If you’re buying essential oils, you may discover that some cost a few pounds while others actually cost quite a bit. The cost is usually a factor of where it was obtained, current levels of availability and how difficult it is to extract. For example, you’ll find a bottle of lemon will be a lot cheaper than a bottle of rose because it’s easy to obtain, extract and bottle. Rose essential oil is actually made from petals and you need a lot to make a small amount of oil, so the price reflects this.
Due to how much you may spend buying oils, it’s obvious you’re going to want them to last as long as possible. On the side of your essential oil bottle you will see a best before date and to ensure your oils stay as fresh as possible it’s also important to look after them properly.
When you’re buying essential oils look at the use by date. Most aromatherapy suppliers aim to give a shelf life of about 18months, but depending on the oil this may be longer or shorter. Don’t think about stocking up on oils such as sweet orange, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus ones, because they naturally have a shorter shelf life, and if you’re not using them a lot you’ll probably end up having to discard them.
When you’re not using essential oils, always make sure you put the lids on them. This is the reason why, when I’m carrying out a consultation and you’re smelling a blend, I’ll put the lids back on them until I’m ready to blend your oil. Essential oils react with chemicals in the air, some quicker than others. Citrus oils tend to oxidise quickly, while other oils can take longer so by keeping the lids on as much as possible you’re aiming to reduce the reaction of the oil with the air. Why is this important? When your oils react with the chemicals they can cause skin irritations or reactions.
Another way to help look after your oils is to store them in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight. Essential oils change their chemical composition when they’re heated, which is why they need to be kept cool. You can refrigerate your oils, but it’s important to remember they can taint the food which is also in the fridge. Some cold essential oils are also difficult to get out of their bottle, so you may want to remove them from a fridge about half an hour before you plan to use them. Essential oils are kept in brown, green or blue glass bottles because the coloured glass stops the sunlight which could add to the warming process.
When you’re using your essential oil don’t remove the dropper. The dropper is designed so you can easily count how many drops you’re adding to a blend. This means you’re less likely to add too much, and you’ll find your essential oil bottle will last longer than if you had removed it.
If you think your essential oil is past its best, do discard of it responsibly. You can add it to a compost bin, or I tend to use it for things that won’t come into contact with the skin – I often use a few drops of an essential oil to add a better smell to my kitchen bin after it’s been emptied. I’m aware over time the essential oil may affect the inner plastic, but it’s something I’m not concerned by!
Louise is an holistic therapist who owns the Therapy Centre, BS14 9HB, a clinic offering a range of holistic and beauty therapies. Louise offers reflexology, aromatherapy, aromatology, holistic massage, Indian head massage, reiki, baby massage and story massage. She is a mum of two boys and when she is not working she enjoys getting outdoors with her family. For further information visit louise-morgan.co.uk or contact her clinic on 01275 217160