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Q: I’ve been thinking about making some spiritual oils but I don’t have a lot of money to spend on them. I don’t have all of the essential oils or scented oils I need and someone suggested I try using the liquid potpourris from the discount store to get certain scents. I’ve heard some people use it as a base for theirs. They also suggested I try scraping or crushing incense sticks and cones if I need a specific herb that I’m missing. I want to make something really magical. What do you think about using these things?

A: Whoa. WHOAAAA. Stop right there! There are several things wrong with this picture, the first and most important is the giant question, are these oils intended to be worn by people or used in any way that comes in contact with their skin?!

If so, then this is not only a bad idea, it’s also dangerous. Liquid or oil based potpourris are not intended for such things, and can actually cause skin irritation, or even burns to some people!

Some of these even contain toxins that can be absorbed through the skin and you do NOT want to be poisoning people, including yourself. You do not want to use liquid potpourri as a scent additive or as a base.

While it may be tempting to use these things as cheap alternatives to creating certain scents, you MUST stick to essential oils or body-safe fragrance oils and genuine herbs and roots. Even if you aren’t intending for something to be worn, making a spiritual oil–especially if it is meant to be sold or used by others–is not a task to be taken lightly and you have to consider all possibilities.

Even if you include a warning on the label, you don’t want to produce shoddy products and cheapen your work, your magic, and sully your name!

As with any magical working, you get out of it what you put into it. And while I am a huge supporter of using substitutions and using what you have on hand, you still have to be smart about it.

Even Dollar Store cinnamon from the kitchen spice section is better than using “cinnamon” incense! And since you don’t know what a manufacturer is always putting in their incense, like the liquid potpourris, this can also be hazardous to one’s health and well-being.

There are many reputable sources to get essential oils, safety rated fragrance oils, and genuine herbs. I suggest checking into them to get your supplies when making such things.

So to answer your question, I think using either of these shortcuts is a terrible idea and a disaster waiting to happen. If you can’t afford to purchase the real-deal genuine ingredients, then my advice is to hold off on making your oils until you have the means to do it safely and properly.

Originally posted on Ask Polaris February 5, 2016 – Updated March 2022


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