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Do Essential Oils Expire? - Herb Tantra

Do Essential Oils Expire?

When shopping at our favourite outlets for essential oils, most of us look around the bottle for the expiration date and wonder whether there is a shelf life for it. Over the years the significance and importance of essential oils and its benefits have increased and hence, we at Herb Tantra  are here to give you the answer in regard to whether essential oils do expire.

Most of us would have heard the phrase that if the Essential oil is in its pure form, then there is no shelf life for it. Also, it is well known that these essential oils do not get spoiled, grow molds, yeast, and fungi.

So here's  the answer to your question as to whether essential oils expire:

There is no expiration date or shelf life to essential oils. It can be used for several years or even generations! Even after several months of usage, they do not grow yeast, fungi and mildew. However don't get your hopes up, as essential oils do not last forever and indefinitely. Here are the reasons to explain why:

  • Oxidation:

The Essential oil undergoes a process known as oxidation where it gets oxidized when it comes in contact with other external elements and elements are lost in the process. Thus essential oils turn into some other substance entirely. This affects the safe usage of the Essential oil as there is a chemical change in its constituency when used for a long time. There is a change in the levels of components and constituent in the Essential oil mixture. This is when the GC / MS reports come to your aid in letting you to know exactly which components are there in your oil.

However nobody ever knows which constituent or substance it turns into.   

Breakdown of Essential oil constituents:

Essential oils do not turn bad over time, however their composition changes over a long period of time. This is when you can never fully determine whether the Essential oil is safe to use and when you will be attacked by its side effects. It is important to know the main factors that are contributing to the oxidation rate as well as the breakdown of the constituents.

The main external factors that speed up the oxidation rate includes oxygen, heat, and light.  These forces greatly affect the shelf life of all essential oils.

  • Oxygen:

You can prevent the amount of exposure of your Essential oil to oxygen by recapping the bottle tightly immediately after use. It is important that you do not keep your bottle open for a long time as the oxygen molecules enter the bottle and speeds up the rate of oxidation. You can also try to put the entire contents of the Essential oil into different smaller bottles so that the unused bottles contain the original desired Essential oil with all of its components intact.

  • Heat:

Direct exposure of essential oils to heat can change its constituents, components and even the Aroma. It is important that you keep it under cool temperature and in a cool place like that of a fridge or in an air-conditioned room at all times. It is important for essential oils to be stored at temperatures between 35 to 38 degrees. However, it is important to keep in mind that the Aroma of the essential oils are powerful and they can change the taste of your food and beverages in the fridge.

  • Light:

Reduce the amount of light that enters or passes through the bottle containing the essential oils.  It is best to store them in a dark and cool place, far away from sunlight and heat.


The best way to know whether your Essential oil is safe to use as well as whether it comprises of the same components and constituents when you bought it, is to re-test the oil. However, you can slow down the fast oxidation rate and in the process extend the shelf life of the Essential oil.

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