Do Essential Oils Expire | How Long Do Essential Oils Last

Do Essential Oils Expire? Unlock the mystery behind the volatile oil’s shelf life in this guide. Read now!

From repelling flies to increasing productivity at work, essential oils hold lots of uses and medicinal values in their arsenal. But have you ever wondered, Do Essential Oils Expire? Get ready for the answer and tips to make the most of degraded volatile oils.

Does tea tree oil expire? Find out here

What Is Essential Oil?


Essential oil is the unadulterated essence of foliage, seeds, radicles, barks, and rinds of potentially beneficial plants. It contains the fragrance and healing qualities of the plant from which it’s acquired. The steam distillation method is mostly used commercially to obtain essential oil, although other methods also exist. Essential oil offers a variety of therapeutic benefits. Plus, it’s used in different home remedies and gardening hacks.

The common names of essential oil are:

  • Volatile oil
  • Ethereal oil
  • Aetheroleum

Do Essential Oils Expire?

Can essential oils go bad? Yes, volatile oils do expire and become hazardous with time. However, it doesn’t mean that they become moldy or anything gross; only their appearance alters once they go bad. In fact, when not handled carefully, they deteriorate and gradually lose their therapeutic importance and aromatic quality before their typical lifespan. To find out the shelf life of essential oils, look at the product label.

How Long Do Essential Oils Last?

Each volatile oil comprises different botanicals; thus, their shelf life varies. If the oil has no expiry date, don’t fret, we have created a list that mentions the life span of nearly every popular ethereal oil. However, this list is not comprehensive, and if it lacks your go-to essential oil, ask the manufacturer for the information.

  • 1-2 years- Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Orange Sweet, Frankincense Serrata CO2, Grapefruit Pink, Orange Blood, Tangerine, and Yuzu essential oils.
  • 2-3 Years- Frankincense, Catnip, Chamomile German, Chamomile Roman, Dill Weed, Black Pepper, Bergamot, Cypress, Lemongrass, Nutmeg, Neroli, Tea Tree, Spearmint, Rosemary, Camphor, and Manuka essential oils.
  • 3-4 Years- Carrot Seed, Cajeput, Citronella, Clary Sage, Lavender, Myrrh, Star Anise, Thyme, Cardamon, Eucalyptus Dives, Lavandin, Balm Mint Bush, and Fennel Sweet essential oils.
  • 4-5 Years- Blue Cypress, Blue Tansy, Cedarwood, Cinnamon Leaf, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Ylang Ylang, Rose Absolute, Clove Bud, Geranium Bourbon, and Egyptian essential oils.
  • 6-8 Years- Buddha Wood, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood Australian, and Sandalwood Indian essential oils.

How To Tell If Essential Oil Have Gone Bad?

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As mentioned earlier, when not used appropriately, volatile oils get oxidized and degraded even before their typical lifespan. To find out whether your essential oil is fresh or bad, notice the below signs carefully.

  • The ethereal oil smells less potent, unpleasant, or completely changed since you first opened the bottle.
  • Oil’s appearance becomes hazy and somewhat different than its original form.
  • Essential oil’s viscosity changes.
  • Oil becomes darker, lighter, or colorless.

What Factors Affect the Shelf Life of Essential oils?

After discovering, Do essential oils expire,┬álet’s find out some key factors that┬ánegatively impact the shelf life of volatile oils.

1. Oxygen

Once the essential oil is exposed to air, its chemical compounds start to react with the oxygen, called ‘oxidation.’ As a result, the strength, quality, and aroma of essential oils deteriorate with time.

2. Light

Sunlight alters the chemical composition of essential oils and might even create some new ones. Brief exposure to UV light and visible light not only accelerates the oxidation process but also degrades the monoterpenes, which are responsible for the aroma and flavor of essential oils.

3. Heat

Volatile oils are highly flammable, that’s why they should never be stored near open flames, direct sunlight, high-intensity artificial light sources, candles, and gas stoves. Furthermore, heat also speeds up the oxidation process and affects essential oils’ stability.

4. Quality, Storage, and Handling

The quality of botanicals used, the extraction process, storage, and handling of ethereal oils by the suppliers and manufacturers also affect their shelf life.

Ways to Prevent Essential Oils from Expire Early

The shelf life of essential oils is fixed and inevitable. However, they can go bad early if handled incorrectly. Try the below ways to preserve your favorite volatile oils’ freshness and medicinal values for as long as possible.

  • As exposure to air is the most damaging factor, keep the bottles of essential oils tightly capped to avoid oxidation and evaporation.
  • Put the container in a cool and dry place far away from any direct heat sources.
  • If you DIY essential oils at home, always load them in amber glass bottles.
  • Store the volatile oils in a refrigerator to maintain an optimal temperature.
  • Using small containers is the best way to prevent the oxygen from trapping inside the bottle when it’s open, thereby dismissing the possibility of oxidation-induced degradation.
  • Avoid the usage of dropper caps as lids because pure essential oil damages the dropper’s rubber body, thereby affecting the quality of the oil.
  • Follow the storage and handling guidelines mentioned on the company’s product page.

Places Where Essential Oils Should Not Be Stored

For the longevity of your favorite essential oil, it’s vital to understand which places are not ideal for storage. Avoid hot, bright, or humid spaces, such as a bathroom, near a stove, window sill, bedroom shelves, or other direct or indirect sunny spots, and places where room temperature constantly changes. Do not store essential oils in clear and plastic containers.

Can You Diffuse Expire Essential Oils?

You can’t use expired essential oils in a diffuser. It’s not advisable to inhale expired essential oils of the unpleasant aroma and possible side effects. Also, due to oxidation, new chemicals, potentially bad ones, develop, harming human health. Either you can discard them or reuse them for other chores.

Can You Use Expired Essential Oils?

After the expiration period of essential oils is over, they are unsafe for aromatherapy and skin application. However, you can still use them to make your day-to-day household and gardening chores easier. While handling the expired essential oils, always wear gloves, a face mask, safety goggles, and full-sleeved clothing.

What Happens if You Use Expired Essential Oils?

The topical application of expired essential oils leads to skin rashes, burns, skin peeling, inflammation, skin sensitization, irritation, allergic reactions, and other unpleasant adverse effects. Furthermore, their inhalation irritates the mucus membrane as well. That’s why it’s best to avoid using expired essential oils. If your skin accidentally gets exposed to expired ethereal oil, wash the body part with running tap water and consult a doctor immediately.

What to Do With Expired Essential Oils?

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If you don’t know what to do with expire essential oils, check out the below ways to get the most out of their every drop.

1. Remove Grease Stains from Clothes

Pour a dash of baking soda and 5-6 drops of lemon essential oil on the stained spot and wait an hour. Next, clean the cloth as usual.

2. To Draw Butterflies

As butterflies love the smell of essential oils, you can invite them easily by placing lavender oil-drenched cotton balls around your garden.

3. Kill Silverfish

To stop silverfish from wreaking havoc on your clothing, books, upholstery, and files, you can use this essential oil hack.

4. Deters Rodent

Essential oil is perfect for protecting the wirings and other parts of your automobile from rodents, as they hate its smell. Fill a spray bottle with peppermint oil and spritz it inside the vehicle and the hood regularly to keep them at bay.

5. As a Fabric Softener

Softening clothes is perhaps one of the best use of expired essential oils. To make a scented fabric softener of your own, refer to this DIY.

6. Slug Repellent

All you need is peppermint essential oil to defend your plants from notorious slugs. Fill a fine mist spray bottle with peppermint oil and make a ring around the plants with this spray.

7. Burnt Kitchen Cookware

Before throwing out your burnt cookware, look at this amazing essential oil hack that can make your cookware spotless again.

8. Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Rather than buying toilet bowl cleaners, make one at home using essential oil and other supplies. Check it out here.

9. Shoe Deodorizer

Essential oil is an excellent product to freshen up your stinky shoe instantly. Simply place a couple of cotton balls soaked in lemon essential oil inside the shoes for an hour.

Important Safety Tips

Check out the below tips before using expired essential oils to avoid any health hazards.

  • Keep the bottle of rancid volatile oils far away from the reach of pets and children.
  • Pregnant or lactating women must refrain from using expired volatile oils.
  • Don’t forget to clean your hands with soap and water after using expired essential oils.
  • Never use rancid essential oils near flames or any heat source, as they are highly flammable.

How to Dispose of Expired Essential Oils?

As mentioned earlier, essential oils that expire are perfectly usable for different chores. But if you want to discard them, try these recommended ways.

  • Dump the essential oil down the sink or in the toilet bowl for easy disposal.
  • You can also refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of the particular essential oil for disposal instructions.
  • Essential oils are harmful to the environment because they contain chemicals. Contact your local municipality to find out the rules and regulations regarding the disposal of expired essential oils.

How to Reuse Essential Oil Bottles?

After discarding the expired volatile oils, if you need to reuse their bottle for storing fresh essential oils, follow the below steps.

  • First, wear hand gloves and then load the empty container with soapy water.
  • Wait overnight, and the next day, rinse it with tepid water and dry it properly.
  • Repeat the whole process if the smell is still there.

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