Lots of things, it turns out! You can use essential oils in cleaning supplies, bath and beauty products and for first aid. That makes them a pretty handy thing to have around the house. Below are some of the more common essential oils that you’re likely to find at your local natural grocery, and some of their uses.
Essential Oils for Cleaning
Tea Tree: a great natural disinfectant—mix some into your all-purpose spray cleaner.
Pine: deodorizing—try mixing some with baking soda for a carpet cleaner by sprinkling liberally on the carpet then vacuuming it all up at least 15 minutes later.
White Camphor: might be a little harder to find than the others listed, but this is an excellent alternative to moth balls—just soak a few cotton balls and place them where needed.
Essential Oils for Bath & Beauty
Lavender: relaxing, cleansing and toning—good in astringents, soaps, and bath salts.
Chamomile: calming—best in bath salts and soaps.
Peppermint: invigorating—you can add it to bath salts, salt scrubs, moisturizers, soaps, you name it.
Vanilla: a great natural perfume—add some drops to an oil or beeswax base and dab on your pressure points (like behind the ears and on the wrists) for maximum effect.
Essential Oils for First Aid
Eucalyptus: helps colds—mix some into a salve for a chest rub.
Nutmeg: good for sore muscles—mix into massage oil.
Patchouli: great for dry, chapped skin—mix into an oil base and rub into affected areas.
Tea Tree Oil: disinfects cuts and scrapes, helps alleviate bug bites, stings, and rashes—rub a drop or two into the affected area.
Lavender: helps sunburn, fungus infections (such as athlete’s foot), cuts and scrapes, eczema and dry skin—rub a few drops into the affected area.
Of course, there are many more essential oils, and many more uses for the ones listed above; I’ve just tried to list some of the basics. For really detailed info, check out the book “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils” by Julia Lawless. And remember, always be educated about how you’re using essential oils—many shouldn’t be ingested, or can irritate skin if not diluted or used properly. If you can’t find essential oils (or the ones you want) locally, a great mail order catalog is the Frontier Natural Products Co Op (www.frontiercoop.com). They also sell bath and body stuff (like oil bases, salts, clays, etc.), teas, herbs and spices, dry foods and mixes and a small selection of storage containers and the like.