Heat, Light and Air are essential oil kryptonite!
You see exposure of an essential oil to heat, light and air all speed up the process of oxidisation. The faster your oils oxidise that faster they deteriorate and the faster they can become unstable and unsafe to use.
So to extend the shelf life of your essential oils it is vitally important to store your oils away from these elements as much as possible.
You see essential oils are the volatile extracts of plant material. That means that they evaporate easily, as anyone who has inadvertently left a cap off a bottle of lavender for a day or two only to find it half empty when they return to it. (Yes I have done this on more than one occasion).
The Short Shelf Life of Citrus Oils
The fastest oxidisers are the citrus family of oils. I have seen these oils oxidise within 6 months of opening a fresh bottle.
The Citrus Oil Freshness Test
How can you tell? Well particularly with orange and lemon oils, but this is true for all citrus…
if the oil doesn’t smell as if you have just peeled the fruit – fresh, tangy and vibrant – then unfortunately the oxidisation process is well under-way and it is advisable to ditch the contents and obtain fresh supplies.
For this reason it is particularly important that you ensure your citrus oils kept in the dark, cool with the caps closed tightly.
Some Oils Get Better With Age
Just like a good red wine, some oils like Sandalwood and Patchouli improve with age. And just like a fine wine it is vitally important that the oils are kept in the best possible condtions so that the true depth of the oils can develop
over time. (I have in my collection a 30 year old bottle of patchouli oil that smells absolutely divine. )
What is the best way to store essential oils?
To extend the shelf life or your aromatherapy oils keep them:
- in a dark bottle with a close fitting cap (at Moon Haven we use amber glass bottles with a dripper stopper and a tamper evident cap)
- away from heat and at temperatures below 25° Celsius
- away from light – in a cupboard or a specially designed aromatherapy oil box
- decant large bottles into smaller bottles a the contents are used to reduce exposure to air and oxidisation.
Essential Oil Safety: Rule 4 – Store Your Essential Oils Away From Air, Heat And Light
So our fourth rule of essential oil safety – to keep oils in small dark coloured glass bottles away from heat and light helps to ensure that you are always using aromatic oils that are at their best. This way you can receive the full therapeutic physiological and psychological effect of the essential oils.
Remember if in doubt about the quality or condition of an essential oil then Don’t Use It! Life is too short to use poor quality, degraded oils.
This article was written by Moon Haven’s aromatherapist and founder Leonie Gully.
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While any advice provided is general in nature, it is not intended to replace medical diagnosis or treatment. If you are at all concerned about your condition it is important that you do consult your medical practitioner of choice for an individual treatment plan.