You may have read this on certain essential oil salespeoples websites “Our Essential Oils Never Expire“!
Well, essential oils do have shelf lives…of course they do, they are botanical products made from plants!
“Most oils do degrade with age due to oxidation but there are some oils, such as sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli, etc. that actually get better with age, at least to a certain point (I am not sure anyone knows what sandalwood looks like after say 5000 years and I am pretty sure well before then the oil would “resinify” and become solid). Its typically the heavier oils that are high in sesquiterpene alcohols that get better with age. However, most oils, especially the citrus oils and the blue oils will degrade with age (at least within human lifetimes). Citrus oils are especially prone to degradation due to the high levels of limonene which oxidizes relatively easily. Even very small amounts of limonene oxide formation can totally destroy the odor of a once good citrus oil. In addition, wax formation in citrus due to monoterpene polymerization is also quite common over time. For this reason its best to go through citrus oils within a year, if possible.” – Dr. Robert Pappas, Essential Oil University
Question asked of author Robert Tisserand: How long will my essential oils keep?
“It depends when you start the clock. If you time it from the moment of distillation, you have to know when that was, and most of the time we don’t know that. And, an essential oil in a full, unused bottle will stay fresh for a long time. So – start the clock when you first open the bottle, and use the following guideline for essential oils that are refrigerated:
Citrus fruit, neroli, lemongrass, frankincense, tea tree, pine and spruce oils – 1-2 years
Virtually every other essential oil – 2-3 years
Sandalwood, vetiver, patchouli – 4-8 years
For non-refrigerated oils, halve these numbers, especially in warm climates. Keep it simple: keep them in a fridge! If you haven’t kept your essential oils refrigerated up to now, it’s not too late to start.” — Robert Tisserand, Keep Your Essential Oils Cool
There are no FDA requirements to list expiration dates or “best used by” dates on essential oils. However, the “Guidance Policy for Labeling of Undiluted Essential Oils Used Topically and Offered for Retail Sale” from the American Herbal Products Association does recommend An expiration date or date of manufacture.
INDUSTRY WARNING: beware of any company which claims that their essential oils never expire or brag that they do not have an expiration date!