In aromatherapy, carrier oil is a vegetable oil which is used to dilute essential oils before these are applied to the skin as a massage oil or aromatherapy solution. It is extracted from the seeds, kernels or nuts of oily or fatty plants and herbs.
Carrier oils are necessary for diluting essential oils because pure essential oils are so strong and applying them on the skin in that state can cause severe irritations or adverse reactions on some individuals.
Like essential oils, carrier oils also carry with them certain therapeutic and health benefits.
The Difference between Carrier Oils and Essential Oils
Essential oils are produced from the distillation of leaves, bark, roots and stems of aromatic herbs. They have a concentrated aroma and a tendency to evaporate. Carrier oils on the other hand, are derived from the fatty portions of seeds, nuts and kernels of herbs and they do not evaporate. Their aromas are not as strong as the essential oils. Carrier oils have the tendency to go rancid overtime while essential oils remain the same, but they have a tendency to lose their therapeutic effects.
Properties of Carrier Oils
Aside from being a diluting agent for essential oils, carrier oils also carry properties that make them distinct from other oils. Some of the properties that you need to look out for when shopping for carrier oils:
Most carrier oils contain fat soluble vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. These nutrients help to provide nourishment to the skin when applied topically.
Color doesn’t always play a role when choosing carrier oil for simple blends, but if you are particular about the color of your final product, color should be an important thing to consider.
When choosing carrier oil, you should consider its aroma because it might create a conflict with the aroma of your essential oil.
Viscosity refers to the resistance of the oil to movement or flow, and it can play a role especially if you want to use your final product for massaging or rubbing purposes.
5. Shelf Life
Carrier oils have varying shelf lives. When you buy carrier oil, you should consider the quantity and your rate of consumption. They should match the estimated useful life of the oil.
In order to get quality carrier oils, you should buy them from stores that specialize in aromatherapy products and skin care ingredients. When buying carrier oil, you should watch out for dust on their bottles as it can indicate that the oil has been sitting there for some time. You should only buy oils that are cold pressed. Carrier oils that are extracted at high temperatures may no longer contain the same amount of nutrients that cold pressed oils carry. Do not buy carrier oils that contain additives.