Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sinus congestion (Eucalyptus, Oregano)

Whether it's a sinus infection or a cold or other virus, try one of these:

Place about 5 drops of Eucalyptus in a coffee cup of hot water.  Cover your head with a towel, CLOSE YOUR EYES, and sniff the vapor for a few minutes.  (You can also just cup your hands around the top of the mug and sniff through an opening in them.)

Or sniff (as above) or diffuse any of the Carvacol-rich oreganos and rosemary, cineole.  This combination won't just clear your sinuses; it will also kill the bacteria, etc. up in there that could be causing the trouble.  It may take 48-72 hours for the full effect to be felt.

Why yes, I did finally come down with my kids' virus, what made you ask?  :)  (Actually left the house this morning without trying any preventative measures, knowing I was getting the crud.  By 5pm I was running a temperature, so I headed home and took Ibuprofen and made my first attempt at using oregano to fight a virus.  So far, I'm impressed, but we'll see how I feel in the morning.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, September 28, 2009

Reusing glass bottles

Most of you know that glass bottles colored to shield the contents from light are best for the storage of essential oils; it helps to preserve their vitality.  It's best to have little dropper inserts inside the bottle's top, to keep you from spillling or dumping more than you intend onto your skin or into your blend.  And you need a tight-fitting cap to keep the oils from evaporating into the air.

(I hope that you also know that the nifty little eyedroppers with the rubber squeeze tops are a bad idea.  The reason is that the essential oils will eventually soften the rubber and turn it into goo, tainting your oils in the process.  Essential oils are POTENT, I tell you.)

Those bottles, even the littlest ones, can easily cost you at least $1.00 apiece when you factor in shipping.

So how do you keep your costs down as you start making blends for friends and family and every possible emotional and physical need in your own house?  You start trying to wash your emptied ones, that's how.

I can already hear you whining, 'cause I did too.

"I TRIED," you wail.  "THEY STILL SMELL LIKE WHAT USED TO BE INSIDE THEM."  I know.  The dishwasher doesn't help, handwashing doesn't help, multiples of both even don't completely take care of the smell.

That's because EOs are so potent, and so NON water soluble.  Washing is good, but it's not going to get it all out of there.  And sometimes you just don't want to mix a delicate sleep-inducing blend in a bottle that still reeks fairly strongly of cinnamon and clove, y'know?

I looked for a solution for quite a while, and finally stumbled upon a cleaning process recommended by Al and Penny at Birch Hill Happenings:

To clean the glassware: Soak in hot soapy water, rinse, rinse, rinse and then do a final rinse with alcohol such has vodka or a denatured alcohol. Don't use rubbing alcohol as it doesn't have a high enough alcohol content (look for 180 or 190 proof).  Let air dry.  Some essential oils can be very difficult to clean from bottles and you may need to soak them for several hours or days to remove the essential oil residue. Make sure not even a hint of oil remains or alcohol for that matter as this can ruin your new blends.
Hooray for reusing those pricey little bottles!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Carrier oils: Jojoba, Rosehip seed, Hazelnut

What's a carrier oil?  It's a non-essential oil that can be used to dilute, extend, or preserve a more volatile, precious, or potentially irritating essential oil.  Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils for massages, to make certain oils usable on children, or to keep overly strong oils from irritating the skin.  Several of them are scentless, and they are sometimes used by the unscrupulous to dilute and cheapen essential oils.  However, having some to use yourself is a good thing!

Jojoba oil  The only oil I've used so far is jojoba, which is actually a liquid wax extracted from the jojoba bean.  I selected it because it does not go rancid or need to be refrigerated, is apparently not allergenic, and because I read somewhere that its oil was similar to the structure of sebum (the oil in our skin), and so it made a good moisturizer. Using jojoba in a blend with other oils that tend to go rancid will extend their life, which is why you'll often see it sold in 10:1 dilutions with the most precious essential oils (like rose, helichrysum, and melissa).  Because of all these qualities, it is probably the most commonly used carrier oil.

Rosehip seed oil is a pricier carrier oil that comes from South America and apparently has some amazing skin-regenerative qualities.  It's uniquely good for wrinkle reduction, spot reduction, and healing of other kinds of skin damage. It's red in color, needs to be kept refrigerated, and will begin to go bad after about a year.  Its healing effects will be evident even if you dilute it to 10% in a solution, with 90% other (cheaper!) carrier oils.  Anandaapothecary has a well-written article if you want to learn more. 

Hazelnut oil is actually a bit astringent and therefore good for oily skins who still want to use essential oil blends.  It is well-tolerated by other skin types as well, though, and keeps the skin from feeling oily after application of oil blends that contain it.  It tones and tightens the skin, aids capillaries, and encourages cell regeneration.  I'm finding different opinions on how long it will keep, but it sounds like the refrigerator will extend its shelf life.

As you probably know, seeking out cold-pressed and organic oils will assure you the most natural and untainted product.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Monday, September 21, 2009

teeny tiny little magic bottles...

Most of you are probably finding that you have suddenly developed a need for tiny bottles to hold your blends, dilution, and concoctions-- and for sharing oils with friends and family as they start asking questions about this weird new hobby of yours.

I'm almost out of my handful of 5ml bottles that I first ordered.  These littlest bottles seem to be the ones that I use the most.  Most EO dealers use amber glass bottles, which have been the traditional color in aromatherapy (and in medicine in general) for ages.

However, one EO source uses something I've not seen before-- a dark blue, indigo-colored (almost black) glass that apparently blocks the wavelengths of light that are harmful to essential oils (and other "living" substances) while permitting the beneficial ones to enter.

I'm no expert on this, but I think it's fascinating.  Here's the link he gives on why he uses this particular source of glass-- there is only one company worldwide producing this stuff.

And here's another page from a natural living website about the glass, with some pretty wild pictures and information about its ability to preserve fresh foods.  This is what made my jaw drop a bit...

I'm looking into what it would cost to buy these rather than the typical 5ml bottles.  Right now it looks like I'd have to buy them by the case of 224 to get some.  That's a bit more than I need!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


order: rosehip seed and hazelnut oil

(I posted this as a comment on Hannah's earlier post about these oils, but it doesn't seem to be coming into my inbox, so I'm going to post it as its own separate post.  My apologies if it turns up twice!)

Hey everybody! I'm about to order myself some rosehip and hazelnut carrier oils to try Hannah and Darla's moisturizer recipe... but I'm going to order 8oz bottles, which is WAY more than I need. Anybody want to split the two bottles with me? 4 oz of each would be about $12, plus a little for shipping. (You can get jojoba at Nature's Wonders. I already have that.)

If three people want in, we can get 16oz bottles and it'll be a little cheaper.  I'll also be getting carrot seed oil if you want to split that.

I'll probably order late tonight, so speak up if you're in!  Comment here or shoot me an email, or call 870.414.1014 (my cell).


Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Friday, September 18, 2009

Lavender recipes

Just came across this article, and thought of my precious little ziploc bag of lavender buds that Hannah gave me... anybody else still have that unused?  Here are a few culinary options!

Lavender Recipes @ Herb Companion magazine's website

There are six recipes:

I'm thinking of enclosing mine in a little pillow to help Gracie or Quinton sleep, but these are definitely tempting.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Eucalyptus dives- chest/sinus congestion

I wanted to post this before I forgot that it happened.  (I find that happening a lot-- I sense a little issue, apply something, the issue goes away completely, and I forget all about it or to post it!)

I noticed last night that both Gracie and I had a little bit of a cough.  I had some tightness and wheezing in my chest as well-- a sign for me that I'm getting pretty congested in my lungs.  Neither of us felt badly, though, apart from that (yet).

Before her bedtime, I pulled out the Eucalyptus dives (also known as Peppermint Eucalyptus- probably because of the minty smell).  I'd bought this because it is safer for children and skin use than other types of eucalyptus, and because of this description on the provider's website:

This is a very unique Eucalyptus oil that I love having in my collection of essential oils. It is especially good for reducing thick mucus, great for that cold or flu that you just can't get rid of and the congestion that is driving you crazy! You can steam with it, or put it into a chest rub, cream or oil. It has a lovely aroma, is great to use with kids and adults, and is deeply effective.

Also great for getting rid of headaches when combined with Frankincense.

I diluted a drop in about 3 drops of jojoba oil for Gracie, and rubbed it into her chest, with a little swipe on her chin to increase inhalation.  (She told me she did NOT like the smell, but went to bed without further complaint.)  I put her to bed, and a few hours later, used a drop across my own chest and a few sniffs from my hands.

About five minutes later, all-- and I mean ALL-- the congestion drained out of my sinuses, down the back of my throat.  It was almost like a trap door had opened and sucked it all away.  I woke up this morning without a trace of the cough or the lung congestion-- and Gracie hasn't coughed either.

I can't believe that I have access to a substance that, with one drop, can drain my sinuses in five minutes and stop a chest cold dead in its tracks.  Unreal!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Disinfecting rooms with essential oils and candles/electric diffusers

...And I just found a link from Butch's page to some university research from 2004 that indicates that burning candles made with essential oils does help kill bacteria on surfaces in a room.

The researchers, Dr Lindsey Gaunt and Sabrina Higgins, have discovered that adding essential oils to the candle can destroy bacteria such as Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus aureus on surfaces. Working with Professor John Hughes in the Bioelectrostatics Research Centre, Lindsey and Sabrina have been testing different essential oils, such as orange, thyme, and eucalyptus, which when dispersed into the air and combined with the ions produced in the candle flame, all have a powerful bactericidal effect.

Where candle use would not be appropriate, for example in a kitchen, the same bactericidal effect can be produced by using plug-in devices combining the appropriate essential oils and ions generated by an electrical discharge.

According to Lindsey Gaunt, the candles and electrical devices could be as effective as liquid disinfectants, together with the added benefit of being able to penetrate porous surfaces and fabrics in a room with very little personal effort.

This unique combination of essential oils and electrical ions has demonstrated a remarkably powerful bactericidal action, with up to nearly 100 per cent bacteria kill.

Very interesting!  If I'm reading this correctly, electric low-heat diffusers such as the Scentball (that's the cheapest source I've seen for those) would have the same effect.  And which oils you'd use would influence the effectiveness- read the link above for their findings.

Remember that essential oils are HIGHLY flammable; don't go dropping them into open flames on candles.  Flash fires can happen!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Turkish Rose Otto production

I just stumbled across this really fascinating page about how Rose Otto essential oil is produced in Turkey.  There are huge distillation facilities that are only used for a few weeks each year.  Check out those beautiful, huge old copper stills!  Great pictures-- wish they were bigger so I could see a bit better!

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The goose is getting fat...

I hate to admit it, but this is the time of year I need to start thinking about Christmas if I want the holidays to be as stress-free as possible.  Thankfully, this year I have a new obsession that provides me with many opportunities for unique presents...

I heard that the Oilcrowd was discussing Christmas gifts, and I thought I'd ask:  Will any of your holiday gifts this year involve essential oils?  Here are a few ideas bubbling in my brain; no recipes for now, just ideas!

I'm planning on giving each family a 5ml bottle of lavender oil with a pretty little list of its possible uses.  It's just too amazing and versatile not to share, and lavender is safe enough that I feel okay giving someone a bottle who doesn't know all that much about oils.  (After all, that's how I got started!)

Four Robbers/Thieves oil blend products

I mixed up 30ml of thieves oil this week.  (And Marsha's right-- that recipe smells fantastic!)  I don't think I'll hand people a bottle of this oil, since it's a little caustic to the skin; instead, I'll mix up some disinfecting hand spray, foaming hand soap, and some of that great all-purpose cleaner.  The cinnamon/clove scent is perfect for the holidays, and it fights germs to boot!  Again, some kind of card explaining the legend and the oils' properties is in order here-- so they know that it smells great AND kills germs too.


Those inhalers we mentioned a few weeks ago are on my list for Christmas gifts as well.  Here are some of my possible creations for gifts:
Headaches:  lavender and peppermint
Stuffy Noses:  (this is called catarrh in those British aromatherapy books you're reading, by the way) possible ravinstara & cedarwood
Anxiety Relief: (aka Calm the Heck Down, You Crazy Relative...)  Bergamot, orange, lime, & vetiver
Immune Boost:  possibly a Thieves inhaler, or a mix of the strongest antiviral/antibacterial oils.  I'm reading amazing things about oregano these days...


I'm scoping out recipes for aftershave, and saving our pretty glass bottles.  (My favorites:  decorative salad dressing and maple syrup bottles.)  I'm hoping, with Aaron's help, to come up with some wonderful-smelling formulas that also nourish and help heal my favorite fellas' freshly-shaved faces.  I'll post a recipe when we've found one we like, but I'm thinking about oils like cedarwood... sandalwood... lavender... mmm.

Bath salts

Epsom salts and essential oils, plus an ingredient or two, will make a beautiful gift.  Refreshing?  Relaxing?  Therapeutic for when you're sick with a cold or virus?  So many possibilities!
Sugar scrubs
If you have never experienced the exfoliating/moisturizing one-two punch of a sugar scrub, you need to do this RIGHT NOW.  So much so that I'll break my intention for this post and go dig up a quick recipe.  This is from a site called treehuggingfamily.com; I can't link it tonight because the site is apparently down (I used Google's cache to snag her recipe).


  1. 2 cups sugar - I like a mix of coarse natural brown, and basic white; it makes a good scrub worthy feel. You can use just coarse brown or just plain white though. Do not use soft brown baking sugar.
  2. Oil: I like apricot or light olive best. Any oil that’s natural and from a nut or fruit will work. Baby oil (non-scented) will also work. Do not use cooking oil like corn - that will make a funky smell and a too-slick feel.
  3. Vanilla beans: Use whole organic, or in a pinch I’ve used organic vanilla extract (seriously, I was hard up). However, extract will darken your mix - no biggie though.
  4. Organic lavender essential oil.
  5. Any old container with a lid.


  1. Place vanilla beans in dry sugar. Cover and let sit for a week or two - the longer it sits the better the smell. If using vanilla extract, skip this step.
  2. Remove vanilla beans. Cover sugar until saturated (but not over saturated) with oil. Short on oil? You can also use a mix of oil and water - I know the two don’t mix, but in sugar it will work.
  3. Add a few drops of lavender oil. If you’re using vanilla extract add a few drops now.
  4. Use to scrub down your body either before you start the shower or during. Rinse well. Do not use on face or hair.
  5. This last a long time - i.e. it won’t mold or anything before you use it up. You can keep it in your bathroom. Also, contrary to what you may think, you won’t be sticky. You don’t need to wash this off with soap; plain water is fine.

One, you will feel smooth and smell delicious. Two, your bathroom will also smell great all day long. I’ve been reusing the same container for years. If you want to give this as a gift, look for short, squat, wide glass containers at thrift stores. You can also mix this up with various herbs and essential oils.

vanilla beansOther nice mixes I’ve tried include:

  • Grapefruit and peppermint
  • Orange, clove, and lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Basil and lemon
  • Cedar and lavender
  • Coffee (I ground a bit of espresso) and grapefruit
  • Almond and orange

Really the sky is the limit. The best thing about homemade body scrubs is how versatile and cheap they are. If you mess up, no big loss. It’s natural and degrades so no worries. If you don’t have essential oils around they can be a be more costly to get started with. I use oils for everything though so I have many. Also, one small bottle of organic lavender oil will make tons of this stuff. TONS. I saw some sugar scrub at the store and it was $22 - holy. I can make batches for that much money. Plus mine has no artificial anything in it.

Give it a try, you’ll love it.

Okay, your turn!  Share your own gift ideas below.  Then go down to your kitchen and make yourself a sugar scrub, and try it.  It'll blow you away.

(A special Oily Hello to Hannah and Darla, who are deep in Yankee territory with a whole herd of fellow oilnuts.  Share with us if you've got a spare moment and an Internet connection, ladies!)

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It is much too late to be writing this.

On so many levels.  For one thing, it's 1:30 a.m.  AND I AM JUST STARTING.  That right there is a recipe for a disaster of a day tomorrow.  What am I thinking?

Well, here's what.  I have not written down many scraps of memories of my kids lately.  The summer's gone, we only got to the pool once, and I feel like time is just slipping through my fingers like mad.  When will I record these things, if not RIGHT NOW, when it's pressing at me?

He's so lovely now, just on the cusp of walking, still a bit afraid, learning every day. 

He can walk, actually, and just usually doesn't.  Tonight, six steps at once, on his own, says Daddy-- no prodding, no propping-up-and-then-removing-support to force the walking.  Just six steps, all alone, to get to his daddy.  He'll be full tilt soon, and then LOOK OUT, because this boy does not care about the word "NO."  (And while the abrupt of the end of TV Time will make him scream at the top of his lungs, this consequence does not seem to keep him from crawling up to push every possible button on the TV equipment EVERY TIME HE GETS TO WATCH IT.  So we do a little dance every day:  put on DVD for him, let him watch happily, turn your back, buttons get pushed, return to TV and close armoire doors while chanting the apparently meaningless "no."  Screams of fury arise from the boy.  Rinse.  Repeat.)

He flaps his hands wildly at music, especially his favorites:  the Peep and the Big Wide World intro.  C is for Cookie song from Sesame Street.  The Sun and Moon on YouTube.  He claps, shrieks with joy, bobs up and down.  We wonder if he'll be a musician like his daddy, his enjoyment is so intense.

He also can spend amazing amounts of time by himself, entertained by his own thoughts or who knows what.  His crib is a refuge for him, and some days I go in to him at 10 am to find him wide awake in there, happily being alone.  (Hello Kid?  You Hungry?  You want that gigantic diaper changed?  Hello?)  I wonder about that, think weird Austistic thoughts sometimes.  But he's so engaged otherwise, I don't think it could be that.  Mom says I was a weirdly independent, content child.  Perhaps it's just me that is worrying me in him.  How odd.

He loves to splash in water, and if given the chance will happily dump his sippy cup into his high chair tray, shake by shake if necessary, and then happily fall to splashing.  He loves to ride in the car, loves to be rocked to sleep, loves to go outside.  He has a whole mouthful of teeth now, when just last February he was bare of them, and he hates to have them brushed.  His favorite food is, forever and ever, macaroni and cheese, followed by cheese, followed by any kind of starchy white stuff void of nutrients.  Bananas also are good.  Everything else is often rejected, meat most of all.  His most favorite toy is fistfuls of the magnetic letters that go on the fridge, carried around nonstop in his chubby little fists-- even all the way to Grammy's, somehow, without me noticing.

Last time we had him weighed, he was at about 6% in length for his age group, and 97% in height-to-weight ratio.  Baby's got butt.  I love it.  I need to take a picture soon before he starts walking and melts it all off in that way that toddlers do.

He can talk too, actually, just usually doesn't.  He babbles, but I'm starting to catch words in the babble more and more often.  I'm realizing that he is talking to us, we just can't quite understand all his words yet.  Every once in a while, he'll say something amazingly complicated, just once, often under his breath.  This week it was "allouicious," once of Daddy and sister's silly words.  What?!  And you can't say "more juice"??

I love him.  I sometimes worry about him-- his development is on such a different time table than Gracie's.  But he's a boy, a second child, and one who had both a major surgery and a slow growth rate during his first 9 months.  I feel like I need to cut him some slack.

But man, is he ever fun.  Three months till he's two.  Unreal.

Gracie is such a little lady, such a wonder.  Her vocabulary is fascinating, as is her adult mannerisms.  One of mom's friends described her as "three, going on ten."  That's about right-- unless she's tired, or very hungry, when she reverts suddenly back to a very impatient three.

I love my little not-little girl.  She's so inventive-- she can spend hours with her baskets of Little People and Disney Princesses, ferrying them around the house from "their house" to "their school" to "their Grammy's" and inventing adventures all the way.  She will earnestly request your attention:  "Mommy, I am talking to you now.  MOMMY."  She can spend ages on the disney and PBS kids websites all by herself, working through the learning games, answering all the questions correctly.  She knows the sounds of all the letters, something I did not teach her.  She loves caterpillars, planting things, sidewalk chalk, paint.  What does she want to be when she grows up?  "Just a Grammy," she says offhandedly-- which makes my mother tear up with joy, and me tear up watching her.

As their mom, at this point, I mostly want to learn to give them more of my full attention.  I feel like my house is never as clean as I think it should be, that my duties elsewhere are always calling me to give them some toys or TV or art supplies and then disappear to get something "important" done.  And then there's the less virtuous things that lure me away-- the computer, the Quest for New Hobby Knowledge, the flea markets.

But what can be more important than these days??  Why am I obsessing about my dirty kitchen, my little online vintage shop, my new fascination with essential oils, my Facebook account even, when I have these two perfect wonders in the house with me each day?

I hope that the next few months bring a More Focused Mommy to your side more often, my babies.  (You are my babies forever, you know, no matter how much you grow.)

...but you know, to have even the slightest chance of doing that well tomorrow, I have GOT to get some sleep.  So I'll cut this short and hope to write more soon.

See and download the full gallery on posterous

Posted via email from kimvsmith's posterous


Sunday, September 6, 2009

Stomach upset.

(I can't believe I am posting about this particular issue on the internet.  But in the interest of education and to hopefully help the rest of you... here I go.)

The simple formula I've used twice this weekend is Valerie Worwood's formula for diarrhea caused by a virus.  It's on page 31 of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy.  Her school of aromatherapy recommends that you dilute this blend in one teaspoon of carrier oil (jojoba, almond, olive, and the like) and massage in; I just dropped the oils into my palm and massaged them onto my stomach.  Both times, I've felt tremendously better within about fifteen minutes and for at least eight hours afterwards.

I'll go ahead and list the other two formulas as well so that you can match the cause of your troubles to an appropriate blend.

Viral diarrhea:

Thyme  3 drops
Lavender  2 drops
Tea tree 1 drop

Internal:  1 drop of eucalyptus, diluted in 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of honey.
(I think I'd recommend trying a "thieves" type blend on the feet or a drop internally as an alternative as well.  Trying this tonight!)

Nervous diarrhea:
Chamomile  1 drop
Eucalyptus  2 drops
Lavender  3 drops

Internal:  1 drop of peppermint, diluted in 1c water and 1t honey.

Food-related diarrhea:

Chamomile  2 drops
Peppermint  3 drops
Eucalyptus  1 drop

Internal:  1 drop of peppermint, diluted in 1c water and 1t honey.

Worwood's book is basically an encyclopedia of recipes like these.  The first two chapters list hundreds of blends that can be made to treat all kinds of conditions... just with a basic library of twelve single oils.  I can share those two chapters with anyone who'd like to have them; I've found it a great way to get started.

Somebody hit "reply all" to this via email and verify that we can make a comment that way.  Thanks!!

ps- I just got a phone call, and if you all could, please pray for my family tonight:  my parents were hosting a couple this weekend (Rose and Mike), and Mike's best friend came down today from Branson to play golf with my dad and Mike.  Afterwards, he had a heart attack and died-- in my mom's kitchen.  My sister did CPR on him until the EMTs arrived, but they couldn't save him.  I can't begin to imagine what everyone over there is going through tonight.  Please pray for wisdom and words for Aaron and I as well, so that we can minister to them through the next few days.  Thanks so much.

Posted via email from the Oil Crowd