H&E Aromatherapy Made Simple Series: Simply Storage
Essential oils require a certain amount of care to maintain their potency. If you are a why person, I will explain the science simply. If you are not, skip to the end for easy storage tips to keep your EO’s going for a long time.
Essential oils are volatile plant molecules, really chemicals from the plant. The extraction process takes a lot of plant material to produce a small amount of oil, which means certain oils are more expensive and due to their chemical makeup, and a bit fragile on their potency timeline. With special care, your essential oils can last many months to many years.
Simply put, think of these plant molecules that make up your essential oils as ingredients to make a fancy cocktail or mocktail. When we mix all the ingredients together, we know it will have a certain effect on us. Depending on what those ingredients are will influence how it makes you feel and how much it costs to buy. The ingredients, in this case, are molecules (don’t let the chemistry scare you), and they have mass and weight just like anything else on our planet.
The lighter these molecules weigh, the more likely they begin to oxidize when we open the bottle and meet our air (O2). Some people think it means they go rancid or spoil, but that is not really the case. To oxidize means the molecules are taking on a chemical change, so if those “ingredients” I told you about were sitting out in the hot sun for example, like say in your car or purse, they just might suddenly take a turn for the worse. You can think of your 7-11 Slurpee melting blue stuff everywhere on a hot day, take a drink, and bleckkkkk.
Citrus essential oils are especially vulnerable to this due to their high volatility or easy to evaporate nature. In a blend, you will smell them first, most likely, but they will also be the first to be gone from your diffuser or perfumery blend. There is not a lot of staying power to weigh them down. Suppose we do not store our oils properly, and this process occurs. In that case, we can encounter adverse reactions to our skin or formulas we are using.
I store our shop oils in a beverage cooler just for them year round in my lab, as well as my carrier oils. They are all stored in glass, and my inventory sheet reflects their purchase date so you are guaranteed the best oil quality I can offer. When I feel the oils are getting up in age, I will add them to my wash machine, or use them when I clean (stay tuned for cleaning tips later in the blog series!), and stock up on fresh!
- Label your oil with the purchase date
- Toss oils that are over a year oil if they have not been stored properly:
- Store oils around 60 degrees or cooler
- Oils store well in cool, dark, dry places like your fridge (just keep them in their own box)
- Oils need to be stored in their own glass bottles of green, amber, or blue glass to protect them from light
- Keep caps on tight, and close the lid if you are not using your oil
- Citruses tend to be good for 6-12 months
- Light florals and tree oils 1-2 years
- Most other oils do well for two to three years if unopened or stored properly
- Heavier oils, such as Vetiver, Patchouli, and Elemi may not need to be refrigerated, but still, it is best to keep them cool and in a dark place
Want to get really curious? Check out the Tisserand Institute’s blog post: https://roberttisserand.com/2013/07/lemon-on-the-rockskeep-your-essential-oils-cool/