Material Safety Data Sheets may be found at:

The number one safety precaution is:
If you need a reason for doing this please read Rose Mary's post about her experiences.

Sylvia LeReverend

Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel is the perfect medium for Staff Infection to grow in so it you put it in something and it is not making it better (like on acne) quit using it right away.
Connie Henrie

Botulism is a frightening disease. It is also a very uncommon one, contrary to popular belief. Only 11 confirmed cases were reported in the last year we have stats for (1995). 3 of those were the same family & same source.

In order to get botulism, a person must eat contaminated food that has not been properly cooked or reheated. Most botulism occurs in home canned foods that were not properly processed (time & temperature & pressure). Remember we were never allowed to eat green beans from the jar? Perfect example of a prime breeding ground. Anyhow, I digress. There have been instances of wounds being infected with C. botulinum, but again, this is very rare. The most common form is infantile infection. This comes from feeding babies raw honey. The spores are contained in the honey, and once they reach the gut, they colonize and begin producing the neurotoxin.

I can't honestly say you couldn't get it from soap, but I would think that the temperature along with the caustics used would probably destroy a large number of the organisms, eventhough it is shown to survive in low-acid conditions. I would think that 11 -12 pH would probably destroy most bugs!
Bea Hall

Capsicum (Pepper Oil)
A small drop on the tongue will produce a blister; get it in your eyes and you'll need a trip to the emergency room. You should use gloves when handling this stuff, if at all possible, because the oil will stay on the skin even after washing. Let your hands come into contact with mucus membranes or "tender areas" (such as genitals during a restroom visit), you'll know the meaning of the word AGONY.

One more VERY important note: If you need to wash anything the oil has come in contact with, such as a utensil, use only COLD water. I know it's thick and gloopy, and hard as heck to get off using cold water, but trust me on this. I was told the same thing but, thinking my boss was just making busy work and being a pain (as she often was), I ignored the advice when I couldn't get the utensils clean. I washed them using hot water and unthinkingly inhaled the steam. My eyes, lips, mouth and nose soon began to burn, and my lungs started tingling shortly thereafter. I didn't do any serious damage to myself, but the burning in my eyes, lips, mouth and nose lasted all day. NOT pleasant.

Store this stuff only in glass - it will eventually eat through plastic.
Christine 6/20/98

Choke Proof
A good way to figure out if an item is large enough to be choke proof is to use an empty cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll. The tube is the same diameter as a child's throat, so if the item can be placed into the tube, it is NOT choke proof.

Lye - Sodium Hydroxide or Potassium Hydroxide

Dear friends,
We had a very unfortunate accident in our home early this morning. This is really hard for me to type tonight, but I never want this to happen to anyone else.

I had lye on the the counter that I had mixed last night and my husband thought it was a jug of water. He poured some in a glass and took a drink. He realized the minute it hit his mouth and tried to spit it out, but some was taken down as a reflex. I called 911 because I did not know poison control number. He is in the critical care unit and badly damaged with 2nd degree burns in his mouth and down his throat into the esophugus. The good news is, his lungs and stomach was not touched. After being in surgery a couple of hours with instruments being inserted this afternoon into various parts of his body, it is still hard to determine how much damage has been done to the esophogus. It doesn't have any holes in it as of now, but that could still happen. The lye keeps doing damage.

I am overwhelmed with sadness for his pain and me not labeling the jar. Please, please LABEL your jars. They were aghast at the hospital because of course lye is not something they usually deal with. Even if a person wants to commit suicide they do it with other things. Not one person had seen this happen before. No one could believe I make soap.

To my special friends that I correspond with almost on a daily basis, please do not expect anything from me for awhile. He will be in intensive care for at least a few days and then ? I will be sure to let you all know as I find out anything. For those of you who pray, please remember Tom.
Rose Mary

ALWAYS use eye protection when working with lye. It is best to use rubber gloves and a plastic apron also. Be sure when mixing lye with water to have good ventilation and avoid the fumes.

There are dangers involved in adding water to either an acid or a base, and lye is a base. Yes, you can get away with it thousands of times, but you only need one "volcano" reaction to be disfigured or blind for life.

Anyone making soap commercially and adding water to lye is in violation of Federal Safety Regulations. While it is doubtful that this will ever happen unless you start hiring people to work for you, OSHA COULD come in and watch you produce your product, and fine you for adding water to lye.
Pat Barrett

Lye/water will burn if left on the skin long enough, but you have plenty of time to wash it off with plain cool water. While it's true that vinegar will neutralize it, in the process of neutralization heat is produced and will add to the burning. Though for exposures of dilute lye the heat produced won't cause any lasting harm. My opinion is that it's best to get in the habit of using the proper procedure so that in an emergency you will follow the same procedure without having to think "well this is a concentrated exposure so I need water instead of vinegar", and maybe even forgetting to think at all. Vinegar is the proper treatment for a spill on the counter or floor but for the skin use copious amounts of water within the first 5 minutes of exposure is best. If you're wondering if you have used enough water, use more.
Linda Coffin

Essential Oils & Fragrance Oils
Never use Eos or FOs when preparing soaps or other products for a new born.
Dan Rigez

EXCEPT lavender and either german or roman chamomile.
Marge Clark

Essential Oils and Pregnancy Before using an essential oil during pregnancy be sure to research it's safety. Some of these oils have been used in the past to produce abortions. It's a good idea to research the properties of any ingredient you intend to use in toiletries.
Linda Coffin

Photosensitizers Just about all of the citrus oils are photosensitizers... I won't use any of them on skin about to be exposed to the sun....
Marge Clark

For more information see 6/27/98

Facial Scrubs
I got a small chunk in my eye (I wear contacts) and scratched the heck out of it - ended up with a trip to the doctor, eye patch - the whole nine yards. REALLY PAINFUL! So, I definately don't recommend using any really abrasive scrub above the eyeline!

Patch Test
The patch test is designed to help you determine whether or not it is actually "safe" for you to use a particular essential oil or oil blend. A patch test should be done with ANY new EO or ANY new EO blend or synergy ANY time you wish to practice AT safely (on the skin). It should be done for EACH individual as we are all different and react differently to different EO's and blends.

For the patch test you should use the exact dilution and oil/oils you are planning on utilizing in your AT self care. If you plan on creating a blend and diluting it to 2% ( what *I* have learned to be standard for full body massage and beginners) you simply do the following *with the diluted blend or oil*!!! **2% = about 10 - 12 drops EO in 1 oz "carrier" or unscented product**

  1. Apply 1 drop DILUTED EO or Blend (synergy) to the anticubital space (the inner crease of the elbow). The skin is pretty sensitive there and is *usually* a pretty good indicator of whether one will have a reaction to the oil / oils being applied.

  2. COVER with a bandaid for 12 hours. Some people are very sensitive to the adhesive on bandaids and will need to modify this approach so as to not get a "false positive" patch test. If you do have allergies or suspect you have allergies to adhesive on bandaid then you will need to occlude the dressing by using some guaze (a 2 X 2 Telfa type)and some other way of "attaching" the guaze to the anticubital space. You could wrap with other guaze for example, use an Ace bandage and wrap, etc. Do not get the dressing wet. I do patch tests a few hours before I go to bed so that when I wake up for my morning shower, I can check the site then.

  3. CHECK THE AREA after 12 hours... for redness, itching, any signs of irritation. if they are present ... DO NOT USE. Obviously, if the skin under the bandaid seems to itch or burn or feel "funny" BEFORE the 12 hours is up, well then one with any common sense would certainly remove it at the first sign of problemns and not use that particular oil or oil blend.

This isthe standard test for dermatological (skin) reactions. Nothing more, nothing less.

**** 10 drops in 30 ml carrier = a "rough" 2% dilution ****

***** A more accurate way to measure (because drop sizes DO vary) is to measure in ml's or parts of mls but most people don't have a large supply of medical syringes or other accurate measuring devices laying around and 30 ml isn't *exactly* 1 oz. ******

If you sell products with essential oils in them you should include (my opinion of course), simplified instructions on how to do a patch test. It costs a lot more money and takes some time to do this but we believe in safe use of any and all complimentary therapies and the right of the individual to know.

Susan Renkel

Pepper Oil
See Capsicum

Product Safety
I'm not a chemist, but do believe that a product MUST be researched BEFORE it is included in products that are to be used for cosmetic products for self, and ESPECIALLY others! No one wants a lawsuit over a hobby! And every item available at the local hardware store, or even health food store, is NOT safe for use by the novice! PLEASE be careful when dealing with items that you may be considering for inclusion in cosmetic products! And a safe rule is- if you're not sure, forget it, at least until some qualified research has been looked into! People have many allergies to even simple things these days...
Bryan Smith

Rose Hips
Be a little careful using rose hips in toiletries or soaps. There are hairs around the seeds that are very irritant - we used to use them as itching powder when we were horrid schoolkids, but I've read that they can cause very serious skin problems in some people.
Pat Silver

Natural sassafras eo is up to 90% safrol, which is why it's dangerous. Julia Lawless's Encyclopedia of Essential Oils says it's "highly toxic - ingestion of even small amounts has been known to cause death. Carcinogen. Irritant. Abortifacient." Safrol-free sassafras extract, on the other hand, "is used to a limited extent in flavoring work".

Please please, everyone: If you use sassafras eo, please find out whether it's safrol-free! I'm not sure how safe *that* one is for dermal use, but it's safer than the natural, whole oil.

I would *not* take a lack of warnings on the label to mean it's safe. Eo's like horseradish, mustard, wintergreen, etc, have their uses in the flavoring industries, and are often sold without any warning that they can hurt you, because the producers think you mean to use them in a 0.001% dilution in manufacturing sauce or something. They don't expect anyone to rub them on their skin or use them in the bath.

Also see the Newbie No No List

If you have any safety tips you would like to contribute please contact me.

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