Do Essential Oils Expire?

Do Essential Oils Expire?

Penny Cooper

Written by Plant Therapy January 17th 2019


Breaking It Down

One question we see often here at Plant Therapy: Do essential oils expire?

So let’s talk about essential oil expiration and shelf life! This is a question that we see a lot. There are a lot of misconceptions stemming from the significant increase in popularity essential oils have gotten over the past several years and it’s time we really dive in and take a deeper look.

Let’s start with the misconception itself. At some point in your essential oil journey, you’ve probably heard someone say, “Well, if the oil is pure it does not expire.” You may have also heard that essential oils don’t grow mold, mildew, or yeast. All these things are true, but we’re not done there.


So, Do Essential Oils Expire?

Essential oils do not expire. They do not grow mold. They also do not grow mildew or even yeast. The false hope these facts cause is that essential oils will last forever and that they have an indefinite shelf life. This is very far from the truth.

The Science

Oxidation. Such a simple, yet complicated word.  Oxidation is the process or result of oxidizing or being oxidized. Oxidized means to undergo or cause to undergo a reaction in which electrons are lost to another species. But wouldn’t that result in an oil becoming something else? Bingo. That’s exactly what it means, and why essential oils most definitely have a shelf life.

When you look at essential oil safety, you’re really sitting down and looking at the chemical constituents that make up an oil, not really the oil itself. You look at the different constituents that an oil is composed of, the levels of each constituent, and the safety information attributed to each constituent. This is why GC/MS reports are so important because they tell you what exactly your oil is composed of and how much.

Throw oxidation back into the mix. The constituents that make up your essential oil start to break down and turn into new constituents altogether. What do they turn into exactly? Nobody knows. It depends on the constituent, the amount of time it’s been oxidizing, etc. The only way to tell for certain is to retest the oil.



Breaking it Down

While essential oils don’t “go bad” the way food does, they do change over time. And because they change over time, and we don’t know what’s in them, the safety of an oil can’t be fully determined. But the good news is, there are things you can do to slow down the rate of oxidation and extend the “life” of your oil but you need to know what contributes to an essential oil’s oxidation process.

Oxygen, heat, and light. Three everyday forces that greatly impact the shelf life of essential oils. Oxygen is probably the biggest contributing factor to oxidation since oxidation can’t happen without oxygen. Heat and light also contribute to oxidation, but for different reasons. Reasons we are not going to dive into, because, well… nobody wants this to turn into a full-blown chemistry lesson.


Oxygen exposure can be reduced by ensuring you recap your essential oil bottles tightly and quickly. Don’t let your bottles sit out on the counter open for too long. This allows oxygen to penetrate the bottle and increase the rate of oxidation. A pro-tip to consider is decanting your oils into smaller bottles as-needed. If you buy a 10ml bottle of essential oil and use 5ml or more, consider pouring the remaining oil into a smaller sized bottle.


Heat exposure can be reduced by keeping your essential oils in a cool place, like a fridge. According to Robert Tisserand, the ideal temperature for essential oils is between 35 and 38 degrees. There are some things to consider, though. Because essential oils are so powerful and aromatic, they do have the ability to alter the taste of the food and beverages stored with them in the fridge. You can help reduce these effects by storing them in separate containers in the fridge. Or, you could do as many do and buy a whole separate fridge.


Light. Naturally, the way to reduce light exposure is to keep essential oils stored in a dark-colored bottle and keep them in a dark, cool place. If you can’t afford a fridge for your essential oils, and you don’t have the room to store in them in your regular fridge, consider storing them in another dark and cool place like a cabinet.



In Summary

There is a whole lot of science and chemistry behind essential oils and their respective constituents. The problem is that while the oil may not go “bad” – it doesn’t stay the oil you know and love forever. It will begin to change and break down. And while there may not be an exact science behind the “shelf life” of an oil, there is a pretty good idea on how long an oil should last if stored properly.

You can check out our recommended shelf life chart here.

So now the question is, when does the shelf life start?

We cannot speak for every company’s essential oils, but Plant Therapy’s essential oils are stored in a barrel topped with a nitrogen barrier that helps keep oxygen out. This prevents oxidation while it waits for bottling. Once the oil has been bottled, we have a strict forecasting structure to prevent oils from sitting on the shelf for prolonged periods of time. Because we have these procedures in place, it gives us confidence that the shelf life of your oil will start as soon as you receive it.


Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Oils

  • Colored bottles help keep the oil out of direct sunlight.
  • Keep your bottle capped tightly.
  • Keep them cool! The ideal temperature is 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of most refrigerators. Keep the oils in a container (like a wooden box or plastic bag) unless you want your food to start tasting like your oils!
  • Some oils become thicker as they cool. This is totally normal. Just warm the bottle up in your hands for a moment to return it to a more liquid state.
  • You can tell if your oil has oxidized if it does not smell as fresh as it did originally.
  • Citrus oils can go cloudy. If this happens, let the sediment settle to the bottom of the bottle and use a clean pipette to transfer the good oil into a clean bottle.
  • Using a personal inhaler? Refresh it about every 3 to 4 months, since inhalers get frequent exposure to the air.

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Essential Breathing: Mindfulness and Meditation

Essential Breathing: Mindfulness and Meditation

Penny Cooper

The following blog was written by the staff at Plant Therapy and was originally published on May 18th 2020.


Because today’s world is so stressful, and mindfulness and meditation are so very good for you, we came up with some tips on how to find a peaceful state of mind amidst all the crazy. It all starts with your breathing. And it’s not about sucking air and puffing out your chest. Proper, “essential breathing” is slow, deep, and steady. It brings the air deep into your lungs so that your belly expands more than your chest. This kind of deep breathing has a number of mental and physical benefits.

Why Essential Breathing?

Deep breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, and belly breathing, is what you need to fill your lungs completely. If you watch a baby or a small child breathing, you’ll see that their little tummies stick out when they inhale. A lot of us lose that natural deep breathing ability as we age, deal with stress, and become concerned with our body image. But the belly breathing method encourages complete oxygen exchange  (swapping out carbon dioxide for oxygen). It can slow your heart rate, your breathing rate, and lower your blood pressure so that your body is more energy-efficient. Unsurprisingly, all of that can help reduce stress, making it easier to meditate and relax. Most importantly, it feels good!

How to Breath Intentionally

Even for marathon runners and deep-sea divers, breathing properly can feel unnatural. It takes extra effort to ditch our shallow breathing habit, be present (mindful), and breathe more deliberately.  Furthermore, when you’re practicing intentional breathing, your belly sticks out. That’s the opposite of what most people find attractive, and so we keep our stomach muscles tight all day and take shallow breaths into our chests. To make matters worse, it’s harder to practice deep breathing when we need it the most.  Stress, depression, a busy mind, or just a lack of practice with proper breathing all make it harder to just “be” and breathe. Ironically, the conditions that make intentional breathing so difficult are also the issues it can help alleviate.

To practice diaphragmatic breathing, you might need to make a conscious effort to breathe into your belly. To start, you can place one hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach to monitor each breath. Inhale through your nose and focus on making your belly expand more than your chest. For beginners, it’s easiest to start seated or lying down. Pull the air gently into your abdomen, taking deep, even breaths. With practice and time, intentional breathing will become easier.


Breathing Deep for Meditation

We’ve talked about meditation before and we’ll probably do it again because it’s a topic that bears repeating. But meditation without proper breathing is like trying to sleep without closing your eyes. Modern research has revealed a vast array of mental health benefits related to meditation like reduced stress, worry, and depression. Furthermore, meditation improves memory and the ability to accomplish cognitively demanding tasks. It can even help with blood pressure and metabolism while increasing melatonin levels and more. However, even with proper breathing, and the knowledge of “how” to meditate, many still struggle to quiet the mind. Thankfully, there are many options available from calming music to yoga to guided meditations that can help you on your path to mindfulness.

It would take pages and pages to recite all of the benefits of meditation. Suffice it to say, “Meditation good.” Need more convincing? Evidence of meditative practices is still on display in wall paintings from seven thousand years ago. So really, this is all old information painted in a new, data-driven light.


Essential Breathing and Essential Oils

It’s well known that many essential oils can help bring about a calm, relaxed state of mind. And they’re frequently used to support healthy respiration. Sometimes an extra mind-clearing, easy-breathing boost is all we need to meditate successfully. For that, we’ve created blends like Relax, Meditation, and Respir Aid. And you can always experiment with your essential oil collection to find what works best for you. Or try out the diffuser blend and the Essential Breathing Guide below.

Other great essential oils for meditation include Bergamot, Blue Cypress, Ho Wood, Neroli, Palo Santo, Sandalwood Indian, and Vetiver.


Breathing Light Diffuser Blend

What You’ll Need:

2 drops Australian Sandalwood
1 drop Frankincense Carteri
1 drop Bergamot
1 drop Coriander Seed

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Are Essential Oils Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Are Essential Oils Safe to Use During Pregnancy?

Penny Cooper

The following blog was written by Emilee Hughes, Certified Aromatherapist for Plant Therapy.


During Pregnancy

Over the past few months, Plant Therapy has received a surge of questions about using essential oils safely while pregnant and nursing. Today we are going to discuss the topic of pregnancy safety in depth, provide safe usage guideline SEOs, and explore our updated Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart.

During pregnancy, our doctors frequently ask us questions like: “What are you eating?”, “Do you consume alcohol?”, and “Are you a smoker?” This is because our growing baby receives all of its life forming nutrients from us, the mother. Whether or not we are eating right, exercising, or consuming caffeine during pregnancy can have drastic effects on our growing little one. Many of these variables have the potential to cross the placenta.

So what does the placenta do? “The primary function of the placenta in all species is to promote selective transport of nutrients and waste products between mother and fetus. Such transport is facilitated by the close approximation of maternal and fetal vascular systems within the placenta.” [1]

Keep this in mind:

“Essential oils by their very nature, being organic substances, will cross the placental barrier and have the potential to affect the fetus.” [2]

With this in mind, when choosing to use essential oils during the first trimester we recommend very limited use. This is because so much change is taking place within our bodies. In general, we do not recommend active or daily use of essential oils during the first trimester and it may be best to avoid using altogether during this time. However, to assist with nausea you may consider adding a drop of Peppermint or Spearmint to a tissue and gently inhaling to relieve some of these symptoms.

Beyond the first trimester, there are some additional variables to consider.

First let’s discuss the means of use, as we all know there are several different methods to use essential oils. Through topical application, only a small amount of oil will actually reach your bloodstream and the absorption rate is slow. Through diffusion, you will receive a small but continued dose of essential oils via inhalation. Steam inhalation offers a high but very short dose of essential oils. Lastly, when using a personal aromatherapy inhaler we receive a dose that is not as strong as steam inhalation but stronger than diffusion. [3]

While considering the means of use we must also reflect on how often we use essential oils. You may have heard us say with essential oils “less is more.” This is especially true when using essential oils during pregnancy. The more you choose to use essential oils, the more you will absorb, which may cross the placenta. It is best to limit essential oil usage to relieving symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, or occasional head tension. By limiting your use, you may still receive the wonderful benefits of essential oils without overexposing yourself or your growing baby.

The next thing to consider is a safe dilution percentage.

“The recommended dilution is 1% or less, for all skin applications… [For] bath[s]… [one] should add no more than 4 drops of essential oil.” [2]

The last and most important factor to consider is the essential oils that you are using in your blends. We must remember that “Certain essential oils are contraindicated due to the nature of their chemical components, which may be too strong (and unnecessary) for [pregnancy].” [2]

It is very important that you only use essential oils that are safe during pregnancy. This is where our list of Pregnancy and Nursing Safe oils will be very helpful. This list was created by our team of Certified Aromatherapists here at Plant Therapy and has been approved by world-renowned essential oil safety expert, Robert Tisserand.

There are also variables to consider when breastfeeding.

We will discuss in depth in Pregnancy and Nursing Safety – Part 2. In the meantime, if you have any questions about using essential oils safely while nursing please email an Aromatherapist at

Click Here to Download and Print the Pregnancy and Nursing Safe Chart


[1] Bowen, R. “Transport Across the Placenta” 6 August 2000. Retrieved 25 October 2016.

[2] Christie, Deacon, Pickard, Price. “Pregnancy Guidelines: Guidelines for Aromatherapists Working with Pregnant Clients” 2013. Retrieved 25 October 2016.

[3] “Aromahead Institute’s Aromatherapy Certification Program”

[4] Smith, Anne. “Drugs and Breastfeeding” Breastfeeding Basics., Retrieved 10 October 2016.

[5] Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014). Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

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