is as a vehicle for essential oil delivery.
These oils are technically classed as ‘fixed’ oils because they do not evaporate. Carrier oils are also known as base oils and vegetable oils. They are largely derived from nuts and seeds, although there are a few exceptions like coconut oil. This oil is extracted through special processes from the white part of the coconut known as ‘copra”. Jojoba oil is another exception. It is extracted from a leather like leaves of a desert shrub and is actually a liquid wax rather than an oil.
What Process is Used to Get Carrier Oils?
Usually it’s through cold pressing.. The nuts or seeds are placed in a horizontal press with a rotating screw called an ‘expeller’ and the oil is squeezed out. The oil is then filtered and sold as a finished product. this process is usually done on a small scale and is fairly expensive. Large scale industrial production uses ‘hot extraction’ which generates a great deal of heat to increase the yield of oil. Temperatures can reach up to 200° C which destroys all of the important vitamins and fatty acids. Sometimes they will add back in color and vitamins. These highly refined, solvent extracted oils can be found in supermarkets for use in cooking and are totally unsuitable for use in aromatherapy. Since all the good vitamins, minerals and fatty acids were destroyed they are really a ‘dead’ product. I advise that you always buy cold pressed oils for aromatherapy. Unfortunately, grapeseed oil cannot be produced by cold pressing since a realistic yield of oil cannot be produced without applying heat.
Want to learn more about selecting the right carrier oil for your essential oil delivery?
Want to learn more about essential oils and carrier oils and how they can help you stay healthy? The Institute of Spiritual Healing and Aromatherapy teaches classes throughout the United States on both aromatherapy and energy (spiritual) healing. I’d like to invite you to explore our educational offerings.