Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Essential And Carrier Oil Storage; Droppers; Recognizing True Essential Oils; Using PEOs neat; Shelflife (Aromatherapy)

I've already blogged about storage and shelflife of aromatherapy products and also storage and shelf life of essential oils but several more questions have come up in recent months so I thought I'd post more about this topic.

Can I store my essential oils in a glass container with a rubber bulb?

I do not recommend storing any essential oil with a rubber bulb, because over time (to my knowledge) all essential oils will dissolve the rubber, releasing toxins into the essential oil.

Can I store carrier oils in clear bottles? What about essential oils? Can I change the bottles?

It is fine to store carrier oils in clear bottles (but just don't store them in direct sunlight). But for a mix of carrier oils and essential oils, I prefer dark colored glass because essential oils eventually eat through plastic (I've had this happen to me when I first began crafting), degrade easily when exposed to light, and may cause leaching of the plastic's toxins into your product. For short term storage it would probably be okay to use dark colored plastic bottles, but I just generally use glass.

I usually store my essential oils in the bottles they come in (dark 10 ml to 1 ounce glass bottles). If you change bottles make sure they are sterile and also that there is no room for air in the bottle (air=oxidation). (blue or amber is standard but I'm sure other colors would work well too).

Which dropper is the best to use: the orifice reducers or glass droppers? Where can I buy them?

To measure drops I usually use a glass dropper. I usually remove the plastic drop dispenser aka orifice reducers that comes with the essential oils for two reasons: I buy essential oils from several companies so all of the drop dispensers are different (so drop size would be different if I used the drop dispenser, which may alter scent blends), and over time essential oils eat through plastic releasing toxins (so I never really understood why they were included, other than for convenience).

Most companies include the drop dispensers if it is a small sized bottle (under 30 ml in most cases), but really small bottles (1-3 ml) and larger bottles usually don't have them). And some companies do not use them at all--even for the regular 10 to 15 ml sizes.

Some places that sell glass droppers:

Camden Grey

Garden of Wisdom

Mountain Rose Herbs

You may also find them locally (vendors that sell essential oils or in a pharmacy. They are sometimes called medicine or eye droppers)

If you have children, you may prefer the orifice droppers for safety reasons (also some people prefer them since they are convenient).

How do I recognize if an essential oil is a true, undiluted, pure essential oil (PEO) or if it's been diluted/adulterated?

An easy way to test if an essential oil is pure or not is to put one drop on a piece of paper and let dry. Steam distilled or expressed essential oils will usually not leave an oily residue behind. However this will not work if the essential oil is an absolute (extracted with solvents), as this will probably leave a residue behind. Also if it was diluted with another essential oil, fragrance oil, alcohol, etc, it may also not leave an oily residue.

Can I apply PEOs "neat"/undiluted?

Always dilute essential oils before use. Though some can be applied neat, applying an essential oil neat is only for during emergencies (like insect bites) and not for every day usage. Most essential oils should not be used neat as essential oils are highly concentrated substances, and some of them in high doses are toxic. Some, like cajeput, can be very irritating to the skin.

I've had this essential oil for a while, how do I check to make sure it's still okay to use?

The strength of the smell. When you open the bottle, slowly wave your hand across the top and breathe it in. Is it strong smelling or can you barely smell it?

As a general rule, citrus essential oils have a shelf life of 6 months to a year. Most others have a shelf life of 1 to 2 years. And some, like a few of the resinous ones or a few of the woody or grassy ones, get better with age: sandalwood, patcholli, etc. According to Tisserand and Balacs (1995), refrigeration can double shelf life. If you've had them for a while, you may just want to use them to fragrance things like paper, rooms, etc since many of the medicinal, antibacterial, and cosmetic properties would be diminished.

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