Carrier Oils, which are also known as base oils or vegetable oils, are used to dilute essential oils and absolutes before they are applied to the skin in massage and aromatherapy.
They are named because they carry the essential oil onto the skin. Diluting essential oils is a critical safety practice when using essential oils and absolutes. Essential oils alone are volatile; they begin to dissipate as soon as they are applied. The rate of dispersion will vary based on how light or heavy the carrier oil is.
Carrier oils do not contain a concentrated aroma, unlike essential oils, though some, such as olive, have a mild distinctive smell. Neither do they evaporate like essential oils, which are more volatile. Carrier oils used should be as natural and unadulterated as possible - all of our carrier oils are 100% pure unless otherwise stated. Cold-pressing and maceration are the two main methods of producing carrier oils.
There is a range of different carrier oils, each with a various therapeutic properties. Choosing an oil will depend on the area being massaged, the presenting conditions and the sensitivity and requirements. For massage, viscosity is a major consideration; for example, grape seed oil is typically very thin, while olive oil is much thicker. Sunflower, sweet almond and grape seed oils have viscosities midway between these extremes. Carrier oils can be easily blended to combine their properties of viscosity, acceptability, lubrication, absorption, aroma and so forth.
Infused oils are a combination of a carrier oil and plant material and they can be either commercially or domestically prepared. A base oil, often sunflower, is placed in an airtight container with the appropriate plant material for a time. Calendula and carrot oils are produced in this way.
High quality oils sold for culinary use are often eminently suitable for massage use, and are economical; those obtained by cold pressing are preferred. All carrier oils should be kept cool, and away from strong light, to slow rancidification. Rancid oils should be avoided. Refrigerating oils helps preserve their freshness but some oils should not be refrigerated (e.g. avocado). Very cold oils may appear cloudy, but regain their clear state on returning to room temperature.
Each carrier oil has its own shelf life - these range from 6 months to 2+ years.
For more information on Carrier Oils, Aromatherapy, Massage and associated training, check out our Asgard Academy website.