I'm just starting to get interested in essential oils. Don't have any yet, but would like to buy some. Do you all have any brands/starter kits that you recommend? Where is the best place to buy them? Any info is appreciated.
I will recommend some oils as a "starter kit" for you that is multi-purpose, but some oils have better applications for certain uses. I use oils for housecleaning and skin care, which are probably the most common uses besides general air freshening and medicinal purposes.
Essential oils are volatile, so they can be drying and irritating if used in concentration. Because of this they make good cleaners as they cut grease and oils. They are almost universally antifungal, antibacterial, and disinfectant. They should always be well-diluted.
Lavender: Housecleaning and skin care. Good for burns and well-tolerated by many people.
Rosemary: Excellent for housecleaning, very strong. Can damage fine finishes and irritate skin if concentrated.
Eucalyptus: Good for massaging for sore muscles and as a chest rub for congestion/throat irritation.
Peppermint: Good for brushing teeth as well as housecleaning. Can be ingested for sore throat or upset stomach.
Lemon: Another good cleaner. Can be used as a hair rinse and anti-fungal treatment for feet and nails when diluted.
Be sure that you buy 100% pure essential oil and that you do not use solvent-extracted oils internally or on your skin.
I also check that the source of the oils I buy is not unsustainably harvested or threatened (sandlewood, for example); for me it's a matter of ethics, and a sustainable alternative is usually easy to find.