Check out my new book!

“A Publishers Weekly top ten pick!”

Using Essential Oils on Your Little Homestead: 5 Things they Can’t Do

May contain affiliate links. Please see my privacy policy and affiliate disclosure.

You’ve probably noticed that using essential oils is all the rage lately. Bloggers are blogging about them, your co-worker assures you that essential oils cured her [insert sad medical condition here], your neighbor has invited you to an essential oils party, and essential oil classes and groups are popping up both on your screen and in your community.

hands with an essential oils bottle on a dark background

Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a fan of essential oils. Lavender, tea tree, peppermint; they’re the basics that I pull out regularly.

I use citronella oil in my mosquito repellent and patchouli for when I’m feeling particularly hippie. And honestly, I’d like to know more about how to use essential oils to get the most out of them — I think they’re a valuable tool for a healthy medicine chest.

But despite the hype, I think we have to be careful. Using essential oils is not a cure-all.

And frankly, no matter what you’ve heard, there are just some home and farm problems that using essential oils can’t solve.

fresh tomatoes and basil on a cutting board

Using essential oils can’t…get dinner on the table any faster.

Home cooked meals are the basis of a more self-reliant lifestyle.

The trick to feeding your family without resorting to takeout isn’t frankincense; it’s having an arsenal of recipes and meal solutions that you can turn to on those busy, stressful days that will happen no matter how much lavender oil you inhale.

If you need to get dinner on the table in an hour or less, check out these tried and true recipes:

Homemade hummus — You probably think of hummus as a snack, but it’s high in protein and very filling. Serve it with some flatbread, kalamata olives, and feta cheese and it becomes a satisfying meal.

White chicken chili — Six ingredients and boom! A hearty dinner that will make your family think you’ve got a cape tucked inside one of your kitchen cabinets.

Chorizo soup — This spicy tomato based soup is one of my family’s favorites.

Refried beans — Serve them by the bowl or wrapped up in a tortilla. Your call.

Slow cooker chicken tacos — It doesn’t take much hands-on time to get this meal on the table.

Using essential oils can’t…help raise your goat or cow.

Milking is a chore that must be done daily. No skipping out ’cause you’re tired or not feeling well, but with tips and tricks from those in the know, that morning (and evening) chore can become pure pleasure.

And sure, if it makes you feel pretty, splash on a bit of jasmine essential oil on your way out to the barn.

Make a milking stanchion — This will keep your girl – especially a skittish one – still while you milk her.

Introducing a new calf to mom — Sometimes it doesn’t come naturally.

Put your chickens to work.

Essential oils can’t…keep your chickens fed, watered, and secure

But you know who can? The folks over at the Backyard Chicken Project!

You won’t find anyone over there suggesting that we diffuse a little lavender oil near the nesting box to ease egg-laying pains.

Nope, just good solid information that you can use to get your backyard chicken project started or to improve the one you’ve got.

Greener, cleaner laundry

Essential oils can’t…do the laundry

Laundry is laundry is laundry. No amount of fragrance is going to lessen that chore. However, essential oils can make your homemade laundry detergent smell nice.

Once you’ve made that, though, you’ll wade through your laundry piles a bit more efficiently with these techniques.

Brighten whites without bleach — If you’re working to cut down on your use of bleach, here’s a greener alternative.

Learn how to fold fast — I can almost guarantee that you’re taking longer to fold t-shirts than you need to.

Skip the dryer sheets — Instead, make your own dryer balls to eliminate static cling.

Using essential oils can’t…wash the cloth diapers

Many parents who are working toward a greener, more self-reliant lifestyle are using cloth diapers these days. If you’re one of them, these links will give you some good solid tips for making that chore more doable.

Settle into a routine — Using cloth diapers requires a different skill set than regular laundry.

Using cloth diapers on a plane — Just plan for the tight space in your bag and the tight space for changing diapers. You and your baby will be clean and happy when you arrive.

Know how to fold ’em — There’s more than one way to fold a diaper. Know which fold works best for your babe.

How about an afternoon pick-me-up?

And essential oils definitely can’t replace your daily coffee!

Right? Is there anything as comforting as a hot cup of coffee first thing in the morning? Or a nice little pick-me-up in the afternoon?

Stovetop coffee — You need to know how to make coffee if the power is out. Really.

Learn to make your favorite — If you’re a fan of fancy coffees, save the single use cups and skip the junk by learning to make your own.

Now. I hope you were able to tell that I typed this up, tongue in cheek.

I know some very lovely bloggers who have jumped on the essential oil bandwagon, many of whom are cautious in what they promise.

If you’re interested in adding to your collection of essential oils, I hope you’ll take some of the advice you find online with that proverbial grain of salt. Be smart about it!

Click to save or share!

Meet the Author

Kris Bordessa

Kris Bordessa founded Attainable Sustainable as a resource for revitalizing vintage skills. Her book, Attainable Sustainable: The Lost Art of Self-Reliant Living (National Geographic) offers a collection of projects and recipes to help readers who are working their way to a more fulfilling DIY lifestyle.

16 comments… add one
  • Loriel Jul 22, 2014, 3:28 am

    I loved this! Thanks for such a great piece Kris. It’s so nice to see other bloggers speaking up against this crazy EO business. 

    • Kris Bordessa Jul 22, 2014, 6:38 am

      I just want people to be *smart about what they’re promising (or believing), you know?

  • Stephanie @ Naturally Mindful Jul 27, 2014, 1:49 am

    In a world where there seems to be “an oil for everything”, this post is just refreshing! Sharing!

  • Jessica Jul 28, 2014, 4:32 am

    Love this! I also love my essential oils but I refuse to buy them through an MLM company. I hate MLMs with a passion.  After a lot of research I get all my essential oils from a wonderful NON-MLM company and they work great!

  • Diane Aug 7, 2014, 6:23 am

    They work fabulously but you do have to know what you’re doing. In the USA, due to big pharma and the medical field being more interested in lining their already deep pockets with gullible people’s hard-earned money, it is detrimental to the health of their bank accounts to put natural remedies ahead of conventional western medicine.

    I am a clinical certified master aromatherapist and a master herbalist. Organic herbs and essential oils are what we use in our home to stay healthy. They are the only thing I use on my daughter who was given a diagnosis of ADHD years ago and we were quickly told she would need to be in synthetic drugs “to fix it”, to which I quickly replied that she did not need treatment, just the correct natural protocol.

    I don’t do MLM oils, I just have trustworthy suppliers. I mix my blends and help those that need my help.   

    • Sue Oct 17, 2014, 9:14 pm

      Hi Diane, Could you recommend some books or websites on essential oils? I read your comment on “snake oil or miracle cure?” I would appreciate any help. Thank you! Sue

    • Leanne Jun 12, 2015, 1:32 am

      Diane, would you mind sharing what you use for ADHD and what company you buy from?

  • Sarah Nov 13, 2014, 9:58 am

    I use black pepper, oregano, cilantro, etc oils to get dinner on the table just a wee bit faster! 😀

  • Lori Nov 17, 2014, 9:01 pm

    Great article, I too love essential oils, but I totally agree with you when money gets behind things, sometimes values go out the window.

  • dana Dec 30, 2014, 6:25 am

    Well done.
    If it’s a marketed over produced, over packaged, over priced sales pitch, it’s not where your money should go.
    I support the concept. This is not new information and good basic details can be found by finding long standing health stores that don’t focus on oils alone. Talk to the owners and ask for good reference materials.
    Health is comprehensive. Triangle marketing is scammy and I find easy to disqualify. $200+ for a kit of tiny vials is total bs.

  • Brenda Floyd Dec 30, 2014, 7:56 am

    What does MLM mean and is doTerra that?

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 30, 2014, 8:04 am

      Multi-level marketing – and yes, that’s my understanding.

  • Carol Dec 30, 2014, 10:15 am

    Multi-level marketing or network marketing is just another business marketing model. It’s not an illegal pyramid scheme and it’s not unethical. Essential oils, if you get the pure kind that hasn’t been diluted with chemicals and water, can do a lot of good for your health. Writing an article that makes people question their efficacy or the honesty of those trying to educate people about their efficacy is not what I would have expected from someone with your agenda.

    • Kris Bordessa Jan 25, 2015, 10:15 am

      My agenda is to make people think. I use essential oils myself – they’re great. But with so many people jumping on the sales bandwagon, I think it’s crucial that people are aware of potential misinformation. Due diligence!

  • Musemom Jun 2, 2015, 7:02 pm

    First you need to become familiar with oil properties so you know you aren’t mixing something that lowers blood pressure with something that raises blood pressure, or some such thing. You will find much conflicting info on the Internet. Find a site or two and stick with them to avoid confusion.

    My go to book is: The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valarie Wormwood. Out of about a dozen books I have, this is my favorite. I like the way it is laid out to find what you want and the different recipes for the same ailment which gives you many oil options. It has had great reviews and has been highly criticized as well. I love it and have found her information to agree with most of the other info I have.

    I have used oils from a wide range of sources and stores and countries. After researching a number of sources obtained from a poll of my Facebook friends, I buy my oils from Puritian’s Pride. They are reasonably priced, they are not blended, or are clearly marked when they are and expected to be, as with Neroli. They have a variety of sizes for most oils, have oils I have never seen in a retail outlet, even those specific to EO and Herbs. They have all the qualities I am looking for, the properties have been true, and have behaved as I expected them to .

    I will not use the MLM oils because they are overpriced and push their proprietary blends. I don’t want someone else telling me to use some unknown oil with unknown properties on someone when I could have an unexpected effect. I like the oils I’m using and will continue to order from PP.

  • WMH Cheryl Jul 3, 2016, 4:44 pm

    I agree with Sarah. Essential oils can help you get the dinner on the table faster and they can help you milk a cow or goat. They can help you get your horses feet trimmed faster and without a war. Most importantly they can save you 1000’s and thousands of dollars on vet and medical bills or save the life of a high dollar horse that vets have said there is no hope left. They can cure cancer and they can make ugly tumors disappear. Education is helpful but sometimes experimenting yields amazing results. Or even accidents. I had a draft horse with a huge eye sarcoma tumor that was almost blocking her sight. I didn’t know how I would afford the surgery to remove it especially since the vet said there was a good chance it would grow back. She showed up with a kick mark one day and I grabbed a special blend I had made for another horse that suffered from an autoimmune disorder just because it was close at hand. Three days later the tumor was all but gone. It did grow back a couple more times over the years but Everytime I put the special blend on a hairless area ( udder, inside ears, etc), the tumor disappeared again. It has been at least 5 years with her being tumor/sarcoma free. It was a total accident that I used that on her because at the time people didn’t think essential oils could do stuff like that. Good thing about treating animals. There is no placebo effect.

Leave a Comment