Part 3: What Is The Best Way To Store Essential Oils?
There is lots of conflicting information about the best way to store essential oils so we are here to clear things up for you.
With so many wonderful oils available, you’re likely to have your favorites scattered at home, the office or gym. Knowing how to correctly store them is key if you want to maximize their therapeutic benefits.
The good news is that essential oils will ordinarily not become rancid and spoil completely. However, they can oxidize or otherwise deteriorate so it’s wise to know as much as you can about keeping them in peak condition.
Different oils behave in different ways. Citrus oils, for example, can oxidize in as little as six months. The aroma starts to fade along with the health benefits. Sandalwood and patchouli, by contrast, actually mature with age. You won’t notice a reduction in the scent quality but they will not perform as well.
So, although essential oils don’t all behave in the same way, they certainly benefit from proper handling and storage.
We will now address some common questions asked about best practice with essential oils.
Is Heat Bad For Essential Oils?
In a word, yes.
Any extended exposure to excessive heat or direct sunlight will have a negative impact on any essential oil. Heat alters their chemical make-up and also adversely affects the rate of evaporation.
So… Keep your oils out of the car. Don’t put them near windows or any source of heat.
Storing your oils in an amber glass bottle acts as great protection against harmful ultraviolet light. The inbuilt advantage of the glass bottle is that some oils – particularly citrus oils – can actually dissolve plastic. Avoid both sun damage and a mess: choose glass.
Where Should I Store My Essential Oils?
If you know that essential oils should be kept away from heat, it’s logical to assume that storing them in the refrigerator would be a smart move.
If it’s practical, popping them in the fridge is the best option.
For those with too much food and limited space, focus instead on keeping them as cool as possible. It’s also wise to keep them somewhere that is not prone to fluctuations of temperature.
How About a Storage Box?
Boxes are not strictly necessary but they do help to ensure that no sunlight penetrates and damages your oils. They are also a great help in preventing any changes in ambient temperature from impacting upon your oils.
A storage box is also a fantastic way to keep your essential oil collection organized as it grows.
Bottles With Droppers: Good or Bad?
Steer well clear of any oils sold in bottles with the dropper incorporated into the cap.
If the dropper has rubber on it, the high concentration of essential oils can cause this rubber to turn into a gum. This will ruin the oil.
Check instead for orifice reducers. These small, clear inserts offer the benefits of a dropper without the drawbacks.
What Is The Lifespan of Essential Oils?
There is no single answer to this question. Essential oils left in the bottle in a standard home last from just a few months in some cases to almost indefinitely in others.
Why is this?
Environmental factors such as heat, light and oxygen will degrade the constituents of some essential oils while others will largely escape.
The meaningful shelf life of an essential oil is the length of time it will hold onto the bulk of its therapeutic and aromatic potential. When they start to turn, most oils simply become flat and dull. Be particularly careful with tea tree and lavender, though. They can cause irritation in some people when they are past their prime.
Let’s examine now the variations in the way essential oils endure…
- Citrus Oils: These lose their luster most rapidly. Citrus varieties undergo less distillation and extraction. They are in many ways closer to their natural state. This is great when they are in tip-top shape but they are more prone to oxidation. As oxygen atoms plunder the electrons of the oils, these citrus oils will go flat and lose their zest more quickly than others
- Floral Oils: In general, florals enjoy lengthier lifespans. The exception is Neroli which is distilled from citrus tree flowers. Most floral oils will comfortably serve you for a year or two with the incredible Rose Otto still in fine fettle after five years
- Evergreens/Grasses/Herbs: Overall, any essential oil distilled from these three sources will last one or two years without any reduction in quality
- Spice Oils: This type of essential oil overlaps to some degree with the above category. Due to being more effervescent, though, they don’t go the distance. It’s mainly the top note that vanishes but the health benefits remain intact
- Resin Oils: Sandalwood, patchouli, frankincense and myrrh all improve with age. Some of them even command a premium as they get older much like fine wine. They remain effective for several years. Vetiver, galbanum and spikenard also come into this group of oils and demand no special care at all
You can see from the above guidelines that essential oils in general might be expensive but, alongside their myriad benefits, they can be used for lengthy periods without a drop in their impact.
If you plan to use up your oils within six months or so, there’s really no need at all to be concerned with the issue of storage. The highly sensitive Neroli and grapefruit are the only exceptions here.
Overall, stick with a cool and dry location. Make sure that you do not expose your oils to extremes of temperature.
Keep this simple but valuable advice in mind and you should glean the full therapeutic rewards of your essential oils fuss-free.