Essential Oils Blog

Classroom Diffusing

Do you have questions (2)


On the surface, the act of diffusing in the classroom sounds like a great idea, until you take a closer look and understand the implications. There are many reasons it sounds like a good idea to diffuse in a classroom setting!

Here are a few reasons a teacher may choose to diffuse in their classroom…

classroom-diffusing-pic

  1. Kids carry and pass around a lot of germs! Let’s face it, they aren’t adept at personal hygiene  yet! 😉
  2. A learning space should feel calm, and kids need focus while learning, so logically it sounds beneficial to use essential oils that may potentially help create that type of environment.
Before you jump into diffusing in the classroom, there are quite a few things to consider…

To be completely honest, I think that teachers have no business diffusing in their classrooms without parental consent. As a teacher, you are not allowed to give a child an aspirin or allergy medication – why should using an essential oil be any different? Some children may react in a completely opposite manner than you intend them to. Some children may have asthma, an allergy to citrus  or deal with sensory processing disorder (SPD) and have an issue with strong scents or certain scents. Diffusing without allowing for input from parents is dangerous. School boards must adapt and adopt new policies when it comes to these practices, just as they have had to adopt allergy free “zones” or disallow homemade treats in classrooms for the safety of those who may have a negative reaction.

We all know that essential oils are so amazing, and in recent years have caused quite the trend in natural personal care.

They are empowering families and allowing some to avoid visits to the doctor, take care of minor injuries, and calm or uplift spirits. We can all agree that essential oils are amazing tools. BUT there are things that essential oils don’t do. At Plant Therapy – we strive for transparency and the education of our customers.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few things that essential oils DO NOT do:
  1. Essential oils do not CURE diseases. Instead, essential oils help support functions {like immune response} that allow the body to do it’s job more efficiently. This is why we recommend you do not use essential oils daily, as a preventative, but rather when needed for illnesses. We don’t use antibiotics BEFORE we become ill, so why use an essential oil in the same way? For injuries, this means increasing blood flow or reducing swelling allowing the body to do the work of healing. Essential oils do not “heal” the injury. In the case of an injury, it’s best to use essential oils for the shortest time possible, then either rotate it with something else or discontinue use.
  2. Essential oils do NOT replace medication. Listen, I am just as “natural” as the next person. I strive for balance in my own life and urge you to do the same. It’s important to remember that we have come so far in the medical world. Physicians attend years of schooling in order to properly evaluate, diagnose and treat illnesses and other concerns. It’s foolish to think we can exist in a world without allopathic medicine. For emotional support or to manage minor pain – essential oils can be amazing tools. There is a time and place for modern medicine, and please don’t replace your prescription medication without first consulting with your family doctor.
  3. Essential oils should NOT be your go-to for every situation. They AREN’T for everyone or all situations. Please remember there are oils to avoid if you take certain medications or have certain health concerns, like diabetes or a blood clotting disorder.
  4. Essential oils DON’T last forever. We have discussed this in some detail before. Essential oils do have a shelf life, and you need to know what that is. Although they don’t expire (like food) once they oxidize, they can cause irritation to the skin or mucus membranes. For a refresher, refer to these three posts: Do Essential Oil Expire?, Proper Essential Oil Storage, and Essential Oil Shelf Life (includes a chart!).
Just because something is natural doesn’t make it completely safe.

We live in an era where a child can be allergic to various things, and sometimes not even realize it. We all want the best for our kids. In a world where there are so many synthetics and chemicals, it’s nice to have the option of using something more natural. Essential oils should be used with caution around children. Education is the key to safe use! All children are different!

These are general guidelines. However, there are certain oils to avoid with children such as birch and wintergreen because of the concern of developing Reye’s Syndrome. Oils high in menthol or 1,8-cineole should also be avoided since they can cause breathing concerns with young children. While this is rare – it can occur and should be taken seriously when choosing essential oils. The good news is there are so many oils that cover some of the same therapeutic properties that age-appropriate oils are easy to find!

Children under the age of two have the most restrictions on use. Essential oils for use on children ages 2 – 10 can be found here – kid safe chart. Once a child has reached age 10, unless they’ve shown a sensitivity or other reaction, nearly all oils are safe for use.

 Dilution Rate

What is a dilution rate? This refers to the amount of essential oil in comparison to the amount of carrier oil (like grapeseed or coconut oil). We have a reference chart that lists the proper dilution rates. For children age 2 – 10 we recommend a 0.5% – 1% dilution. Here are a few of the reasons you want to dilute your oils:

  • To avoid skin reactions like rashes and phototoxicity (a severe sun reaction)
  • Children are still developing and their bodies don’t react in the same way an adults does.
  • To avoid a systemic issue like hepatoxicity or neurotoxicity (which are rare, but can occur).
Constituents to Avoid

There are a few constituents that you want to avoid using on with certain children. They are listed below with the reasons why you’d want to avoid them

  • High menthol content in an essential oil, as found in Japanese peppermint and Peppermint, can slow breathing in very young children.
  • 1,8-Cineole. In excess of 40%, this is another constituent that can slow breathing in young children as previously mentioned. Found in Eucalyptus.
  • Methyl salicylate. Some people have sensitivity and this can cause issues for kids who have symptoms of ADHD. Also – this should be avoided generally in kids because of Reye’s Syndrome (as mentioned above)
Diffusing times

Diffusing should be kept to under 30 minutes for most kids. Extended periods of diffusion can increase the risks associated with sensitization – an extremely unfortunate side effect of over use (either inhaled or topically) to better understand this phenomenon, please refer to this article: Sensitization

Even after obtaining permission from the school board and parents, the concerns surrounding diffusing can extend beyond students and teachers. Many people enter a school each day from delivery person(s) to grandparents and other community members. It’s impossible to know who will/will not have a negative reaction to an oil being diffused. So, for the sake of public safety – I believe that essential oils should remain in the purview of your own home, or when in public the use of a personal inhaler should be used to limit other’s exposure!

 

Soooooo – just what are your options if you’d like to make aromatherapy a place in your classroom (or for your student at school) Check out our wonderful selection of aroma-jewelry or the cute personal inhalers so the scent can remain personal and not effect those around us!

As always, we want to hear from you! Contact us by emailing [email protected] for any questions, concerns or comments you may have. You can join our Facebook group Safe Essential Oil Recipes and participate in lively conversation with other essential oils users. We have your safety in mind – so come hang out with us to learn even more! We look forward to seeing you there!!

35 thoughts on “Classroom Diffusing”

  1. What I gather from this is essential oil use must be evaluated for each individual, circumstance and environment. These are general guidelines that do not mean definitive results in all cases. For me, I try not to let fear control my actions.

    1. That’s it exactly! With so many unknowns in a school environment – the best choice is to abstain and allow parents to make the right choices for their children in their own homes! 😉

  2. My son has a reaction to essential oil fragrances and so do I. Just because it is is “natural” people think that no one has allergies. I also know someone allergic to cinnamon and has a bad reaction because of that. My son get severe cluster migraines, I lose my voice and begin to wheeze. They make fragrance free things for a reason. If you want to diffuse oils at home, go ahead, but people need to be a lot more cautious in a public place. I had to create a 504 for my son that there be NO fragranced oils or room air fresheners used in his classroom.

  3. Thank you for the very comprehensive article. I am and have been a school nurse and when I hear about teachers and classroom diffusing I have always thought about the potential risks to others. I also think about the liability risk to both the person diffusing (usually teacher) and the school/district.

  4. Needed to be said, Christina. And you said it well. Just saw an article where a daycare was diffusing the YL germ prevention product and the cinnamon negatively impacted both the littles and the caregivers. The symptoms caused them to think there was a gas leak and evacuate. Scary stuff.

  5. As a parent I love to use various oils and have thought about the benefit to my students but not in diffusing them. I make a cleaner out of the germ blend to clean my students desks on the last day of each week, it’s helped the sickness as well as makes our room smell cleaner. Like many others I think diffusing is great for home but not in my classroom.

  6. The article states,”Essential oils do not CURE diseases. Instead, essential oils help support functions {like immune response} that allow the body to do it’s job more efficiently. This is why we recommend you do not use essential oils daily, as a preventative, but rather when needed for illnesses.” The description of Germ Fighter states,” Whether it’s keeping your hands clean, the house sanitized or warding off seasonal threats going around the office or school, Germ-Fighter will give you that extra protection you need. ” Is this a contradiction? I use Germ Fighter every day, should I stop?

    1. It’s not a contradiction – more of a caution! If you’re using the Germ Destroyer (properly diluted to 2%) a few times a day in a hand sanitizer during the winter illness season, that is fine. However, we don’t expect that you will do this everyday, all day, all year long. I tend to only use Germ Destroyer (or Germ Fighter) in my diffuser a few times a week, not daily, during the fall/winter months. What I meant by the “daily preventative” statement is that although the essential oils DO help support healthy functions of the body, they can not prevent the body from becoming ill.

  7. Honestly, this article is off-putting (and slightly offensive) to me. I do not know a single teacher that would even consider diffusing oils in the classroom… Ever. I love my oils, and use them for my children and my family. Never would I use a diffuser in my classroom, even if it were allowed.

    1. I am sorry that you feel that way & applaud your conservative approach. This was not meant to insult anyone – but rather there are individuals who have (with negative consequences) diffused in common spaces like classrooms. We only want to inform people of the risks associated with doing so! 🙂

    2. It shouldnt be offensive to you. It happens. I know a few people myself who diffuse in a classroom of younger children. And you cant say anything different to them.

    3. I’m not at all offended. I’m a teacher and was considering diffusing oils in my classroom. So this article has made me re-think that decision.

    4. I just shared the article with a teacher who said she was diffusing in her classroom, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a teacher tell me this. I really appreciate having this article to give them as a reference.

    5. Just today I heard that our school district is considering aromatherapy…I ca n not believe it would have support of Administration. I have been researching all evening and I am very glad to see your article. I will share it with our Administration in hopes that it is reconsidered.

  8. Thank you very much for this article. Very well written. I have diffused in my classroom but after hearing about some issues in a daycare and also reading this, it has given me a lot to consider. Looks like I will be bringing my diffuser home (my own children will be happy about that as they want the same one in their room and hadn’t ordered it yet). I will still use my well diluted ‘thieves’ to clean my tables though!

  9. I find myself defusing Immune Boom fairly often as a preventative during cold and flu and Germ Fighter if someone actually gets sick. Is this too often? And shouldn’t Immune Boom be used as a preventative?

    1. For immune support, you’ll need a multi-faceted approach. Nothing “boosts” immunity, but rather supports the proper function of the immune system. In order to reach optimal levels, you need to have
      1. A well rounded and wholesome diet is KEY for this, as I am sure you know.
      2. Being properly hydrated is also another key factor, being well hydrated allows the body to function and filter properly
      3. Using herbal support to support proper immune function.
      4. use stress reductions like journaling, prayer, yoga, or meditation in order to lower overall stress

      THEN you can diffuse Immune Boom (KidSafe®) or Immune Aid on those days when you have been exposed to an illness or feel something coming on! 😉

      As far as other essential oils are concerned, diffusing Germ Fighter or Germ Destroyer (KidSafe®) a few times a week can be useful when exposed to an illness to reduce duration and perhaps even reduce the chance you’ll be come ill. Immune boom is also wonderful for use in situation (like the first week of school) where exposure to “something” is probably going to happen. HOWEVER, essential oils should be used in a reactive way and not in a daily, preventative way. This can increase your risk of sensitization: http://essentialoilblogging.com/2014/08/13/what-is-sensitization/

  10. I certainly understand the sentiment and the thought process behind your case for being careful before using oils in the classroom, and its good logic. But, on the other hand…

    Think about all the other chemicals that go into those classrooms, EVERY DAY! Firstly, they are cleaned with mega strong chemicals. I remember wanting to be out of my room by the time the cleaning lady– in her mask and rubber gloves– came around. Instant headache! And, those suckers left a scent and residue on everything. Those were chemicals just waiting to be touched by little hands. (I cringed when students put their heads on the desk!)

    Secondly, how many teachers out there burn scented wax (avoiding a brand name) or plug in a perfume burner into the wall? **Raises hand.** (Kiddos can stink!!) Lotions, body sprays, perfumes, scented hand sanitizers… All laced with scents and more chemicals with far worse side effects and consequences than we even know. (Y’all do know that the FDA doesn’t regulate what chemicals go into scented goods, right?) Now that I’ve been scent free for a couple of years, it’s an INSTANT source of sickness.

    Bathrooms. Eww! The stuff they have to do to clean them…. I’ve seen the toilets smoke as they pour in the cleaners. And the hand soap with fake scents, fake colors, and chemicals… Then we make the poor dears use sanitizer on top of it. Can anyone say skin problems?

    I won’t even go into the STINK that comes from dry erase markers. Seriously, what is that?!

    My point is, there are already SO MANY harmful chemicals that are affecting the hands, health, and minds of our little ones, already. What might we be able to avoid– chemically speaking– if we tried an all natural approach? We can still be mindful of who is in our room and what oils work best with kiddos, but is anyone out there going to honestly tell me that how it’s done right now is SAFER or BETTER?!

      1. I seriously could not have put that any better than you just did! AMEN. 100% agree with every single word you wrote. That is exactly what I was thinking the entire time I read this article. As a teacher, diffusing is SUCH a better option than any other product currently being used in classrooms, so claiming that it’s not a good idea when it would 100% improve current practices makes no sense to me. Thank you so much for your sensical reply, Sarah!

        1. I hope you’ve brought these things to your school’s attention and something can be done! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Laura…

  11. We are not allowed to diffuse in our classrooms, I do however on occasion, wear a diffuser necklace or bracelet…could this cause same issues?

    1. Using an essential oil in Aromatherapy jewelry is a safer bet than diffusing, however, it can still impact your students. My suggestion would be to use the oils in a personal inhaler instead.

  12. We recently visited the classroom my daughter would be in, she’s currently home bound but we are considering letting her go to school. They were using like a linen scent wax. I asked them and they said if she came they could keep it off but they didn’t sound trilled. Do you have any suggestions on things I could offer as an alternative?

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