How to preserve, protect and store your precious essential oils
Spills, leaks, and loss of potency. Misplaced and cluttered oil containers. These are the enemies of every essential oil lover. Here some tried and true tips for extending essential oil life from the Crazy Oil Lady. These tips will answer your questions about how to store essential oils best.
- Does temperature affect my Essential Oils?
- Is light bad for my Essential Oils?
- Store Essential Oils in plastic or glass?
- Do Essential Oils expire?
- How Should Essential Oils be Stored and Organized?
- What’s the best way to travel with my essential oils?
We’re believers in the natural healing power of essential oils. We know the value of our essential oils. (They’re not cheap). Maintaining optimal health and well-being are priorities in our lives. Using our troves of essential oils to benefit ourselves and those we love is indeed “essential”.
Getting the most from our investment requires some basic knowledge and good practices. Let’s answer the question: How should essential oils be stored?
Does temperature affect my essential oils?
The short answer is yes. Elevated temperature will negatively affect the shelf life of essential oils.
The longer answer is this: While every oil is different in its chemical makeup, heat is never positive. Once you’ve opened a container of essential oil, excessive heat will lead to more rapid oxidation and deterioration. Oxidation alters the oil’s properties. The oxidation process can cause the loss of potency and even increase the risk of unwanted sensitivities.
On the other hand, cold temperatures generally do not cause any negative effects. So, can you freeze essential oils? Yes. Keeping them cool and dry will keep them potent longer.
A little care in storing your oils will extend and preserve their effectiveness. Keep you oils out of direct sources of heat. Never place them too near your stove of other heat producing appliances. Experts (yes, the proverbial experts) recommend storing your oils where temperatures will not rise about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The cooler the better.
Is light bad for my essential oils?
What causes essential oils to break down besides heat? Light. Light will increase the rate at which oxidation and the loss of fragrance takes place. And, it doesn’t matter whether it’s sunlight or artificial light. Avoid bright lights. Never place essential oils in a window or in direct sunlight.
If you purchase your oils from one of the many reputable essential oil companies, your oils sill likely will come to you in either amber or colbalt blue glass bottles. Both will protect from the sun’s ultraviolet light or artificial light’s damaging effects. Always store your oils in dark bottles. And, make sure the caps are airtight.
Store Essential Oils in Plastic or glass?
As a general rule, glass or stainless steel are always best. Some varieties of essential oils such as cinnamon, lemongrass, oregano and thyme, and even lemon and orange oils, are acidic and caustic and should never be stored in plastic. Be extra cautious with these oils.
Can you store diluted oils in plastic bottles? Yes,, diluted oils can often be safely kept in plastic containers. Containers made from HDPE (High Density Polyethylene), #1 plastic, and #2 plastic are usually safe for diluted oils.
Never use diluted oils (or any other form of essential oil) in water bottles, plastic cups, plastic drinking straws, styrofoam or thin plastic containers like zip closure bags. Never drink your essential oil beverages from a plastic cup or you’ll be drinking the cup along with whatever is in it.
Do Essential Oils Expire?
Essential oils containing lots of phenols may last up to 3 years when properly stored. (Phenols are also known as phenolic acid. They are organic compounds that have a disinfectant character.) Varieties containing ketones, monoterpenols and/or esters may have a shelf life of 4 to 5 years. The longest lasting essential oils contain lots of sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols and can last up to 6 years. Examples of long-lasting oils are Eucalyptus, Lavender, Peppermint and Tea Tree.
How Should Essential Oils be Stored and Organized?
We’ve already discussed the effects of temperature and light on essential oils. But what’s the best way to organize them. How can you make them easily accessible and organized?
When I first started using essential oils, I plopped all my bottles in a drawer. It wasn’t long before they were all jumbled up and turned on their sides with some leaking. It was a big mess.
If they weren’t in my oil drawer, they were strewn randomly throughout the house on counter tops or in a pile at the bottom of my purse. I needed organization. These are the solutions I found super helpful.
Drawer storage. Drawers are handy places to store essential oils. To make the most of an available drawer(s) whether in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom, you need something to make organization easy. SHELF is a beautifully designed and durable drawer storage innovation. The SHELF system makes essential oil organization both simple and easy. These storage systems store and display you oils at an angle that makes it easy to see get at your favorite oils when you need them. You won’t have to scan a drawer full of bottle tops with faded or missing lid labels to find what you want.
Counter top storage. If you’re going to have at least some of your oils on a kitchen or bathroom counter, you’ll want something to put them in or on. Again, the SHELF system works nicely. But, there are many other solutions too. NOOK is a counter top storage system that will uniquely show off your oils as well as store and organize them.
Essential Oil Boxes. Many essential oil users purchase wooden boxes that hold and organize their oils. They come in configurations of from 6 to over 60 oils. Hinged lids that close and latch make it easy to move collections of oils from place to place. You’ll find cheap ones made from pine and more expensive ones made with exotic woods like bamboo or walnut. The boxes made from pine are generally unfinished and will become easily stained if you have any kind of a leak or spill.
What’s the best way to travel with my essential oils?
Traveling can present a challenge for those of us who must have our oils with us wherever we go. There are purse-friendly essential oil travel cases that will hold 6 to 12 small 5 ml bottles. You can carry them everywhere, whether traveling or not. That way you’ll always have your go-to oils. If you’re going to be on the move for longer than a couple of weeks, you can buy a much larger soft case that will hold 40 or so 15 ml bottles. You’ll have an oil for every situation but lugging around a larger and heavier case might get a little tiring. You’re best off taking the oils you’re most likely to use in the smallest possible soft, zippered case.
In the End
Caring for, protecting and preserving your precious essential oils will secure your investment. Knowing how safeguard and store them will assure that you’ll enjoy the benefits of their therapeutic properties for a long time to come.