How many drops of essential oil should I put in?

Essential oils have become increasingly popular in recent years for their purported health and wellness benefits. From skin care to aromatherapy, these potent plant extracts are used in a variety of applications. But when using essential oils, it’s important to use the right amount – using too much or too little can affect the efficacy and safety of your oil blend.

So how do you know how many drops to use? Here’s a guide to help you determine the ideal essential oil dosage for your needs.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts derived from different parts of plants, including leaves, flowers, bark, roots, resin, and peel. Through distillation or mechanical pressing, the oils capture the plant’s aroma, flavor, and beneficial compounds.

These natural oils are popularly used for:

  • Aromatherapy
  • Personal care products
  • Household cleaning solutions
  • Massage oil blends
  • Diffuser recipes
  • Perfumes
  • Cooking

Essential oils are often added to carrier oils like coconut, olive, and jojoba oil for better absorption and to help “carry” the essential oils into the skin and body. Using them directly or in high concentrations can cause irritation for some people.

How are essential oils used?

There are several ways essential oils can be used, including:

  • Topical application – Essential oils are mixed with carrier oils and applied to the skin. They can be used to ease muscle soreness, improve skin conditions, and more.
  • Aromatherapy – Oils are diffused or inhaled for aromatherapeutic benefits like relaxation, improved mood, and clearer breathing.
  • Oral ingestion – Some oils can be ingested in very small amounts, often diluted with water. Only ingest high-quality therapeutic-grade oils.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting – Due to their antimicrobial properties, lemon, tea tree, thyme and other oils can clean and purify surfaces and the air.
  • Perfume and cosmetics – Oils give natural fragrance to perfumes, soaps, shampoos and other body care products.

Factors that determine essential oil dosage

Choosing how much essential oil to use depends on several factors:

  • Your health status
  • The essential oil’s chemistry and potency
  • The oil’s intended use
  • Your age and skin sensitivity
  • Other medications or supplements you’re taking

Let’s look at these considerations more closely:

Your health status

If you have specific health conditions or are pregnant/nursing, extra precautions should be taken. Speak to your healthcare provider before using essential oils.

Those with conditions like epilepsy, high blood pressure, cancer, liver damage and hormone imbalances should be especially careful and reduce their dosages.

The essential oil’s chemistry

Not all essential oils were created equal – some are much more potent and concentrated than others:

  • Citrus oils like lemon, lime and grapefruit are generally light and require more drops.
  • Spicy oils like cinnamon, clove, oregano and thyme are very strong and use fewer drops.
  • Floral oils like lavender, geranium and ylang ylang fall in the middle of the potency spectrum.

Check each oil’s safety information for guidance on diluting and dosing based on its chemistry.

The oil’s intended use

How you plan to use the essential oil also determines how much you need:

  • Using oils topically requires higher doses than diffusing them aromatically.
  • Cleaning solutions call for different amounts than massage blends.
  • Ingesting oils internally demands extremely small doses.

Evaluate recipes and directions carefully to add the right oil amounts for different applications.

Your age and skin sensitivity

If you have sensitive skin or are using oils on children, it’s best to dilute them further and use fewer drops than standard doses. Start low and gradually increase the concentration until you find the optimal amount that avoids irritation.

The elderly should also initially use lower dosages before raising them slowly while monitoring for reactions.

Medications and supplements

Essential oils can interact with medications and other supplements. Consult your doctor or pharmacist about potential interactions and adjust oil doses accordingly.

If you take prescriptions with a grapefruit warning, avoid topical or internal citrus oil use, as the oils contain the same compounds as the fruit. Certain oils like peppermint and eucalyptus can also exacerbate health conditions like asthma, low blood pressure, and glaucoma if too much is used.

Safety tips for essential oil use

To use essential oils safely and effectively:

  • Always dilute them in a carrier oil before applying to skin.
  • Use smaller doses for children, elderly and pregnant women.
  • Never ingest an oil unless you know it is safe and in the proper therapeutic dosage.
  • Conduct a skin patch test before widespread use to check for allergic reactions.
  • Avoid sunlight if applying phototoxic oils like bergamot and lemon topically.
  • Consult your doctor about oil interactions if you take medications or have a medical condition.
  • Store oils out of reach of children and pets.
  • Check that your oil is certified pure therapeutic grade.

Essential oil dilution guidelines

When diluting essential oils for topical use, follow these general guidelines:

User Dilution Ratio
Adults 3-5% solution
(15-25 drops per 1 oz)
Elderly/Sensitive Skin 1% solution
(5 drops per 1 oz)
Children 2-6 years 0.25-0.5% solution
(1-3 drops per 1 oz)
Children under 2 0.125% solution
(1 drop per 1 oz)

This equals around:

  • 3 drops of essential oil per teaspoon (5ml) carrier oil for adults
  • 1 drop per teaspoon for elderly/sensitive skin
  • 1 drop per tablespoon (15ml) for children 2-6
  • 1 drop per 1 fluid ounce (30ml) for under 2 year olds

For a 1% dilution ratio for sensitive skin, mix:

  • 6 drops essential oil with 1 fluid ounce carrier oil
  • 3 drops essential oil with 1/2 ounce carrier oil
  • 1-2 drops per teaspoon of carrier oil

Essential oil dosages by application

Here are more specific essential oil dosage recommendations based on use:


  • 5-12 drops essential oil per bath, diluted in bath salts, honey, milk or carrier first

Compresses and dressings

  • 2-4 drops per ounce of cool or warm water

Facial care

  • 1-3 drops in an ounce of product

Massage oil

  • 2-4% dilution for adults (about 12-24 drops per ounce)
  • 1-2% for elderly/sensitive (6-12 drops per ounce)
  • 0.5-1% for children when used topically (3-6 drops per ounce)


  • 8-10 drops per 0.5 ounce

Aromatherapy diffuser

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions, but 5-10 drops per use is typical

How many drops of essential oil per ounce?

Essential oil Drops per 1 ounce
Lavender 20-25
Lemon 25-30
Tea tree 15-20
Peppermint 8-12
Rosemary 10-15
Eucalyptus 8-12
Cinnamon 2-3
Clove 2-4

This equals around 15-25 drops per ounce for most essential oils, except for very strong oils that only require 2-4 drops.

Essential oil conversions

Here are some measurements and conversions to help determine essential oil dosages:

  • 1 drop = 0.03-0.05 ml oil
  • 20 drops = 1 ml
  • 100 drops = 5 ml = 1 teaspoon
  • 1 fluid ounce = 30 ml = approx. 600 drops
  • 1 liter = 33.8 fluid ounces = about 20,000 drops

Top essential oil tips

Follow these tips when working with essential oils:

  • Start with low doses and gradually increase strength to find the optimal amount.
  • Less is more – overdoing oil quantity can lead to skin irritation.
  • If applying to skin, always dilute oils first in a carrier oil before using.
  • Do a patch test before widespread use to check for allergic reactions.
  • Store oils in dark glass bottles out of direct sunlight to preserve therapeutic properties.
  • Use caution and consult your doctor before use if pregnant, nursing, on medications or have a medical condition.
  • Keep oils out of reach of children to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Measure carefully using a measuring dropper to stay within recommended dosing guidelines.

Essential oil recipes

Once you know the appropriate essential oil dosages, you can start making your own recipes. Try these blends:

Uplifting Citrus Diffuser Blend

  • 15 drops wild orange oil
  • 10 drops grapefruit oil
  • 8 drops lemon oil
  • 7 drops lime oil

Restful Sleep Pillow Mist

  • 30 drops lavender oil
  • 20 drops Roman chamomile oil
  • 10 drops clary sage oil
  • 8 ounces distilled water (shake before use)

Muscle Soothing Massage Oil

  • 20 drops peppermint oil
  • 15 drops ginger oil
  • 10 drops black pepper oil
  • 1 ounce coconut oil (or preferred carrier oil)


Choosing the ideal essential oil dosage requires carefully considering the oil’s chemistry, your age and sensitivity, and its intended use. Start low with just a few drops and increase slowly as needed. Always dilute with a carrier oil and perform a patch test before widespread use. Following dosage guidelines and safety tips will allow you to harness the benefits of aromatherapy safely.

Leave a Comment