Do essential oils and water mix?

Bath Safety

Bath Safety courtesy of Tisserand Institute

When I originally discovered essential oils, the first thing I was shown how to make was bath salts. I was taught not to use essential oils undiluted in the bath, but it seemed as if the epsom and dead sea salts were absorbing the essential oils so they would be safely diluted for a relaxing bath. Unfortunately, the salts don’t actually dilute the essential oils. It’s better to add them to an emulsifier before introducing them to bath water so they don’t leave behind undiluted droplets to coat your skin.

The reason for the concern is that undiluted droplets can be a problem for your skin. If they are not diluted, they will sit on top of the bath water. Tisserand Institute warns that with these essential oil drops “there is a high risk of irritation, since undiluted droplets of essential oil attach to the skin, often in sensitive areas. Because the oils are warmed up by the water, and also cannot evaporate, they often sting like crazy.” Adding essential oils to a fatty oil is one way to dilute them but my original bath salts don’t work well. “Neither full-fat milk nor Epsom salts properly dissolve essential oils” and bathing with them is not recommended, especially if you have sensitive skin.

When thinking of diluting essential oils in water, body sprays also come to mind. The risk of irritation is lowered when compared to soaking in a bathtub of water, but you still need to consider the lack of solubility of essential oils in water. Shannon Becker PhD, a scientist who also works with essential oils, examined this topic by adding essential oils to various liquids to show how they merged. In her video, she studied what happened when an essential oil was dropped into water, vinegar, witch hazel, several alcohols, and fractionated coconut oil. Both Tisserand Institute and Becker conclude that an emulsifying agent is the best answer for properly diluting an essential oil and keeping it in solution.

Just remember – (an essential) oil and water don’t mix – unless you have an emulsifier.

This topic has been addressed in an earlier post, but unproven and unsafe ideas still persist in the world. I have revisited the subject with recent relevant safety information.