How to have an aromatherapy bath, safely!
Did you know that it’s very easy to burn yourself with essential oils in the bath?
I know because I did it!
And it was very, very painful.
Last year, I had a bad flu and in my haziness, thought a nice aromatherapy bath would help. I must have been really out of it because I got badly burned. I think I used too many drops of essential oils and I didn’t mix it really thoroughly with the magnesium flakes like I normally do.
After a few minutes in the bath, I had a terrible burning pain up and down the back of my body. It took quite a few hours, a tub of coconut oil and cold towels draped all over me for the pain to go away. It was excruciating and I was in a lot of distress.
Since then, I found out that the method I was using (mixing into magnesium flakes) wasn’t even recommended as a safe option !! I am so, so careful now about how I take an aromatherapy bath.
Baths are a great way to get the benefits of essential oils. As well as absorbing the oils into your skin, you are also inhaling the beautiful vapours of the oils while relaxing and taking time out. I try to have a magnesium aromatherapy bath at least once a week to keep my stress levels in check.
Here’s the safety issue with essential oils and baths : “Essential oils are not water soluble, and so pouring them directly into a bath will result in a film of undiluted essential oils sitting on top, waiting patiently for your tender flesh to enter the water.” Robert Tisserand
So, to use essential oils safely in a bath, they need to be diluted and dispersed. We don’t want them neat on our skin in a hot bath as the hot water can make the skin even more hypersensitive to the oils.
After reading up on this topic so as not to burn myself again, I came across a few different things that you can use to dilute and disperse the oils in the bath. I think that the easiest way is to use a foaming product like shampoo, liquid soap or castile soap. You add 5-10 drops of essential oils to 1 tablespoon of foaming product and mix well really well. I do this in a small bowl I keep in the bathroom. I always use this castile soap because it has no weird ingredients and it’s unscented so I can add my own blend of oils for the results I want.
You can use a carrier oil like fractioned coconut oil or vegetable oil instead of a foaming product if you thoroughly mix the essential oils in with it. However, this method just dilutes the essential oils to a safe, non-burny level when in contact with your skin. They do not disperse the oil through the water like a foaming product does and they will still sit on top of the water.
It’s recommended not to use water soluble bases like milk, epsom salts, bicarbonate of soda, witch hazel, glycerine or aloe vera. These products are not considered safe because they simply dissolve in your bath water and leave the essential oils undiluted and at risk of coming into direct contact with your skin.
So, you still want a magnesium bath with oils? Simple. Just make sure you mix your essential oils with your foaming product really well. Then add to your bath with the magnesium flakes.
In my research into aromatherapy bath safety, I came across another point of view from The School of Aromatic Studies. I think she does make some good points but as with everything, I always err on the side of caution and considering my terrible burn experience with the oils, I am going with Robert Tisserand on this one. Also remember that children are extra sensitive, so take extra care.
Here are some gorgeous essential oil blends that are great for aromatherapy baths:
For Sleep: Slumber, Siesta or Sleepyhead
For Sickness: Immune Boost or Wellness Warrior
For Relaxing: Serenity or Calm
For Reviving: Upbeat or Energy and Vitality
For Lovers: Romance and Intimacy
I also use magnesium chloride flakes in my baths for relaxation and detoxing.
Do you take aromatherapy baths?
‘There must be quite a few things that a hot bath won’t cure, but I don’t know many of them.’ Sylvia Plath
Sources: Robert Tisserand, Tisserand Institute.
Kate Bowern says
I am so glad you did this article, thank you so much. We had the same problem and the kids and both got the stingy burning feeling. I couldn’t work out why as I didn’t put in that much. We have stayed away from adding anything to our baths since. Now we can give it a go again. Thank you Sonia xo 🙂
Natural New Age Mum says
Ouch! Yes, they are very potent. Let me know how you go. 🙂