The 6 best Essential Oils for Outdoor Activities
The hot and swampy days have arrived! Whether you’ll be camping this summer or just having a lot of outdoors activities, essential oils are the best thing you can bring with you for first aid treatment.
In this article, I have prepared the packing list of essential oils you will need to take with you if you plan to be outside for a couple of hour or a couple of days.
Essential Oils Warning
Before we start talking about essential oils and the sun, you must be very careful: certain essential oils are considered to be phototoxic
Photosensitization, or phototoxicity, is a skin reaction caused by exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. It could cause increased pigmentation and redness to the skin. A couple of essential oils absorb more energy from ultraviolet light than the skin does. These oils are photosensitizers but don’t worry; they can cause photosensitization only when exposed to the sun or ultraviolet light. Photosensitizing essential oils should not be exposed to the sun for at least 12 hours after applied to the skin.
The essential oils that mostly cause phototoxicity are citrus oils, so avoid using them if you plan to go to the beach, to the pool, to a barbecue or if you plan to go anywhere outside, even if the sun is hidden behind the clouds. Citrus Oils are considered to be photosensitizers. A full list of oils to avoid when under the sun is available at the end of this article.
6 most used Essential Oils for outdoor activities
This is a basic list of the essential oils to keep handy on a camping trip. The Essential Oils’ properties are listed first, followed by their most relevant uses for outdoor activities.
- Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, astringent.
- Speeds healing of bruises, burns, and minor wounds; alleviates muscle aches and pains; soothes sprains; slows/stops minor bleeding; reduces fevers; calms nerves.
- Analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, insecticide.
- Repels insects; relieves muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, and migraines; alleviates cold and flu symptoms.
- Analgesic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic.
- Soothes bruises, burns, cuts, and scrapes; relieves itchiness from bee stings; treats allergies and asthma; eases headaches; combats mild bacterial and fungal infections; repels insects; soothes insomnia.
- Antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antiviral, insecticide.
- Relieves colds and sinusitis; alleviates and disinfects skin irritations like cuts, scrapes, and bug bites.
- Analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, antispasmodic, antiviral, digestive.
- Soothes aches, pains, and itchy skin; eases headaches; relieves nausea and upset stomach; combats viral and fungal infections; provides a cooling sensation.
- Analgesic, anesthetic, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic.
- Soothes itchy skin; relieves headaches and migraines.
First Aid Recipes with Essential Oils
Disclaimer: none of the recipes below has been neither presented or approved by the FDA. Therefore, the oils and recipes below are not meant to treat or cure any disease or conditions. Essential oils are very powerful substances, never overindulge yourself and always use small quantity and caution. Always ask a neuropathologist, a aromatherapist or licensed physician if you have a preexisting condition prior to using essential oils.
Now that you know what essential oils need to go on your first aid kit, let’s take a look at how to prepare and use them before your camping trip. Some of the recipes below include adding ingredients or supplies. In that case, you would need those extra ingredients and accessories before you can complete the list. You will find at the end of the article a good place to buy all those accessories.
Most of the Essential Oils Recipes include a carrier oil. Some examples of the most used carrier oils include coconut oil, olive oil, sweet almond oil, avocado oil, etc.
Bumps and Bruises Salve
If you’ve hurt yourself and see a bruise developing, this salve can help soothe the pain and diminish the bruise’s appearance.
- 8 drops lavender
- 8 drops helichrysum
- 2 oz carrier oil
- Blend the essential oils.
- Add the oil blend to the carrier oil
- Apply to the bruise once or twice a day via a rollerball.
This essential oil blend can be stored in a 10ml roller bottle for easy application.
This simple sunscreen helps protect and moisturize the skin. For fairer skin, use more essential oils; for darker skin, use less.
- 5-10 drops essential oil (lavender and helichrysum)
- 1-ounce carrier oil (coconut oil)
- Mix the oils together
- Store in a glass bottle or jar.
Apply often and after swimming, exercise. etc.
Soothing Sunburn Salve
If you do get a sunburn, apply this soothing salve for instant, cooling relief.
- 20 drops essential oil (I use lavender, chamomile, and peppermint)
- 2 teaspoons carrier oil (avocado oil is great here!)
- 2 tablespoons aloe vera gel
- Blend the essential oils
- Add to the carrier oil
- Add the oil blend to the aloe vera gel
- Apply generously to the affected areas.
- If making larger batches, it can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
To repel insects such as mosquitoes, biting flies, and fleas, apply this natural insect repellant as described below. You can use any combination of oils, as long as it stays within about 50 drops of oils. Other great oils for repelling insects include cinnamon, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and rosemary.
- 50 drops essential oil (citronella, tea tree, and lavender)
- 4 tablespoons witch hazel or alcohol
- Top off with distilled water
- Blend the essential oils
- Add to the carrier oil
- Store in a dark or blue 4oz spray bottle
- Spray the blend on your wrists, behind your ears, inside your elbows, behind your knees, and around your ankles.
- Reapply after an hour or after swimming, exercise, etc.
- Shake well before each use
*You can also make this into a paste by substituting the alcohol with coconut. Add some aloe vera gel to change the consistency of the oil and make it more spreadable.
Bug Bite Salve
If you do get bit, apply this simple salve to the bite to help stop the itch, stop the venom, and reduce the chance of infection. You can use both oils or just one of them, just make sure the total ratio of essential oils to carrier oil is 50:50.
- 1 teaspoon essential oil (lavender and tea tree)
- 1 teaspoon carrier oil
- Blend essential oils and mix with a carrier oil.
- Add oil mixture to a roller bottle or a spray bottle
- Apply very sparingly to bug bites for fast relief.
*Both lavender and tea tree oil can be used neat (undiluted) on the skin, so if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to mix up this recipe. you can apply a drop or two of either (or both) oil to help stop the itch. Use caution, as some people may be sensitive or experience irritation when using oils neat.
Other Remedies for outdoor incidents
Apply 2-3 drops lavender oil directly on the site and gently spread over the affected area. This also works great for bee stings. For more bee sting remedies, check out my post natural bee sting remedies.
Indigestion and Nausea
Drip 3 drops peppermint oil onto a wash cloth. Hold it under your nose, and breathe slowly and deeply for 1-3 minutes. The menthol in peppermint oil improves circulation and stops nausea quickly.
Apply diluted peppermint oil to the back of neck or soles of feet for fast, cooling relief. This is also great to do before hiking or long treks to keep the feet cool and comfortable.
Apply diluted peppermint oil to the temples, brow line, and back of neck for quick relief.
Essential oils are very potent and should be used with caution. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have any health issues, please consult your health care provider prior to using essential oils. If possible, seek the professional help of a licensed aromatherapist.
It is recommended that you always perform a small skin patch test when you try a new oil.
More Resources and Recipes:
Bug B Gone Candles and Spray – The Hippy Homemaker Homemade
Mosquito Repellant – Living Traditionally
Homemade Bug Repellant Gel – Homemade Mommy
Bug Repellant and Bug Bite Treatments – Conscientious Confusion Blog
Insect Bites: How to Relieve the Itch – Five Spot Green Living
Homemade Sunscreen – My Merry Messy Life
What are your favorite essential oils to use while camping or spending time outdoors?
Essential oils that may cause sun sensitivity: sun sensitivity essential oils phototoxicity of essential oils
- bergamot, Citrus aurantium var. bergamia
- cold pressed lime, Citrus medica
- cold pressed bitter orange, Citrus aurantium var. amara
- angelica, Angelica archangelica
- Cold pressed grapefruit, Citrus paradisi
- cold pressed or distilled lemon, Citrus limon, Lippia citridora
- distilled lime, Citrus medica
- cold pressed sweet orange, Citrus sinensis
- cold pressed tangerine, Citrus reticulata blanco
Other oils that may cause phototoxicity
- cedarwood, Cedrus atlanticum
- cinnamon bark, Cinnamomum zeylanicum
- clary sage, Salvia sclarea
- elecampane, Inula helenium
- ginger, Zingiber Officinalis
- lovage, Levisticum officinale
- opoponax, Commiphora erythraea
- patchouli, Pogostemon patchouli