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Home Page > Aromatherapy Articles & Guides > Essential Oil Shelf Life

Essential Oil Shelf Life

Essential Oil  Shelf LifePure essential oils do not go rancid. Over time, however, essential oils can oxidize, deteriorate and gradually lose their therapeutic value and aromatic quality.

The lifespan of essential oils varies tremendously from one botanical to the next, from one batch to the next, and from one supplier to the next. Other factors that can directly affect the shelf life of an essential oil include the following:

  • The method of distillation
  • The conditions and care used during the distillation
  • The quality of the botanical used
  • The care in bottling, storage and handling of the essential oil by your supplier and any suppliers they obtained the oil from
  • The storage conditions of the oil

Essential Oil Life Span - How Long Do Essential Oils Last?

As a broad rule of thumb, essential oils usually retain their aromatic and therapeutic quality for at least 1 year from the date of purchase, provided that you purchased the oil from a reputable supplier that maintains fresh inventory. The shelf life of essential oils can be maximized by storing them in dark glass bottles, keeping their caps tighly closed, and keeping them in a cool, dry location away from sunlight. As you use up the oil from a large bottle, rebottle the oil into a smaller bottle. This reduces the amount of oxygen that stays in contact with the oil. See the Storing Essential Oils article for more information.

But Wait...

The citrus oils and some coniferous essential oils are an exception to the above rule. These oils are rich in a hydrocarbon class called terpenes. Terpene-rich oils tend to oxidize the quickest and can have a scant shelf life of 6-12 months. Having said that, I have had citrus oils that have remained aromatically "fresh" for up to 2 years.

On the other end of the spectrum, some of the thicker viscosity essential oils, including Patchouli, Vetiver and Sandalwood mellow and improve aromatically as they age. I prefer to keep well stocked on these oils so that they have time to mature nicely before I begin to use them.

A few suppliers list a shelf life for each of their essential oils or provide guidelines on the expected shelf life of their oils. Though difficult and not always accurate, this can prove helpful to those new to using essential oils. It is especially helpful when suppliers base it upon their knowledge of when the essential oil was actually distilled and how long they have had the oil in their inventory prior to sale.

Note the Date You Buy Each Essential Oil

Although consumers don't usually know the date that an essential oil was first distilled, you can still keep tabs on the age of your oils by writing down your date of purchase on the oil bottle's label. I purchase 3/4" round labels and place one on the top of each of my oils. On the label, I jot down the date I acquire the oil and the name of the oil. Being able to view the name of the oil from above is so much easier in finding particular oils in my essential oil apothecary.

Guidelines for Telling if an Essential Oil Has Deteriorated

  • The aroma has drastically changed
  • The essential oil has thickened
  • The essential oil has become cloudy

 

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This article and the other content that appears on AromaWeb is owned and under copyright by AromaWeb, LLC. Do not plagiarize (reprint/paraphrase) AromaWeb's photos, graphics or other content without express written permission. No exceptions will be permitted, and violators will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. For further information or to seek written permission, click here. If you have witnessed AromaWeb's text on other sites, please report the infringement by using AromaWeb's Contact Form.

 

 

 


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