Fragrance Oil Safety

iImage by, courtesy of Brenda Clarke

Fragrance oils can be found in many items we use--scented candles, perfumes, household cleaners and soaps are just a few of those items. Growing popularity in homemade scented items provides a need for safe handling when working with these volatile oils. Fragrance oils can be dangerous if not handled correctly or used with care.

Dangers of Scented Oils

Fragrance oils smell nice but can be dangerous when inhaled, has contact with the skin or if you drink them. Fragrance oils in undiluted form are chemically potent, as they contain a number of caustic compounds. Working with these oils requires a good amount of chemistry knowledge and handling care. Fragrance oils are also highly flammable and the chemical fire that it can produce can be fast spreading and difficult to extinguish.


Using safe handling procedures when working with fragrance oil, can help you while handling them and also in the future. Using proper safety technique should be your first priority when making any scented product. Due to the chemicals in fragrance oil, safety is important because of the long-term and short-term problems that these chemicals can cause if they build up in your lungs, on your skin or in your stomach. Disease and poisoning are the two main concerns when dealing with chemical compounds.


When handling any fragrance oil, there are certain guidelines you should follow and materials you should have readily available before starting your work. Wear safety goggles to protect your eyes, and make sure the strap around your head is snug, but not too tight. This will prevent contact of oils with the eyes in the event of splashing. Wear gloves, either latex or rubber, to keep oils off of your skin, reducing the risk of rash and chemical burn. An apron will protect your clothes as well as skin under your clothes. An apron made of leather or rubber is ideal, as it will not allow the oil to be absorbed through to the skin. Make sure you keep a fire extinguisher and bowl of cold water handy in the event of a small fire. Never pour salt or hot water on a chemical fire, it will only make it larger. Masks will reduce fume inhalation, and keep your breathing easy and clear.


Fragrance oils can cause many problems when not handled with care. Inhalation can cause coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting and severe headache. In the case of skin contact, rash and burns can occur along with itching and chaffing. Ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and a burning sensation in your stomach and abdomen.

Long Term Effects

Continued use of fragrance oil when safety handling guidelines are not in effect can result in many long-term health concerns. Cancer, lung disease, brain damage and heart disease are all too common in unprotected chemical use.