Cedar Oil Facts (Definitive Safety Guide)

Did you know that cedarwood oil—yes, oil from an actual cedar tree—can eliminate slugs?

Aside from giving your garden a pleasant sauna scent, cedarwood oil can work in several different ways to make your home, skin, hair, and even your sleep cycle function better. 

But what does it do? Is it safe for pregnant women to use? Can it be used in a household with pets??

Stick with us. We'll answer these questions (and more!) in our full guide below.


What is Cedarwood Oil?

In a nutshell, cedarwood oil is the distilled extraction from the wood of a combination of trees: cedar, juniper, and cypress.

When blended together, these three extractions create a powerful mixture that can be used in several different manners to eliminate home and garden pests.

How Does Cedarwood Oil Work?

The key components of cedarwood oil are cedrol and cedrene, and together these two work form a compound that's known as cedar camphor. 

This chemical compound is mighty when it comes to fighting off moths, biting insects, fungi, and even mollusks due to its volatile composition. Essentially, bugs can't comfortably breathe the oxygen produced by cedar trees, and cedar oil holds the same volatile properties. This is why it's used to make many closets and chests—it's a natural insect repellent.

cedar oil facts

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Which Products Use Cedarwood Oil?

Is cedarwood oil commonly found in many products? Keep reading to find out.

100% Pure Cedarwood Oil

Many people use this oil in its natural and unrefined state for a multitude of different purposes, from the calming effects of aromatherapy to even fighting off fungal infections. 

Soaps and Skincare Products

Because of cedarwood oil's natural deodorizing and antiseptic properties, it's used in many skincare and body cleansing products. Many people have seen excellent results when they've used skin products containing cedar oil for skin issues like eczema and acne, due to cedarwood oil's high volatility toward the bacteria that cause these skin problems.

Sleep Aid Sprays

Because of its calming and sedative effect, cedarwood oil is used in several different sleep aid sprays. These sprays are normally sold as formulations blended with other soothing scents like lavender and marjorjam, and meant to be sprayed onto a pillow before falling asleep in order to combat insomnia.

When Should You Consider Using A Cedarwood Oil-Based Product?

Is cedarwood oil a comparable option over chemical pest control formulations when it comes to fighting off these common bugs??

For Bed Bugs

A test conducted by Rutgers University demonstrated that cedarwood oil (among other essential oils as well as silicon oils and paraffin oil) was toxic to bed bugs. 

This can be an excellent alternative to chemical-based bed bug treatments for those looking for a "greener" method to combat bed bugs, or for those looking for a lower-budget option to a bed bug exterminator.

For Fleas

The Environmental Protection Agency has published literature stating that Juniperus virginiana, one of the trees from which cedarwood oil derives, is excellent at controlling moths and flea populations.

For Slugs

Cedarwood oil is used primarily is a molluscicide—namely, an agent to kill mollusks and slugs. The volatile properties of the cedarwood oil work to suffocate the garden slugs and snails, leading to death. All the while, your plants are protected and unharmed by the cedar oil as it does its work.

Is Cedarwood Oil Dangerous To Humans?

Guess what? 

Cedarwood oil has a low toxicity rate to mammals, which means that it's not generally harmful for humans to use. 

In fact, cedarwood oil has an incredible list of benefits for human use! Check out a few of the ways this essential oil can boost your health in the video below.

It is not recommended that humans directly inhale, ingest, or otherwise consume cedarwood oil in order to avoid complications. Always use this oil as directed, and wash hands immediately after use before touching your mouth or eyes in order to stay safe. 

However, it's worth noting that the American College of Health Sciences does not recommend that expectant mothers or those with babies/toddlers use harsh essential oils. If you fit this category, we suggest that you steer clear of cedarwood oil as a precaution. 

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Is Cedarwood Oil Dangerous To Cats?

There have been reports to the National Pesticide Information Center of incidents involving cats being irritated by cedarwood oil since 1992.

In addition to this, take this fact into account: the liver of a cat doesn't have a certain enzyme which is necessary to break down the chemical compounds of many essential oils. This means that cats are particularly vulnerable to oil poisoning from diffusion or household use of essential oils.

Side Effects

If your cat shows the following signs of oil poisoning, seek out veterinary attention immediately.

  • labored breathing
  • tremors
  • uncoordinated balance and difficulty walking
  • low body temperature
  • vomiting
  • drooling
  • reduced heart rate

Is Cedarwood Oil Dangerous To Dogs?

According to data reported to the National Pesticide Information Center, the only adverse affect that cedarwood oil has had on dogs is mild skin irritation.

While this is much more preferable than the oil poisoning symptoms that can happen to a cat, we can all agree that no pet owner ever wants anything painful to happen to their dog...ever!

Our recommendation?

Steer clear of using cedarwood oil around your dog until you get the green light from your vet. It's much better to be safe than sorry, especially when you've got your precious pup's skin on the line.

Side Effects

Thankfully, there's not many side effect and issues when it comes to cedar oil, but we have seen cases of skin irritation and fur loss.

What Does The Government Think About Cedarwood Oil?

Essential oils are normally exempt from most government regulations, since they're normally used purely for alternative medicinal practices like aromatherapy. 

That doesn't mean, however, that the US government completely turns its head on them, though. 

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA has long recognized cedarwood oil as a top contender in pest control—for nearly a quarter of a century, in fact. In 1993, the Agency added cedarwood oil to its list of list of minimum risk pesticides exempt from FIFRA.

This means that cedarwood oil is allowed to be an active ingredient in a pesticide without submitting to regulations that chemical formulations normally have to undergo.

National Institutes of Health

The NIH, in addition, has posted a full guide on cedarwood oil's properties as a viable insect repellent, with particular respect to its high cedrene count.

Based on this guide alone, one can infer that the NIH recommends cedarwood oil as an alternative to chemical-based insect repellent in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.

cedar oil facts 2

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Cedarwood Oil Vs Other Stuff

What's the difference between cedarwood oil and some of the other essential oils on the market?

Cedarwood Oil vs Neem Oil

These are both considered horticultural oils that are excellent to have at your disposal in the garden, but they work in different ways. 

Neem oil, for instance, works primarily to ward off mosquitoes and aphids. Cedarwood oil, on the other hand, works mostly to kill mollusks and moths.

Read Also: Neem Oil Safety Guide & Fact Sheet

Cedarwood Oil vs Rosemary Oil

While both of these essential oils are recommended for healthy hair, the points in time that a person might use them are a bit different.

Rosemary oil should be used to revitalize damaged hair, and give dull locks a boost of rejuvenation. Cedarwood oil, though, is endorsed when a person has lost hair, or the hair is quickly thinning or falling out.

Cedarwood Oil vs Eucalyptus Oil

Though both of these essential oils have a woodsy, mint feel when diffused through the air, eucalyptus is a much stronger oil.

As such, eucalyptus offers a much more potent dose of side effects. Cedarwood oil tends to be milder, while eucalyptus gives off a dramatic aroma that lingers for much longer than cedarwood oil.

Read Also: Eucalyptus Oil Safety Guide & Fact Sheet

Final Thoughts on Cedarwood Oil

All in all, cedarwood oil is an excellent choice for chemical-free pest control around the garden and home. It's got deodorizing properties which work to sanitize the home while simultaneously killing off unwanted bugs and slugs—a perfect combination!

Keep in mind, though, that cedarwood oil could cause problems for your pets. If you have a cat or a dog and choose to use this method of pest control on your property, be sure to watch out for the symptoms of oil poisoning. If any of the signs pop up, seek emergency veterinary care ASAP. Use cedarwood oil as directed, and keep out of reach of children. 

When used as intended, this essential oil can be a secret weapon in fighting off pests without the use of harsh chemicals.

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Curious about other chemicals? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

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