Carrier Oils

A carrier oil is basically the foundation for any salve, balm, oil mixture, or infused oil.  Essential oils are combined into it for application or herbs can be infused in it as well.  Carrier oils have their own properties that they can add to a herbal formula, so it is important to consider their charachteristics before use and purpose in a recipe.  Even so, almost all are used in the same way, though special considerations may need to be made for an individual oil’s properties…

Most of these oils can be used for creams, lotions, balms, body butters, hair oils, lip balms, massage oils, etc for the body, and/or face…when some use is not suitable, I will try to be sure to note it…HOWEVER, be sure to research fully any use or compound that you are not familiar with, as quite a few of these I have only passing familiarity with…

Lingo to know when when purchasing oils…

Cold Pressed – A method of mechanical extraction where heat is reduced and minimized throughout the batching of the raw material. This helps the oil maintain its original state, constituents, and depth. Temperatures are rigorously controlled to insure that it does not exceed 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit. Although not a practical method of extraction for all vegetable oils on the market it is highly regarded as the extraction method of choice.
Expeller Pressed – A method of natural, mechanical extraction and processing of oils where a small amount of heat is produced simply through the frictional heat created by hydraulic presses. This is usually around 120-200 degrees Fahrenheit and makes the oil suitable and economical as a base for cosmetics because of its fairly undisturbed molecular state. It also makes a fine food grade oil.
Refined – A fully processed oil where it has been exposed to high temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit, winterization as low as -10 degrees, deodorization (the removal of content which gives an oil its natural scent), and other forms of refinement that will alter its color, depth, and scent. This makes for an economical oil in cosmetics and body care products but it is not the healthiest as a food grade oil.
Caveat emptor: Refined oils may also be extracted with the use of solvents, extracting mediums or other chemicals.
Unrefined – A process of mechanical extraction and screen filtering where no additional refining process has taken place. This ensures the finest quality product and makes the oil the most exquisite for food and cosmetic preparation. The unrefined process helps oil retain a rich, strong flavor and color that is true to its natural state. Unrefined oils are always darker in color and richer in scent.
Solvent Extracted – Unfortunately many of the oils offered on the market today, including commercial store varieties are extracted with the use of solvents. This method of extraction often involves high yields at a low cost, but the chemicals used as the extracting agent have severe environmental impacts and endanger the health and vitality of the final product.

 *denotes my favorite/most used oils

Apricot Kernel Oil:

Shelf life:  6 months to a 1 year
Color/Odor:  light yellow
Consistency/Quality:  light, absorbs easily
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  in oleic and linoleic acids
Best used for: mature skin, sensitive skin and skin that is inflamed, irritated or dry, awesome in massage oil mixes for babies and adults
Cons:  Should be refrigerated after opening
Usage notes:   Acceptable substitution for sweet almond oil
Magickal Properties of Apricot:  Water, Love, Aphrodisiac in nature.

Avocado Oil:

Shelf life:  up to 1 year
Color/Odor:  dark green if unrefined, light yellow and little odor (also fewer nutrients) if refined
Consistency/Quality:  thick, penetrates easily
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  vitamins A, B1, B2, B5, Vitamin D, E, minerals, protein, lecithin and fatty acids
Best used for:  dermal regeneration, dry or dehydrated skin, exzema
Usage notes:  Blend with other oils at 10% otherwise it may overpower a blend.
Magickal: Water, Love, Lust, Beauty

Borage Seed Oil:

Shelf life:  3-6 months
Consistency/Quality:  rich
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  high in GLA
Best used for:  skin rejuvenation for sun damaged skin 
Cons:  EXPENSIVE, quickly goes rancid
Usage notes:  Use at 10%, should NOT be heated

Castor Oil:

Shelf life:  12-14 months
Color/Odor:  strong, distinctive odor
Consistency/Quality:  thick with sticky texture
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  fatty acids,
Best used for:  soothing, lubricating and attracting moisture to skin, as well as dry, brittle, damaged hair or hair loss
Medicinal: effective laxative when taken internally
Misc:  fresh leaves may have been used by nursing mothers in the Canary Islands as an external application, to increase the flow of milk.

Coconut Oil (Fractionated):

Shelf life:  indefinite
Color/Odor:  clear, odorless
Consistency/Quality:  light, absorbs easily
Vitamin/Mineral Components: 
Best used for:  massage oil base, dry, itchy, sensitive skin
Pros:  does not clog pores
Usage notes:  Substitute for sweet almond oil to avoid problems of a short shelf life.

*Cocoa Butter:

Shelf life:  2-5 years
Color/Odor:  white/waxy to yellowish tan (refined vs. unrefined), smells like chocolate (refined has a lighter smell)
Consistency/Quality:  solid, melts at body temp
Best used for:  treatment and prevention of stretch marks if applied daily to the abdomen, breasts and thighs
Cons:  Difficult to use at 100%
Usage notes:  Workable when blended.

Emu Oil:

Shelf life:  6-9 months
Color/Odor:  pale yellow or creamy white, no smell
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  high level of linolenic acid and oleic acid
Best used for:  relief of burns, skin ailments, sore joints, muscles aches, etc;  psoriasis, eczema, scarring, swelling, latex dermatitis, rhinitis, keliods,  contact dermatitis, acne inflammation, radiation treatments, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, arthritis and bursitis, callused feet, tendonitis  sprains, sports related injuries, chlorine irritation, tired muscles, razor burn and nicks, cracked, chapped skin, sunburn, diaper rash, minor cuts and scratches, bug bites, canker sores and cold sores, dry, irritated nasal passages, stretch marks, under-eye puffiness, age spots, wrinkles, cuticles and nails,  suitable for both skin care and cosmetics
Pros:  good for everything—anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, encourages healing, stimulates skin, hair and nail growth, has a natural SPF, is a natural emollient and moisturizer, penetrates multiple layers of skin, is non-comedogenic, hypo-allergenic, prevents and diminishes scarring/stretch marks
Cons:  animal product
Usage notes:  Refrigerate to store longer than 3 months.   Try emu oil, water and lavender essential oil in a spray bottle to heal wounds more quickly.
Misc:  Emu oil is rendered from a thick layer of fat on the back of the emu bird.

Evening Primrose Oil:

Shelf life: 3- 6 months
Color/Odor: yellow 
Vitamin/Mineral Components: 
Best used for: eczema and other skin complaints
Pros:  anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant
Usage notes:  Do not heat.


Shelf life:  3-6 months
Color/Odor:  light green, sweet, light aroma
Consistency/Quality:  light texture, absorbs without feeling greasy
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  contains vitamins, minerals, protein, GLA, vitamin A, C and E
Best used for:  Common massage oil; hair care products, lip balm, body creams, sunburn lotion, ok to use on acne-prone and oily skin
Pros:  slightly astringent      
Magickal Properties for Grape: Water, Fertility, Garden magick, intuition, money
Misc: Generally solvent extracted

Hemp Seed:

Shelf life:  8 months
Color/Odor:  greenish, nutty odor
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  anti-oxidants, complete protein, carotene, phytosterols, phospholipids, as well as a number of minerals including calcium, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, zinc, phosphorus,  as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, D, and E
Best used for:  creams, lotions, facial or body oils, massage oils, shampoo, conditioner, shaving products, lip balm, soap, and any other product
Usage notes:  Will degrade in light/temp flux


Shelf life:  over 1 year
Color/Odor:  gold, faint odor
Consistency/Quality:  liquid wax, may solidify at low temp
Vitamin/Mineral Components: 
Best used for:  anything for the skin
Misc: Jojoba has a similar chemical makeup to the oil that our skin produces naturally

Meadowfoam Oil:

Shelf life:  2-3 years
Color/Odor:  light yellow, none
Consistency/Quality:  easily absorbed
Vitamin/Mineral Components:
Best used for:  Moisturizes the skin, rejuvenates and adds shine to hair, UV protection, reduces wrinkles and signs of aging; add to lotions and lip balms
Usage notes:  Extremely stable, will extend shelf life of less stable ingredients, helps retain scent


Shelf life:  10-12 months
Color/Odor:  strong odor
Consistency/Quality: semi-solid in its natural state
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  Vitamin E, and essential fatty acids
Best used for:  anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and anti-parasitic agent in toiletries, soap, toothpaste and skin/hair care productsPros: 
Usage notes:  may need to be liquefied at a temperature exceeding 85 degrees.
Medicinal:  In toothpaste/mouth rinse neem helps relieve swollen and bleeding gums and kills the bacteria that cause gingivitis, in foot powder, neem oil will kill fungus and bacteria, DO NOT USE INTERNALLY WITHOUT PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE, DO NOT USE INTERNALLY IN CHILDREN OR PREGNANT/NURSING WOMEN
Misc:  Mix with Castille Soap and water, spray onto infested plants as needed. The spray will suffocate soft bodied insects, and will repel other insects.

*Olive Oil (Extra Virgin, Cold Pressed)

Shelf life:  up to 1 year
Color/Odor:  dark yellow-greenish, distinctive smell
Consistency/Quality:  heavy
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  in minerals, vitamins, and proteins and essential fatty acids, especially alpha linolenic acid
Best used for:  dry skin, hair and nail conditioner, great in salves, and infusions
Pros:  reasonably priced, easy to find
Usage notes:  May overpower blend, Do not expose to extended periods of light
Magickal Correspondences (Olive Tree): abundance, balance, fertility, fidelity, fruitfulness, harmony, healing, hope, longevity, marriage, peace, potency, prosperity, rebirth, reconciliation, security, success, victory, Mercury, Sun, Moon, Aquarius, Aries, Leo, masculine, Athena, Minerva, Apollo
Medicinal: effective laxative
Misc: used to make castile soap

*Rose Hip Oil:

Shelf life:  12-18 months
Color/Odor:  amber, strong odor
Consistency/Quality:  light, absorbs easily
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals
Best used for:  damaged skin where the regeneration of new skin cells is needed—such as burns, stretch marks and scars
Pros:  natural anti-oxidant properties and is slightly astringent
Cons:  EXPENSIVE, goes rancid quickly, recommended to be refrigerated
Usage notes:  10% in mixture, or use in combination with calendula infused oil, not recommended for use on acne, or on very oily skin
Magickal: Heart Chakra, love, secrecy, selflessness, beauty, Aphrodite

*Sunflower Oil (high oleic):

Shelf life: 9-12 months (only if high oleic)
Color/Odor:  yellow 
Best used for: massage carrier oil
Pros:  reasonably priced, easy to find, noncomedogenic
Magickal:  High spiritual vibrations, drenched with the energies of the Sun. Aids in clairvoyance. (Cunningham), assists meditation, protects from physical harm, can be sued to consecrate healing tools, success, Leo, Virgo, Apollo, Demeter
Medicinal: Research suggests that pre-term infants with low birth weight can benefit from sunflower oil skin treatments. Infections decreased by 41% in infants that received a daily skin treatment of sunflower oil. (from wikipedia)

Shea Butter:

Shelf life: 12-18 months unrefined
Color/Odor:  white or yellowish
Consistency/Quality:  solid,
Best used for:  lotions and crèmes, for dry, damaged and maturing skin, scars and stretch marks, eczema, burns, rashes, acne, chapped lips, variable UV sun protection up to SPF 6
Usage notes:  Similar to cocoa butter
Medicinal: anti-inflammatory topical cream perhaps helpful in cases of arthritis, a possible nasal decongestant by applying it to the inside of the nostrils

Soybean Oil

Shelf life:  6-9 months

Vitamin/Mineral Components:  vitamin E, lecithin, unsaturated fatty acids
Best used for:  superb moisturizer, massage carrier oil
Pros: regenerative, anti-oxidizing and anti-inflammatory action

Sesame Oil:

Shelf life:  1 year
Color/Odor:  yellow, distinctive odor
Consistency/Quality:  heavy
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  vitamin B &  E, protein, lecithin and minerals
Best used for:  Eczema, Psoriasis, Blemishes, Stress, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Aching Muscles
Pros: natural sunscreen effect of SPF4
Usage notes:  Use in combination, will overpower mix.  Keep stored away from direct sunlight to maintain freshness and nutrient value.
Magickal: Gives hope to one who is sick, discouraged or lonely (Cunningham)

Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil:

Shelf life:  2-3 years
Color/Odor:  amber,
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  vitamins A, B1, B2, C, E, & K, oleic and linoleic acids
Best used for:  acne, dermatitis, irritated or dry skin, eczema, skin ulcers, postpartum pigmentation, burns, scalds, cuts, and tissue regeneration, burns
Cons:  if not diluted, will stain
Usage notes:  will solidify at low temperatures
Medicinal: Reportedly, taken internally, it can help prevent gums from bleeding, recuperate mucous membranes, heal peptic and duodenal ulcers, aid urinary tract and cervical erosion, treat solar and cancer radiation injuries

*Sweet Almond Oil:

Shelf life:  6 months-1 yr
Color/Odor:  pale yellow, slightly nutty
Consistency/Quality:  medium, absorbs easily
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  rich in essential fatty acids and vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and E
Best used for:  dry, sensitive or irritated skin, to relieve itching, soreness and dryness…soothing, healing, lubricating, softening, revitalizing and nourishing…
Pros:  good all-purpose carrier oil to keep on hand and is moderately priced, can be found at most grocery stores
Cons:  May stain clothing/sheets when used in massage
Usage notes:  Do not confuse this with Bitter Almond Essential Oil:  it may cause prussic acid poisoning.   Use an antioxidant when using sweet almond oil in anything you do not plan to use right away.
Magickal Properties of Almond:  Air, Money, Prosperity, Wisdom, Love overcoming obstacles, Artemis, Hecate, Zeus,
Misc:  Soap making– saponifies easily and yields a mild soap with good lather

Walnut Oil:
Shelf life: 3-6 months 
Color/Odor:  light, nutty aroma
Consistency/Quality:  absorbs quickly
Vitamin/Mineral Components: 
Best used for:  massage/carrier oil base
Cons:  short shelf life, persons allergic to nuts might have reation
Magickal Correspondences (Walnut Tree): change, fertility, healing, inspiration, intentions, new perspective, protection, wealth, air/fire, Aphrodite, Artemis, Astarte, Diana, Rhea, Apollo, Jupiter, Zeus, Vishnu, Jupiter, Sun, Gemini, Leo, Virgo, weather magick


Shelf life:  up to 1 year
Color/Odor:  reddish-orange, strong odor
Consistency/Quality:  thick, heavy, sticky
Vitamin/Mineral Components:  proteins, minerals, and vitamins A, D and E
Best used for:  adding SPARINGLY to massage blends for extending shelf life
Pros:  stimulate tissue regeneration and is often added to other oil blends because of its antioxidant properties
Cons:  May cause individuals to become overly sensitive to compound.
Usage notes:  Use at 5-10%

—Magickal Correspondences for specific trees is from Whispers from the Woods: The Lore and Magic of Trees by Sandra Kynes
—the Magickal uses attributed to Cunningham are from his book, Magickal Herbalism (because I’m a dork, and about the only book I don’t have by him is his Incense, Oils and Brews)


4 thoughts on “Carrier Oils”

  1. Wow very informative! I will be back for more.

  2. Very good webpage you have here.

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