Phenols are a class of chemical component that are found in many different essential oils, and the oils that are high in phenols are usually very stimulating oils that possess powerful anti-infectious properties. Phenols pack a serious punch! Some of the most common ones are carvacrol (found in Oregano oil), eugenol (found in Clove oil), and thymol (found in Thyme oil). Phenols tend to have "harsh" aromas.
Oils high in phenols are:
So why would you want to know which essential oils are low in phenols? Phenol-high oils are aggressive and active -- though we may desire this Warrior energy when we are fighting an infection, these same properties can also cause sensitization and irritation to the skin and mucous membranes if not handled with care. Essential oils high in phenols should always be used in very low dilutions (less than 1%) and for short durations of time. Aromatherapists also consider phenol-rich oils to be inappropriate for use with babies and children, or people with certain disorders.
You may also be interested in this information if you have a cat! Cats' livers lack the specific enzyme that is required to break down phenols. This means that if your cat encounters essential oils that contain too many phenols, it could result in the cat's liver failing.
For this reason, it is recommended to avoid diffusing most essential oils around cats, and not to put essential oils on their bodies. Over-exposure to phenols has been known to significantly shorten the lives of cats.
High in Phenols:
If you are looking for essential oils that do not contain phenols, here is a short list of some oils to start with.