Diffusing Essential Oils in Public Spaces

Uncategorized Oct 15, 2018

I've been pondering this question for a while, should we use diffusers with essential oils in public spaces?

Like anything else, there are pros and cons to the public use of essential oils (EO's).  I think it's an important question to consider as the use of EO's has expanded into our public institutions and spaces. 

Let me start with a recap of a conversation I heard once between two co-workers. One co-worker LOVED her oils, she wanted everyone to "share in her enthusiasm". So she diffused oils at her desk, and personally applied them, liberally each day.  She was happy to be sharing, thinking how appreciative everyone else must be too.

Little did she know, it was becoming a daily irritation for others. Especially for one of her close friends at work.

I listened as her friend was telling her that she wanted the constant diffusing of oils to stop. She told her friend "I don't want to smell oils every day, It's especially hard to walk past your desk the smell is so strong". She was asking her to stop diffusing in the office. Her "smelly" friend responded, "hey I'm doing everyone a favor, this place has mold issues, it smells in here and my oils are killing the mold and keeping you all healthier, you should be thanking me"! 

The oil lover was probably newly influenced and full of passion. In her mind, she was helping her co-workers moods, their health, and the business, which is a lovely concept. But in reality, some were overwhelmed, some enjoy it, and others were going outside to get fresh air!

How about you?
Do you want to be informed if EO’s are being used in a public space you spend time in? Do you care if you smell oils while sitting in a waiting room? In your workplace? How about in your kid's daycare or classroom?

If this sounds like a conversation you want to start, I hope you'll find the information below helpful, as you consider both the benefits and potential problems of diffusing EO's in public spaces.

Use my points below to start the conversation or to find agreement on "guidelines of use" and discuss with your team.   You will quickly learn who is not on board, and what questions to address. If you already use diffusers in the workplace it's not too late to review and see what others think about it. You might be surprised!

 Informed, thoughtful and common sense use of essential oils in public spaces is the goal.

Here are a few guidelines and starter discussion points to consider for use in public spaces:

  • Define what "purpose" are you diffusing oils for? Ambiance? Stress reduction? To cover a smell? Help with germs?  For focus and attention? Agreement and a common goal will bring people together.

  •  Where is your information about oils coming from?  It can be confusing out there! One online resource I recommend is a free online website called  "Aroma Web". This site is a well researched, nonbiased and an objective source of information, from certified Aromatherapists since 1997. 

  • Which oil or blend of oils you choose should match your intended goals. Look at their therapeutic actions and safety information. Does it line up? Check to see if there are any contraindications that would apply to those who will be inhaling them. Is someone pregnant? Are babies in this space? What about people with severe allergies or asthma? There is often more than just one choice per goal - make sure the aroma works for everyone! When used intelligently, can be done quite safely.

  • Do you need a policy in place to use essential oils in your space? This would be wise to do if your intended goal is therapeutic, or if using them in a healthcare or school setting. (think vulnerable populations, highly sensitive folks or those with seasonal allergies)

  • Or would it serve you well to post a notice that oils are being used, which oil/s and when? Do you want consent forms signed, think schools, kids? "Lemon in the diffuser during today's meeting"!

  • Stick to the recommended amount of oil for the type of diffuser being used. In other words - an aroma should be "quiet" not LOUD! A little can go a long way!

  • Consider your action plan if someone has an adverse reaction to an oil. Be prepared and know what to do! It's rare but does happen.  (I'll give you this answer - Remove oil, breathe fresh air, drink water, it should pass - if serious call Poison Control or 911 for help)

  •  Decide who will maintain the diffuser. Keep a cleaning schedule! Water-based diffusers should be washed out at least every other day. Know how to clean the type of diffuser you use.

  • Use diffusers with intermittent timer settings. Diffusing at full blast, nonstop even with calming oils can overwhelm our nervous systems.  Once our receptor sites are full - they're full.

My perspective is this:
Essential oil therapy provides many benefits when used intelligently, in moderation, and with a purpose. But we shouldn't assume, that everyone wants to consume it, or that it is perfectly safe for everyone. Essential oils are highly concentrated, much different than smelling it from the plant. We also absorb up to 70% of the molecules that reach our noses. inhalation is effective and a very safe way to reap the benefits of the essential oils!
Just don't' over do it.

I raise the questions in this blog to help bring awareness of the power of the oils and to help others create an agreement for use when used in public spaces.

Again -  Informed, thoughtful and common sense use of essential oils in public spaces is the goal.

For those who are really enthusiastic - try a more personalized discreet use of essential oils like wearing patches, aromatic jewelry, or use an aroma stick, this makes for better public and workplace etiquette.

Aromatically Yours,
Jodi Baglien

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