Natural Carrier Oils and Their Uses


Sometimes called "base oils," organic carrier oils are simply non-animal oils (from vegetable or mineral sources) that are used to "carry" essential oils and other extracts used for therapeutic or culinary purposes. Bulk carrier oils are infused with herbal ingredients or used to dilute an essential oil such as cedar or eucalyptus. The reason for this is that if used in their pure form, some herbal extracts and essential oils can be irritating to the skin or nose or overpower the taste of a dish.

What's The Difference Between Natural Carrier Oils?

The best organic carrier oils are cold-pressed from seeds. Sweet almond carrier oil is among the most popular, with jojoba carrier oil running a close second. Nut oils such as those derived from walnut, pecan and macadamia are also popular natural carrier oils.

Some of the more common organic carrier oils are derived from:


All of these bulk carrier oils have different purposes, which depend upon their relative viscosity, or thickness. For example, if you are planning on using an herbal extract for aromatherapy, you may prefer a less viscous, or thinner organic carrier oil such as grape seed. As a massage oil, something thicker such as olive oil is preferable (olive oil has in fact been used for this purpose in Mediterranean for thousands of years).

Although mineral oils can also be used as carrier oil, it is inadvisable. Such oils are derived from petroleum; the only advantage is their relatively low cost. Unlike organic carrier oils derived from vegetable fats however, mineral oils can clog the pores, defeating the very purpose of a carrier oil.

It is also important to understand that like any organic substance, bulk carrier oils can become rancid over time. While a heavy plastic container on the shelf is fine for the short-term, if you are planning to store bulk carrier oils for an extended period, they should be transferred to dark glass bottles and stored in a cool, dark location. It is fine to refrigerate bulk carrier oils, by the way; they may turn cloudy as the fat content congeals under the low temperature, but this in no way affects their properties.