Monday, June 12, 2006

Storage and shelf life of Aromatherapy Products and Essential Oils (Aromatherapy)

Some FAQs

What is the best way to store aromatherapy products (product that contain essential oils)? Are plastic containers suitable?

For temporary storage of aromatherapy products, I think that using plastic would be okay. But like many aromatherapists, I recommend storing aromatherapy products in dark colored glass for long term storage, because essential oils are light sensitive (they degrade when exposed to light), and many essential oils are mild solvents (they eventually eat through plastic). Also, over time (since the essential oils cause the plastic to break down) the plastic may release toxins into the products.

What is the shelf life of aromatherapy products?

It depends on the formulation! Products with essential oils should last at least a couple months, and those with other natural preservatives could last up to a year. However, if you constantly stick dirty fingers into your product, leaving the cap undone, or storing your products in the bathroom (a humid area) etc, it will obviously have a shorter shelf life! You can extend the shelf life of any product by storing in the fridge.

What is the best way to store pure (undiluted) essential oils (PEOs)?

Store your PEOs in a cool, dark area. I store mine in a wooden box, away from humidity. PLEASE do not store your essential oils in your bathroom!. It is suggested by many aromatherapists that as you use up your essential oils, to pour them into smaller bottles, so that there is less room for air (oxygen degrades the oils) in the container. Some also suggest storage in the fridge. Also I do not recommend storing essential oils with rubber stopper droppers, since they will eventual eat through the rubber (which will led to toxins in the essential oils). In addition, try not to leave them uncapped for long periods of time.

What is the shelf life of essential oils?

It depends on the essential oil! Citrus oils generally have a shorter shelf life (like 6 months, or less than a year), and most have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years, and may be good up to 3 to 4 years, with a slight decline in quality. However, some essential oils, if you store them probably develop over time. These are like the heavier oils such as patcholli and sandalwood. Some like sandalwood age well (sandalwood that is YEARS old is supposed to smell divine).

When an essential oil 'goes bad' it doesn't smell bad, it just smells less vibrant. But don't toss it out! I wouldn't use them for therapeutic or antibacterial properties, but you can still use them to scent a room, or objects like paper, clothing, etc. Apply on a cottonball near the object you want to scent, or make a room spray.

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