FAQ: Purpose of a Carrier Oil

seed oil


Q: What is the Purpose of a Carrier Oil?

A : A carrier oil is a fatty oil produced in the seed of the plant.

This fatty oil is loaded with nutrients and is metabolized during a seedling’s germination- before the young shoot pokes its head above the soil to harness the sunlight and produce it’s own food (photosynthesis,) the baby plant must survive off the fatty oil inside the seed.

seed germination

We know these oils primarily as kitchen oils, such as olive oil, avacado oil, grapeseed oil, coconut oil almond oil, etc. These fatty oils are NOT essential oils because they serve an entirely different purpose in the life of the plant. Carrier oils, or seed oils, are  the plant’s way of providing “food” and ensuring the survival of future generations. Essential oils are actually manufactured INSIDE the plant, for all the plant’s current needs.

But what do carrier oils DO? And why do you hear so much about them in the world of essential oils?

In short, Carrier Oils CARRY OILS. I know, shocker right? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Let me explain :)

Carrier oils are, in a sense, a way of diluting an essential oil. You probably remember from elementary school science that oil and water don’t mix. But oils blend delightfully with other oils (lipids with lipids) so we use a carrier oil to “stretch” or dilute an essential oil.  There are many reasons why we would want to do this.

  1. Essential oils are extremely concentrated and incredibly POWERFUL. Some oils are so powerful, in fact, that one drop can cause a reaction on sensitive skin. Take Oregano, for example. Oregano works wonders for the immune system, respiratory system, muscles and bones… but we don’t want to go slathering ourselves with pure Oregano oil, or things will get mighty uncomfortable… REAL FAST! But we do want to harness the power of this oil, so we dilute it with a carrier. One drop of Oregano in a 1/4 tsp of carrier should do the trick- the dilution ratios are up to you.
  2. Essential oil drops are SMALL! Let’s say you’ve had an amazing arm workout at the gym… a little TOO amazing (if you catch my drift) and you are needing a little PanAway or Peppermint to help those overworked arms feel less like undercooked spaghetti. Add a few drops f essential oil to a carrier and VOILA, you’ve made a virtual  massage oil that will ease your achs and pans (👈see what I did there?) Basically, a carrier oil allows you to increase the surface area (the spread) of an oil over a larger area without draining your entire PanAway bottle!
  3. On that note, Carrier oils are UH-MAZING massage oils… just add in your favorite EO and you’re whisked away to cloud 9
  4. Carrier Oils help dilute oils taken internally. Yes, you heard me right- Young Living has an entire line of oils (called Vitality) that are safe for ingestion. While you can place a drop in your water or a drop under the tongue, many YL members love to make veggie capsules with their oils. By adding a carrier oil, you will decrease the chance of an oil hitting your stomach and feeling too “strong,” Sometimes our systems can be sensitive to essential oils, especially if we are new to ingesting them. Remember, EOs are suuuuuuuuuuper concentrated! One drop of Lemon is the equivalent of 70 lemon rinds! Fatty oils help “soften the blow” to our digestive tract and ease the metabolic process.
  5. Carrier oils help ease any contact sensitization. If you ever apply an oil topically and feel discomfort, simply start applying a carrier oil over that area and massage until the sensitivity goes away. This is really just another form of dilution. Also, if you accidentally get essential oils in the eyes, rinse your eye with CARRIER OIL (not water!) The fatty oil will literally “carry” the essential oil away. Water would drive the oil in deeper.
  6. Roller Balls-  when you want to make your oils stretch further, place several drops of your favorite EO into a rollerball and fill the rest up with a liquid carrier oil (coconut hardens at room temperature) Roller Balls are an easy and convenient way to carry oils with you and apply on the go.

** One small note- just because you are diluting the essential oil does NOT mean you are diluting its therapeutic effect!!! Those tiny oil molecules will enter your body and get to work just the same as if the oil was applied at full concentration. The ONLY difference is that the effect on the skin won’t feel as intense. That’s the beautiful thing about using a carrier- the oils will get busy working and you won’t even notice they are there! 👊

These are the main uses for a carrier oil. Young Living had a WONDERFUL blend of fatty oils called V-6. It has a very neutral smell, and is not greasy. I highly recommend it as you start your oils journey. Of course, you will also want to experiment with your favorite carrier- I happen to LOVE coconut oil!!! So have fun, experiment and find out which carrier works best for you!

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