Dilution Rates: How They Are Derived

Ever notice how dilution rates are often cited but never disclosed how they are derived? This has always gotten to me so I decided to look into it.  Read on for more…

Aromatherapy and its use of essential oils is varied by modes of application: olfaction, inhalation, RESPONSIBLE internal use (e.g., suppositories, enteric capsules) and the dermal pathway.  Dermal usage is vast: neat application, frictions, oils/lotions/creams/serums, baths, scrubs/glows, roller ball applicators. (Note: I do not get into dilution for internal use here.)

The dermal pathway is one of greatest concern when it comes to dilution as the irresponsible, unwieldy use of many essential oils may cause dermal irritation and sensitization.

Think about it. Essential oils are precious resources. They are POTENT, VOLATILE MOLECULES. The aromatic plants do not produce their essences 24/7, 365 days a year. The aromatics create essences at certain times of the day and at certain times of the year–and overall, each plant does not produce a whole lot of essence. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) may be harvested twice a year, a sandalwood (Santalum album) tree must grow to be FORTY years old until it can be CUT DOWN to take its heartwood. To obtain 1 kg of essential oil you need the following: 20-30 kg of fresh Zingibere officinalis rhizome, 150 kg of Lavandula angustifolia, 40-90 kg of Cymbopogon citratus/nardus, 1 ton of Helichrysum italicum, 5-10 tons of Melissa officinalis. Their potency deems it necessary to dilute them.

Also, it is shown that more drops of essential oil have the opposite of the desired effect (i.e., more lavender may cause excitation). For that matter, 1 DROP of essential oil has therapy and is enough to communicate with the nervous system.

So, let’s get onto dilution rates.

It all comes down to number of drops. Not grams or millilitres but the ever so unscientific number of drops–but this is ok. Aromatherapy is an art and a science about communication–so drops as a base and guideline are just fine.

Accepted facts:

  • There are 20 drops of essential oil in 1 millilitre.
    • The “drop” is pretty standardized through orifice reducers, droppers and pipettes. (Were you into repeatable manufacturing you would weigh materials anyway.)
  • 30 ml = 1 ounce
  • 1 ounce is 600 drops

If I want 1% dilution:

  • 30 ml = 1 ounce = 600 drops. 1% of 600 is 6.
  • That translates to 6 drops of EOs to 1 ounce of carrier.

Following is a table that uses “# of drops” as the base of the whole table:

# of drops ml oz. 0.50% 1% 2% 2.5% 3% 5%
600 30 1          3      6      12      15      18      30
1200 60 2          6    12      24      30      36      60
1600 80 3          8    16      32      40      48      80
2400 120 4        12    24      48      60      72    120

How to read the table:

  • If you want to make a 2 ounce bottle of body oil and use the holistic aromatherapy rate of 2.5%, you need 30 drops of essential oils.
  • If you are making a 4 ounce batch of all-purpose salve, consider using a 3% to 5% dilution rate–that’s 72 or 120 drops of essential oils, respectively. (Note: wax holds the oils in a certain way and it’s OK to use this much essential oil.)

That’s it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s