Storing essential oils

Essential oils are volatile substances, which means they evaporate and deteriorate more quickly when exposed to light, air, and heat. Sunlight is especially harmful to the oils as it can cause chemical reactions that degrade them. To get the complete therapeutic benefits from your essential oils, store them correctly so that they remain as fresh as possible.

Looking after your essential oils

Following the guidelines below will help you to maximise the life span of your essential oils and enjoy their benefits to the full.

Avoid storing your essential oils in plastic containers

Plastic is not recommended as it is not totally inert, which means that over time the essential oils will interact with the plastic and may become contaminated by potentially toxic ingredients that leak out of the plastic.

Store essential oils in sterilsed glass bottles with lids that seal tightly

Bottles with dark coloured glass are the best as ultraviolet rays of light can taint oils by reacting with chemicals in the oil. Amer glass bottles offer the best protection for your essential oils, keeping them as fresh as possible.

Store bottles out of direct light

Store bottles in a cupboard, out of direct light and away from heat. Some oils, such as citrus ones, should be stored in the fridge.

Make a note of the date on the bottle

Make a note on the bottle of the date it was opened, or lable made-up blends that you’ve bottles with the names of the oils that were used and the date the bled was made.

Look for the dropper insert

Essential oil bottles should have a dropper insert, which makes them harder to spill, and easier to measure out. This is also a good safety device if a child gets hold of a bottle.

Keep oils away from children!

Through safe, if properly diluted, essential oils are highly concentrated and can irritate the skin or the eyes if they are rubbed in, and can be toxic if taken internally.

Essential oils are flammable

Like alcohol, essential oils are flammable, so should never be left near sources of ignition, such as fires, cookers, candles, or naked flames.

Shelf life of essential oils

Below you can find a useful guide to how long you should keep your essential oils before they are past their best. These guidelines are based on an oil being relatively fresh when you buy it form us.

Citrus essential oils

9-12 months

Citrus oils such as grapefruit have the shortest shelf life. This because they have a lot of the highly volatile components terpenes, which are prone to oxidisation. Store in the fridge.

Melaleuca family, pine, and cypress oils

12-18 months

The melaleuca family (tea tree, niaouli) and pine and cypress essential oils have a fairly short shelf life due to relatively volatile components in their chemical composition.

Distilled essential oils

2-3 years

Most of the essential oils that are steam distilled have a shelf life of 2-3 years. Some resinous oils, such as sandalwood or myrrh, may last for longer than this.

Absolute oils

3-5 years

Absolutes, such as rose absolute and jasmine, have the greatest longevity of all the oils and can last for up to five years.

Shelf life of base oils

Base oils generally have a shorter shelf life than essential oils. Unlike essential oils, they become rancid when they go off. Your nose should tell you that something is wrong, and at this point the oil is unsuitable for use on the skin.

Store base oils in dark glass bottles too, away from light and heat. Most base oils have a shelf life of 12-18 months once opened.