Is there a better time spent in a hot bath filled with the beautiful scent of your favorite essential oil? Hardly! A perfectly chosen essential oil can turn the end of your working week into a blessing if you spend an hour in the bathroom enjoying the aromatherapy.

What happens, though, when you haven’t treated yourself in a long time, and you see that the bottle of essential oil that is your favorite is opened and left for months? Did it go bad? It’s still oil, and oils are not supposed to go bad, but you still wonder what to do in this situation.

The short answer to the question you might be asking yourself – can essential oils go bad? – Yes! They do. In this article, we’re talking more about this issue. We will tell you why they go bad, how to prevent it, and which ones will most likely go bad if you leave them open. Read on and learn more!

What are essential oils made of?

All essential oils are made by steaming or pressing particular plants that extract their juices. These oils are often diluted afterward because their 100% concentration is too strong for people to use. What is important here is that essential oils are nothing more than the organic product of nature.

What are essential oils made of?

99% of the stuff we consume from nature gets spoiled if it isn’t properly stored. Any food you eat must be prepared soon after it is brought into your kitchen, and unless it is stored in the deep freeze, it will spoil and become useless after a week or two.

Although every essential oil is different, they are most commonly made of monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, and oxygenated compounds, like oxides, alcohols, phenols, ketones, aldehydes, and esters. This is the chemical composition nearly behind every essential oil.

Why do they expire?

Those who are into chemistry will know that monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes are compounds that evaporate quickly, which is why the shelf life of essential oils is not high. Of course, this isn’t going to happen if you seal the bottle properly.

When companies sell their industrially made essential oil bottles, they will take all the precautions to let the compounds evaporate, and they’ll label the bottles with a warning of it. If you let it open, these compounds will easily disappear after some time.

Why do they expire?

A lot of people make their own products from essential oils, but this is another case. If you place the essential oil in a candle, the paraffin will trap these substances, and they will only be released after you light the wick and let the paraffin melt.

Some oils have a longer, and some have a shorter shelf life

Even if sealed properly, the features of essential oils will disappear after some time. Some oils will only last for a year, while others will last over eight years. It’s worth knowing which ones will last shorter and which ones you can keep longer. Here’s a quick list of examples:

1-2 years:

  • Lime
  • Mandarin
  • Citrus
  • Grapefruit
  • Tangerine

2-3 years:

  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Coffee
  • Lemongrass
  • Manuka
  • Spearmint
  • Saro
  • Spruce
  • Tea Tree

3-4 years:

  • Basil
  • Cardamon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Thyme
  • Lavender
  • Jasmin

4-5 years:

  • Cinnamon leaf
  • Ylang Ylang
  • Cedarwood
  • Peppermint
  • Wintergreen
  • Amyris

6 and more years:

  • Sandalwood
  • Patchouli
  • Vetiver

As you can see, most of them will last between two and five years. There are only a few to last for a long time, and there are a few that will last for less than a year. Lime and citrus are commonly used, so if you like their scent, make sure you’re getting a bottle without the possibility of getting spoiled soon.

How to know if an essential oil is outdated?

The entire point of every essential oil is to provide the smell of the plant we chose and create the effect that it is known for. Most essential oils are used in diffusers, and we use their features through our smell senses. That means the best way to tell if they are bad or not is to smell them.

If you can’t feel the scent that they are supposed to provide, it means that they’ve gone bad. If you place them in a diffuser, they won’t do the job, and you’ll not get the aromatherapy you’ve been hoping for.

Another way to know that they are spoiled is to see if they changed the color. Most of them will get a bland color far from the authentic one they are supposed to have. Additionally, on the top of the bottle, you might see it’s different than usual. It may be thinner or thicker than before, which means it lost some or most of its features. 

Three ways to extend essential oils shelf life

If you want to see your essential oils last longer, you should do everything to protect them. This will also extend their shelf life, which means you’ll be able to use them long after you bought them. Here are three things to do if you want to see them last longer:

Store them properly

To last longer, the first step is to store them properly. All essential oils must be stored in bottles and closed tightly. No oxygen is allowed to go in and out whatsoever. It doesn’t matter if they were opened once. If you close them right and not let the air go in and out, they’ll be good.

Three ways to extend essential oils shelf life

Keep them at the right temperature

The ideal place to store them is in the fridge. Keeping them between two and four degrees Celsius (36-40 Fahrenheit) is the best. However, make sure you have a dedicated one because it’s not wise to mix them with the food you eat. If you forget to close them properly, the scent may contaminate the food.

Use smaller bottles

We usually buy larger packages because it’s more affordable. However, it’s best to put them in smaller containers after it and only open them one by one. This way, only one bottle will be affected by the oxygen, and most of them will last for a much longer period.