“Essential oils are extracted from certain varieties of trees, shrubs, herbs, grasses and flowers.” (Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. Novato: New World Library, 1991. Print.)
They are produced using steam distillation, carbon dioxide extraction, cold press extraction, or by using solvents.
My hands down favorite is the hard working lavender oil. It contains anti-microbial properties, making it a natural partner to cleaning solutions. I use it for calming myself, and in perfumes and room/body sprays, even on my toothbrush (yeah, I do). I put a few drops on a votive candle to scent and create atmosphere in a room. It repels insects, so I sprinkle droplets in the corners of kitchen countertops, and in places where ants or cockroaches enter. It’s a workhorse that smells pretty. (Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. pp. 52-54; pp. 19-20. Novato: New World Library, 1991. Print.)
Tea tree oil contains naturally occurring antifungal properties. (Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. p. 20. Novato: New World Library, 1991. Print.) I frequently use it in conjunction with lavender for cleaning, and applying to superficial wounds and burns. <<<Be very careful about applying any essential oil directly to your skin before you know how your system will react to it.>>> This cannot be overstated. If the scent repels you, then listen to your body. Everyone’s chemistry is different.
For example, I found a Red Thyme oil from Aura Cacia (great company – a coop) on sale, and decided to self-treat my itchy toes with it. Within minutes of putting on my shoes and heading to my massage job, my feet were burning up. I had to turn back around, Road Runner style, and wash it off. Tea tree, however, worked just great for me.
As a matter of fact, I made a solution of hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, lavender oil and white distilled vinegar (all products I use regularly in cleaning and personal care) to treat my foot fungus. Sorry for the TMI, but it was effective when I applied it to the toes of white cotton socks and wore them for an hour or so each day. Jojoba oil, by the way, also acts as a natural antifungal, as well as being a good carrier oil with which to dilute essential oils before application.
As a flea and tick repellent for my cat, I soaked a collar in a mixture of garlic oil, thyme, lavender, cedarwood, and citronella in alcohol. (Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. p. 361. Novato: New World Library, 1991. Print.) The collar worked well during Texas winters when the flea population dwindled by about half. (I preferred to keep her inside, but she wouldn’t stop with the meowing – hours on end – and I think she wanted her space. Oy. A cat’s gotta do what a cat’s gotta do).
This seems like a good time to say “Be careful using essential oils with animal care!” I took the flea collar recipe from Ms. Worwood, cited above, and therefore felt confident using it. However, while I do experiment frequently on myself, I would never do the same with any fur buddy.