When you start with aromatherapy, one of the first things you must learn is how to store essential oils correctly. Essential oils are volatile compounds.
When stored incorrectly, their composition changes and the oil gets ruined. This can happen surprisingly quickly.
On the other hand, when stored properly, your essential oils will last longer and all of their beneficial properties remain intact.
Considering you will have paid quite a bit for the oil, you want to make sure that you get the goodness out of every last drop. Knowing how to store essential oils correctly will help you do that.
As a rule of thumb, essential oils should be stored in a cool, dark place to prevent exposure to sunlight. Sunlight or any bright light can break down the oil and impact its efficacy. That’s just the absolute basic principle though. There’s much more of course and the more you learn about how to store your essential oils, the lower the odds of them getting spoiled.
What I have noticed is that many people who have several bottles of essential oils take more care to store their collection correctly. However, those who have only one or two essential oil bottles tend to be slightly more casual about how they store essential oils. They simply keep on the bathroom counter or in a corner of a kitchen shelf. This is not a good practice.
Whether you have one bottle or many and whether it is for skin care, natural health or pain relief, you must know how to store your essential oils properly so they remain good and usable for the longest time possible.
Three Principles of Essential Oil Care & Storage
Essential oil care and storage revolves around three basic principles:
- Exposure to direct sunlight changes the chemical composition of essential oils – keep out of direct sunlight.
- Exposure to oxygen results in oxidation of the essential oil, which also changes its chemical composition and the benefits that it offers – keep bottle caps tightly when not in use.
- Essential oils last longest while remaining true to form when stored at constant temperatures, preferably room temperature – avoid high temperatures for extended periods of time.
Always Store Oils in Dark-Colored Glass Bottles
The dark-colored glass bottles that your essential oils come in are not just there for decoration or convenience. Sure, they look good but more than that, these little bottles are designed specifically for holding essential oils.
Bottles that are used to store essential oils need to meet two very specific requirements:
- They need to be made of glass
- They need to be dark colored
Essential oils are highly concentrated. If placed in plastic, rubber or metal containers, the oil reacts with these materials, decomposing container and ruining the oil. Glass is only material impervious to these potent oils, which is why you’ll find that essential oils are only sold in tiny glass bottles.
Why dark-colored bottles? Dark colored bottles reduce the amount of light that comes in contact with essential oils. UV light can damage the essential oils and alter their features and benefits. When you buy essential oils, you will most probably get them in dark amber or dark blue bottles. It is best to keep the oils in their original containers.
However, if you are making blends, you will need to pour the blend into a different bottle. You can get different types of dark-colored glass essential oil bottles at any store that sells essential oils or DIY products, from crafts stores to big box stores. You can also try health food stores or look online.
There are three different types of glass bottles to choose from – simple glass bottles with a screw-on cover, glass roller bottles and glass spray bottles. The larger size spray bottles are super useful for holding diluted essential oil blends for household purposes.
Place Bottles in a Cool, Dry Place
Once you have the essential oils in the right bottle, you need to make sure they are never left out in the sun. Although the dark-colored glass cuts down the amount of light that reaches the oil, it still helps to store them away in a cool, dark place. Think of it as an additional protective layer.
Instead of leaving your essential oil bottles out in the bathroom or on a window sill, put them inside the cabinet. If your kitchen or bathroom has a window and the sun can get in, place the bottles in a cupboard where it is dark, cool and dry.
Consistent temperature is just as important. As with direct sunlight, fluctuating temperatures also affect phyto-effects adversely, changing their composition along with their features and benefits.
Make Sure Bottles are Out of Reach of Children
Essential oils can be toxic and deadly if ingested. Some oils can burn the skin too. Treat them as if they are caustic chemicals, because they are – natural or not. Always place the bottles on the topmost shelf of the cabinet up or better still in a cabinet that is locked where children and pets cannot get to them.
Also, take care to avoid placing bottles of essential oil near the edge of the cabinet shelves so you don’t accidentally knock them down when opening up the cupboard or medicine cabinet door.
Close Bottle Lids When Not In Use
When you are using a particular essential oil frequently, it may seem easier to just leave the bottle opened to save you the trouble the next time you want to use it. Don’t be tempted to do this.
When you leave the bottle open the contents get exposed to atmospheric oxygen and they get oxidized. Oil that is oxidized does not offer the healing or therapeutic benefits of the original version. In some cases, the oxidized may even have an adverse effect.
To prevent oxidation, close the bottle immediately after you have poured the 1-2 drops into the diffuser or in the bath.
Do Not Use the Dropper as a Bottle Cover
Droppers have a rubber cap at one end that helps to squeeze the essential oil out one drop at a time. If left on the bottle as a cover, the oil from the bottle will eventually break down the rubber from the cap, ruining both the oil and the dropper.
If you know you are not going to be using a particular oil for an extended period of time, use the original screw-on lid that came with that bottle. This keeps your oil from evaporating.
Use Different Droppers for Different Oils
Do not make the mistake of using the same eye dropper for all of your essential oils. Cross-contamination easily occurs because these oils are so volatile. Even a tiny amount of crossover can render an oil unauthentic. Use separate droppers for different oils.
Some Oils May Need to Be Refrigerated
Essential oils last longest when stored in a dark, dry and cool place. If you live in a tropical climate and it gets hot in your home, storing the oils in your pantry or cupboard may not always serve the purpose.
Some oils, such as lime, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, tangerine and lemon essential oils, get damaged at temperatures above 100 F.
Other absolutes, such as neroli and jasmine are even more sensitive to heat and get damaged at temperatures above 90 F.
If you do not have an air-conditioner at home, placing these oils in the refrigerator will help keep them stable for a longer time and prevent spoilage.
Carrier oils are also best stored in the refrigerator as these degrade quickly when exposed to heat. They last longest when refrigerated.
Labels all Essential Oils Correctly
Correct usage is crucial to avoid any accidental disaster. To avoid using the wrong oil by mistake, always label every bottle with the name of the oil it contains.
If it contains a blend, write down the name of every oil in the blend.
Protect your bottle labels with clear tape so that the print on the label does not smear and the information is clearly readable.
Mark Expiry Dates Clearly
Writing the expiry dates clearly on the bottle label will ensure that you do not accidentally use oil that has expired as this can create other problems. Marking the date on the bottle as soon as you buy it will take a minute and it can save you a whole lot of heartache later.
Some essential oils can last up to 3 years and should always be stored in dark-colored glass containers. Most oils will last at least 1 year, except for citrus oils, which begin to lose their potency after 6 months.
I keep a few blank adhesive labels handy for writing the purchase date on my essential oil bottles so I know which ones are okay to use and which aren’t. If there is any unused oil in the bottle after the expiry date, I use the diluted oil to freshen up the bathroom or the garbage bin.
Buy an Essential Oil Storage Box
You get a wide range of wooden boxes that are specially designed to store essential oil bottles safely. These boxes come in a variety of styles and sizes to suit different tastes and budgets.
You can choose from rustic wooden storage boxes to simple modern boxes and everything in between.
The Plant Therapy Wooden Essential Oil Storage Box in the image below is the one I use to store my essential oils. It can hold twelve 30ml essential oil bottles.
What I like about this particular essential oil storage box is that it is tall enough to hold my essential oil roll-ons. Click here or click the image below to pick up this cool essential oil storage box.
Plant Therapy also has wooden storage boxes that hold up to 55 bottles as well as a range of hard top carrying cases that are great for carrying your essential oils when traveling.
Whatever size and style you choose, an essential oil storage box is definitely worth the investment for storing essential oils safely. Many brands market the boxes along with a set of labels so you may not need to purchase labels separately.
Here are a few more storage boxes that are available on Amazon.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before using any natural medication or if you experience any unusual symptoms. See Full Disclaimer here.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to serve as medical advice. Please consult your physician before using essential oils. See Full Disclaimer here.