detail of patchouly flowers

Patchouli is a sweet-smelling essential oil distilled from the leaves of a tropical plant. The leaves and oil of the patchouli plant are used for a variety of purposes and are very popular in medicinal aromatherapy. Patchouli is not particularly caustic or irritating, as some essential oils can be, but there are a few potential hazards related to using patchouli.

Pesticide Residues

Patchouli is cultivated primarily in the Caribbean and other tropical regions where agricultural regulations are lax. Pesticide residues may therefore be present in non-organic oils. Buy only organic patchouli products if this is a concern.


The sweet smell of patchouli oil can lead children to think that the oil is juice. Clean any residual patchouli oil out of an oil burner when not in use, if children are around, and keep patchouli oil containers out of the reach of children.


The aroma of patchouli oil is unusually long-lasting. Users should respect the persistence of the patchouli fragrance if using it in a space shared with others.

Skin Allergies

Users with sensitive skin or known allergies should use all essential oils with caution and begin with a test application to a very small area of skin away from the face and neck.

Petroleum Additives

Make sure that your essential oils contain no petroleum-based additives, as those give off harmful fumes when heated in an oil burner.