Carrier oils: the essential part of essential oils
Carrier oils are used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before being applied to the skin for massage, preventing the irritation that undiluted essential oils can cause.
Derived from the fatty part of seeds, carrier oils generally are odorless and colorless vegetable oils. They do not evaporate and are long-lasting. The term “carrier oil” is part of the aromatherapy lexicon. For natural skin care, these oils will be referred to as vegetable oils, fixed oils or base oils. Animal and mineral based oils are generally not used in aromatherapy and therefore are not considered carrier oils.
Carrier oils are chosen for their specific quality
There are a range of carrier oils, each with a different therapeutic property. The choice of the oil will depend upon the use. For massage, viscosity is important. Grapeseed oil is thin, while olive oil is thick. In the mid-range are sunflower and sweet almond.
Carrier oils can also be mixed together to achieve a particular profile for viscosity, lubrication, absorption, aroma and others. The list of carrier oils is long: sweet almond, apricot kernel, avocado, borage seed, camellia seed, cranberry seed, evening primrose, fractionated coconut, grapeseed, hazelnut, hemp seed, jojoba, kukui nut, macadamia nut, meadowfoam, olive, peanut, pecan, pomegranate seed, rose hip, seabuckthorn berry, sesame, sunflower and watermelon seed.
Peanut carrier oil and peanut allergy
High-grade, pure peanut and nut-derived oils are not usually allergenic. They do not contain the allergy-causing protein part of the plant. Still, it is safer to avoid peanut oil. If you have a peanut allergy and are getting aromatherapy treatment, be sure to tell your therapist not to use peanut oil. There are so many oils to choose from that this should not be a problem.
Infused oils are carrier oils with a boost
When a carrier oil is mixed with plant material and takes on properties of that plant, it is called an infused oil. Usually a base oil like sunflower oil is placed in an airtight container along with an appropriate amount of plant material and sealed for a period of time. Calendula, lavender and carrot oil are created this way.