Do Essential Oils Expire? – Lindsey Elmore, Pharmacist

Lucie PabinA little bit of 'nerdy' science and chemistry on essential oils, ABOUT ESSENTIAL OILSLeave a Comment

As a Young Living essential oil user for several years I get asked this question frequently.  While you will see expiration dates on some brands of essential oils, you will not find one on Young Living oils.  Here is some information by Lindsey Elmore, Pharmacist, answering this question.

“Essential oils are known to have long shelf lives, but do they expire at some point?  This question comes up a lot, especially with people who are new to essential oils.

They don’t expire, but they can be damaged.

Suffice it to say that essential oils do not exactly expire; however, they are sensitive to light, heat and exposure to air. Upon exposure to air, essential oils may oxidize, and some oxidize faster than others.  Oxidation increases the number of hazardous chemical constituents, and this makes the essential oil more likely to cause skin reactions and toxicity upon oral ingestion. Ultraviolet light can also generate free radicals, and heat simply evaporates the valuable essential oil more quickly.

In general, essential oils that contain a lot of monoterpenes last the shortest amount of time, and their shelf-life is approximately 1-2 years).  Next, essential oils high in phenols can last up to 3 years. Additionally, essential oils high in ketones and esters last longer, perhaps 4-5 years.  Finally, essential oils high in sesquiterpenes can stay on the shelf for the longest period of time, up to 6 years or longer.

How can you tell if your essential oil is oxidized?

If you have an essential oil and you are concerned may be oxidized, check the aroma of the essential oil, as generally aromas go ‘off’ after oxidation.

Additionally, you may also notice skin irritation such as redness, burning or tingling after applying the essential oil. You may choose to stop using this particular bottle of oil if any of those symptoms occur.

Storing essential oils

All essential oils last longer when they are stored properly. Care should be taken to ensure that  essential oils are properly stored without exposure to heat, light, and air.  Store in a cool, dry place without excessive light, and keep the lids screwed on tightly.

Below is a list of essential oils that oxidize faster than others.

Angelica, Anise, Caraway, Celery, Cistus, Citrus fruit oils, Cypress, Dill oils, Elemi, Fennel, Fir oils, Fleabane, Frankincense, Galbanum, Juniper, Lemon balm, Myrtle, Pepper, Pine, Sage, Spruce, Star anise, Tea Tree, Verbena.

Because essential oils can go bad at some point in time, it is recommended to use them often and to check their aromas before use.  If you are in doubt, it is probably a good idea to complete a patch test to ensure that the essential oils are comfortable on the skin. Most of all, be sure you are storing your essentials oils properly.”

If you have any other questions, we are here to help. 

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