How to know how much essential oils to use: Working through the math.

If you are given a specific dilution rate of an essential oil, you can easily figure out what that translates to so that you can actually use essential oils in your own recipes for soaps, mouthwashes, and cleaning sprays.

It just takes a little math.

#1) First you figure out how many mL are in the container you want to use.

To be really easy, I’ll explain it with a 16 ounce bottle since most of our water bottles are 16 ounces. You have to convert 16 ounces to mL for this. You can google “ounces to mL” to find a converter online. Many bottles have the mL measurements in parentheses thought as well. A 16 ounce bottle is roughly converted to 437 mL.

#2) Figure out how many mL of essential oil should be used.

Often, it will be 1/10th of a percent. So, let’s use that figure. For roughly one tenth of a percent of oil, you simply multiple 473 mL times one tenth of a percent (or .001.)  473*.001=  .473mL.

#3) Convert mL to drops from an essential oil bottle.

To convert mL to drops, instead of using the .473 mL figure, we’ll just round to .5 mL (or a half of a mL.)   What you need to remember is that droppers for essential oil are meant to be loose measurements.  Standardly, 20 drops of essential oil is equal to 1 mL.

So, a half of a mL (.473mL)  is about 10 drops.

Make sense?

1/10th of a percent of a 16 ounce water bottle is about 10 drops.

Let’s practice:

Tea tree oil should never be diluted to more than 4%. (Here’s why if you don’t remember.)  So, let’s figure out how much tea tree oil would need to be in a 16 ounce water bottle, to dilute responsibly. Let’s make a solution of 5% tea tree oil.  OK, so let’s use the 16 ounce bottle again. That’s 473 mL.  This time, we want it to be 5%. T0 figure out 5%, we have to multiply by .05.  So the math problem would look like this:

473 * .05 = __________    The answer is  23.65.  Five percent of a 16 ounce bottle is about 24 mL.

Remember, 1mL equals about 20 drops of essential oil.  We need 24 mL of tea tree oil to be safe.  So let’s multiply 24 ml by 20 drops. 480 drops.  That’s almost an entire ounce (a medium sized bottle.)

Special Note: If you want to dilute your tea tree oil to get extended use out of it when applying directly to your body, you would take 480 drops (or almost an entire ounce) and then top off the 16 ounce bottle with a nice oil like warm virgin coconut oil or virgin olive oil. At this point, you know that the tea tree oil is diluted as much as it is allowed to be while still being responsible with bacteria and viruses.


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  1. Pingback: Stop using mouthwash. — Everything Birth's Blog on Midwifery, Attachment Parenting, Cloth Diapers and More

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