Essential Oils Shelf Life | Choosing Quality Essential Oils

All essential oils have a shelf life. However, not all bottles indicate an expiry or “best before” date, though, so if you cannot find it, check with the manufacturer. There are some general rules you can follow to determine whether your essential oil is still fine for use. This post discusses essential oils shelf life and how you can choose high-quality essential oils when buying.

Essential oils have a specific shelf life. Oils won’t instantly go bad on the expiry date but at that point, they are on their way to losing their potency. Learn this general information so you know how long to keep your essential oils and when to replace them.

Essential Oils Shelf Life: Expiry Dates

Some essential oil manufacturers print the expiration date on their bottles. This gives you a clear indicator of how long you can use your oil. If you are buying essential oils from the store, look on the bottle to see when it expires, and choose the bottle with the furthest future expiry date if you don’t plan on using it quickly.

Keep in mind that the oils you buy were not created on the day you bought them, so try to purchase your oils from a store or supplier that keeps their product moving regularly. In this way, you aren’t purchasing an essential oil that is already far along on the way to expiration.

If there is no expiry date on the bottle, keep a list of all your essential oils and when they were purchased. This will allow you to quickly check how long you have had an oil before using it each time.

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General Information on Essential Oils Shelf Life

Each essential oil has a given amount of time before it expires. There is a range between about 1 to 6 years depending upon the type of oil. Below are some of the more popular oils and their general shelf life:

  • Essential oils with a shelf life of about 1 year are lemon, orange, and mandarin.
  • The oils with approximately a 2-year shelf-life are lime, all varieties of frankincense, and tea tree.
  • Oils that expire in about 3 years are rosemary, neroli, oregano, melissa, bergamot, and blue tansy.
  • Essential oils in the 4-year range include cinnamon bark, cardamom, peppermint, ylang-ylang, lavender, geranium, clary sage, and chamomile.
  • Oils that are good for 6 or more years include cedarwood, vetiver, sandalwood, wintergreen, rose, myrrh, copaiba, and ginger.
  • Of the popular oils, patchouli has the longest shelf life, which is usually more than 10 years.
essential oils shelf life
Essential Oils Shelf Life

General Rules to Extend Essential Oils Shelf Life

There are three factors that cause essential oils to lose their potency and effectiveness quickly. These are light, oxygen, and heat. The best way to keep your oils in the best condition possible is to fight these factors by storing your oils properly.

To counteract exposure to light, buy your essential oils when possible in amber glass bottles (so the light does not penetrate the bottle as it does with clear glass) and keep them in a dark place. Keep your essential oils in a cool area, or in the refrigerator if you have room.

Always keep your bottles tightly closed when not in use, and don’t leave them sitting around with the lid open for any amount of time.

Protect your essential oils from contamination by not using rollers that can pull random particles back into the bottle with your essential oils.

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How to Choose High-Quality Essential Oils

As the popularity of essential oils grows, everyone wants to cash in on the market. Unfortunately, this brings the risk of unethical companies trying to make a quick buck off of unsuspecting and undiscerning customers. There are certain qualities you need to look for in companies and their products when purchasing essential oils. Here are a few of the things you need to know in order to find safe and high-quality essential oils.

1. Organic

One of the most important qualities you should look for when checking out essential oils is to make sure the plants are grown organically. Products that are “USDA Organic” have been certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Because essential oils are so highly concentrated, you want to be sure that the plants used were not grown with synthetic pesticides and herbicides, which are especially harmful in such large dosages.

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2. Undiluted

Although you will dilute most essential oils in a carrier oil, you should buy your essential oils pure and confirm that they are not diluted beforehand.

If the essential oil you are using is significantly cheaper than other brands, you may want to question whether it has been diluted or mixed with something else.

Your essential oils should state that they are 100% pure. Unless you intentionally bought an essential oil mixture, the essential oil should be the only ingredient on the list.

Essential Oils Shelf Life

3. Latin Name

Your essential oil should be labeled using its Latin name. Essential oils may come from several species and you need to know which one you are buying. Some may state the simple name on the front of the package, but it should include the species in the ingredients list.

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4. Country of Origin

Essential oils should clearly state where the oil was grown. If it is grown in a different country than it is being sold in, it should indicate who has certified it as organic, if it is organic. Customers have the right to know where their products originate from, and when companies are not making this clear, they should be pressured to make necessary changes.

5. Double Check Fancy-Sounding Words and Phrases

A company may claim that its product is a number of things, but before you get pulled in by fancy words, find out who is the governing body that is making this designation.

Words like “therapeutic” and “grade A” may sound reassuring, but sometimes a company will create their own designations and catchy trademarked phrases which don’t necessarily mean anything as compared to other brands in the world of aromatherapy.

Some oils with these designations may be of high quality, but do your research and don’t rely on a phrase to give you the information you need.

6. Information Should Be Easily Obtainable

It makes sense that all information about a product may not fit onto the tiny bottles that most pure essential oils come in. However, the important information that you seek should be easily accessible. If it is not, you should question whether the company is trying to hide something.

Bottom Line

Essential oils are great for a variety of purposes, but you need to make sure you are using high-quality oils. By knowing what to look for, especially the essential oils shelf life, you can be reassured that the essential oils you are exposing yourself and your family to are great quality oils that will benefit you and boost your health.


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