The market for essential oils is rising and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. By 2024 the essential oils market in the U.S. alone is expected to reach $7.34 billion.
Though for all the growth there are many things about essential oils that most people either don’t understand or simply don’t know. Understanding how to store your essential oils is chief among them.
Many essential oil users don’t realize the importance of this. Yet improper storage affects the oils’ potency.
Improper storage techniques are a great way to ensure your investment goes to waste. So to help get you started, we’re breaking down the five things you need to know about essential oil storage methods.
But Why Essential Oils
If you haven’t already jumped on the essential oil craze it’s important to understand why people are so enamored with the extracted plant material. It’s pretty straightforward; essential oils can help with a number of things.
They can help:
- Balance hormones
- Aid digestion
- Help with joint pain
- Keep hair healthy
- Increase energy levels
- Support brain health
- Help you sleep
And that’s just the start. Plus, they’re all natural (when cold water extracted) meaning many people see them as having a leg up over medications prescribed by the doctor.
However, quality distributors are difficult to find, which means the oils you do buy need the utmost care.
Essential Oil Storage: Sunlight and Heat
Essential oils are delicate, often volatile compounds. The components that bring all of their benefits aren’t well understood, making proper storage a must. And what degrades those components faster than anything else?
Heat and light.
Heat, even in the absence of light, can damage the oils’ chemical compounds. It breaks down all that good stuff that brings the benefits above. There’s no set temperature (each oil is different), but the rule of thumb is store at no hotter than room temperature.
Though there are some oils that can’t take any amount of temperature. You’ll need to store these in a refrigerated environment. It’s a rather large list of oils that need cold storage, so it’s important to consult with your apothecary when you’re making your purchase.
Next up, light. Light also destroys the same compounds as heat, though at a much slower pace. It’s not nearly as much of an issue as it’s simple to keep the oils away from a light source.
Sorting them in a dark supported is usually enough to prevent them from degrading before you use them. And if they need refrigeration your fridge is plenty dark.
It’s best to store essential oils in glass, amber (or darker) colored containers. This probably isn’t an issue in most cases, as sellers ensure their oils come in the best vessels.
However, if you’re making your own essential oils it’s important to take heed. Clear containers let in the aforementioned light that will degrade oils over time. And beyond light, there’s another worry about deviating from this advice.
Never use plastic containers to store your oils. It’s not guaranteed, but the oils’ volatile nature could easily destabilize compounds in the plastic and allow them to seep into your oils.
We also recommend buying glass containers with a large enough opening to fit a glass dropper. The proper oil dosage is small, meaning you’ll want a precise way to measure your usage.
Protect Your Oils
Keeping your oils safe to use and high-quality is always important, but keeping your essential oils safe at all is also very important. When you’re bottling things in glass jars ensuring those jars don’t break becomes very important.
For at home storage keeping oils in a cabinet isn’t a bad method, but it does leave them vulnerable to an errant hand and a subsequent fall to the floor.
Instead, try keeping your essential oils in a rack (think spice rack). This way they’re contained at all times and you’re only handling one vial at a time. Or, you also use a soft-case. A zip-up storage container can keep each oil stationary and protected while in storage (plus, not light!).
Essential oils, while great when used properly, can be dangerous if used incorrectly.
If you’re living with someone else, especially children but even adults, you need to keep your oils secure. Overuse can lead to serious health complications and even the smallest overdose (dosage with some oil is extremely specific) can cause serious harm.
Keep oils somewhere private. We recommend avoiding the usual places where people store medicine, so no medicine cabinets. It’s also wise to keep them out of the kitchen. Essential oils look suspiciously like something used to flavor food.
They Do Expire
Essential oils don’t last forever, despite what many people might believe. The truth is, oxygen degrades essential oils, and there’s no way to completely keep out oxygen.
For example, the monoterpene content of lemon essential oil decreases from somewhere around 97 percent to 30 percent over a 12 month period under storage conditions of 77 degrees Fahrenheit with the cap removed for three minutes per day.
Obviously, that kinda of decrease isn’t under normal conditions, but the idea remains. If three minutes of air exposure per day degrades the oil over a year, one minute per day (closer to normal usage) could degrade it over longer periods of time.
Essential oils are likely to take an increasingly prominent role in society, making it important to stay knowledgeable about their uses and effects. At the very least, it’s nice to know what options are available.
That’s why we’re making it our goal to create a resource for everything essential oils. If you enjoyed this article on essential oil storage, know it’s just the beginning. Our blog keeps up with the latest news, hints, and tips for anyone using or curious about these oils.
Let us help you stay informed.