Do Essential Oils Expire?
The hustle and bustle of city life is ill-famed. The professional commitments in jobs and business are highly demanding. This has led to less personal time available for every city dweller. The young and old are always searching for options that relax and rejuvenate them mentally and physically. The growing popularity of self-care products has opened up a new area of interest amongst millennials.
The use of Essential Oils is one such celebrated act today. The aromatherapy effect that these oils promise is incredible. Essential Oils are highly concentrated and last long. They have a long shelf life. They tend to retain the same aroma and scent even after being kept for years in those tiny bottles. Does that mean the Essential Oils are immune to expiry?
Yes and No. The Essential Oils are extracted from some of the purest natural things available on this planet. Ideally, they do not expire. They do not contain water. Mold, mildew, yeast can’t grow in them. On top of that, they also have antibacterial and antiviral properties. That being said, they are still a blend of chemicals. When the oils are exposed to heat, humidity, light, and oxygen their basic chemical composition gets altered. The intensity of the therapeutic effect these oils offer may decrease over time.
What does science say?
The factors affecting the chemical balance of Essential Oils are:
Oxygen is known to react with the constituents of the Essential Oils. When the oil remains in contact with air for a long time, the original elements change to other forms. Essential Oil loses its medicinal and soothing charm. A study conducted on Lemon Oil concluded that about 66% of the monoterpene content in it is lost when the oil was exposed to air for one year.
The exposure to light brings dramatic changes to Essential Oils. Light boosts the formation of oxygen-free radicals. A study on Sweet Orange Essential Oil shows that when the oil was subjected to UV light for 50 minutes, it formed 12 new chemicals in the oil.
High temperatures can be dangerous for the purity of Essential Oils. The heat tends to change the molecular structure of the constituents present in the oil.
The best way to store Essential Oils
Essential Oils pack lots of benefits. If they are not stored properly they lose their original composition and become useless. It is advisable to store them in a dark-colored leak-proof bottle. The dark color theme prevents UV light from reacting with the oil. The bottle must also be airtight. The oil gets oxidized every time it comes in contact with air. This magical liquid must also be kept in a cool environment. The heat can play havoc with its ingredients. You may also keep it inside your refrigerator during summer.
Shelf Life of Essential Oils
The Essential Oils do not expire as such. They only lose their aromatic and therapeutic benefits over time if not stored properly. There are numerous varieties of Essential Oils. The purity and shelf life of these oils depend on many things viz. Plant type, time of harvesting of plant, method of extraction, storage, handling, etc. A typical Essential Oil can retain the original benefits for as long as 10 years or even more in some special cases. An Essential Oil type Sesquiterpenols lasts about 15 years, whereas Monoterpenols stay in their original form for only 2-3 years.
The Essential Oils curated with only natural ingredients can last for more than 10 years. The key thing to note here is that the oil must be stored properly. It must also be protected from direct sunlight and extreme heat. The best indicator to judge the purity of your Essential Oil is to check its aroma.