Essential Oils Collecting Dust? Here are a Few Tips To Extend Their Shelf-Life!

extend essential oil shelf life

Essential oils have a fantastic place in many bath and beauty products, but sometimes, we feel they get overshadowed in soap making by the plethora of unique fragrance oils out there. You can find a fragrance oil for thousands of scents, many of which hold very nicely in cold process soap making. ]

One of the issues we found when we first starting making soap with essential oils, was that not all essential oils are created equal. They can differ in quality based upon the supplier/manufacturer. When we reference "quality" we mean the purity of the essential oil itself. Often you will find the better quality of essential oils also have a steeper price tag, and when making cold process soap for selling purposes, this often deters many first time soap makers. 

increase longevity for soaping ingredients

One of the important steps in getting investments back is being able to use everything that you purchase as a maker. Sometimes you're so busy, certain oils or fragrances that you were once high on using for your next project, tend to sit on the shelf for a bit longer then you intended. Its crucial to optimize longevity for all of our ingredients. 

In this post we'll discuss, specifically, essential oils and what things we can do to extend there shelf-life. 

If you remember, we discussed specifically homemade soap(s) shelf-life, and how much of it's longevity has to do with the oils used in formulation. One oil that has a shorter shelf-life can effect the longevity of the bars, as well as things like, how you choose to store your finished soaps. 

The Why?

why essential oils lose there effectiveness

First off, why do essential oils expire or "lose their effectiveness"? Like many things that have an expiration date, it has to do with chemical processes. Once an essential oil is exposed to air (oxygen specifically), something called oxidation begins. This process changes the bonds within the oils. 

Another factor is their exposer to light. Ever purchase an essential oil and notice they are sold in dark colored bottles? The presence of this darker colored bottle is another protective element. The bottle protects the essential oil(s) from the over-exposer to ultraviolet light. 

Lastly is heat. Heat may also change the chemical structure of the essential oil(s). 

So overtime, essential oils loose their strength when exposed to certain elements (oxygen, light, and heat), this is inevitable! However, their are things we can do as sellers of bath and body products to increase their longevity while we wait to use them in our next perfect recipe. 

The essential oil itself, also has an impact on longevity, which we'll discuss a bit further down in this article. 

Ways to Extend Essential Oils Shelf-Life

a. Storage

how you store essential oils is important

For us, the most essential thing to do (no pun intended) is to store them appropriately. What does this mean exactly? Number one, is to make sure after each and every usage, the lids are on tight, simple, right?! 

The more essential oils are exposed to oxygen, essentially the quicker they can lose the effectiveness or strength of bonds (chemical composition). Not only does this effect the aroma over-time, but they can become more unstable. The last thing you want, as a soap maker, is unstable aroma oils in your $20, $30, $50 (or more) loaf of soap. 

Number two, don't store them near candles, fires or other sources of high heat, as they are flammable. Keep away from the kiddos as well!

b. Keep Them Cool

keep essential oils in cool climates

Essential oils, (if you remember from above), don't do well in high heat. This is another reason we keep them away from direct sunlight, besides the exposure to UV light. At elevated temperatures, the oxidation process can speed up, leading to a decrease in longevity of the essential oils. For some oils this can be harsher then others. 

You will see in many articles, that a refrigerator would be a good host for keeping your essential oils. While this is true, again probably not the best idea to have in a refrigerator with food, and that people are regularly going in and out of. If you can, dedicate a refrigerator for your oils. We like to keep the temperature around 7 degrees, but you may see some articles, ranging from 2 degrees to 10 degrees Celsius. 

Tip: Some essential oils may start to solidify if to cold, make sure to check consistency before use. If they have solidified slightly, allow them to rest at room temperature (ex. Star Anise)!

The important point here is to pay attention to the environment (over-all) that they are stored in. You want just the right climate to increase longevity from the oils. Maintaining a consistent temperature with as few temperature changes as possible, is important. 

c. Supplier

buy essential oils for reputable suppliers

Purchase from reputable suppliers or manufactures. Not all essential oils are created equal. Some lack purity and might be why you'll find them much cheaper then others. Often-times, you get what you pay for when it comes to essential oils, and the way in which they were made. For instance, they may not be made with pure plant extracts with cheaper versions. This will effect products results of your soaps! 

d. Small, Dark Containers Work Well!

small dark containers

Again, we talked about this a few times. Keeping the oils stored in darker bottles is best. If you order from a supplier and they come in light colored bottles (which they should never!) transfer them to dark colored glass bottles. It's also wise, because oxygen effects the increased oxidative effect, to place them in bottles that coincide with the amount of oil you have.

Once, you've done this; cap tight, store them in a cool, dark environment, like a dedicated refrigerator.  

e. Plastic - Oh No!

don't store essential oils in plastic

Let's talk once again about containers, and then we'll reveal a bonus tip!

Pure essential oils should not be stored in plastic, they should always be dark colored glass. In this case the reason is different. These oils are potent, and because of there chemical composition, they can react adversely with plastics and eat through the material. This means breaking down the plastic, essentially damaging the purity of the oils. 

Tip: Plastic medicine droppers. Don't use medicine droppers made of plastic. If you leave the plastic dropper in the undiluted oils, the same issue can arise. Use a glass dropper instead. 

Common Essentials Oils Shelf-Life!

1-2 years2-3 years3-4 years4-5 years6-8 years

Lemon             Bergamot        Cardamom      CedarwoodPatchouli        
MandarinFir NeedleClary SageCinnamon LeafSandalwood  
Orange SweetFrankincenseRosemaryPeppermintVetiver
YuzuJuniper BerryLavenderWintergreen

LemongrassJasmineYlang Ylang

Final Thoughts!

We love essential oils! They can hands-down make for some of the best smelling soaps, but like anything else in soap making, knowledge is key! Make sure to learn then basics and go from there. You will not know everything right off the bat, but over-time through trial and error/ as well as research, you will learn best practices in soap making. 

Hopefully this article will help in keeping those essential oils fresh for a long time! 

Hope you come back to see us again!


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