The Best Essential Oils Storage Ideas in 2022

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Do you want your fragrances to retain all of their amazing properties for years? Read about the best essential oils storage ideas!

Essential oils are made up of many components: terpenes, aldehydes, phenols, ketones, acids, esters, and others. These intricate names carry great benefits, but to preserve all this richness, you need to follow some important rules and that’s exactly what we’ll talk about now.

How to store essential oils: 3 main rules

There are three main rules that apply to absolutely all essential oils.

First. Store them in glass containers. Glass is known for its chemical inertness. Some may think that essential oils are harmless substances (they come from plants, right?), but it’s not true. They dissolve rubber, burn plastics and cause metal corrosion. That’s why we only use glass for storing them.

Second. All containers should be tightly closed. If you notice that the cap/stopper is cracked, it should be replaced. Also, you shouldn’t keep the bottles open for a long time: the oils oxidize and form new substances, negatively influencing skin and the human body.

Third. Buy oils only in dark glass containers and keep them away from direct light. Under the influence of ultraviolet light, these aromatic substances can polymerize. As a result, their consistency and smell change drastically. Besides, UV light accelerates the oxidation process.

If your essential oil has thickened and lost its scent over time and causes redness on the skin, this is a clear indication of spoilage. Do not use it!

Storage temperature of essential oils

So now you know that essential oil spoilage is caused by two chemical reactions: polymerization and oxidation. These reactions help form harmful and skin-irritating components. But not all oils spoil at the same rate.

Oils to keep in the refrigerator

Oils containing a lot of terpenes require special treatment as they oxidize and decompose quickly. To slow down reactions, it’s better to keep these products in the fridge at no more than +8°C.

Which oils are we talking about?

A terpene called limonene is contained in large quantities in citrus oils. It’s a kind of magic substance that fights bacteria, mildew, fungi, and even serves as an insect repellent. But not only does limonene have a pleasant fresh scent, it’s also very volatile. It oxidizes quickly to form cis- and trans-oxides and other unpleasant compounds. This is why all citrus oils you have should go on the refrigerator shelf.

The next terpene record-breakers are coniferous essences. They contain limonene and pinene that have antiseptic properties and, unfortunately, oxidize fast too. So they will gladly become neighbors of their citrus counterparts in your fridge.

Aldehydes are also prone to rapid oxidation. For example, citral, an excellent antiseptic with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s found in large quantities in lemongrass, Litsea cubeba, and melissa. In small quantities, it can be found in citrus fruits. Don’t forget about other aldehydes: cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon oils and benzaldehyde in bitter almond. They are also better placed in the cold.
Anise oil doesn’t mind living in your fridge either: the trans-anethole in its composition quickly converts to the more caustic and toxic cis-anethole.

A pro tip: once you get your oils out of the fridge, allow them to warm up at room temperature for half an hour, wake up, and come to life. You’ll notice the fragrance unfolding again with full force. If you’re using the essences to add to blends and creams, you don’t have to wait long, add them to the product right away. And remember: oils don’t like frequent temperature changes.

On average, the shelf life of essential oils in this category is 1-2 years (unless otherwise stated on the label).

Essential oils that like warmer places

Why don’t you go ahead and put all you’ve got in the fridge? Provided it can fit it all, of course. The answer is this: if you really want to, you can keep most of them in the fridge. However, some of them will comfortably survive warm storage. The resinous essences of myrrh and frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, rose and jasmine can be kept in warmer places.

It’s believed that these exquisite oils can be stored for much longer – decades, if not centuries. This idea is confirmed by the fact that during excavations of Tutankhamun’s tomb (which, by the way, was more than three thousand years old at that time), an aromatic composition with incense was found in one of the sealed vessels, and it still remained fragrant.

Other products can be stored for up to 5 years on average.

Essential oils storage ideas

  1. Make sure that the bottle caps are tightly screwed on. Exposure to air will oxidize the fragrant substance in the same way as exposure to sunlight. Most screw-on caps have a strong seal. Bottles with plastic threads should be checked after each opening to ensure that no air has entered so that the oil is safe.
  2. Choose hard plastic caps over rubber caps. You can find bottles with a rubber pipette built into the cap. This makes it easier to apply the product, but these caps are only convenient for applying to the skin. Even after a relatively short period of use, the rubber inside the flask will disintegrate and even seep into the oil. 
  3.  Keep the cap tightly closed. Keeping the cap of the bottle open will allow the oil to get into the air – this will inevitably lead to oxidation, deterioration of quality, loss of aroma intensity, and even evaporation. Only remove the cap from the bottle when you are ready to use its contents and make sure to close the bottle tightly immediately after use. 
  4. Store oils away from direct sunlight, no matter what color the bottle is. Sunlight will accelerate the oxidation of the product in a couple of months, thereby reducing the shelf life, quality, and properties of the substance. The recommended place to store essential oils is in a cool, dry place with a controlled temperature. 
  5. A refrigerator is an environment suitable for the storage of the natural essences. This will protect them from sunlight, reduce the likelihood of exposure to oxygen, and ensure their composition remains unchanged. Storage temperature is important but consider and prevent any temperature fluctuations. Set the refrigerator temperature between 4-8 degrees Celsius. Don’t be alarmed if some oils solidify and harden. Their quality won’t suffer, they’ll return to their liquid state soon after you take them out of the fridge. The general rule is to take them out of the fridge 12 hours before use, this is enough time for an oil to return to room temperature. Don’t put the fragrances in the freezer as it will damage the structure and quality of the product. 
  6. If you are serious about building your own collection of essential oils, consider investing in a special storage box. This kind of container is designed to keep natural fragrances in one place, protected from sunlight and temperature extremes, with thermal insulation against temperature fluctuations.

How to evaluate the quality of an essential oil

  1. Check the expiry date on the packaging after opening. A pure product or a blend can’t be used for longer than 36 months after you open the bottle. If you keep using this product after this period is over, you must understand there’s no guarantee it retained its therapeutic properties. 
  2. Oil blends are recommended for four to six months of use. 
  3. Products diluted with distilled water should be used within two weeks. 
  4. Citrus oils tend to be short-lived. Try to use them within six to nine months after opening. 
  5. Products containing monoterpenes, aldehydes, and a high percentage of ester have a shelf life of up to three years. 
  6. Manufacturers must include the Latin name of the plant on the label. 
  7. Natural products should be labeled as “pure essential oil” or “100% essential oil”. This kind of labeling means the product is of high quality. 
  8. Avoid products labeled as “fragrance oil” because they are synthetic. They might smell like the real thing but can be dangerous and there’s a high risk of allergic reactions. They also have no therapeutic effect. 
  9. Consider the price of the product to assess its quality and purity. Natural essential oils can’t be cheap. As a rule of thumb, buying a cheap product will get you the quality you pay for. 
  10. Natural oils will last up to three years after opening. If stored in dark bottles in a cool place, they can keep their properties for up to five years. 

Precautions

  • Buy oils in amber or dark-colored glass bottles. 
  • Transparent glass or plastic bottles don’t contain natural essential oils. 
  • Don’t store the essences in direct sunlight. 
  • If a seller offers multiple oils at the same price, they are definitely not the real thing. For example, rose essence will be much more expensive than lavender or rosemary. 
  • Keep these products out of the reach of children. Don’t ingest them without consulting a doctor. Some oils are extremely dangerous to your health when ingested, so be careful.
  • Avoid leaving natural essential oils on plastic, polished, or painted surfaces – they might get damaged.

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