Image Name Do Essential Oils Expire? Learn The Truth

Do Essential Oils Expire? Learn The Truth

If you’ve taken a moment to read our complete guide to extracts, then you are probably familiar with the fact that, if not used correctly, there can be issues. What about oils that have been in the cabinet for far too long? Do essential oils expire? It’s these questions I intend to answer in this post.

The short answer is yes. Just like anything else that we extract from nature, lettuces, bananas, milk, organic items have a shelf life. As for how fast they run out of time or what happens when they do, that answer isn’t as definitive. Let’s take a look at the life of an extract.

Harvest and Production

Women wearing a traditional clothes standing in the field of herb or tea leaves

When the farmers that work in the aromatic community harvest their crops, what they yield is distilled or cold pressed, leaving behind the purest essence of that harvest. The oil is then packaged in drums for companies like doTerra and shipped globally. After they are tested the extracts are put into dark glass bottles with a tightly fashioned cap.

When They Get To Your Door

Essential oil bottles, soap, wooden box with soaps and towel in white background

This is the time when you can take action to not let your oils spoil. If you keep them in the dark bottles they were sent to you in, you should be fine. Any good company is going to seal them well in a bottle that is safe for the oil and will prolong its life. After you are through mixing them and making your bath salts or using a diffuser, make sure to store them in a cool dark space.

My oils are kept in a drawer in my bedroom dresser. I take them out briefly when I am ready to use them, and then seal the cap tightly and put them back. When I first started using lavender, I used to leave it out anywhere, sometimes even without the cap. I could notice the change when the oil started to go bad.

How To Tell When They Are Too Old

bubble formation on the oil

When your essences start to live in your drawer for a longer time than they should, they begin to go through oxidation, which is the loss of electrons. When oxidation begins, the oil starts to become rancid. Exposure to oxygen is one of the factors that can spoil your extracts. This is why it is important to seal it tightly when you are finished.

Decreased Potency

woman smelling bottle in white background

After opening your bottle of frankincense, you should get a nice heavy whiff of musk and all the familiar scents you typically get when you open your bottle of frankincense. If any of your oils start to smell funny or just not like themselves, then this is the first sign that it has gone bad or might be past its expiration date.


patches of skin redness and inflammation

If a blend you created starts to give you a bit of skin irritation after you massage it into your skin when it hasn’t before, then this is another sign that your oils are going bad. Of course, you should always spot check any blends or diluted oils before applying them to a large portion of your body. If you break out from using a new oil, then it’s possible that scent is irritating to your skin, and you should cease from using it.

It Looks Funny

Close up bubbles of oil in black background

After aging, some oils will get thicker or can become cloudy. If your oils look funny or have changed color, then stop using it.

Keep A Journal

Black woman writing on the notebook

When you start collecting your oils, keep track of the dates of purchase. Three years is long enough for most oils. Citrus oils spoil faster than the rest and should be replaced after nine months or a year.

Not All Oils Are Equal

Weighing scale in gray background

There are four oils that grow better with age, which are Patchouli cablin (Blanco), sandalwood Santalum spp., vetiver Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.), and ylang ylang Cananga odorata (Lam.) var. Genuina. The rest of them will lose potency over time.

Other Oils

coconut oil on the bottle in wooden background

These volatile compounds are not the only oils in your home with an expiration date. Carrier oils like coconut, jojoba, and sweet almond also can expire, so it’s best to follow the same rules when it comes to them. Airtight seal and out of the sunlight.


It isn’t surprising that the ylang-ylang in your drawer will go bad over time, because, let’s face it, even we go bad over time. You keep a journal or write the date of purchase on the bottle if you can. A silver marker might do the trick.

Or just use your senses to investigate. If your scents start to smell strange, look funny, or feel weird, then odds are they are bad. Don’t use them and get some more. It’s never a good idea to eat meat that has a foul scent, the same caution should be taken with anything your pores will absorb or your lungs will inhale.

I hope you found this post informative. Let us know if you have any questions about this post in the comments section below. We wish you the best in your quest for a better mind, body, and soul.

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