Do essential oils expire? Stay tuned with this informative article to find out whether pure essential oils last forever or go bad quickly.
From repelling flies to increasing productivity at work, essential oils hold lots of uses in its arsenal and carry numerous medicinal values as well. But have you ever wondered whether do essential oils expire? What is their shelf life, and what factors are affecting their lifespan? Keep scrolling to find out everything below!
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 as well. However, there is one downside of essential oil, it quickly evaporates at room temperature.
The common names of essential oil are:
- Volatile oil
- Ethereal oil
Do Essential Oils Expire?
Pure essential oils do expire and become hazardous with time. However, it’s 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.
Approximate Shelf Life of Essential Oils
Each volatile oil is made up of different botanicals, thus their shelf life varies. If your essential oil bottle doesn’t have any expiry date, don’t fret, we have created a list below 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, don’t think it lasts forever, do quick research or ask the manufacturer for the expiration 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, Clarry 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.
Why Does the Shelf Life of Essential Oils Matter?
The shelf life of essential oils matters a lot because they are popular among people for their household, gardening, and healing uses. Plus, when you use these quite expensive products more often, their shelf life becomes a matter of concern, and obviously, no one wants to pay for something only to waste and throw them out. Furthermore, their shelf life also matters if you intend to use ethereal oils for their health benefits.
How To Tell If Essential Oils Have Gone Bad?
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?
Below are some key factors that negatively impact the shelf life of essential oils.
Once the essential oil is exposed to air, its chemical compounds start to react with the oxygen, which is called ‘oxidation.’ As a result, the strength, quality, and aroma of essential oils deteriorate with time.
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.
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, the storage, and handling of ethereal oils by the suppliers and manufacturers also affect their shelf life.
Ways to Prevent Essential Oils from Expiring 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 the 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.
How to Store Essential Oils While Traveling?
If you are a frequent traveler and want to take your favorite essential oils with you but don’t know how to store them without affecting their quality and shelf life, read the below preventive measures carefully.
- Pick an opaque-colored, essential oil travel case that keeps the volatile oil bottles organized and provides quick and easy access. Plus, this method protects the oils from heat and light as well.
- Before putting the volatile oils in the travel case, make sure every bottle is tightly sealed to avoid spilling and leakages.
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 their 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 those places where room temperature constantly changes. Do not store essential oils in clear and plastic containers.
What Are the Side Effects of 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.
Can You Diffuse Expired 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, which is harmful to 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 not safe 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, a safety goggle, and full-sleeved clothing.
What to Do With Expired Essential Oils?
If you don’t know what to do with expired essential oils, check out the below ways that can help you get the most out of their every drop.
1. Removes Grease Stain from Clothes
Pour a dash of baking soda and 5-6 drops of lemon essential oil on the stained spot and wait for an hour. Next, clean the cloth as usual, and you’re done.
2. To Draw Butterflies
As butterflies love the smell of essential oils, you can invite them easily by placing a few 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, take a 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 the essential oil and other supplies. Check 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 the 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.
- Never use run-out ethereal oils for aromatherapy sessions.
- Always maintain proper ventilation where you’re going to use the volatile oils.
- Don’t forget to clean your hands with soap and water after using expired essential oils.
- Instruct your kids, pets, and elderly to stay far away from the treated area.
- Never use the rancid essential oils near flames or any heat source as they are highly flammable.
How to Discard Expired Essential Oils?
As mentioned earlier, expired essential oils are perfectly usable for different chores. But if you don’t want to take any risk and you already made up your mind to discard the expired volatile oils, then try the below-recommended ways.
- Dump the essential oil down the sink or in the toilet bowl for easy disposal. However, it’s not an environment-friendly option.
- You can also refer to the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) of the particular essential oil for disposal instructions.
- Essential oil contains different chemicals, which’s why it’s harmful to the environment. Contact your local municipality to find out the rules and regulations related to the disposal of expired volatile oil.
How to Reuse Essential Oil Containers?
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 properly.
- Repeat the whole process if the smell is still there.
After reading this article, you’ll get to know whether do essential oils expire. Every volatile oil has an expiry date, but the amount of time a particular oil will last depends on how you store and handle them. Without proper care, the shelf life of essential oils will reduce dramatically. To avoid such a hassle, purchase ethereal oils in small quantities. If you’ve any suggestions and queries, please feel free to write in the comment section below, we would love to hear from you.