Expired Essential Oils: Everything You Need To Know

Have you ever opened a bottle of almond oil sitting in your drawer for a few years? If yes, you might have noticed a ‘weird’ odor or smell. The same thing occurs when you smell an essential oil that has been exposed to heat, light, or oxygen. These alterations in the smell indicate that the oils have been oxidized or turned rancid. Now, you might wonder, ‘have the this oils been expired?’ Are they still safe to use or not? What are the possible dangers of using expired essential oils? Here, we are going to answer all your questions regarding the this oils expiration and shelf life. Let’s start with the most common question: do essential oils expire?

Do High-Quality Essential Oils Really Expire?

With the significant popularity, essential oils have got in the past years, several myths also originated, like ‘Essential oils last forever.’

Ideally, the pure essential oils don’t expire! They are made out of pure plant extracts, have antibacterial properties, and contain no water. Thus, they are not susceptible to mold, mildew, or yeast growth. However, these facts make people believe that essential oils have an unending shelf life.

The truth is, there is a lot of science and chemistry behind the essential oils and their constituents. Oxidation, a simple yet complicated word! When an essential oil gets exposed to light, heat, or oxygen, these elements break down the constituents of the oil, turning them into new. 

So, do essential oils expireNo! They change over time. But, they aren’t the same oils you know or love. As they change over time, you won’t know what is in them. You can’t determine their safety. Luckily, you can slow down the oxidation rate and boost shelf life.

How To Tell If An Essential Oil Is Oxidized?

First and foremost, oxidation renders the aroma of an essential oil unpleasant to inhale. Citrus essential oils, like grapefruit Citrus paradisi or Citrus Limonum, are good examples.

But, in some cases, oxidation may not be as visible. Thus, you have to use all your senses to observe the change in their quality. Look for the changes in both the fragrance and viscosity of the oil. 

Essential oils also change their color after getting oxidized. They usually turn dark or go change from blue to brown or green. So, smell, look, and feel the essential oils to know if they are oxidized. You can put a drop on your finger and taste it to identify the changes.

Are There Any Dangers Of Using Oxidized Essential Oils?

Oxidation disturbs the aromatic and therapeutic properties of essential oils. If you use the oxidized oils for aromatherapy, they won’t do any benefit. Applying spoiled essential oil on the skin may also cause skin irritation, such as rashes, peeling skin, burns, or other side effects.

How Long Do Essential Oils Last?

Different essential oils have a different shelf life. It depends upon the temperature they are exposed to, and their exposure to heat or light. As oxidation takes place faster at a higher temperature, store the essential oils in a cool, dark place.

Typically, the shelf life of citrus essential oils is between nine months and one year. But, to be on the safe side, it is recommended to replace your essential oil after three years except for the sandalwood oil, patchouli, and ylang-ylang. These oils tend to get better with age.

Also, don’t waste the older essential oils. They can be used as excellent household cleaning products once diluted.

How To Maximize The Shelf Life Of An Essential Oil?

There isn’t an exact science behind the expiration and shelf life of essential oils. But, it is a good idea to store them correctly to maximize their shelf life. As mentioned earlier, pure essential oils don’t expire but get oxidized over time; you can check the individual oil’s shelf life to know their chemical stability.

If the compounds present in them remain stable and don’t change their therapeutic properties while in storage, they will have a long shelf life. Store the essential oils in a cool, dark place to avoid exposure to heat and light. 

Use a full glass, the food-grade aluminum bottle having a tight-fit lid to store the essential oils. As citrus oils are more susceptible to oxidation, you can also store them in a refrigerator. With these handfuls of tips, you can boost the shelf life of essential oils.

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Article Author Details

Malia Swift