Given the amount of time and energy you invest in your health and well-being, it makes sense to learn how to store essential oils at home.
Heat, sunlight and oxygen all pose a threat to essential oils, but by following some basic guidelines, you can keep them safe and minimise any potential damage that may be caused by the local environment.
From looking at the best way to store essential oils, to answering key questions about the best location and how to safeguard against oxidation, we cover everything below.
Can I store essential oils in the fridge?
Many people wonder if it is okay to store essential oils in the fridge, as it is believed the low, chilled temperature will keep them preserved.
The consistent temperature environment provided by the fridge makes it perfectly fine to store your oils inside – although it is not a necessity, more a preference. If you do store essential oils in the fridge and you don’t want them to be cold when you take them out, remove them about 1-2 hours before usage, before returning them when you have finished.
Can you freeze essential oils?
You can also store essential oils in the freezer, as the lack of light, and the low, consistent temperature helps to keep them preserved. Some oils – such as thyme, rose, star anise or peppermint – feature components that may crystalise or solidify whilst in the freezer, but you can simply thaw them out and give them a shake before application.
How to store essential oils
There are some important guidelines to follow when it comes to storing your essential oils. Not only will it help to keep your storage areas organised but also ensure you can get the most out of your oils.
- Buy from a reputable supplier: Essential oils are generally safe to use, but due to their high concentration levels, must be handled with care. This also makes where you source the oils from important, as buying from a reputable supplier guarantees that you will be using oils that meet the latest industry standard. Purchasing good quality oils also means that by following the proper storage guidelines you have a much better chance of enjoying them for longer.
- Ensure the bottle lids are tightly closed: Ideally you want to replace the lid on the bottle as soon as possible every time you use it. This minimises the amount of air, water or oxidation that can get inside. Try to avoid long periods of exposure to the air as it can affect the oil’s properties, which can also impact the smell and consistency.
- Keep away from direct sunlight and heat: The best way to store essential oils is to place them in a cupboard, shelf or drawer away from direct sunlight and indoor heat sources. Anywhere that is cool and dark will work, because even though the oils are sold in dark bottles, too much exposure to heat or sunlight can impact the oil’s quality. The chemical composition of the oils can change, or it could start to evaporate faster, so it no longer has the desired effect.
- Track the expiry dates: Try to keep a record of when you buy your essential oils and when they were first opened, as this should make it easier to remember how long they are being used for and when they might start to expire. Essential oils can last anywhere between 1-8 years, depending on the type of oil it is and how they have been used and stored once opened.
How can you tell if an essential oil has expired?
With regular use you will soon become familiar with the characteristics of a ‘fresh’ essential oil. This should make it easier to detect when it has expired, as there will be notable differences. For example, if you notice that the oil has an acidic smell, appears different in colour or looks thick or cloudy, this indicates oxidation. If this happens, do not continue to topically apply the oil as it could cause an allergic reaction.
What can I do with oxidised essential oils?
There is usually some way you can use an essential oil, even if it has ‘expired’, so if one or more have oxidised you could make your own household cleaner. Alternatively, use a couple of drops in the drain, toilet or to freshen up the bin. Avoid using oxidised essential oils in diffusers, burners or room sprays, as the aromatherapeutic properties will no longer be present and they could irritate or inflame your skin.
Good storage of your essential oils goes a long way to helping you get better value for money. The guidelines are pretty simple to follow, so if you keep the oils in a cool, dark space away from heat and sunlight as soon as you buy them, you’re already in a good place. You can also use the fridge or freezer, if needed, and even if your essential oil does expire, there are still a few other ways you can continue to use them.