Bath safety - Tisserand Institute

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Essential Oil Bath Safety - Tisserand Institute

Bath safety notice!

Do not put drops of essential oil directly into a bath and then step into it.

Seriously, don’t do it. This is a mistake very easily made, even by people who have been using essential oils for some time. If you want to add essential oils to your bathwater, mix them in a vegetable oil, or emulsify into an aqueous medium, using an emulsifying agent such as Solubol.

Essential oils do not mix with water, they float in tiny droplets on the surface, and you are about to sit on those droplets of undiluted essential oil. Whenever essential oils are ‘mixed’ with water without a dispersing agent, there is a high risk of irritation, since undiluted droplets of essential oil attach to the skin, often in sensitive areas. Because the oils are warmed up by the water, and also cannot evaporate, they often sting like crazy. This can happen with any essential oil, though it seems to be especially bad with citrus oils.

Adding a fatty oil to your bath does make for a more greasy bathing experience, and some argue that it can stain your bathtub. If this is your concern, you could try using less greasy fatty oil such as jojoba or fractionated coconut oil. Neither full-fat milk nor Epsom salts properly dissolve essential oils. This may shave a few % of the risk, but it’s really not recommended, especially for anyone who might be sensitive.

So, your choices are: thoroughly mix in a vegetable oil (you will get a floating bath oil), or emulsify the EOs into an aqueous medium such as water or a hydrosol using an emulsifying agent.

For more guidelines on safety, visit our Safety pages:

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  1. Leslie Gillin August 10, 2017 at 6:36 pm - Reply

    Adding an essential oil to a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond oil, seems like it would create a slippery tub – a hazardous situation. What are your thoughts on this?

    I have always heard to mix the EO into Epsom salts first, and then pour the salts into the bath. This method gives the EO a chance to adhere to the Epsom salts. I appreciate hearing of your thoughts doing it this way. Thank you!!

  2. Maria August 11, 2017 at 6:07 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for the information, I have seen the oil just float on top but never really took much notice. Can’t seen to get Solubol in Australia. I will try jojba or Fractionated coconut oil next time. Thanks again 🙂

    • Lisa August 12, 2017 at 7:13 am - Reply

      Maria you can use either polysorbate 80 or Capric/Caprylic Glucosides, both of which I don’t think you’d be able to buy over the counter in Australia. They’re available at several online stores though. I don’t want to post any links, but if you google ‘Polysorbate 80 Australia’ several will pop up. Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Kay Campbell January 2, 2018 at 8:46 am - Reply

    I choose a spoonful of vinegar to mix the essential oils in for bathing.

  4. Katie Fast January 10, 2018 at 4:35 am - Reply

    I understand that essential oils in the bath should be used in conjunction with a fat oil. But, along with the fatty oil and essential oil, can Epsom salts then be added to benefit from the magnesium? Thanks.

    • Hana Belikova January 11, 2018 at 1:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Katie, absolutely, you can use epsom salts together with properly diluted essential oils. ~Hana

  5. Leah Lalande January 13, 2019 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    What essential oils are good and safe to use when having a bath. I’m seeing mixed information.

    Thank you

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