Do essential oils expire?
Technically, not really. But they definitely can lose their zest, aroma and effectiveness.
But there is a lot you can do to prolong their life and keep them fresh.
With so much to learn, you might not think about the shelf life of essential oils and how to store and handle them properly.
If you are investing in high quality essential oils, you want to ensure they are going to last a long time, right?
The shelf life mainly depends on the quality and purity of the oils that you invest in, which is why it is essential to purchase a high-quality brand such as Young Living essential oils.
But how long do essential oils last? And how can you prolong their life as much as possible?
That’s what we are digging into!
(But if you are using oils regularly and always finding ways to incorporate them into your life, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about this)
Do Essential Oils Go Bad?
The short answer is kind of. Eventually.
The long answer is it depends on what type of oil and how you are caring for your oils over time. As well as what you mean by “go bad.” They won’t get moldy or anything.
But they have a natural lifespan and eventually lose the quality and strength of aroma.
Some can become somewhat rancid, and some can lose their skin benefits and actually irritate the skin.
So what are some of the ways essentials go bad sooner than they should?
The 3 main offenders are:
- Exposing oils to heat
- Exposed oils to too much oxygen
- Exposed to strong light or plastic/chemicals
Exposed To Heat
To over simplify the topic (since I’m not too much into scientific jargon), Science 101 says that when heat is applied to an object or a chemical, that object or chemical will change from the inside out (on a molecular level).
Essential oils are not meant to be exposed to heat, stored in the sun or near heaters (such as vents or ovens).
When heated, even slightly, the chemical structure of the oils can change, which may cause the oil to lose some of its health benefiting properties and lose it’s aroma.
Be careful about the temperature of the room where you store your essential oils, as well as when you are carrying it around during the day. The more heat that it comes into contact with, the more of a change that it could affect the chemical structure of the oils and the faster it can go bad.
Too Much Oxygen
If essential oils have prolonged exposure to oxygen, it could cause degradation or oxidization of the oil over time. If your oil is smelling less potent than when you first got it, chances are it has been affected by oxidation.
Essential oils are volatile, which means that they evaporate easily under normal conditions (which is also why you are able to smell them easily). Just like apples that turn brown from oxidation, essential oils can be affected by oxygen too, becoming less appealing.
So always keep the cap tightened properly and you shouldn’t have any problems.
Containers and Bottles
You want to ensure your essential oils are stored in the correct bottles.
Typically, your oils will start out in dark amber glass bottles. This is intentional.
The dark color blocks light from affecting the oils.
The glass keeps the oils pure.
Make sure you are not transferring the oils into a plastic bottle, as this will expose them to chemicals and affect their quality and lifespan.
If you want to blend, dilute or transfer oils or DIY products to other containers, always use dark colored glass, such as these:
When Do Essential Oils Expire?
If you are caring for and storing the oils properly, do essential oils expire still? This answer really depends on the type of oil you have, and which family of oils it belongs to.
But even then, there are no hard and fast expiration dates for essential oils. Anything that you read is more of an educated guess.
In researching this post, for example, many people and many websites list very different information about this topic.
For example, one website says Black Pepper oil can last up to 10 years, another say 1-2 years. Both are very reputable sites.
So while we would love a super straightforward chart saying how long each oil lasts, there is no guarantee that it’s completely accurate, though it may be helpful.
We do know that essential oils can be divided into types of oil families. And each family will have a general expiration time.
But correctly categorizing each oil is where the issues arise.
Sesquiterpenes (8-10 years)
Sesquiterpenols (10-15 years)
Monoterpenes (2-3 years)
Monoterpenols (5-6 years)
Oxides (3-5 years)
Ethers (5-7 years)
Esters (5-7 years)
Phenols (4-6 years)
Here are some common oils with a ~generally accepted shelf life:
The main thing you’ll want to know is which oils might expire the soonest.
Generally, citrus oils will go the quickest – 1-2 years. Other than that, you have at least a few years before other oils lose quality.
Again, if you are using oils regularly and are always looking for new ways to incorporate them into your life, you likely won’t need to worry too much about this.
Use Them Up!
Essential oils are only awesome if you use them. So get them off the shelf and into your everyday life!
Place them in your bathroom, kitchen, desk or wherever you might find yourself reaching for them.
Make some roller bottles so you can easily apply them to your skin.
Mix up some diffuser blends in separate bottles so you don’t have to open a bunch of bottles each time.
The more you use them, the more you’ll love them!
Disclaimer: The statements on this site have not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to be medical advice. Suggestions here are specific to Young Living and should not be combined with oils from other sources. Examples and experiences do not guarantee similar results. Read our full disclaimer here.