Are Essential Oils Edible? A Comprehensive Guide

Not all essential oils are safe to ingest, but common edible essential oils can be taken in three ways: in food, in a capsule, or by direct consumption. What is the difference between a culinary oil and an essential oil? The first important point is the potency of essential oils. Food-grade oils such as olive, nut and canola are “fixed oils”, meaning that their molecules are stable when exposed to light, heat and air. Even when small amounts of fragrant foods (such as chilies, garlic and fresh herbs) are infused, they remain stable to storage and heat, that is, safe to cook and eat.

On the other hand, essential oils are considered “volatile”, because when exposed to the elements, they quickly degrade and become rancid. It is always IMPORTANT to read the label of essential oils before adding them to food or eating them. If it is labeled NOT FOR INTERNAL USE, do not consume it orally or with drinks or food. Most essential oils that can be used internally are labeled by the FDA as GRAS (generally regarded as safe).

In recent years, functional food products have started to sprout from the wood as consumers demand healthier products, many of them in response to the one-year COVID-19 pandemic. And while essential oils have several benefits with respect to aromatherapy, it is important to point out the difference between essential oils that can be used (in small quantities) in food products and those that belong to a diffuser. Do you want to experiment with essential oils but aren't sure how to do it? See what matters and what doesn't. You may now be less surprised to discover that “therapeutic grade” is not a legal or regulated term either.

Like our previously discredited “food grade” terminology, this is simply one way to market essential oil. For safety reasons, we recommend consulting with a doctor or aromatherapy specialist, as well as conducting extensive research into adding oils that are not listed on the FDA GRAS list linked above. Food-grade essential oils must meet FDA standards and should be treated as food with their own nutrition information panel. If the oil you are considering using in your product does not have an accompanying nutritional panel, we recommend that you use one of the 3 brands above.

If you have an amazing idea for a food product that you plan to sell in stores, there are some things you're going to need. Essential oils are not safe to consume and can cause significant poisoning even if small amounts are ingested. While eating them isn't the best tactic, essential oil cleaners (when mixed correctly) can be a good idea for cleaning kitchen surfaces. Fortunately, Young Living has a line of essential oils specifically labeled for internal use with instructions on how to do it safely.

Many people apply them topically to the skin or add a few drops to bath water, while others use a diffuser to disperse the sweet scents of these oils at work or home. Potent oils are often mixed with water and diffused into the air, or mixed with neutral “carrier” oils or lotions for topical administration. These oils are not water soluble, so the popular process of turning them into tea can put you at risk. Use only oils intended for cooking and eating, and follow the instructions for proper dilution and potency.

Ancient Egyptians used them during ceremonial celebrations and the mummification process, and throughout history, these oils continued to be highly prized and were frequently used as fragrances, given as gifts and even traded as currency. Many essential oils such as mint, lemon and orange are commonly used to flavor desserts, candies and chocolates. They include spearmint oil, grapefruit oil, peppermint oil, lemon oil, cinnamon bark oil and citronella oil. So when a company says their essential oil is pure therapeutic grade, I would expect a good grade of oil and I know I can review the batch if I want to.

Wintergreen, birch, cedar, arborvitae, tea tree, sage and eucalyptus oils are examples of essential oils that can be toxic if consumed. There is no legal classification as “pure therapeutic grade certified essential oils” or “therapeutic grade essential oils”.