Essential Oils and Shelf Life


Has anyone ever told you that the highest quality of certified essential oils will never go bad? That they can actually reverse the aging process?

I have. Too many times.

I would love the opportunity to go back in time. To see what things were like, to try to understand why people chose certain paths and made the decisions they did. It would help me understand humanity a little better. Alas, I am not a time traveler (….yet…. just get me a Delorian….)

We can’t reverse, or even stop, the effects of time. We do not have that kind of control. If it were up to me, I’d never want to see us have that kind of control. Things that have been done are already done, and the best lesson we can learn from that is to move on and do better.

All things must come, and all things must pass. All in their due time. The only one that has control of that is time itself – but what we can control is what we do in that time.

Unfortunately to many, this also includes essential oils. It’s a great fantasy to believe that essential oils are magical substances that can cure the world, but they’re not. They’re wonderful, they have many amazing uses and benefits, but even these oils come with cautions and an end-life.

anti-aging-formulaIf used properly, essential oils can help to reduce the signs of aging. This is NOT reversing the aging process. This means that you are taking care of your skin, offering it more than just what the essential oil offers (such as increased blood flow from massage, or moisture therapy, or other benefits that essential oils alone do not provide). Your skin LOVES this! But it still ages, and there’s nothing that can reverse that. You can treat it well. You can nourish it, moisturize it, keep it as healthy as you’re able to – but it will still age with the rest of you. I’m sorry to be the bearer of that bad news.

(I, for one, am grateful. I don’t want to live forever!)

Essential oils are volatile in nature, which means that they evaporate easily at normal temperatures, which is the reason that it is suggested keeping them refrigerated. Certain chemical constituents are more prone to degrading than others, especially when in contact with oxygen. The oils essentially combine with oxygen, and this is known as “oxidation”. You can also see this phenomenon in metals. Rust is formed when iron or an iron alloy is exposed to oxygen and moisture for long periods of time. My car is my own mobile expression of this art form….

Oxidation changes the composition of your oils, which can increase your chances of reacting to it. When you suffer from sensitization, your immune system has kicked into effect and you develop an allergic response, and this can have permanent effects. Not only is it possible that you’ll not be able to use that specific oil again, but there is also the potential that you may not be able to use an oil with similar compounds, as well. If the compound you reacted to is limonene, this could mean the end of your use of most citrus oils.

All oils have varying shelf life, and by properly storing them you may be able to extend it. But not forever.

The very general guidelines are estimates only for the shelf life of essential oils:

  • Citrus and conifer oils are best used within 1 year
  • Other monoterpenes that have been properly stored are best used within 1-2 years
  • Sesquiterpene oils can last upwards of 4-8 years.
  • All other oils last about 2-3 years
  • Half the times listed above if stored at room temperature!

To store your oils properly, remember to:

  • Keep your oils in a dark glass container
  • Keep your containers sealed
  • Store your oils in a refrigerator
  • “Bottle down” your oils when there’s too much air space – use smaller containers, and multiple if needed – to prevent them from coming into contact with more air than necessary.
  • Open the bottle as little as possible – the use of inhaler tubes instead of sniffing from the bottle will help prevent your oils from evaporating faster!


The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to test, treat or diagnose health problems or diseases. This information is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional.

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