When it comes to storing your essential oils, they have to be placed in dark colored bottles that are usually either amber or blue colors. They should be kept in a cool, dark location, out of direct sunlight. They can also be stored in a refrigerator, though some may turn cloudy in cooler temperatures. Avoid plastic containers or rubber caps, as these may react with the oils or cause contaminants to leech into the oil.
Caps should also be on at all times when not in use to avoid oxidization, where oils can lose their effectiveness. All essential oils, should be kept cool and in a dark place, and are best kept refrigerated. Most essential oils come in dark glass bottles and should remain in these types of containers. Amber or Cobalt colored glass bottles are considered the best. However, as the oil is used and the amount in the bottles decrease, removing them from the larger bottle they were purchased in and replacing them in smaller dark bottles to decrease the “head room” will also assist in maintaining the integrity of the oil and help eliminate oxidation. It is never recommended to store your essential oils in a plastic bottle or with bottles that have a dropper. The oils will eat into the plastic and ruin your oils. It should also be noted that many essential oils can be flammable so avoid placing them in situations that could be dangerous for flammability.
When oils are introduced to heat, light and air a process known as oxidation begins. This process changes the chemical balance, appearance and often times the odor. The change in the odor is a sign that the oxidation process has begun, along with a change in consistency and/or color. When an oil begins to oxidize, the oil may cause a skin reaction.
Shelf-Life of Essential Oils
To have a better understanding about the shelf life of essential oils, it is important to know the 4 basic types of oils, their derivatives and the process used to obtain the oils.
Essential Oils: The process of distilling these oils is greatly affected by the value and potency of the oil. Since essential oils are distilled at 140 degrees, if you find you have forgotten or left your oil in the heat, you can keep its integrity but simply cooling it down by removing it from the heat source. Although, keeping any essential oil in the heat is not recommended it will not immediately be affected. The oil will blend back together after it cools back down to room temperature.
Citrus Oils: These oils are not distilled and are made from raw fruits or the rind of the fruit. They are cold pressed and have the shortest shelf life. Citrus oils should be maintained at room temperature and absolutely no higher than 100 degrees. Refrigeration of Citrus oils can assist in stabilizing and providing the longest shelf life.
Absolute Oils: These oils are extracted from chemical solvents and are not distilled. They are very sensitive to heat. The compounds of these oil types would be jeopardized and destroyed through the distilling process. Making a habit of keeping all your Absolute and Blended oils either refrigerated or at room temperature will provide you with maximum shelf life.
Carrier Oils: Examples include, vegetable oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil and coconut oil. These oils quickly degrade the therapeutic effect of the oil you are combining it with and the carrier oil itself will become rancid. This is the main reason, that essential or absolute oils should be combined with carrier oils in small amounts prior to usage. Like anything your essential oils do have a “best when used by” time frame, but luckily, most essential oils have a lengthy shelf life. Especially when they are stored properly.
As tempting as it might be to have a large inventory of oils available to you, it is just as important to be certain the oils that you are using are fresh and at their best. Dating each bottle with the date you purchased it will be an invaluable resource as your inventory grows. When purchasing, it is also highly recommended that you ask when the particular oil was distilled. Keeping in mind that Essential oils are “nature made”, each crop will vary in their potency.
The majority of essential oils have a shelf life of 2-5 years and some even more time. For example, Rose Otto Oil improves with age if it is stored properly. Rose Otto oil should be kept refrigerated to eliminate its ability to evaporate even when tightly capped. Oils such as Patchouli, Cedar wood and Sandalwood have some of the longest shelf lives. As a rule of thumb, the thicker oils do maintain a longer shelf life. There are only a few oils which have a shelf life shorter than two years. For example, citrus and pine oils which are used for uplifting your spirits and for disinfectants.
These oils should be used at their freshest and purest quality.
These oils should be replaced every 10-12 months even when being stored properly. They can still be very useful for household cleaning and room freshening.
A few drops of pine oil or a citrus oil in a bucket of water will provide you with the benefits of a natural cleaner. Placing a few drops of these oils down your sinks and will also help in eliminating odors.
How about 2-3 drops in the bottom of your trash cans or inside the roll of your toilet paper roll to provide a fresh hidden fragrance. Even if their germicidal potency is not what it was when the oil was fresh, it still provides a certain amount of germicidal properties and they are still great “odor eaters”.