Frankly, I’m a bit surprised I don’t already have a recipe for, err, “Bandits” oil up here (apparently the more common name is trademarked and the owners aren’t shy about threatening bloggers with legal action, which is just charming… hence the different name), and I have Michelle to thank for kicking my butt into gear on this one (thanks!). The legend around Bandits oil says it was used by a group of thieves to safely rob victims of the Black Plague. It’s not exactly a cheery story, but it certainly serves to imply that this oil is a powerful antibacterial/antiviral blend. Now, there’s no shortage of recipes for Bandits oil online, so I thought I’d try my best to provide a good overview of the options so you can create your own blend around a basic recipe.
Your basic Bandits oil recipe generally contains essential oils of clove bud, cinnamon bark, rosemary, lemon, and eucalyptus. The proportions are hardly set, but clove oil usually dominates the blend, and rosemary is usually towards the end. The other three seem to shuffle about depending on whose formula you’re looking at.
Clove bud essential oil is best known for its usefulness with toothaches, and it is a fantastic painkiller. It’s also a warming essential oil, boosting circulation to an area when applied topically. It also smells wonderfully of Christmas baking and gingerbread, and is said to be antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral.
Cinnamon bark essential oil smells just like what you’d expect it to—cinnamon. Yum. It’s a definite circulation booster, and can be irritating when applied topically, even when diluted. It, too, has antiseptic and antimicrobial properties.
Rosemary essential oil is a favourite for antiseptic and antimicrobial uses. Unlike clove and cinnamon bark essential oils, it smells nothing like the rosemary you have in your kitchen, so don’t fret about smelling like roasted chicken if you include this in any blends. Apparently its leaves were burned in hospitals to purify the air, which is a neat bit of history.
Lemon essential oil is fantastic stuff. Bright and cheery in the scent department, it smells just like the ripest of lemons. It is a favourite for cleaning thanks to its clean scent and antiseptic properties. I recommend using the 5 fold stuff, which is five times more concentrated than standard lemon essential oil for a relatively small price increase.
Lastly, eucalyptus. There are lots of varieties of eucalyptus essential oil to choose from. The classic choice for Bandits oil is radiata, but I used globulus because that’s what I had on hand. I would recommend avoiding Eucalyptus citriadora (lemon eucalyptus) as it smells overwhelmingly of bug spray. The compound we’re mostly interested in is 1,8-cineol, also known as eucalyptol. It’s an antiseptic. Different varieties of eucalyptus essential oils contain different amounts of 1,8-cineol. The typically recommended radiata contains about 70%, so anything above that will be stronger. New Directions Aromatics lists the percentages on their website if you’d like to look into it further.
These five oils combine to create a bandits oil essential oil blend that is strongly antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral. They also smell surprisingly nice when blended together, though in a very camphorous, clean way.
So, that’s the base—now we can build up and out if we want 🙂 Here are a few ideas:
- Swap the lemon for orange essential oil which has similar properties, but a sweeter scent
- Swap the rosemary for thyme—similar properties, slightly different scent
- Add some tea tree essential oil, the classic antibacterial essential oil
- Add some lemon myrtle essential oil—it’s even more potent than tea tree essential oil
- Add some oregano oil or origanum oil—both are very potent antiviral essential oils
- Add some classic lavender essential oil—antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, and all-around awesome
- Add some niaouli essential oil—another strong antiseptic/ antibacterial /anti-fungal essential oil
- Add some dark patchouli essential oil—the list of anti-this-and-that benefits is ridiculously long
30 drops clove bud essential oil
20 drops cinnamon bark essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
25 drops lemon essential oil
20 drops eucalyptus globulus essential oil
2020 update: Given the irritation potential for the bulk of this essential oil blend, I no longer recommend applying products made with it to the skin. The maximum allowable usage rate for cinnamon bark essential oil is 0.07%, and clove is limited to 0.1%. If you still want to use this for cleaning products, tread very carefully and make sure you wear rubber gloves when using cleaning products featuring this blend.
Count out all the essential oil drops into a 5mL glass bottle. Fit it with a dropper top and a sealing cap.
This is just a basic recipe, and leaves room for about 20 drops of additional essential oils at the top of the bottle, so feel free to add some that sound good to you.
To use, try adding it to your mop bucket, adding a drop to your toilet when you’re scrubbing it out, or diffusing it in your home.
This blend should always be used diluted—don’t apply it straight to your skin!
I’ve been making my own blend for a few years now. LOVE IT! I use it in our Cold/Flu Blend, sink scrub, tooth powder, mouthwash during sick season, etc.
BTW……LOVE YOUR BLOG LIL GIRL!!!
Brilliant! My latest love for it is adding it to my washing water for extra stinky gym clothes 😉 Thanks so much for reading & DIYing with me!
Jennifer, you indicate that you add this oil to your tooth powder and mouth rinse. How do you mix it and how much? Curious minds want to know! TY.
I use about 6 drops of thieves and 6-10 of peppermint…I use it in my deodorant too. It smells SO GOOD!
Hi Tina! I know when I incorporate essential oils into powders I use my coffee grinder to blend them in. In the end you get the benefits and they’re thoroughly distributed, but there’s no clumping 🙂
I love this stuff!
I use it topically in a carrier oil, dripped into the heater vents in colder weather, and diffused in a hot bath. Lovely!
Friendly warning: Young Living has trademarked several variations of the name “Thieves Oil”, and has sent cease and desist letters to bloggers who have used it with their own recipes. You have a great site here, and I’d hate to see you get harassed as well! I’m not sure how far reaching their trademarks are, but I figured I’d give you a head’s up. 🙂
Hi Azure! Thanks for the heads up 🙂 I’ve changed it in the copy. There seem to be a lot of non-trademarked uses of the term out there, but better safe than sorry I suppose. Yet another reason to avoid MLMs 😛
the license to all those names lapsed years ago. The letters are just threats and all hot air.
Well that’s rather rude.
Is it possible to create a tolerance by overuse? I have gotten into the habit of putting a drop of Theives on the bottom of each foot every morning before putting my socks on. My girlfriend got horribly sick for a week and I never got it…now I make sure I use it continuously, but I’m worried that it might lose its effectiveness??
From what I have read, no—building up a tolerance shouldn’t be an issue. You can, however, become sensitized to essential oils through overexposure—basically, using them undiluted. If you’re applying essential oils to the skin they should always be diluted in a carrier oil 🙂
I love your blog, Marie! I am really excited to get my hands on supplies to try some of your recipes! I’m really happy (proud? Is it weird for me to say that?) to see you promoting safe and smart EO use. Although I am an IPC for an EO MLM, I really don’t support or approve of a lot of the claims they make… ESPECIALLY that its okay to apply oils ‘neat’. Its simply not a good idea. So thank you for encouraging your readers to dilute!
Thanks, Laura! The claim that amazes me most is that they’re ok to eat—I’m not interested in guinea pigging that one!
Some are – eg, the ‘cuilinary ones’, like spearmint, etc. LorAnn Oils has a list of EOs that are safe to use in food.
That said, the EOs are usually used to flavor foods, like bergamot in Earl and lady gray teas, mint for mint flavoring and so on.
Clove oil can be used as a topical anesthetic when you have a tooth ache but you have to be Very Careful not to use so much of it that it destroys the cells of the skin around the sore tooth. That kind of says something, no?
It is worth noting that LorAnn products are, as a food item, overseen by the FDA in the USA—which most essential oils are not. That oversight and the fact that the particular EOs they recommend consuming are so obviously food-like certainly helps. They also recommend using them in very low concentrations—~25 drops for a pound of chocolate—which is very different from filling a capsule with essential oils and swallowing it!
Also FYI, you’ve listed Thyme and Oregano as substitutes but they are both toxic and have to be researched carefully before adding to ANYthing you put on your skin or in your mouth, even if you don’t swallow it. They definitely have to be diluted as far as I can tell. I use Lavender neat all the time and have also used Tea Tree oil undiluted with no problems, ofcourse on small areas. Just my $0.02 🙂 I love your blog, thank you for sharing your wealth of wisdom <3
Hey Rosa! I did research them, and while both are considered irritating if used neat, I didn’t see anything about them being toxic when used well diluted. If you have a better source, please share it 🙂 This blend is definitely not supposed to be applied straight to the skin (or eaten! LORDY no, don’t eat EOs!). It would be really irritating, even without those alternatives, thanks to the cinnamon and clove EOs. I added a note about that to the recipe as it was obvious to me, but I often forget that things that are obvious to me might not be to others 😛
Also, oregano oil is sold as an oral supplement, so… ?
I love your posts and your potions & lotions! I don’t know where you find the time. I think that your home must smell divine and that you must be a great friend to have. I wish I had a tenth of your knowledge and innovation. Please keep them coming – there’s a very grateful and loyal fan in Inverness, Scotland. If you’re ever over here look me up.
Thanks, Caroline! I find I have to make the time at this point, it certainly doesn’t present itself anymore, but that’s ok since it means I get to do lots of what I love! Thank you so much for your kind words, and for reading—it is really, truly appreciated 🙂 I shall be sure to send you a message if I make it back to Scotland—fingers crossed I do, I love it there!
Thank you so much for freely sharing your gifts with us.
Thanks for reading, Linda!
Thank you so much for all your posts! They are so informative, giving a little bit of the history and leaving so many options open. LOVE IT! Thanks for helping the rest of us DIY, and learning about the Natural… you’re awesome!
Thanks so much Kaylynn 🙂 Your kind words and support mean the world to me!
Wow didn’t know thieves oil is tm. I wonder can you misspell the word to theives and avoid litigation? :)))
Love this oil. I would love to use this in solid perfume and soap 🙂
LOL… no your honour, I swear, it’s a totally different thing… e before i… right?! Ha!
I make a similar blend and add it to a salve to make my own petroleum free cold/flu rub. I had heard about the trademark issue (like Nestlé attempting to trademark a flower) and think it’s ridiculous, but changed the name to Pirate Salve. Whatever. A rose by any other name…
I was quite aghast when I found out T Mobile was trying to trademark magenta. REALLY? Lame.
Hmmm, guess I won’t be buying any oils with a certain brand name…
I am pretty excited that maybe this recipe will be the magic elixir for the evil fungus that inhabits my toenails.
Sorry to anyone reading this who may have been eating 🙂
Thank you as usual for your awesomeness!
My thoughts precisely, though I didn’t really need any further encouraging :/ Good luck with your toes!
HA Pia- I was thinking the same thing for my hubbie’s toes. I’m gonna see if he will use it. I love all of your posts Marie and can hardly wait until the next one comes. I have learned so much from you.
Thanks so much, Cindy! Enjoy your “bandits” oil 😉
Thieves is not trademarked, and the supposed rights to the name lapsed long ago. YL just loves to run around and threaten people all the time. Just ignore them and call it for what it really is.
OOooh, this is an intriguing development. Do you have any documentation of the trademark lapsing? I’d love to share it with some people 🙂
Hi Marie! Thank you for sharing such awesome recipes. I was curious about the whole Thieves trademark issue so I checked it out and it appears to be actively registered in both Canada and the United States.
The Canadian trademark registration number is: TMA857435, found at http://www.cipo.ic.gc.ca.
The United States trademark registration number is: 2688364, found at http://www.uspto.gov.
Have you ever thought about creating a book of your favorite recipes?
Hi Misty! Thanks for reading 🙂 And thanks for the detective use! I suppose it’s a good thing I adopted a new name for this entry.
I would absolutely love to write a book (or 7)! It’s on my bucket list for sure 🙂
If you ever get that book written please let me know! I would love to purchase one. Love your recipes! Thank you so much,
I will! 🙂
Love your site! I used this oil in a humidifier in my sons room when I bought him a new mattress. Cleaned the air of the chemical smell. Worked like a charm! He could sleep in his room that night.
Brilliant! I’m thrilled to hear it 🙂 Thanks for DIYing with me!
Hi Marie – I have made several of your recipes. I have a list a mile long of more I want to make! My favorite is your argan serum for mature skin. I still can’t get over the difference it has made 🙂 Do you happen to know if cinnamon leaf eo works the same as cinnamon bark? I’m new to eo’s…TIA
Hi Colleen! Thanks so much for reading and DIYing with me, and I’m so thrilled to hear the serum is working so well for you 🙂 For this specific recipe you could use Cinnamon Leaf instead of Cinnamon Bark EO as they both have similar antiseptic/antibiotic properties, but for anything else, generally not—it doesn’t have the same scent or the same warming effect.
How timely! I was just thinking about making some “Bandits” oil for a friend. Fuss I should keep up with my reading a little better. I would have found your techie sooner.
What is your opinion on subbing cinnamon leaf oil for cinnamon bark? When I lol them up, I see that the properties are similar.
HI Stacey! For this specific recipe you could use Cinnamon Leaf instead of Cinnamon Bark EO as they both have similar antiseptic/antibiotic properties, but for anything else, generally not—it doesn’t have the same scent or the same warming effect 🙂
Aaaannnddd… I see you already answered that question. Thanks!
So glad I came accross your blog! I recently signed up as a distributor of YL for personal use only. I just can’t justify the cost of the YL version of this blend. I love NDA products. They’re high quality and have fantastic price points. I made the “Bandits” blend and it smells the same. Thank you!
Thanks, Dannielle! I’m glad you’re enjoying the blend & DIYing with me 🙂
Hi! I want to make this just for my topical use. Can you plz tell me about how much carrier oil I should add to your 5 mL recipe?
Hi Cookies! Most guides recommend a dilution of about 2%, so that would be 2mL of the essential oil blend in 98mL of carrier oil. I would recommend making less than that to start as 100mL is quite a lot of oil!
I LOVE this blend. Parents have made it up and I’ve been using for years. It’s the base for most of my hand sanitizers. I almost always add in peppermint though. This blend worked on my staph infection when antibiotics DIDNT. and mine as the size of a pencil eraser. Mmhhm. If you haven’t tried it. DO IT NOW! You can use for so many things!!
And about that company..I have to say I think they did some good things especially getting people into oils. That being said I think they’ve gotten carried away in greed. They DONT educate people enough on essential oils. Or at least they never used to. Secondly, why trademark this blend, especially since THEY copied it from looters during the plagues of old ages. I will never order from them for these reasons.
It’s always lovely to meet another “bandits” fan, Colie 🙂 I, too, have quickly fallen for this handy (and awesome smelling) blend!
I definitely agree about the copying from looters of old—it’s rather tacky to trademark centuries old recipes :/
I find it amazing that more and more traditional recipes are having their names copywritten. This happened with Fire Cider, and now 4 Thieves? Wow.
Hello, Thanks for the idea, I usually used just lemon and lavender oil , but now I will try these one as well :), I make my own toothpaste and I change the taste every 3rd time 🙂 and when I went to dentist for a checkup-so scary for me -, the doctor was amused that I dont have any cavities :), I was very happy to hear this and I jumped out from the seat :D.Best wishes to everyone. Pearl
Enjoy it, but do be sparing—both clove and cinnamon are quite hot oils!
I love your Bandits Oil recipe and am wondering if I could make a pillow spray with it.
Hi Gwyneth! You definitely can, just take care not to make it very strong as some of the EOs in Bandits can be topically irritating—especially to the sensitive skin on the face 🙂
I cannot believe that the “official” version of this blend retails in Australia for $72.50 AUD for 15ml! It’s insane! I just calculated that amount to cost about $7 AUD to make at home (including the bottle), without any of the bulk purchasing power that a company could have. Whew!
YIKES! I love doing math like that, though… it makes me feel pretty clever for doing that at-home version 😉
I love your site and all your recipes! Thank you so much for sharing your inventions and discoveries with us! 🙂 I was curious, could I add Bandits Oil to a lip balm recipe? Would it be too strong for the lips, harmful to get into the mouth or would this be okay? As someone who hates getting sick or getting the nasty cold sore that comes with a bad cold, I’d like to do what I can to keep that all at bay.
Hi Liz! I would definitely not put bandits oil anywhere near my lips! Clove and cinnamon are both quite hot oils, and would be very irritating, while the lemon will make your lips photosensitive and leave you with a sunburnt mouth. Oh yeah, and apparently eucalyptus oil can cause seizures if ingested. So… please don’t!
Hello! I was wondering if I need to add 5x as much lemon essential oil in this blend if I do not have the 5-fold type.
You shouldn’t need to, that would really throw off the entire recipe. I have the 5x stuff because it’s better for soaping (it lasts longer through aging), but for this recipe the regular stuff is fine 🙂
I’ve never heard of 5fold lemon. Can you share where you get yours?
I get mine from New Directions Aromatics 🙂
Thanks Big Bunches!
Can you substitute the cinnamon bark for cinnamon leaf? I just found that my bark oil is not 100% pure (thankfully it’s the only one of that brand I have) so I’m hesitant to use it in anything. & I know leaf has an abundance of properties including antiseptic, antimicrobial, & parasiticidal as well as helps fortify the immune system. I also thought it might help make the blend slightly less toxic (could be wrong) since bark is an irritant.
For something like this, definitely! There’s loads of room to play and swap things around in this blend 🙂
Do you mind saying which brand it was so I can avoid accidentally recommending it?
I have all oils except cinnamon bark, could I use Now cinnamon cassia? Is that the same thing???
They’re not the same, but I know cinnamon bark EO is dumb expensive these days. Cassia should be an acceptable swap considering this isn’t really for use on the skin—cassia is quite warming!
Hi, Marie: I’m going to try to use it for a friend who cannot tolerate the fumes from paint in her apartment. I will put the drops in an old humidifier and see what happens.
Regarding the trademarked names consider this: one yoga business tried to patent a yoga move it had ‘invented’. The government of India was outraged as ‘yoga was to be shared with the world, but was now being ‘westernized’ for profit, not for spiritual health.’ Needless to say, that company dropped the patent. One question: How do you patent a yoga move?!?
I don’t know, but I would be very curious to see the patent application LOL!
Best of luck with your friend’s apartment!
Well, the Bandits Oil worked! We tried everything to remove the odour — buckets of vinegar at 10% acidity, baking soda, and charcoal, but nothing did it like your Bandits Oil! My friend is so grateful and thanks you, Marie. I’m preparing another concoction this afternoon.
WAHOO! Great news 🙂 Thanks for the update!
Thank you! I’ve come down with a cold and didn’t want to search the web for the recipe. (I was reading your post on how to make a cold suck less, LOL)
Oh no! Feel better 🙂 And if you’ve never done a nasal rinse before, OMG. DO THEM. Nasal rinses + Advil Cold & Sinus are the top parts of my cold strategy. And a good sleeping pill, if you’re not adverse. Good sleep makes everything better, faster.
I made some lotion that was five percent thieves oil recently… I had to discount it out of the regular oil and add it at the end instead of heating it with the emulsifying wax. i’m not sure if that was the right percentage / usage rate for the thieves oil… the smell is pretty strong, but i was hellbent on making a lotion that was also a hand sanitizer.
anti bacterial lotion! is this crazy talk or do you think it will actually kill the bacteria on my hands when i use it?
Hey! So, I think this concentration is probably way too high to advisably use on the skin. I can’t comment on if it would kill bacteria on your skin, but I do worry about irritation and sensitization. The two most restricted essential oils in the blend are cinnamon bark and clove—the maximum usage rate for cinnamon essential oil is 0.07%, and clove bud is 0.1%–0.5%. You have most definitely exceeded those safe usage rates by a very wide margin given those two EOs are ~40% of this bandits blend.
I’d probably just stuck with 60–70% isopropyl alcohol for anti-bacterial needs. There’s plenty of room to incorporate some essential oils & glycerin as well if you want to. Isopropyl alocohol physically destroys the bacteria so we don’t have to worry about drug resistance, and it’s been proven to be very effective 🙂
I know this is an old post. Rock on! Made it today.
I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying it! Thanks for DIYing with me, and happy making 🙂
What a great recipe! Have you tried to make your own version of « happy »? I really like that synergy. I have not given a try yet.
EO that are in this synergy are : Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Jasmine, Palmarosa, Rose, Bergamot, Lemon, and Tangerine.
Thank you for your blog! I always come and have a look before doing any DIYs.