If you are an essential oil enthusiast, you know the joy of enjoying selected fragrances whenever you choose.
It would be a shame to reach out into the cabinet for that favorite lemon or bergamot oil, only to realize that the scent is a bit ‘off’ because it has gone bad.
Most people treasure their stash of essential oils for the reason that they are so aromatic and apply to a myriad of uses around the house. That can range from using them in a diffuser to immersing yourself in a calming hot bath that has your favorite fragrance.
For those of us who love cooking, you will inevitably scald yourself at one time or another. Nothing brings quick relief and helps with the healing process like lavender or peppermint essential oil.
So, it is of little wonder that you would like to ensure your arsenal of essential oils is appropriately stored to have the most extended shelf life possible.
Although some essential oils naturally have a shorter lifespan owing to their chemical constitution, others have a far much longer shelf life for the same reason.
What they both have in common is the need for proper storage under the right conditions to ensure that they last the longest time possible, based on their compound composition. That is in part why the right storage for oils is so important.
Given that all essential oils have volatile compounds, it means they can quickly evaporate.
That, in itself, is not a bad thing; in fact, it is the one property that makes essential oils so fragrant because the scent effortlessly wafts from the oil.
To preserve and maintain the properties of oils is reasonably easy if you know how to.
There are three common enemies to essential oils that cause quality degradation. These are oxygen, light, and heat.
After the extraction of essential oils from herbs and seeds, it becomes imperative to take measures that keep your oils safe from all these three elements.
If you can succeed in keeping your essential oil from these elements, you can be sure that your oil will have an extended shelf life. The chemical constitution of your oil will remain fresh and fragrant in the absence of the said elements.
It is a common assumption that essential oils do not expire.
But that notion is not correct.
The chemical constitution of essential oils may be all-natural but also very volatile. The compound composition of every essential oil is different but delicate and complex. Some oils, such as citruses, naturally evaporate faster than others, due to their chemical make up, as aforementioned.
When you introduce an element that can alter their chemical make up even in the slightest, the constitution of the oil may be changed.
That can negatively affect the fragrance, as well as healing properties.
Patchouli and sandalwood essential oils mature with age and can have an incredibly long. The lifespan, if stored correctly.
For instance, if an essential oil is often exposed to oxygen, its compounds become oxidized, which catalyzes expiration. If exposed to direct heat, they can become discolored, while direct UV lights may result in the oils losing their therapeutic properties.
Essential oils do expire.
But with optimal storage, they do last longer. However, improper storage shortens their life span drastically.
Containers for essential oils
Containers are a huge part of storage when it comes to essential oils.
Both connoisseurs and amateurs like to explore different essential oil blend recipes.
Knowing which container is best for what will help you along, not just in proper storage but also conjuring up blends for varied uses in your home.
Commonly used containers used for storage include the below:
For the preservation of essential oils and for the sake of keeping their therapeutic and fragrance properties intact, using smaller containers such as 5 ml, and 10 ml and 15 ml bottles is best.
You might purchase essential oils in bigger bottles, which is OK.
However, once you have them in your house, it is far much better to store them in smaller containers to preserve their quality and prolong their shelf life.
Most oil enthusiasts love blending various essential oils to create different scent notes but also to combine the healing power of oils.
To do this successfully, you will need a blending container that is full glass.
Remember that essential oils have a portent natural make up and can corrode plastic or rubber.
So, the best containers and bottles that are fully glassware are the best option for preparing and storing your blends.
A wooden box is an excellent way to store your bottles of essential oils.
A cold, dark, and dry space are some of the stipulated ideal characteristics of storage space for oils.
Wooden boxes provide those exact conditions. They do not allow UV rays and are not conductive, therefore very effective in keeping light and heat away from your precious oils.
Places where essential oils should not be stored
One of the many properties that essential oils possess is volatility. That makes them flammable at the right temperature.
The point at which essential oils can combust is pretty high and is known as the ‘flashpoint.’
The flashpoint may vary from one oil to another, but all essential oils are flammable. That being said, they should not be stored anywhere near a heat source, such as near a fireplace, stove, or heater.
The UV light is a standard culprit that can rob your oil of therapeutic properties. To avoid this, store your oils away from direct sunlight.
Remembering to tightly close the lid of your oil bottle immediately after use, helps prevent oxidation, thus prolonging the shelf life of your oil.
How to store essential oils properly?
Preservation of the delicate natural extract that is an essential oil, begins at the time of extraction.
At the point when an essential oil has been distilled from the herb, plant, bark, or seed, it is susceptible to damage if exposed to oxygen, light, and heat.
That is why this first point is essential.
1. Buy from a reputable supplier
By buying from a reputable supplier, you can be assured of the quality. That is because you have confidence in the brand’s quality control and assurance that the product was handled properly at the point of distillation.
That means, by the time the oil has been dispatched to the shelf for sale, it still has vital properties and fragrance intact. This way, the chances of long shelf life are high.
2. Protect against UV light
After you have purchased a reputable brand, now the honors are on you to store the bottles with care.
Part of this means storing the bottle in a place with no direct sunlight.
That can be on an open shelf in the bathroom. Or it could be in a medicine cabinet in the kitchen. A drawer on your work desk is also an option.
The important thing is that the bottle is not exposed to UV rays. That sort of exposure will kill your oil’s therapeutic properties.
3. Protect from exposure to air
To do this, you can try to always close your oil immediately after use to prevent exposure to air. Once done with your bottle, tightly close the lid before storage.
Some people use a dropper cap as a lid because of functionality and convenience. There is a good chance that air can find its way through such a lid.
A screw cap lid is most recommended as it is more airtight. Air is what causes oxidation in oils and will alter the compounds, thus affecting the fragrance negatively.
Oxidated oils that are applied topically can cause sensitivity, itching, and redness to the skin.
4. Store at the correct temperature
So what is the proper temperature?
The room temperature will work just fine.
For safety reasons, be sure to store your oils away from any heat sources, including direct sunlight.
5. Avoid excessive transportation
Excessive transportation should be avoided.
The simple reason for this is temperature and light issues are harder to control in a vehicle causing your oil to degrade as a result.
Best way to store essential oils (useful tips)
The general rule of thumb when storing essential oils is the storage area needs to be cold and dark.
For as long as the oil bottles are tightly closed, it means even air or oxygen cannot find their way into the bottle.
A little light is no issue for as long as it is not direct sunlight. The amber or cobalt blue glass bottles are more than capable of fending light off the bottle.
Direct sunlight, however, has heat, which can cause discoloration or cause your oil to lose its therapeutic properties.
Below are some pointers that will help you to adequately store essential oils.
Keep the bottle lids on tight
Keeping the lids on tight sees to it that your oil does not evaporate. It also prevents your oil from getting oxidized, which can alter the carbon bonds and affect the scent negatively.
Oxidation is what makes your oils smell ‘off.’
For oils that are applied topically, oxidation can also cause sensitivity to the skin.
Keep essential oils in a closet or drawer
Although it is not a must to keep your oils in an enclosed space, it is a good idea as light cannot enter that space.
The drawer needs to be at room temperature or cooler away from heat sources.
Keep your oils with you wherever you go
Most people will carry their essential oils around with them.
Portable storage can be helpful if you like to travel with your essential oils, when on a trip away from home.
Display them in your home on the shelf
Essential oils do look good on a shelf as they add character to space.
When using an open shelf for display, be sure that it is not exposed to direct sunlight and is well away from any heat source.
Record dates of purchasing and opening
By use of charts, you can estimate the shelf life of essential oils.
That is only possible if you develop the habit of recording dates of purchase and opening.
You can mark these dates on top of the lid using a sticker.
There are so many questions surrounding essential oils that range from safety and usage to storage and blending.
Below we have taken some of the frequently asked questions about storing the oils and provide the correct answers for your benefit.
Q1. Does essential oil evaporate?
Yes, they do.
Essential oils are made of volatile compounds that evaporate. That is why they are aromatic.
Q2. Do essential oils need dark bottles?
Dark bottles are absolutely essential to the preservation and storage of essential oils.
Glass amber and cobalt bottles are preferred for storage.
The reason being that they do not allow UV light to penetrate. Exposing your oils to UV light will destroy their therapeutic properties.
Q3. What color glass is best for essential oils?
Amber is most preferred, followed by cobalt or blue glass bottles. These two are the best option.
Clear glass is not the best for the storage of oils as it allows UV light to penetrate.
Q4. Can you put essential oils in plastic bottles?
Essential oils in their neat state are corrosive and should therefore not be stored in plastic bottles. That is because they will eat away at the plastic material.
Q5. Should essential oils be refrigerated?
Yes, essential oils can be stored in a refrigerator.
Ideally, a fridge that is designated for essential oils only. Storage in a cool dark place will always help prolong the shelf life of essential oils.
Q6. Is it OK to freeze essential oils?
There is no harm, but neither is it necessary.
It is not so much the cold that preserves your oils while in the freezer, but more the consistent temperature and darkness that the fridge offers that keeps them preserved.
Certain oils, such as thyme and rose, will tend to crystallize, so be sure to remove them from the fridge 12 hours before use. That will allow them ample time to revert to room temperature.
Q7. Can you heat essential oils?
If you are looking for a soothing aroma, heating essential oils is not the best idea. That is because heat degrades or dulls the fragrance.
However, for other purposes, oils can be heated.
Q8. How to store diluted essential oils?
Diluted essential oils can be stored in plastic or aluminum bottles.
Q9. How to store essential oil bottles?
Storing oil bottles in a dark and cold place is ideal for essential oils. That can range from a drawer to a medicine chest, wooden box or a metal box.
Open shelves are a storage option as well, provided there is no direct sunlight.
Space needs to be room temperature or lower.
Creative ways to store essential oils
You can get creative in how you store your essential oils now that you know what to avoid.
Here are a few ideas that might work for you:
- Open shelves
- Essential oil case display cabinet
- Portable storage bag or case
- Wooden storage box
Essential oils are a precious commodity to many people. That is with good reason given the spice and beauty they can bring to individuals surrounding.
They are the sort of thing that adds character to a home or office, and you would want to have them handy just for your well being. Over and above, making your car smell divine and lifting your mood, you can use essential oils to moisturize the air in your car.
One thing that is for sure, once you have bought some essential oils, you do not want them going bad because you failed to store them properly.
But now that you have a good idea of how to deal with storage issues, you stand a better chance of enjoying your oils for a long time to come.
How do you store your essential oils?
Is there a method that works for you that we didn’t mention above?
Feel free to share in the comments section below.