What are Carrier Oils?

A carrier oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fatty portion of a plant, usually from the seeds, kernels or the nuts.

If applied to the skin undiluted, essential oils, absolutes, CO2s and other concentrated aromatics can cause severe irritation or reactions in some individuals. Carrier oils are used to dilute essential and other oils prior to topical application. The term carrier oil is derived from their purpose in carrying the essential oil onto the skin.

Each carrier oil offers a different combination of therapeutic properties and characteristics. The choice of carrier oil can depend on the therapeutic benefit being sought.

Natural lotions, creams, body oils, bath oils, lip balms and other moisturising skin care products are also made using vegetable (carrier) oils. From a simple essential oil/carrier oil blend to a more complex natural lotion, your choice of carrier oil can make a difference in the therapeutic properties, colour, overall aroma and shelf life of your final product.

Essential Oils vs. Carrier Oils

Essential oils are distilled from the leaves, bark, roots and other aromatic portions of a botanical. Essential oils evaporate and have a concentrated aroma. Carrier oils, on the other hand, are pressed from the fatty portions (seeds, nuts, kernels) and do not evaporate or impart their aroma as strongly as essential oils. Carrier oils can go rancid over time, but essential oils do not. Instead, essential oils “oxidise” and loose their therapeutic benefits, but they don’t go rancid.

The Aroma of Carrier Oils

Some carrier oils are odourless, but generally speaking, most have a faintly sweet, nutty aroma. If you come across a carrier oil that has a strong, bitter aroma, the carrier oil may have gone rancid.


Most typical vegetable oils sold in grocery stores are not cold-pressed. Instead, the oils are processed using heat. This is important because high temperatures during processing can harm the fragile nutrients in the oil. All of our carrier oils are cold-pressed. This indicates that the oil has been pressed from the fatty portions of the botanical without the use of added heat which ensures that the fragile nutrients are not lost.

Storing Carrier Oils

For fragile carrier oils or for those that you will be keeping for a long duration, store them in dark glass bottles with tight fitting tops, and store them in a cool, dark location. Dark amber glass bottles are ideal.

Vegetable Butters:

Vegetable butters are not considered to be carrier oils, but the beneficial properties of vegetable butters like Cocoa Butter and Shea Butter make them lipids that are suitable for use in aromatherapy.

Vegetable butters are similar to vegetable oils but are solid at room temperature. Vegetable butters can be processed by a wide variety of methods, strive to use butters that are cold pressed.

All of our butters are cold pressed.

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