Capsules and Essential Oils – FAQs

One of the best ways to take essential oils internally is with the aid of capsules. Using capsules allows one to not only bypass any unpleasant tastes, but it also enables the oils to descend to the right area of the body before dissolving to allow for greater absorption.

We have been asked many questions concerning capsules, so we want to address the ones most frequently asked.

What oils can I take internally in capsules?

When taking essential oils internally, only pure, therapeutic-grade essential oils that are labeled as safe for internal consumption as a dietary supplement should be consumed or taken via a capsule. The label on your essential oil should state whether or not it is safe to use internally. A good indication is if the label lists supplement facts (which looks like the standard nutrition information label). If you are still unsure of whether your oil is safe to take internally, Modern Essentials lists this information under the Single Essential Oils or Essential Oil Blends sections and also on page 52 (Internal Application section).

What kinds of capsules does AromaTools® sell?

AromaTools® only sells empty vegetarian capsules that are made of cellulosic raw materials (phthalate-free hypromellose) and that are vegetarian approved and kosher certified. These vegetarian capsules are made from HMPC (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose), which is 100% plant material consisting of purified water and plant fiber or cellulose. AromaTools® does not carry gelatin capsules. Gelatin is typically created from a byproduct of beef or pork collagen.

AromaTools® sells 2 types of vegetarian capsules, regular and Design Release.

What is the difference between the regular and Design Release capsules?

The main difference between these capsules is the dissolving time. The “regular” vegetarian capsules will dissolve quickly (about 5 minutes) and completely in the stomach. The Design Release capsules are specially designed to dissolve slower than normal vegetarian capsules so that they will reach the intestines before releasing the oils. In fact, Design Release capsules take 50 minutes to start to dissolve and typically finish dissolving 20 minutes later in the intestines. (Note: the dissolving time may be different when using essential oils in the capsules.) This longer dissolving time is achieved through a proprietary formula (containing no added chemicals, solvents, or other coating polymers) that allows the capsule to bypass the stomach acid before dissolving. Another benefit of using the Design Release capsules is that it reduces the potential for bad aftertaste, unpleasant odors, or reflux from using certain essential oils.

So, in deciding which capsules you need, ask yourself the following questions:

  • When/where do I want the capsule to dissolve, in the stomach or intestines?
  • How quickly do I need the contents of the capsule to be absorbed into the body?
  • Do I need to mask the aftertaste or odor of the capsule’s contents?

What is the difference between Size 0 and Size 00?

Size 0 capsules are smaller than Size 00. Size 0 capsules hold approximately 10 drops of oil, and Size 00 capsules hold approximately 14 drops of oil. Here is a diagram for a visual size comparison (not actual size):

How do you fill the capsules?

First, there are 2 parts to the capsule: a skinnier bottom half, which holds the oils, and a wider top half that fits over the bottom half and acts as a cap. To fill the capsule, remove the top half and only fill the bottom half; then cap the filled bottom half with the empty top half.

A simple way of filling a capsule is to drop the oils directly from the bottle into the capsule. This does take some hand-eye coordination, and it is easy to drop too many drops or to accidentally get the oil on the side of the capsule, resulting in the user tasting the oil while taking it and causing the capsule to dissolve more quickly.

A more effective and easier way of filling capsules is to use a glass pipette (also known as an eye dropper). Simply fill the pipette with oil, place the pipette inside the bottom half of the capsule, and place the correct number of drops inside.

If you are taking capsules with essential oils often, you may want to make up your capsule formula in a glass dropper bottle for easier filling. Creating your own capsule formula is also a great way to make sure it is properly diluted.

Capsule holders also come in handy when filling more than one capsule. You can find a variety of capsule holders at AromaTools®.

Important things to keep in mind when using capsules:

  • Dilution of essential oils is still important. Many people place a few drops of oil in the capsule and fill the rest of the capsule with olive oil. As mentioned above, if you are using capsules with essential oils often, you can fill a glass dropper bottle halfway full of your essential oils and the other half with olive oil so the oils are already properly diluted and ready to use each time you fill a capsule. If giving essential oil in a capsule to pregnant/nursing women or to children, it is best to give smaller amounts of oil with higher dilution. Remember, a little goes a long way! Also keep in mind that some oils may not be advised for babies and young children to use internally. Consult Modern Essentials for recommended dilution amounts based on these factors.
  • Follow label warnings or ask a healthcare professional. Pregnant or nursing women and children may be cautioned against ingesting certain oils. It is always wise to check label instructions for warnings and recommended use, or consult with a certified health care professional for further questions.
  • Take smaller amounts more often. When taking essential oils internally, it is more effective to take a few drops every few hours rather than more drops at one time.
  • Swallow the capsules immediately after filling with essential oils. These capsules are designed to dissolve fairly quickly when filled with liquids (typically within a few minutes); so if you are using essential oils in these capsules, they need to be swallowed immediately after filling them.

What are things you have learned about taking essential oils in capsules? Or what oils do you take in capsules? We would love to hear about your experiences!

64 thoughts on “Capsules and Essential Oils – FAQs

    • You could store oils for longer in enteric coated capsules, depending on the oils you want to store. Generally, it is still recommended that you prepare the capsules at the time you plan to use them. Storing oils in these capsules may also eliminate the benefit of having enteric coated capsules as the dissolving process would start before you ingest the pill and the breakdown of the capsule in your stomach would be more rapid.

    • Yes, the capsules will hold up when using oregano essential oil. However, depending on the type of capsule you use, the capsules will dissolve anywhere between 5-50 minutes so they cannot be made up ahead of time. Make sure to dilute the oil for safer consumption.

    • When taking any oil internally, it is not necessary to take the capsule with food. Many articles suggest that it’s actually more beneficial to take the oils on an empty stomach, then eating 10-15 minutes later. You can try it both ways, and find out which works best for you. I personally prefer to take essential oils after eating a small amount of food due to having a very sensitive stomach.

    • Our Size 0 capsules hold 10 drops and Size 00 capsules hold 14 drops. You’ll want to keep in mind diluting (especially for oregano oil), so with a 1:1 dilution, you’ll end up with 5 drops of oregano in the Size 0 capsule and 7 drops oregano oil in the Size 00 capsule. If you are taking oregano alone, I’d recommend just doing the smaller capsules and not filling them up all the way (since oregano is a strong essential oil).

  1. Thanks for this informative article. Like Trevor, I’m also interested in finding a shelf stable solution for encapsulating my essential oils. You mentioned it is possible but requires additional equipment. Could you provide any examples or solutions for doing this? Would like to hear more. Thanks!

  2. Hi Aroma Tools,

    I remember fish oil capsules used to be oil inside a gel coating and lasted a very long time in a glass container without dissolving.
    How can this method be adapted for essential oils.

    Thanks in advance

    • Trevor, it is possible to put essential oils in capsules and be able to store them without them dissolving; however, this is only possible with certain types of capsules and will require technology that isn’t available to everyone. Essential oil companies have used this kind of technology to mass-produce essential oil-filled capsules. But, for the average person to be able to customize the essential oil/blend they want to take internally, an empty capsule like the types we mention above are perfect for doing so. Unfortunately, because the capsules need to be opened (to allow you to fill them), they aren’t able to be sealed or coated to prevent disintegration. Some readers mentioned that they have successfully made batches of capsules and stored them in the freezer without them dissolving. You could give that method a try!

  3. Hi Aroma Tools,

    I have read quite a few of your replies to many of the questions and I found them helpful. i am also aware that you cannot offer any medical advice per se. Would it be in your remit to say how may drops of Breathe or Respiratory Blend can be used daily to treat asthma. I have only just begun taking them today and am curious to know more. I have already taken 3 neat drops this morning and another 3 just now. In future, I will dilute with carrier oil of my choice but my question is, is there recommended dose for such a condition?

    Many thanks in advance for your response.

    • Modern Essentials recommends using an aromatic or topical application for helping asthma. You can try to diffuse Respiratory Blend in the air and inhale it or “dilute as recommended and apply to the chest, throat, or back. Add 2–3 drops to 1 Tbsp. fractionated coconut oil, and massage onto chest, shoulders, and back.” Some of the easiest ways to do this is to put your oil in a nasal inhaler and breathe it in every time you have an asthma attack or to dilute the oil with fractionated coconut oil in a roll-on bottle and roll the oil onto the recommended areas as needed.

      I would caution against using the same essential oil daily because our bodies need a break every once in a while. Rather than using one oil every day, you can rotate through a few different oils that may help the same condition. Try using one oil for a few days, then use a different oil for a few days, then try a new oil for a few days before using the first oil again for a few days. Or give yourself a break from using any oils for a few days. If you use the same essential oil every day, you can become sensitized to that oil. Just remember that a little goes a long way!

  4. I freeze my capsules after filling them and that works great for us. Just wonder what you think about that? Of course i can’t travel with them. Also have a question about the slow release capsule you are talking about. How can i find out what oils need to be going in my stomach vs my intestines? I am interested in the Design Release capsules.

    • Debra, we haven’t experimented much with freezing capsules after filling them. We have found that if you consistently take the same essential oil formula in capsules, then it is easiest to just keep a dropper bottle ready with your formula (pre-diluted) to quickly and easily fill your capsules immediately before swallowing them. I honestly can’t imagine filling capsules in bulk and freezing them is easier to do than that, but if it works well for you—that’s great! Thanks for sharing your methods with us!

      Knowing what part of the body (stomach vs. intestines) you want the oils to go to depends largely on what you are trying to help. Stomach issues would likely benefit from the normal capsules, intestinal issues (such as IBS) may benefit more from the Design Release capsules, and it may not matter for other general ailments not related to digestion. The best advice we have is to learn to listen to your body and use whatever type of capsule you feel is best for you and your particular health challenges.

    • Yes, you can mix different oils in one capsule. In fact, if you have several oils that you like to take on a regular basis, you can create your mixture in a dropper bottle and dilute it with olive oil, so it is all ready to simply place in an empty capsule when you are ready to take it.

  5. My husband made me a capsule with frankensence, peppermint, garlic and lavender. He used no Carrier oil. I took it for a bad stomach and my stomach hurt worse after taking. Made a cup of Chanmpmile tea with honey and felt a little better but still hurting. Getting a little nervous about taking these oils.

    • We definitely recommend diluting the oil at least 1:1 with olive oil in the capsule for this purpose. If you find taking essential oils internally makes your stomach hurt or doesn’t sit well with you, drinking milk can provide comfort and help dilute the essential oils further. We also highly recommend listening to your body—if the idea of taking oils in capsules makes you nervous, don’t do it. Try applying the oils topically instead.

  6. I keep hearing that vertiver is good for adhd children. My son cannot take oils to school a few kids have got them taken up even the roll on thing I am looking something that will last all day at least from 730am-4pm. I heard you can take it in a capsule. If I do that how much do I put in and how long does that last will it last all day. He cannot take pills during the day at school and he will not remember to go to the nurse. Any help is appreciated

    • These nasal inhalers or Whispi™ Diffusers are a great way that kids can keep the oils with them during school. You just add a few drops of oil to the wick and they can pull it out to smell every time they need it. This way they aren’t taking any bottles or capsules to school, but can still receive the benefits of inhaling the aroma.

    • Teacher and avid oil lover here!
      I wouldn’t be able to allow even a nasal inhaler in my class.. I’d recommend a bracelet or necklace designed as a diffuser. Look around etsy- I’m sure you could find a bracelet for boys! I wear my necklace diffuser every day!

  7. Can you please tell me when I hand fill the bottom portion of the 00 sized capsule with coconut oil, how many mgs of coconut oil will be in the capsule after I cap it?



  8. I am taking oils as part of my daily regimen. I’m confused because I never take with carrier oil wasn’t informed to or I misunderstood so have I been wasting money and time because I wasn’t using carrier oil.

  9. It has been recommended that I take 550 milligrams of frankincense oil 3 times a day for ulcerative colitis. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this with capsules or should I just do drops under my tongue. It seems like an awful lot of Frankincense however I’m not sure how many drops that would be and if I should do them all at?

    • Unfortunately, we can’t give any recommendations for health-related questions. But, I can tell you that 550 milligrams is about 9–10 drops. That amount would be a lot to put under your tongue. If you did take frankincense in a capsule, we recommend diluting the essential oil with olive oil with a 1:1 ratio. A “0” capsule holds 10 drops of oil, so an easy way to get the right amount would be to fill 2 capsules with the diluted frankincense mixture. If you have questions or concerns about taking that much frankincense internally, we recommend you seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional.

      • Thank you so much for responding, and I didn’t mean to sound like I was asking for medical advice. I am aware of the responsibility with that and appreciate the compliance with FDA standards. My apologies, my question was more on milligrams vs. Capsules/drops. So thank you for answering my questions and all that you do!
        Sincerely. ..

  10. Since we are hearing that so much of the U.S. supply of olive oil is adulterated, wouldnt coconut oil be better as a carrier.
    Plus couldnt you cool it to solidify after filling capsules to keep longer?

    • You can use any kind of oil that is liquid and meant for internal use. We have recommended olive oil because it meets both of those requirements and is a common household product. If you do find that using coconut oil helps your capsules keep longer, please let use know. My experience would be that it may take a little heating to get coconut oil to its liquid state, but you need to be careful to not get it too hot that it would alter the essential oils you are adding to the capsule or cause the capsule to melt even faster than normal. Then after the capsule is put together you will need to be really quick to place the capsule in the fridge to try to slow down any melting of the capsule and cool the coconut oil enough to solidify. This part could be really tricky because the coconut oil would need to solidify in a matter of minutes or it would be too late and the capsule would have already dissolved. If you do try it, please let us know how it works for you!

      • I do the same thing. Coconut oil is used inside, I melt a certain amount before hand, and then the container that has the rest of the coconut oil is somewhat still solid. I fill my capsules with whatever I’m making and then before I cap them I take the smaller portion of the capsule and stick it in the solid coconut oil and cap. They then go immediately into the fridge so they can harden even more. I then put them in the designated bottle and that is also stored in the fridge. So far so good. I will add that the other oils used do not harden. They sit on top. That is why I use the coconut oil as a sealer of sorts. I haven’t tried the empty capsules that are in the article. I bought some at my local health food store. They are vegetarian. And 000 size. A total of 18-20 drops of my combined oils fit nicely in them.

  11. I was wondering how much digestive i should put in capsule and how often I should take it for digestion issues

    • Unfortunately, we are unable to give advise on or prescribe essential oils for any medical issues. A good resource for learning more about essential oils and how to use them is Modern Essentials. Anyone suffering from any disease, illness, or injury should consult a qualified health care professional.

  12. I am confused. I want to take some essential oils that need to be dissolved in the small intestine. If I use your Design Release capsules will the oils remain intact until they reach the small intestine if I take them immediately upon filling? It seems to me best to take the capsules on an empty stomach with water to assure the capsules are not held up in the stomach with food that is digesting more slowly?

    • If taken immediately, the Design Release capsules should remain intact until they reach the intestines. If you are concerned about food, you could take the capsules on an empty stomach and wait just 15 minutes before eating something to give the capsules a little head start of sorts.

    • Pam, as mentioned in the post it is important to follow label warnings or ask a healthcare professional. Pregnant or nursing women and children may be cautioned against ingesting certain oils. Also, only take oils that indicate on the label they are safe for internal use, as many oils are not meant to be used internally. It is always wise to check label instructions for warnings and recommended use, or consult with a certified health care professional for further questions. If you are on medications, you should consult with a health-care professional before taking oils internally, as some oils can counteract or enhance the effects of some types of medications.

  13. I purchase the “longer dissolving” capsules. I have filled with multiple protocols always diluted with a carrier oil. For example, the combo of Oregano, Melalucca, Protective blend, and Lemon, along with a carrier oil to finish a single 0 capsule, has remained “in tact” for weeks. Unless the outside is compromised with an EO, the capsules seem to have a relatively long shelf life. Furthermore, I have chosen to use the plastic capsule holder rather than a wooden one to prevent an EO contamination of the “hole” for the capsule.

    • Hi Tom! Can you please share with me what the mix of Oregano, Melalucca, protective blend, and lemon does for you? Is it for digestive issues? I have that issue and would like to try. Thanks! I’ve learned a lot reading this post as I didn’t know there was a capsule that waits to dissolve in the intestines rather than the stomach. Great news! Thanks!

    • What’s the brand of Empty Capsules that you use for liquids?
      any other info would be apprecitated

      thanks, Pam B

    • The capsules are designed to dissolve fairly quickly when filled with liquids (typically within a few minutes); so if you are using essential oils in these capsules, they need to be swallowed immediately after filling them. If you are using capsules with essential oils often, you can fill a glass dropper bottle halfway full of your essential oils and the other half with olive oil so the oils are already properly diluted and ready to use each time you fill a capsule. The glass dropper bottle makes it really easy to fill a capsule quickly so they are almost as convenient as pre-filled capsules.

      • Sometimes I don’t have time to make a capsule on the spot. I’ll make enough for the week and store them in the freezer.

  14. I am pleased that you offer a veggie cap, but what I am quite concerned about is if the manufacturer of the capsules follows a GMP in compliance with U.S. FDA and why this isn’t included on your website?

    • Our manufacturer “maintains excipient Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and complies with current European Union regulations in the manufacturing of empty, two-piece hard capsules.”

  15. I am little bit apprehensive about taking EO internally, specially after reading so much through net regarding the effects and risks about it. This design release capsules are a new thing, I am allergic to sulfur drugs, can I use them without getting any side effect?

    • As far as I know the capsules do not have sulfur in them, but I’m checking with my contacts who know more about these capsules and will try to give you updated information if they know any more about it.

    • I am unable to give a list of oils that would be better to be released in the stomach or a list of oils that should be released in the intestines because it depends on how fast you need the oils to do their job, whether or not you like the oil’s aftertaste, or what condition you are trying to help. For example, some oils you may want to get released quickly in the stomach might include oils for pain relief or stomach issues. Other oils may be better to be released in the intestines such as oils for digestive issues. And some oils may leave an unpleasant aftertaste (through burping) such as vetiver and the taste can be masked if released later.

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