Essential Oil Storage – Extend the Life of Your Oils

Where Do You Store Your EOs?


This week I have been thinking about the best way to store my essential oils. My collection is growing and I often wonder if I am storing them in the best way possible. Typically, I just keep them in a lovely little cabinet that is dedicated to my oils. As fond as I am of this little storage unit, I am considering relocating them to a better place that will help protect them and extend their shelf life.

Essential Oil Storage - Extend the Life of Your Oils

Do you have a collection of oils? Are you concerned about using them up before they expire? You might be able to extend the shelf life of your oils by making some small changes. Essential oils are not cheap and doing what we can to ensure they last longer would be great for the pocket book and the environment.

So, this week’s article is all about essential oil storage. 🙂

Do Essential Oils Expire?

In the past I was never really concerned about my essential oils expiring. This is probably because I use them up quite fast! I love my oils! Now that my collection is expanding, I felt it was time to find out the best way to store them to keep them as long-lasting as possible.

Two bottles of essential oil bottles surrounded by flowers.
Essential Oils

There are three main external elements that can change an essential oil. Before getting into that, it’s important to understand that each essential oil has a specific chemical formulation, and it’s these formulations that determine the benefit we receive. If we change the formulation, then we change the effectiveness of the oil.

In a nutshell, exposing essential oils to external elements will break down our oils. If we expose our EOs to damaging external elements we can assume they would expire quickly. If we care for and protect our oils then they will last longer. So, it is a little difficult to pinpoint an exact expiry date so to speak, however there are some general guidelines that I will share below.

So what are the three outside forces that can change our essential oils and what can we do to keep our oils in the best condition possible?

Three External Elements that Can Change Our Oils are….

Oxygen, sunlight and heat! Yes, exposing essential oils to these three elements will change their chemical makeup.


Exposing essential oils to oxygen can change the chemical composition of our oils. I know it is downright impossible to protect the oil from some exposure as we have to actually open the bottle to get to that precious oil, right? If essential oils are exposed to oxygen then the chemical composition changes. Always be sure to replace the lid and ensure it is closed tightly as soon as you are finished using it.

When the amount of essential oil in a bottle is getting low, consider transferring the remaining oil to a smaller bottle to decrease the amount of oxygen in said bottle.


Exposure to sunlight can cause essential oils to oxidize. To avoid deterioration and protect the therapeutic and aromatic properties of your essential oils, store them in dark glass bottles. Amber and cobalt blue glass are fairly common. You may have also seen essential oils in green and violet bottles as well. Clear glass bottles are not harmful to essential oils, however they do not protect the oils from the damaging sunlight.

What about plastic bottles? Plastic, regardless of the colour, should generally be avoided. Some essential oils can break down the chemical composition of certain types of plastic leading to a change in the chemical structure of your essential oils. This doesn’t sound good!

Keep your oils out of direct sunlight. You may be tempted to keep them on your bathroom counter or in another location for convenience or aesthetic purposes, but its best to keep them in a closet or inside a drawer. Sunlight can cause oils to oxidize within just a few months. Every oil is different and oxidization times vary, but as a general rule avoid the sunlight.

The ideal place to keep your essential oils is in a cool, dark, dry place with a well-regulated temperature. This brings us to the third element that may change the chemical composition of our oils. Heat.


Over time, most essential oils will oxidize. Heat promotes oxidization and once it starts it’s difficult to stop. According to Robert Tisserand however, oxidization is a very slow process – it takes months.

Robert Tisserand

So if you accidentally leave your oils in a hot car for a few hours, don’t worry-they will still be fine. And changing temperatures either way does not bother them, so long as they are cool most of the time.

It seems to me if you live in a cool climate then your oils are probably fine to leave in a dark, dry, cool area of your house. I have not had any issues with my essential oils. I do however go through oils relatively fast, and I live in a generally cool environment (Canada). With all that being said, Robert Tisserand does suggest keeping your oils in the refrigerator.

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According to Mr. Tisserand, the temperature of most refrigerators are great for essential oils. He says oils can be kept in the freezer too but the additional cooling won’t bring much added benefit.

A purple refrigerator.

If you do choose to keep your oils in the fridge there are a couple of things to consider:

  • Some food may start to taste like essential oil. To avoid this from happening keep oils in a container. A plastic container with a snug fitting lid would work nicely or store in bags that can be sealed.
  • Essential oils can become progressively more viscous
    when placed in a fridge. This won’t noticeably affect most oils however, some may be slower to pour. If you need to slightly warm up an essential oil in order to use it, hold the bottle in your hands for a few minutes, this should do the trick!

Keeping your essential oils in a fridge is probably a good idea for everyone providing you have the space to do so. If you lack space in your kitchen fridge, you may want to consider purchasing a smaller fridge for your oils.

Refrigerated EO Shelf Life Recommendations

Here are some general guidelines for refrigerated essential oils as per Robert Tisserand:

  • Citrus, Neroli, Lemongrass, Frankincense, Tea Tree, Pine and Spruce oils: 1-2 years
  • Virtually every other essential oil: 2-3 years
  • Sandalwood, Vetiver, Patchouli: 4-8 years

For non-refrigerated essential oils, in warm climates, it is recommended to cut these timelines in half. Considering the shelf life and how quickly you use your oils, you may want to consider storing some, if not all, of your oils in your fridge. My Citrus essential oils are certainly going to be stored in my fridge from now on! Their shelf life seems pretty short and I just purchased a large bottle of Lemon not too long ago. 🙂

How Can You Tell if an Essential Oil has Oxidized?

Essential oil oxidization is a slow process, and it may not be easy to identify at first. You may notice it when you purchase a new oil, the aroma is fresher. This is good to know when smelling a tester bottle in a store; these bottles are constantly being opened and exposed to the air. Many tester bottles are probably well on the road to being oxidized. Any bottle that is sealed will have a fresher scent.

When citrus oils oxidize, they can appear cloudy. Personally, I would toss any oil that looked like this, but apparently it’s possible to save a portion of the oil for further use. It occurred to me as I was writing this article that it would be difficult to identify an oil (visually) that has started to oxidize as they are generally sold in dark glass bottles….right? So, if you are concerned that an oil may have started to oxidize (and you desire to save as much as possible). I would suggest pouring the oil in question into a clear bottle to check for cloudiness. If you see discoloration, let bottle sit for several hours to allow sediment to settle to bottom of bottle. Use a clean pipette to transfer the good oil out. As I said, I think I would just toss out the entire bottle.


I hope this article has been informative and helpful. I learned a few things about essential oil storage. As I said, I think I will definitely be storing my citrus oils in the fridge from now on. If I can extend the shelf life as long as possible this is a positive thing!

I love learning about essential oils and I truly enjoy the process of writing and sharing the information I have collected with you. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear from you. Take a moment and use the box below to leave your thoughts!

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Have a fantastic day and stay happy and healthy!

Angela (Founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)

Essential oils are very potent. If you are currently taking any prescribed medication speak to your doctor before using essential oils. Some oils are not recommended for children. Some oils are not recommended if you are pregnant or nursing. Essential oils are considered “complementary and alternative medicines” and are not a substitute for professional medical intervention and advice. If you are experiencing severe physical or mental illness contact a medical professional. This information is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

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Using Essential Oils Safely – Knowledge is Everything


Using Essential Oils Safely -

This week I decided to compose an article containing some valuable information regarding the safe use of essential oils. If you are new to this practice I would highly recommend a thorough reading of the information. If you are familiar with aromatherapy I would still recommend taking a quick read through to brush up on your knowledge. A link to this article will be posted at the top of the website’s home page for your future reference.

Essential oils are compounds extracted from plant material. They are highly concentrated and can pose risks if not used correctly. When used with proper care, essential oils can enhance our overall physical and mental wellbeing. Millions of people use these oils every day without incident. There is a lot to know about using essential oils safely and this article provides general safety knowledge.

Whenever I want to double check essential oil facts and information I will most often refer to Robert Tisserand’s website. Who is Robert Tisserand?

Robert Tisserand was instrumental in bringing widespread professional and public recognition to the practice of aromatherapy. He is the author of the second edition of Essential Oil Safety; this book sets industry standards for the safe use of essential oils. He also founded the Tisserand Institute in London, setting new standards for vocational aromatherapy education. In addition to numerous other accomplishments he is also a worldwide speaker, educator and consultant on the science and benefits of essential oils and their effective and safe use.

Topical Use

It is not recommended to apply undiluted essential oils directly onto your skin. The most common adverse reaction to essential oils is a skin reaction, and in most cases it is because it has been applied without proper dilution.

Lavender and Tea Tree oil are often regarded as safe to apply without dilution. To be on the safe side, please seek the advice of a qualified medical professional before applying undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. Experienced aromatherapy users and practitioners may make exceptions to this rule.

Some individuals may want to perform a skin patch test before using essential oils. There are differing opinions regarding the validity of a patch test as it is difficult to do accurately and results may not be easy to evaluate.

General Dilution Guidelines

Below are general guidelines for essential oil dilution rates that are commonly used in a variety of scenarios as recommended by Robert Tisserand.

  • Facial cosmetics 0.2-1.5%
  • Body massage 1.5-3.0 %
  • Bath and Body products 1-4%
  • Specific problems 4-10%
  • Pain, wounds 5-20%

For more information about dilution rates, please check out this very informative and easy to use chart from the Tisserand Institute. (It’s a free download!) 🙂


Do not put undiluted essential oils into your bath water and then step into it. To avoid the risk of skin irritation, always mix your essential oils with a carrier oil before adding to your water. It is also recommended that you mix the water with your hand before stepping in.


It is not recommended to drip essential oils into your ears. In some cases diluted essential oils may be placed on a cotton swab for partial insertion.


Do not put essential oils into your eyes as this is very dangerous and may cause extreme pain and damage.

Oral ingestion

Do not ingest essential oils unless you are under the care of a medical professional who is qualified to prescribe this procedure.

“Taking essential oils orally engages many areas of risk that other modes do not. Do not take essential oils either undiluted or in water, as there is a risk of mouth/stomach irritation.”

Robert Tisserand, Tisserand Institute

Inhalation and Diffusion

It is not recommended to directly and intensively inhale essential oils for more than 15-20 minutes. This refers to steam inhalation. This recommendation does not apply to inhalation from essential oils vaporized into the air using a diffuser. The recommended time for diffuser inhalation is 30-60 minutes on, then 30-60 minutes off.

Essential Oils and Flames

Essential oils should not be used near an open flame. Essential oils are flammable to varying degrees. Using an aromatherapy diffuser is considered safe. It is not recommended to use essential oils in a diffuser that uses a flame. Candles made with essential oils are safe.


Keep all essential oils out of reach of children. Essential oils are very potent; if your child has consumed any amount please seek medical attention.

Phototoxic Essential Oils

Some essential oils can cause inflammation, blistering, redness and/or burning when exposed to UVA rays. Click here to learn more about phototoxic essential oils. Some examples of phototoxic essential oils are:

  • Angelica Root
  • Bergamot Bitter Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon Lime
  • Mandarin Leaf

Hazardous Essential Oils

Some essential oils are more toxic and possess greater risk than other essential oils. For this reason they should only be used under the care and advice of a qualified aromatherapy practitioner. Some examples of these hazardous oils are:

  • Wormwood
  • Pennyroyal
  • Camphor
  • Wintergreen
  • Rue
  • Bitter Almond

For more information and a more detailed list of hazardous oils please see AromaWeb’s Hazardous Essential Oil List.

Essential Oils and your Cat

I am a cat owner and I have never used essential oils to treat any type of ailment for her. I am not sure that I would. I have always been careful to make sure there is adequate ventilation and have given her access to other areas in our home in case she does not like being in the room where I am diffusing oils.

“I certainly don’t advocate dousing your cat in large quantities of neat essential oils – ever. And cats are quite susceptible to toxicity from nutmeg oil and tea tree oil. But a small amount of any essential oil, and a moderate amount of most, will not harm your cat.”

Robert Tisserand, 2011

“Neat” or undiluted application is the use of essential oils applied to the skin without the use of a base or carrier oil.

For further information regarding essential oils and pets, the book Holistic Aromatherapy for Animals by Kristen Leigh Bell is recommended.

“Kristen Leigh Bell is the most recognized expert in the safe utilization of aromatherapy with animals and her book is the resource that I have the most confidence in when researching safe practices for animals.”

Wendy Robbins, AromaWeb, 2002

Adverse Reactions

If you are experiencing an unexpected or dangerous reaction to essential oils, you may want to read the information provided by Robert Tisserand called First Aid Guidelines and/or seek medical attention.


Please note, if you are pregnant, have asthma, epilepsy, skin conditions or taking prescribed medications it is recommended that you seek the advice of a medical practitioner before using essential oils.


I hope you have found this information helpful. I know this article was maybe a little different from the norm, however I really felt sharing it was important and worthwhile. With this knowledge you can safely enjoy your essential oils even more as you can now feel more confident about what you are doing. Please remember that this post will be made available at the top of this website in the menu area for your reference in the future.

Check out Robert Tisserand’s second edition of Essential Oil Safety! Available at Amazon.

I love my essential oils and I find them so beneficial for my everyday health and wellness. I do appreciate the time you spent reading this week’s post. I wish you all great happiness and health. Have an awesome day.

Angela (founder of Your Aromatherapy Store)


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