What is the correct way to store your essential oils? How long do they last? Is there any way to elongate their shelf life? These are great questions and when it comes to these valuable bottles of essential goodness, we certainly do not want to make any mistakes. Knowing how to safely and effectively store your essential oils can save you money and a lot of headaches.
How Long do Essential Oils Last?
The answer to this really depends on the type of oil, how you store your oils and how often they are opened. In general, most oils last at least one year with some lasting up to 20 years. Shelf life is determined by when the oil itself was distilled, not when it was purchased, so purchasing from a trustworthy company like My Pure Earth who keeps their oils in a temperature-controlled facility is very important. We also add batch numbers to each of our oils so you can check out the exact distillation date of every product you purchase from us. It’s simple to find out, just go to the specific essential oil or hydrosol on our website, click the tab which says “Batch Info” and find the distillation date for your specific batch. Then click on the tab “Safety & Shelf Life” to find out how long that particular type of oil or hydrosol should last when it is stored correctly.
Here is a general guide of expiration:
Citrus Oils: 12-18 months
Floral Oils: 2-3 years
Spice and Herbal Oils: 3-5 years
Woodsy Oils: 6-10 years
How Can You Extend the Shelf Life?
There are 3 key ways to maintain ideal freshness and provide the longest life expectancy for your essential oils.
Aka – when you forget to put the lid back on your oils or don’t twist the cap all the way back on. We have all done it, but it’s bad. Like really bad. Oxidation is the process or result of oxidising or being oxidised. What this means is there is a chemical reaction that involves the movement of electrons, sometimes being lost to something else. When this happens to an essential oil, the constituents that make up that oil (and give it certain therapeutic properties) can break down and change into a new constituent. Ultimately, this alters the oil on a chemical level and it may no longer have the therapeutic effects that it once had.
The main way that oxidation happens is when oxygen hits the essential oil. This happens when you initially crack open that bottle and every time you open it thereafter. So, in knowing this, we can extend the life of the oil by keeping it tightly shut and opening it only as needed. Also, the plastic fitment in My Pure Earth bottles will allow one drop out at a time while keeping oxygen out.
Essential oils do not like heat! In fact, we believe the best temperature to keep your oils is between 10-20 degrees celsius. Some people even feel that the refrigerator is the best place to store their oils for the long term. Keep in mind that the scent of the oils may permeate into food, so you will want to put them in a separate drawer or fridge. If you choose not to keep them inside your refrigerator, just make sure they are in a cooler area of your home which has a consistent temperature as changes in temperature is also not ideal for oils. Also, if your oils are kept in very cool conditions, you may find that some oils become thicker. This is totally fine, but you may have to give your bottles an extra shake to get these thicker oils out.
Light, especially sunlight can be detrimental to the life of your essential oils. It is very important to keep your oils out of direct sunlight. It can actually deteriorate the chemical composition. This is why My Pure Earth’s oils are packaged in dark amber bottles. Dark amber bottles really help to keep the sun rays from damaging the oils. Ideally, you should also store them out of the light, so keeping them in a cabinet or a drawer is great. We also offer essential oil pouches which is a great option for storing your oils when on the go.
What if Your Essential Oils Expire?
If you have done your best to maximise the life of your oils, but they still expire, don’t worry. Even though it is not recommended to use them topically once expired due to the possibility of skin sensitisation, do not throw them out. Creating your own natural cleaning products is a great way to reduce waste and utilise those old oils. They will make a wonderful addition to a kitchen spray or a bathroom scrub.
In general, the best way to store your essential oils is in a dark, cool place closed as tightly as possible. Minimise heat, light, and oxygen exposure. Also, when they do expire, remember to put them to good use in your household cleaning products. If you would like to learn more about using essential oils in your own DIY cleaning supplies, check out one of our workshops or follow our IGTV videos.