Expiration Dates for Essential Oils:
Essential oils that are pure, unopened, undiluted, and are stored properly tend to have 1+ year long shelf lives, since the time they were distilled, but some oils can stay fresh for much longer. The shelf life of an essential oil depends on the plant type, method of distillation, and storage conditions, etc., so it is very difficult to give an essential oil an exact expiration date. With that being said, there are some things that we can look out for, to ensure that our oils are in fact still fresh, and safe for topical use.
Examples of approximate expiration timeframes:
1-2 years of shelf life from the time of distillation
4-5 years of shelf life from the time of distillation
- Roman Chamomile
- Ylang Ylang
6-8 years of shelf life from the time of distillation
What if the essential oil is a blend, or has been diluted in a carrier oil? Does the expiration date change?
Yes, if you create an essential oil blend, the shelf life of the blend becomes the shelf life of the essential oil in the blend that has the quickest shelf life.
If you have created a blend with essential oil(s) and a carrier oil (for either blending or for dilution) the expiration date of that product or blend becomes that of the carrier oil.
Signs that your essential oil is no longer fresh, and has become oxidized:
- appears cloudy
- takes on a thicker consistency
- smells more acidic
Once an essential oil bottle is opened and its seal broken, air can leak into the container. Oxygen, heat and sunlight speed up the oxidation process, which is the breakdown of the essential oil, so this is what we work to avoid, when storing our essential oils.
How to Store your Essential Oils for the Best Shelf Life:
Essential oils should be kept in air tight/sealed amber glass or cobalt blue glass bottles, in a cool/dark place, as essential oils can eat away at plastic, can become oxidized by air, and can become damaged by the sunlight.
Essential Oil Disposal:
If you have very small amounts of essential oils that you need to dispose of, due to oxidization, it is usually safe to simply dispose of it in the trash. Essential oils are flammable however, so please take care! When dealing with an amount of an essential oil that is as much as a small bottle, up to a gallon or more, then we should treat them as if they are a hazardous material, and dispose of them properly.
For disposal or larger, concentrated amounts of essential oils, please contact your local city for details on it’s hazardous waste disposal guidelines.
*Never pour essential oils down a drain, since they can cause drainage issues. Essential oils are an oil, and they don’t mix with or dilute in water, not to mention they can interfere with a water supply and do have the potential of coming in contact with plant and animal life, which we should work to avoid, for safety reasons.