Last Updated on July 29, 2020 by Yuvika Iyer
Do you wonder if ‘essential oils expire’?
This is a question many essential oil enthusiasts encounter when working on their DIY projects around the home.
In this blog, I will share the top tips to keep your precious essential oils safely to extend their shelf life.
In recent times, essential oils have seen a considerable jump in popularity in households across the world.
Sometimes soaring reputation can bring in a lot of misconceptions, which need to be immediately addressed.
Let’s begin with the root cause.
Somewhere in your essential oil journey, you must have come across this statement – “The oil is considered pure if it doesn’t expire.”
You may have even experienced or seen that essential oils don’t grow mildew, yeast, or mold.
Do Essential Oils Expire? – True or False
If someone tells you that a small bottle of essential oil will outlive you, it’s not true.
If your friend says essential oils can remain free of mildew, yeast, and mold, that’s a false hope.
Both these facts have no relationship with the truth.
Let me show you how and the how.
The Key Reasons for Essential Oils Expiration
Have you ever heard a term called oxidation?
It may be simple to pronounce but equally complicated to understand.
Let me give you a one-sentence explanation – Oxidation is a result or process of oxidizing or a substance being oxidized.
“Being oxidized” means to undergo or create a reaction by which that substance loses electron to another species or element.
You may think does oxidation make the oil into something else. That’s exactly what it does.
All essential oils have a specific shelf life lose their sheen after that.
Let’s go back to the basics now.
I recommend you to look at the essential oil safety chart carefully. You may ask me, “WHY?”
Don’t you want to know the chemical components making up an essential oil?
You should thoroughly analyze the elements that constitute an oil, the ratio, and specific safety information given to use each one of them.
That’s why MS or GC reports are so vital because they tell you the exact composition and attribution of each element to your essential oil.
Now, bring back oxidation in this process.
The components that form your essential oil start breaking down and turn into something new.
What exactly do they turn into?
None of us knows.
It depends on the components, its percentage on your essential oils, and how long it’s getting oxidized.
You can only get to the bottom of it is by rechecking and retesting the essential oils in the lab.
What is the Effect of Time on Essential Oils?
Hopefully, you are becoming more curious as now you have probably understood where we are heading.
While essential oils don’t perish overnight like food items, they slowly change over time.
As they turn into something else over time, and we don’t know the mix and ratio of ingredients in them, the overall safety of essential oil cannot be completely determined.
But, if you can take charge and do things to slow down the oxidation rate, the life of your oil will extend.
To increase the shelf life of your essential oil, you need to know which factors contribute to its oxidation process.
Three major external forces impacting essential oils’ shelf life are Heat, Light, and Oxygen.
Out of these 3, Oxygen is the biggest contributor to the oxidation process. Next come Light and Heat.
They also significantly contribute to the oxidation process of essential oils.
I am not diving into the core reasons because I don’t want to bore you with a full-blown chemistry lesson.
Impact of Oxygen on Essential Oils
You can reduce Oxygen exposure by tightly and quickly recap the bottles of essential oils.
Don’t let the bottles open for too long as outside air will speed up the oxidation process.
Oxygen will easily sneak inside the bottle and pump up the oxidation rate. You can consider using our pro-tip and decant your oils into smaller-sized bottles as and when needed.
For example, if you purchase a 10ml essential oil bottle and use 5 to 6 ml, pour the remaining oil into a small and compact bottle.
Remember, the oil should occupy the entire space of the container and there should be no vacuum.
Impact of Heat on Essential Oils
You can significantly reduce the Heat exposure by storing your essential oils in a refrigerator or other cool place.
35 to 38 degrees is considered as the ideal temperature for your essential oils.
However, it would be best if you also consider some other factors.
The strong aroma and powerful composition of essential oils can change the taste of food and drinks if the bottles are stored with them in the fridge.
It will help if you refrigerate them in separate air-tight containers to reduce the ill-effects of oxidation.
If you don’t wish to mix it up, going for a different fridge is the safest option. (A small one will be sufficient).
Impact of Light on Essential Oils
Light can speed up the oxidation process of essential oil.
You can keep essential oils in the dark-colored bottles and store them in a cool and dark place to reduce light exposure.
In our household refrigerator, there is a little room to store essential oil bottles as it is already stuffed with fruits, vegetables, and other items.
Consider storing your essential oil bottles in a cool place with minimum light, preferably a cabinet in the dark corner of your home.
Do Essential Oils Stay the Same?
If you look back on the essential oil shelf life and oxidation process, you will see a perfect blend of chemistry and science behind the concept.
With time your favorite and mesmerizingly aromatic essential oils will also start changing and breaking down.
Essential oils are perishable, but there is no exact science or specific details on its shelf life.
The moment you open an essential oil bottle, its shelf life period starts.
But, if you store it properly, you will be able to slow down its decomposition process.