It probably doesn’t surprise you that I’m pretty obsessed with essential oils. I have dozen upon dozens of types, in different sizes, from different manufacturers, in different species and sub-species. I chalk it all up to “research”, but who are we kidding? These are my comic books, my stamps, my pokemons, my antique teacups, or whatever the hell normal people collect. Let me tell you, it’s an expensive habit with a small 5ml vial going from anywhere from $2 to $150, depending on the exquisiteness contained within.
Now, if you’re not particularly interested in collecting oils, I still think there are 2 essential oils that no home should be without.
Wait! Can you guess which oils?
OK, lavender and tea tree oil. I know, they’re not so exotic or dazzling, but they are amazing oils with properties that can really come in handy. Also, both are great multi-taskers that can be applied neat (without dillution) directly on the skin*, which makes them both economical and convenient.
Let’s look at some of the properties of each, shall we?
An oil I can’t live without, I’m certain of it. I sprinkle it on my hair when it’s not as clean as it should be, but looks way too good to wash, I use it in my shoes in the summer as a deodorant, I apply it behind my ears before walking in the woods to shoo the annoying black-flies away, and I add a few drops to my bed-linens at night. I also burn some diluted with water in my oil diffuser, or in a pot of simmering water on the stove top to add a lovely scent throughout the house. When you get “the good stuff” (ie true lavender) I don’t find it has that dreaded “old lady smell” that fake lavender, or cheap and adulterated lavender has, rather it smells fresh, herbal and oh-so clean.
It can be applied directly to pimples, abscesses, athlete’s foot, boils, bruises, burns, dandruff, dermatitis, earache, eczema, inflammations, insect bites and stings, insect repellant, lice, psorriasis, ring worm, scabies, sores, spots, sunburn, wounds, sore muscles, aches and pains and generally helps all skin types!
And that was just the uses for your skin! It can also help boost the immune system, is a well-known tension-tamer, helps ease depression and anxiety, is calming, soothes headaches, helps lull you to sleep and can be used for sore throats and stomach upsets. (Although, if you are going to use lavender internally, you should consult a naturopath or an open-minded doctor.)
It also makes a nice personal fragrance. To me, it’s a familiar, soothing scent that just smells like home so I like to travel with it not only for it’s beneficial properties, but to carry a piece of home with me.
Tea Tree Oil
Incidentally, this oil has nothing to do with tea oil (Camellia Sinensis). Just thought I’d clear that up. Tea Tree is Melaleuca alternifolia, and comes in some interesting varieties of species, including my personal favourite: lemon tea tree! Close relatives are also manuka, kanuka, cajeput and niaouli, and although I’m a BIG fan of manuka and kanuka (which I get sent to me by my best friend who lives in New Zealand!), regular ol’ tea tree is by far the easiest to find, the most economical and tends to be generally the most pleasant….although arguably, since it’s pretty potent!
Tea tree has been long used by the Aboriginal folks in Australia (manuka and kanuka being the Kiwi version), and its long use is why tea tree is such a popular oil to this day. It is also one of the better scientifically researched oils, and has been proven to be effective against bacteria, fungi and viruses as well as being a powerful immuno-stimulant, which makes this oil pretty unique and valulable.
Use tea tree oil on acne, dandruff, athlete’s foot, burns, cold sores, blisters, cuts, rashes, warts and infected wounds. Yes, some of the same stuff lavender can address, but I’ve always felt that tea tree is more powerful. It can also be mixed with lavender, if you want to get a little cray-cray.
*MOST skin types anyhow, so use caution if you’re skin is very sensitive.
Info borrowed from Julia Lawless’ The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils