When to use Herbs versus Essential Oils

When to use Herbs versus Essential Oils. The differences between herbs and essential oils are explained, as well as when an essential oil or a herb is a more appropriate use for a project, craft, DIY beauty or in cooking and baking.





When to use Herbs versus Essential Oils

Using natural remedies has become a huge trend in this day and age and it comes from centuries-long traditions. While we here in the United States may have gotten away from natural remedies a while, the tradition is back and much more common than ever.

These days, using essential oils and herbs is very common and you can find all sorts of recipes and ideas online and in books for everything from remedies and medicinal uses to religious traditions to homemade bath products, and more crafty projects as well.

So how do you know when to use a herb vs. an oil, other than just doing what a recipe tells you to do? When is one more appropriate than another?

This post aims to give you some basics on both herbs and essential oils and break it down for you as far as the what and the why of when to use each so that you can understand your choices better. Hopefully, this will help you decide which to choose, and in what circumstances, to get the best results.

Both herbs and oils come from plants. This may seem obvious, but that is where it all starts. Herbs are plants that can vary a lot in size and character, but more often than not, they are usually succulent and soft in nature and not the type with woody stems and parts. Rosemary is one example of a herb, however, that does not fit that description, as it has woody stems and soft leaves, but is used very commonly as a herb, so it is hard to pin down an exact description that blankets them all.

Herbs are used for culinary, medicinal, cooking and crafting uses. They are the dried parts of the plant, like the leaves, flowers, seeds of the plants that are aromatic in nature, and they can also have wonderful flavor as well.

Essential oils are basically the extracted oils from the plant, instead of the dried plant material itself. It takes a lot of plant material to have a substantial amount of an essential oil and if you tried to make your own oils at home with your own herbs, you would probably not yield much oil at all. Essential oils and herbs have use versatility in common, as well as both being used for centuries for religious, medicinal, and beauty purposes. Today, essential oils are widely used all over the globe for homemade remedies, and homemade items, just like herbs are. The oils are extracted most commonly by steam distillation and many oils come from the leaves, or the peel of the plants or fruits, but can also come from the bark or roots as well.

So what is the difference between essential oils and herbs other than the form they take?

Essential oils are 50 to 70 times more potent than a herb. The extraction process itself a huge difference too, of course. Large companies who sell them go to major lengths to ensure the potency and purity of an essential oil if they are marketed for remedy and health purposes. Companies really have to be careful about how they market an essential oil.

This is why, when you purchase an essential oil it may seem quite expensive – especially when compared to a herb – but understanding the process that goes into making an essential oil (and how costly the process is) as well as the rarity of the plant and where it is located, brings the price into perspective.

A little goes a long way when using an essential oil. Many (most) products we make at home using essential oils use just a few drops at a time. The average bottle of essential oil has about 250-300 drops in it. If you figure out that you are using your essential oil a few times a week and you use two or three drops each time, well that bottle will last you several months.

Herbs, when you use them, use a small quantity as well (a teaspoon or a tablespoon) unless they are a more potent flavor, and you may just use a pinch. However, that is much more than a drop or two at a time. Herbs will be used up more quickly is used as regularly as an essential oil. You can, however, grow and dry your own herbs. This can make them very cost effective.

Generally speaking, an essential oil will have a longer shelf life than a herb. I personally have found, several times over my life, an expired bottle of a herb blend for cooking, that I used maybe once, or never at all, that is already expired and I have had to throw it out. It is easy to rotate them in your cabinet and easily miss that they are past the expiration date. This means not only are not safe anymore for use, but they probably have no flavor left anyway.

Essential oils can last up to a few years when stored properly and not in direct heat.

When making the choice to use a herb or essential oil, consider the product you are producing.

If you are making a liquid item that is for remedy or spa type of a use, more than likely the oil is best. It takes less of it to achieve a scent, and sometimes you would not want leaves or petals in the product either. If you making something where the petals would look pretty but does not require a concentrated scent, then add the herb instead. And, there are times when both an essential oil and a herb (or flower or fruit) will work well within the same product:
Homemade Rose Bath Bombs
Rose Petal Soap Recipe
Make Your Own Orange Creamsicle Soap

For cooking, herbs are more commonly used than essential oils. However, when using an essential oil for cooking or baking make certain it is a certified pure oil. If the essential oil says it is for “aromatherapy only” then do not use it in your cooking or baking. Those type of oils have been blended with perfumes or toxins to achieve the aroma and are not safe for ingestion. If your oil says it is “natural” “Organic” or “pure”, it may still have additives, so read the entire label to be certain the essential oil is fit for consumption. The FDA has given many companies approval for these additives and they can still say those words on the label legally but they cannot say the word “supplement”, so that is key.

You may be interested in reading this post: Essential Oils to Use in Your Baking.

When cooking with an essential oil, it is best to start with a tiny amount, using a toothpick to stir it in because of the potency. Less is better than too much. With both herbs and oils in cooking, though, add them in in the last 10- 15 minutes of cooking to get the best flavor and not have the heat basically boil the flavor right out of them.

Hopefully, this post has given you some idea when it is best to use an essential oil or a herb in a project (craft, home remedy or DIY beauty, or food preparation). Do you have any tips on when you prefer to use a herb over an essential oil, and an essential oil over a herb?

Please remember that none of this is meant as medical advice. I am not a doctor and do not play one on the internet. Please consult a physician if you have any questions about using essential oils or herbs so your doctor can better explain to you the benefits, possible side effects, and any warnings about essential oils and herbs.


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Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle. This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look. This candle uses a vanilla scent but is can be customized using another scent you might like.  Candle making is easier than you think! Get started using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.





Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle

This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look and smells a lot like home baked cookies. Get started with candle making using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.

How is this for a super cute, unique candle idea? The bonus is it is a soy candle, so no build up on the walls or ceiling. I absolutely adore soy candles. They are my go-to candle when buying, and now when making.

If you like soy candles too, you may like these candle recipes and tutorials: Homemade Coffee Bean Soy Candle (like fresh brewed coffee!? this one is for you!), Homemade Mason Jar Soy Candle (any color, any scent! Truly customizable) or this delicious Homemade Autumn Spice Soy Candles tutorial. Get into candle making! It is really easier than you think.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle. This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look. This candle uses a vanilla scent but is can be customized using another scent you might like.  Candle making is easier than you think! Get started using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.


Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle Materials:

• 2 cups Soy Wax
• 1 Candlewick (with a weighted bottom)
10 Drops Vanilla Candle Scent (You could also use Vanilla Essential Oil if you have it on hand)
• 1 tsp Decorators Sugar
Glass Measuring Cup
• Pencil, Chopstick or Wooden Stick
• Scissors
• Glass Jelly or Mason Jar

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle. This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look. This candle uses a vanilla scent but is can be customized using another scent you might like.  Candle making is easier than you think! Get started using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.


Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle Instructions:

• Place your candlewick in a glass jelly or mason jar allowing the wick to drop to the bottom.
• To hold the candlewick in place, wrap the top around a pencil or chopstick.
• Place the stick over the jar and let the bottom of it drop to the bottom. A weighted candlewick does this nicely and settles on its own.

• Add 2 cups of soy wax to your large glass measuring cup (do not use a plastic measuring cup) and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds. or Using a double boiler on the stove to heat the soy wax flakes until they liquefy. (If using a non-stick pan to heat the soy flakes, use a very low heat and stir frequently – do not allow to scorch.)
• Add vanilla scent to the liquid soy wax (you can use more than is listed here, and if you prefer a scent other than vanilla, use that!).
• If you want to color your candle, DO NOT use food coloring as it will not mix well. This candle is naturally white, but if you wish to add color use pieces of broken crayon to do so. Peel the crayon and break it into small pieces (just ¼ of a crayon will work for a light color, more is necessary to achieve the darker colors). Allow the wax to melt and tint the mixture.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle. This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look. This candle uses a vanilla scent but is can be customized using another scent you might like.  Candle making is easier than you think! Get started using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.


• Slowly pour your liquid soy candle wax into the glass jelly or mason jar
• Immediately re-center the candlewick if needed.
• Store the candle in a cool place until it sets. Allow it to harden at its own pace.
• After approximately 30 minutes – when the candle has begun to solidify – sprinkle the top of the candle with decorator sugar.
• Once the mixture has hardened, remove the pencil and you can snip the candlewick to shorten it.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle. This easy to make homemade vanilla sugar candle is really sweet! The sugar makes for a beautiful glistening look. This candle uses a vanilla scent but is can be customized using another scent you might like.  Candle making is easier than you think! Get started using this homemade vanilla sugar candle tutorial.


• Light and enjoy!

Safety tip: never leave a lit candle unattended!

• This is a super easy project! You can dress up your Mason Jars with ribbons when giving as a gift! Think teachers, small gift exchanges, housewarming presents, stocking stuffers and more!

• To print the Homemade Vanilla Sugar Candle instructions, click here.


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How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!





How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm

Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!

At the base of this soothing foot balm are some awesome, all-natural ingredients that may have positive benefits for your body – such as shea butter and beeswax. The bottom of your feet is the best place to put ingredients like this as well because it leads directly to so many vital places in your body. (Check out this reflexology chart online if you are unfamiliar! It is amazing!)

The essential oils of melaleuca and peppermint are both considered powerhouse oils, too. The melaleuca has antifungal and antibacterial properties and many people feel it really helps soothe and heal the skin. It can really help with your feet, and if you have cracking going on, make sure you apply this balm liberally to it! The peppermint extract may help by relaxing you, cooling your feet and helping to relieve pain and tiredness. Peppermint is so invigorating! So, give your feet a good soak and then apply this soothing foot balm to help with those cracks and tired, worn tootsies.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


Soothing Foot Balm Ingredients:

• ¼ cup Shea Butter
• 2 TBSP Coconut Oil
• 2 TBSP Olive Oil
• ½ oz Beeswax Pastilles (or if you have the brick type, just be sure to chop it up somewhat to let it melt easier.)
• 15 drops Melaleuca Essential Oil
• 13 drops Peppermint Essential Oil

Soothing Foot Balm Mise en Place:

Measuring Cup
Double Boiler
• Spoon
Measuring Spoons
Spatula
• (1) 4 oz Glass jar or (4) 1 oz Glass Jars (I personally used 4 of the 1 oz. size ones.)

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


Soothing Foot Balm Directions:

• Set out your clean jars. Remove the lids. Set aside.
• Fill the bottom of your double boiler about half – 2/3 full of water. Bring to a full boil, then lower the heat to a simmer so your beeswax and shea butter does not burn or scorch.
• Add the beeswax to the top of the double boiler (not the water part!). Stir occasionally until melted.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


• Chop up the shea butter and add it to the beeswax once the beeswax has melted. Allow the shea butter to melt. Stir occasionally.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


• Once the beeswax and shea butter is completely melted and smooth (no lumps!), add in the coconut oil and olive oil; mix well.
• Add in the Melaleuca Essential Oil and the Peppermint Essential Oil; stir well.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


• Once your balm is well blended and a clear liquid with no lumps, pour the foot balm slowly into the jars. Leave a small amount of head room.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


• Allow the soothing foot balm to set up for an hour or two at room temperature, before putting on your lids.
• Your foot balm will start out clear and then you will start to see the wax setting up and cooling. I always feel the bottom center to test and see if it is cooled before I am sure they are ready to add a lid.

How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balm. Many of us get hardened feet and cracked heels from time to time. It is pretty safe to say all of us get tired, worn out feet at times. If you need help with hard, cracked heels and tired and sore feet, this foot balm may be just what you need. Try this lovely Soothing Foot Balm with Melaleuca and Peppermint Essential Oils!


To Use the Soothing Foot Balm:

• Put a small amount of soothing foot balm on your finger and rub the balm thoroghly over any cracked or sore area on the bottom of your feet. (Do this to a damp and clean foot as the moisture will help it set in.)
• Rub around toes and in arch for sore feet as well.
• Use as needed.

Note: None of this is meant as medical advice. I am not a doctor and do not play one on the internet. Please consult a physician if you have any questions about using essential oils so your doctor can better explain to you the benefits, possible side effects, and any warnings about essential oils.

You may also be interested in these DIY Beauty tutorials:
DIY Peppermint Hand Cream
Easy DIY Peppermint Bath Bombs Recipe
Make Your Own Peppermint Soap

• To print the How to Make Your Own Soothing Foot Balminstructions click here.


Disclosure: the links in this post may be affiliate links.

• For more DIY Beauty posts on Ann’s Entitled Life, click here.

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