Let's face it, essential oils are not cheap! They require a lot of plant material to produce a small amount of oil, and you want to get the most out of your little bottles of aromatic goodness. When stored correctly essential oils can last an long time. Conservatively, you can keep properly stored oils for at least 1 year. I have oils in my collection that I have had around for over 5 years, and they still have a long life ahead of them.
What Factors Affect Shelf Life of Essential Oils
Heat and Light:
Essential oils are flammable. Each oil has a unique flashpoint, or the temperature at which it will ignite. These flash points are quite high. A comfortable room temperature storage place will suffice, but I would not store oils above a range or wood stove.
Storing in direct sunlight can affect the color of an oil and consequently the constituents. This doesn't mean that you need to keep your oils in a box or drawer, just out of a sunny spot.
Oxygen and Moisture:
Oxidation occurs when an essential oil is exposed to oxygen. Consistent contact with air will deteriorate the oil and increase evaporation. All is not lost if this occurs. The oils can still be used for cleaning product recipes and even some diffusion, but should be avoided for aromatherapy reasons and all skin contact.
Moisture is also detrimental to a bottle of pure essential oil, and can enter the oil if the lid is left off for too long. If water does get into an oil, it may become cloudy or the water may bead up at the bottom of the container.
Tips for Storing Essential Oils
To avoid heat and light we recommended that you keep essential oils in a cool dry place. Kitchen and bathroom cupboards can work well. I store mine on a bookshelf that does not get direct sunlight.
Amber or cobalt glass bottles are preferred over clear glass. Most essential oils already come in a colored glass bottle when you purchase them. Never store pure essential oils in plastic, since they are corrosive and will eat away at the container.
To avoid oxidation and moisture, keep the lid on the bottles when you are not using them. It's also a good idea to transfer oils from a larger container that is almost empty to a smaller one. Let's say you use a lot of lemon essential oil and purchase it in 4 oz. quantities. When your bottle is half full or less you may want to transfer the oil into a 1 oz. or 2 oz. bottle. The less empty space in a bottle the better!
Reducer Caps and Droppers
Most 1/2 oz. and 1 oz. essential oils that you purchase will come with a drop-by-drop reducer inside the cap. These are really helpful and can be kept on the bottle. They allow you to dispense the oil one drop at a time. They are made of thick plastic and don't usually come into direct contact with the oil when they are not being used. With that said, they can break down over time. I like to keep some extra reducer lids around to replace as needed.
Some oils are just too thick for these handy reducer caps or don't come with one. In this case, glass droppers come in handy for using your oils. It is important that you do not use the dropper as a lid for your bottle. The bulbs of a dropper are made from a very pliable rubber and will break down quickly if used as a lid. Always use the screw cap lid that was provided with the bottle for storage. Ideally, clean out your glass droppers with alcohol for storage and future use or designate and label a dropper for a certain oil and store in a glass jar with lid.
That's it! Following these easy guidelines will ensure that your essential oils will last as long as you need them. Visit our website to see our full line of essential oils, storage containers, and glass droppers.