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Can Essential Oils go Bad?




I've seen it so many times. People attend a free class to learn about the benefits of aromatherapy, are convinced of their benefits and purchase a kit of these incredible, amazing, wonderful essential oils and blends.


Then a week or so later the kit arrives and you're desperately trying to remember what each oil is good for, how to dilute it, and the kit sits there unopened.


Time goes by. Maybe months. Maybe a year. And one day you run into that aromatherapy friend of yours again and you're feeling under the weather and she says "have you been using your oils?".


Or you dive in completely to aromatherapy, rip open that kit when it comes, use the oils, tell everyone you know and make sure you never miss a BOGO sale and have a stash of oils like fennel, basil, black pepper, spikenard, and arborvitae.


Like a freezer and fridge full of Costco products you sampled and loved -- you overbought, they sit there, unused. You're good with the every day essential oils, but the unusual ones intimidate you.


Good news! Essential oils don't go rancid or spoil.


Bad new! They do have a shelf life. (I hope you wanted the good news first).


When exposed to light, heat, and air essential oils can oxidize. While they may smell fine, oxidized oils can irritate the skin and mucus membranes.


And this varies from oil to oil based on chemical composition.


Oils high in monoterpenes, like limonene found in citrus oils, are quite prone to oxidation. This means that a chemical reaction occurs that changes what is actually in the bottle. The resulting products not only lose their therapeutic properties but can also be irritating to the skin and mucus membranes.


Other oils, like our example patchouli, contain sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols, which are larger and more stable molecules compared to monoterpenes. These compounds are less volatile and more resistant to oxidation, giving patchouli oil a longer shelf life.


So what is an essential oil enthusiast to do?


  1. Use your oils! If you have them use them. If you're not sure how to reach out to the person whose party you attended, research the website you purchased them from, or schedule a consult with me. A lot of plant material went into each bottle of essential oil so we don't want to waste a drop!

  2. Store them well: Heat, light, and oxygen can promote oxidation of essential oils. Protect oils from light, heat, and oxygen to promote a longer shelf life.

  3. Check Supplier Data: Reputable essential oil providers will list an estimated shelf life for each essential oil on their website.


In summary, essential oils don't go bad or spoil but they do have a shelf life. Protect your oils from heat, light, and air by keeping them in dark containers, cool spaces, and tightly capped. Old oils could potentially be oxidized and irritate the skin, making them less suited for therapeutic purposes.


If you have an old, oxidized oil using it in a cleaning product is a great way to utilize the oil safely.


If you have questions feel free to comment, schedule a 10 minute consult, or contact Tricia.


Make every drop count.


Aromatic blessings,

Tricia



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