Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy

Your One Stop Aromatherapy Shop since 1997

Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy, LLC Newsletter Vol 131

April 8, 2010

Aromatherapy for the Beginner to the Advanced

How & Why of proper storing of your Essential and Carrier/Fixed Oils.

by Penny Keay

Summer (in the Northern Hemisphere) will be here soon. Heat and Oxygen can be detrimental to your Precious oils.

How & Why of proper storing of your Essential and Carrier/Fixed Oils.

You have just spent a lot of hard earned money on several precious essential oils. You may have also purchased some carrier or fixed oils to use with those wonderful essential oils. But how do you keep them from being destroyed.

Most all essential oils have a minimum shelf life if stored properly of between 2-5 years. A few get even better with age, just like a fine wine does. Yet others will deteriorate within a year (and less if not stored correctly).

Carrier oils on the other hand have a shelf life of around 18 months to 2 years. Especially with the carrier oils you will need to keep them refrigerated and use them within that time frame.

We suggest you mix small amounts of massage oil that can be used with in a few sessions and keep the bulk of your carrier oil in the refrigerator. Besides you want to have a fresh blended massage oil for that perfect massage!

There are a couple exceptions for the carrier or fixed oils. Any of the Coconut oils: Virgin Coconut oil, Expeller or Fractionated are known to be good for 5 years.

Our current supplier of our Golden Jojoba (which is technically a liquid wax) has been tested shelf stable for 5 years to this point.

They are still testing and have told us that it appears to go beyond the 5 years. Most folks don’t have either the Coconut oils or the Jojoba around long enough since they are such popular massage and skin oils.

HEAT & OXYGEN: The two worst things for your Oils.

The biggest factors to harming your essential oils are heat and oxygen. Light only because it is associated with heat.

Protecting them from heat is simple. If you have space in your refrigerator, keep them in there. If not, then keep them in a dark, cool cupboard away from any source of heat.

This is a must. Since heat will accelerate the oxidization process.

Oxygen causes essential oils to oxidize. This can change the constituents within the oils. Breaking them down and making them ‘weak’. Oxygen freely mixes with the constituents to form other compounds.

This in turn will destroy the properties you are looking for that could make a difference in the results you are expecting or hope to achieve.

Some of these ‘new compounds’ can make an essential oil unsafe. Oils that are known to change composition where they can be unsafe to use in applications where they would come in contact with the skin include citrus oils, pine oils and tea tree.

Please know that as any essential oil ages it will change composition. Most won’t cause harm if used on the skin but they won’t give you the results since the properties of the essential oil or fixed oil will have changed.

The best way to help protect them from deterioration due to oxygen is to keep your bottles tightly closed even when you are busy blending. Take the cap off, pour or measure out what you need from that essential oil bottle then cap the bottle again.

This holds true for carrier oils too. BUT many carrier oils are more susceptible to deterioration and will go rancid when exposed to air.

And rancid carrier oils smell bad. Rancid carrier oils are not good for your skin either.

The next thing is to eliminate ‘head space’ in the bottle. The gap between the level of oil in the bottle and the cap should be kept to a minimum.

As you use your essential oils and carrier oils, transfer them into smaller containers as soon as you have quantities that will fit in the smaller container and fill it to the top. So when the bottle is capped there is little free air space available in the bottle.

This will help to slow down the oxidation process.

To be sure your oils are at their peak try to buy the quantities that you can use within a few short months. It may appear to be more expensive but buying smaller amounts of essential oils or the fixed oils that can be used up, rather than a larger container sitting in your box spoiling is really a better alternative than risk using bad or deteriorated oils.

Now don’t worry, if you have essential oils that have been around for too long of time. You can still diffuse them in the air or use them in the cleaning bucket.

They may not do as good a job as a fresh oil will but they can still freshen the air to varying degrees. Just remember their disinfecting properties will not be as good.

Unfortunately there is no use for carrier oil once it has gone bad. You will just have to toss it out. (Unless you can find someone that is using vegetable oils in their alternative fuel vehicles! You know the so called "McFryOil Mobile"!!)

What about protecting them from light?

Well, the main reason to protect your oils from light is the heat factor.

Many aromatherapists will tell you to store your oils in amber, blue, green or violet glass. Well, sorry to tell you but clear glass is able to protect your oils from UV rays just as well as the colored glass.

The UV light is absorbed in the clear glass (or any colored glass) before it reaches the essential oils or carrier oils. The UV light cannot pass through the commonly made glass bottles. It is the UV light that can damage the essential oils but since it cannot pass through normal glass bottles it cannot damage the oils.

It is the UV light that can damage the essential oils but since it cannot pass through normal glass bottles it cannot damage the oils.

This was researched at the University of Tennessee while they were trying to cause photo-chemical reactions using clear glass. The UV light was absorbed (unable to pass through the glass).

They had to obtain specialized glass made only from quartz in order for the UV light to be able to pass through the glass and cause the reactions. (Specialized glass made only from quartz is to costly and would not be found in the normal market outlets.)

There is one exception to the rule and that is any of the oils that have chamazulene (this is the constituent that gives them their blue color) in them such as Roman Chamomile, German Chamomile, Yarrow, Blue Tansy and other blue oils – any visible light (not necessarily UV) – even what might sneak through a colored bottle will cause the blue color to fade.

The color is only affected. By far and large the biggest detriment to the “blue oils” is still oxygen and heat. Keep them in a cool, dark (preferably a refrigerator) place to help preserve them and their color.

So rest assured any color or colorless glass bottles will protect your oils as long as you keep the cap tightly closed and the oils away from any kind of heat source.

Keeping your essential oils in a cardboard box is fine. You can find a few storage and carrying cases around the internet. Find a small enough box that can easily be kept in a corner of your refrigerator. There are convenient wooden storage boxes available from Birch Hill Happenings Aromatherapy too.

Things to Remember:

1. Keep you oils away from Heat and Light (light only because it produces heat).

2. Keep them capped.

3. Buy quantities you can use up within 6 months to a year. (That’s one of the reason we sell a variety of sizes – we don’t want you buying too much and have it not give you the results you should expect – if you have it around too long.) Buy small, use often and use up!

4. Transfer them to smaller containers to help slow down the oxidation process.

5. Don’t use outdated essential oils or carrier oils on the skin as they can cause unwanted dermatological reactions.

So now, don’t forget to check your supply of essential oils and carrier oils you have on hand now.

If you have a large bottle of essential oil and it only has a small amount (less than 1/3) the original amount and it is over 1 year old you should no longer use it for massage or skin applications.

Replace it with fresh and you will see better results.

Fresh essential oils will smell better too, they will have a wonderful aroma (well some oils never smell wonderful) ;-)

We suggest you date the bottles of essential oils ONCE you open them.

This is the most important date for essential oils. It will be the date where you will have started to introduce oxygen into the bottle.

As for the carrier oils you need to put the date you purchased them on the bottle. Use them with in 12 months except for Jojoba and coconut oils (which will last for 5 years).

Something that I must note here: There are NO effective Natural preservatives that can extend the shelf life of any carrier or essential oil. If you have been led to believe differently continue on.

It is a false and misleading statement that you may have read that Vitamin E and Wheat Germ oils are good for use as a preservative in your massage oils and lotions. Sorry to disappoint you but neither of them will preserve your products.

They, just like other ‘oils’ will also be damaged by heat and oxygen. It will happen just as quickly to them as it will to other oils.

I know, the Vitamin E and Wheat Germ Oil are used as nutritional supplements are typically sealed in gel caps where they are not exposed to oxygen. Then and only then will they have a slightly longer shelf life but they cannot ‘preserve’ your final product.

They can only help with offering by offering to nourish your skin and keep it soft.

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Recipes to try

Mattress Sanitizer Spray

Spearmint - 4 mL
Eucalyptus globulus - 1 mL
Oregano – 1 mL
Pine needle – 1mL
Emulsifier – 2 teaspoonsful
Linen and Room Spray Base – 4 ounces.

Blend the essential oils together, then add the Emulsifier . Blend well. Then add this to the 4 ounces of Spray base. Shake well before and during use.

Let the mattress dry thoroughly before vacuuming and applying the bedding. (Distilled water can also be used but has no preservative as the Linen base does so you must keep it refrigerated and use within 2 weeks if you use water.)


Tight Muscle Rub

Eucalyptus radiata – 10 drops
Sandalwood – 6 drops
Bay laurel – 6 drops
Sweet Marjoram – 6 drops
Fractionated coconut oil – 1 ounce

Blend the essential oils in a PET plastic bottle and then add carrier oil. Shake well. Warm gently and then use for massage of tight and tired muscles.

You know the kind you get from all that spring yard clean up and gardening!


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Sit Down and Relax – a Refreshing Spring Diffuser Blend

Neroli – 5 drops
Mandarin - 5 drops
Frankincense – 5 drops

Blend well in a glass bottle and then add to any diffuser. Works well in a Fan style or Tart warmer style.

This recipe can easily be made larger. Use 5 mL of each oil in your glass bottle and blend well. Add to your diffuser as you desire.


Cheerful Blend Room Spray

Spearmint – 4 mL
Lemon– 3 mL
The V'nilla's Blend – 1 ml
Emulsifier – 2 teaspoonsful
Linen and Room Spray Base – 8 ounces.
Trigger Sprayer bottle

Blend essential oils together with the emulsifier. Once well blended add to the Linen and Room Spray. Shake well.

Spray around the room as often as desired.


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All the products listed in the article are available at our Shopping Site - see link below.

© 2010, 2015, 2017 Penny Keay All rights reserved Worldwide.
Please do not use my information without my permission.


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