One of the amazing qualities of aromatherapy as a natural healing modality is the variety of applications that can be utilized. Application methods of essential oils can include: inhalation, diffusing, bathing, compress, massage, scrubs, lotions, and salves. These options allow you to choose the application method(s) that best suit you or your client's lifestyle and personality. 

Let’s take a brief look at the various aromatherapy application methods. 

Inhalation Applications: is the easiest and most direct method for essential oils to enter the limbic system in the brain. Inhalation can be done through various methods: by direct inhalation of essential oils from a cotton ball, or tissue; steam inhalation; diffusers: and through the use of personal nasal inhalers. See our video on aromatherapy inhalation applications; it is on the bottom of our home page.

  • The easiest inhalation application is on a tissue or cotton ball: Add two to three drops of essential oil to chosen item, place near your nose and inhale deeply several times.

  • nasal inhalerPersonal Nasal Inhaler: Excellent to use for sinus and respiratory issues, mental relaxation, or to enhance mental focus. Choose two or three essential oils and add 15 to 25 drops of the blend you have formulated.  No carrier oil is used with a personal inhaler. Place the cotton insert in a small glass bowl, and then add the essential oil drops. Allow the cotton pad to absorb all of the essential oils. Insert the cotton pad in the nasal inhaler and snap the bottom shut.

Example of a nasal inhaler blend:
Relaxing blend: Equal drops of Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Mandarin (Citrus reticulata), and Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides).

  • Steam Inhalation: Add 3 to 5 drops of essential oil to a steaming bowl of hot water, then cover your head with a towel, bend over the steaming bowl of water using the towel as a tent to trap the steam, and deeply inhale.

  • diffuserDiffusing: Follow the instructions of use for the particular type of diffuser you own. Add 15 to 25 drops of an essential oil or a blend to the diffuser.
    One of our favorite diffuser blends: equal drops of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), and Spruce (Picea mariana).


Topical Applications:
 allow the healing benefits of essential oils to be absorbed into the blood stream through the skin. Topical application also combines the benefits of essential oils with the benefits of carrier oils.  When you are applying a topical blend, keep in mind the system(s) of the body you are trying to affect. It does not make sense to increase circulation to the legs by applying the blend to your wrists or the bottoms of your feet.  Think about the areas of the physical body that are in pain, inflamed or in need of re-education to reach a state of balance.

Essential oil dilution ratios for topical blends:

  • 1% dilution = 6 drops essential oil per 1 ounce carrier oil. Use for children, elders, pregnancy, and individuals with weakened systems and/or sensitivities.
  • 2% dilution = 12 drops essential oil per 1 ounce carrier oil. Use for general whole body massage.
  • 3% dilution = 18 drops essential oil per 1 ounce carrier oil. Use for localized massage, acute conditions and those with higher metabolisms.  

Areas to apply an aromatherapy blend for topical application:

  • Respiratory issues: Apply to the upper chest, upper back, neck, shoulders and across the bridge of the nose for sinus issues. 
  • Digestive issues: Massage the abdomen in a clockwise fashion, also massage from the throat to the pelvis, as well as the mid to lower back.
  • Hormonal issues: Including kidneys and/or adrenals- apply to the abdomen, lower pelvis and kidney area of the back.
  • Circulatory issues: Apply to the chest, lower abdomen and legs.
  • Bone, joint and muscle inflammation: Apply to the specific areas of pain as well as the corresponding areas on the spine.

Healing Salves and Other Carriers can be used in formulating to assist with many dermal conditions.  Salves and lotions are also useful for inflammation, swelling, and pain. 

  • salve2Salves: Add 5 to 10 drops of an essential oil blend to 1 oz. of beeswax based salve.

  • Lotions or an Aloe Vera Gel/ Witch Hazel Extract Base: Follow the guidelines outlined for the topical application dilution ratios.

Bathing ApplicationsBathing with essential oils can include the use of bath salts, bath blends, and soaps. Bathing provides several methods for the healing benefits of essential oils to enter the body: by absorption through the skin and through inhalation of the bath steam.

  • bath saltsBath Salts: Add 5 to 10 drops essential oil to 1-tablespoons carrier oil, stir and add blend to 1-2 cups of Epson or Dead Sea salts. Add bath salts to the bath water before stepping into the tub. Remember to avoid all skin irritant essential oils including citrus oils. See essential oil precautions here. 

  • Bath Blends: Add 5 to 10 drops essential oil to 1-tablespoon of vegetable glycerin or aloe vera gel, stir and add to the bath water before stepping into the tub. Remember to avoid all skin irritant essential oils including citrus oils. See essential oil precautions here.

  • Shower Scrubs: Using fine grain Dead Sea salt or regular sea salt, carrier oil and essential oils in a shower scrub are excellent for increasing circulation, lymphatic drainage; relieving pain and discomfort and exfoliating the skin. Add 5 to 10 drops essential oil to 2 to 3 tablespoons carrier oil, stir and add blend to ½ cup Dead Sea salt and/or regular sea salt.  In a dry shower, gently massage your body in long smooth strokes towards the heart (subclavian vein) and then rinse off in the shower.

  • Compresses: Add 3 to 6 drops of essential oil to 1-tablespoon of carrier oil, vegetable glycerin or aloe vera gel and then add the blend to either hot or cold compress water. Aromatherapy compresses help to ease and reduce the swelling, pain, and stiffness of muscles and joints, or the discomfort of bruises.

When formulating an aromatherapy blend we hope you refer to these easy to follow instructions, because by doing so you are using the power of essential oils in the safest and most beneficial manner. 
Enjoy the extraordinary benefits from your aromatherapy applications!

FREE Aroma news!

Approved Provider


AIA Alliance of International Aromatherapists member logo recognized school

 NCBTMB provider Logo sml