Essential Oil, Absolute & CO2 Storage Tips and Guidelines
The term essential oil is used throughout this article to collectively denote essentials oils, absolutes and CO2s.
Although essential oils do not become rancid, most essential oils oxidize, deteriorate and lose their beneficial aromatic and therapeutic properties over time. It can sometimes be difficult for the untrained nose to tell that an essential oil has deteriorated in quality unless it is compared with a known fresh sample of the exact same botanical. Citrus essential oils are amongst those that are prone to the most rapid deterioration. Not all essential oils, however, diminish in aromatic quality as time passes. The aroma of Patchouli and Sandalwood mature with age. All essential oils, however, can oxidize and deteriorate in therapeutic quality over time and if they are not stored properly.
Dropper Topped Bottles
Avoid transferring undiluted essential oils to bottles that have droppers with rubber bulbs incorporated into the screw-top caps. Essential oils can turn the rubber bulb into gum and ruin the essential oil. It is fine to store essential oils in bottles with orifice reducers or euro dropper inserts as the material these inserts are made from can withstand exposure to essential oils.
Shelf Life of Essential Oils
Essential oils vary in shelf life due to the natural chemical composition of each oil. Some of the naturally occuring chemical constituents present in essential oils oxidize or deterior faster than others. Please refer to the "Shelf Life" noted on the page description for each of our essential oils. When receiving new shipments of essential oils, we recommend recording the date of receipt and the shelf life on the label of each oil to help you keep track.
General Oil Storage Guidelines
The below guidelines will help you maximize the shelf life of all your precious oils. These tips apply to vegetable oils, essential oils, fragrance oils and flavor oils. Although each of these oil types differ from the others in chemical composition, they all can deteriorate over time, especially if they are stored in less than ideal conditions.
Store Oils in Amber or Dark Glass Bottles
Dark glass bottles, including amber and cobalt glass are ideal for storing all oils, most especially those that are fragile and have a shorter shelf life. From Nature With Love ships some smaller sizes of essential, vegetable and fragrance oils in amber glass bottles, but larger sizes of some oil types are shipped in plastic. This decision is intended to keep product and shipping costs reasonable. Larger glass bottles become costly and are more prone to breakage during transit. We are a wholesale supplier, and most of our customers are artisans, practitioners and manufacturers. Since a large number of our clients use their oils up immediately after purchase, there is an added reason why it's not always necessary to ship some oils in glass bottles. For oils that are shipped in plastic but that you intend to keep for a prolonged period of time, transfer the oils into dark glass bottles as promptly as possible.
Do Not Keep Bottles Partially Full
When a bottle of any type of oil is left only partially full, the oxygen that also lives inside the bottle reacts with the oil and begins to oxidize it. This process can cause vegetable oils to become rancid more quickly. For essential oils, oxidization can harm the fragile aromatic and therapeutic constituents of the oils. With fragrance and flavor oils, oxidization causes the volatile components to permanently separate (after this occurs, shaking the bottle does no good).
The empty space inside a bottle of oil is called the "headspace." You can prolong the shelf life of your oils by reducing this headspace. As an example, let's say that you have a 16 oz. bottle of orange essential oil that is only half full and that you won't be using up within a short period of time. You will prolong the shelf life of this orange essential oil by either transferring the oil into an 8 oz. bottle or by transferring it into two 4 oz. or four 2 oz. bottles. Transferring a larger quantity of oil into multiple smaller bottles helps you use only what you need later on.
Keep Bottle Caps Tight
Oxygen is an enemy to oils. Don't overly tighten your bottle caps as they could potentially break and allow oxygen in, but do always ensure that you keep all bottle caps screwed tightly onto each of your oils.
Store Oils Away from Direct Sunlight And Ideally In a Dark Location
Direct sunlight and UV rays are especially damaging to all oil types. Repeated exposure to any light source may be damaging to oils as well. Store your bottles in a room that does not receive much, if any direct sunlight. Store your bottles in a manner that prevents them from being repeatedly exposed to light sources.
Store Oils In a Dry, Cool Location
Store your oils in a room that is kept cool and dry.
The ideal place to store essential oils is in the refrigerator. All oils can be refrigerated (not frozen!) if space permits, but it's not necessary for refrigerate stable vegetable oils, fragrance/flavor or essential oils. Vegetable oils can solidify at cold temperatures. The essential oils of Rose Otto, Aniseed, Star Anise and Fennel solidify when refrigerated. It is best to allow refrigerated oils to warm up to room temperature on your countertop for a few hours prior to using them.
Maintain the Integrity of Your Oils
Don't allow unsterilized items like your fingers, cotton balls or other items to come into direct contact with the oils you are storing. Instead, pour off the quantity that you need or measure it into a container and then work with that, leaving the integrity of the remaining oil intact.
Other Important Tips:
Keep a Record of the Date Purchased and the Expected Shelf Life for Each Oil
For convenience, write the date that you received the oil on the label using a permanent marker. Also jot down the shelf life of the particular oil. If you have a large grouping of oils, you can purchase small circular labels where office supplies are sold. Adhere the circular label to the top of the bottle cap and jot down the name of the oil, the date received and shelf life of the oil.
Remember That Oils are Flammable
Essential oils, fragrance oils and flavor oils are flammable and should be kept away from hazardous situations.
Keep Oils Away from Children
Essential oils, flavor oils, fragrance oils and some vegetable oils can smell especially delicious to curious children. Keep all oils, even vegetable oils, out of the reach of children.