Let’s face it, high quality essential oils are not cheap. They require a lot of plant material to produce a small amount of oil, so the goal is for them to be good to the last drop. Correct storage is the key to getting the most benefit out of their nature-packed goodness, so let's review some tips.
As a retailer, you most likely hope to sell more than one bottle of essential oil to each customer. Hopefully you discuss different aromatherapy blends and highlight the unique therapeutic benefits of each essential oil with interested shoppers. However, if customer satisfaction is also high on your priorities list, you'll want to store essential oils properly and help your customers continue caring for the products at home. This will encourage repeat purchases.
Always remember: essential oils do not like extreme, or repeated changes in temperature or exposure to oxygen.
To avoid damage from uv rays and heat, essential oils must be kept in a dark glass bottle rather than a clear one. While Zenature® oils certainly have that box checked, no matter what the colour of bottle is, the oils should never be displayed or stored in a place where the sun will shine directly on them. Over a period of months this will dramatically speed up the process of oxidation (deterioration) due to them continually heating up and cooling down. Even the fluctuation of heat in a bathroom from hot showers can affect their potency.
The cool dark place of choice for many is the temperature of most refrigerators (35-38 degrees). Patchouli is one of the few that does not require this measure. Beware, if essential oil bottles are put into a fridge with food, some of that food may start to taste of essential oil. It is wise to keep them in a container: wooden box, plastic box or zip-up bag.
Essential oils become progressively more viscous as they cool. This won’t noticeably affect most oils, but some may be slow to pour. This is an indication that the oil is a high quality because it has not been 'extended' with a cheaper carrier oil. If the oil requires warming, the bottle can be held in the hand. Or, with a little forethought, the bottle can come out of the fridge a few hours earlier. Some oils, like peppermint may need to be run under warm water, just enough to get the required amount of drops out. If heated too much, oil will diffuse in the air.
Oxygen is another enemy of these oils. Being moderately volatile (most are not highly volatile), essential oils will evaporate fairly quickly. The cap should be replaced tightly as soon as possible. To maintain integrity of the oils, unsterilized items like fingers, cotton balls or other items should not come into direct contact. Instead, the quantity needed can be poured off or measured.
Most essential oils have a shelf life of about one to two years (from first opening of bottle) when stored properly. For non-refrigerated oils, halve these numbers, especially in warm climates. Keep it simple: advise your customers to keep them in a fridge! For older oils, it’s never too late to start.
It is interesting to note that the patchouli will actually get better with age - up to the four to eight year range it will keep its therapeutic benefits and the aroma is enhanced. On the other end of the spectrum, citrus oils like bergamot are the most prone to oxidization and begin to lose their aroma and therapeutic properties in as little as six months.
Providing tester oils in your store can be difficult because the bottles are constantly being opened and exposed to the air, this is not an accurate guide to what the fresh oil smells like. If you would like to use a set of your bottles to share samples, consider keeping them behind the counter and refreshing small pieces of cloth that you keep with the display just once per day.
Fear not, there is no reason to waste an oxidized bottle of essential oil. They can still be used to scent cleaning products, especially the citrus fruit oils. Click here to view DIY recipes for all-natural cleaning products that feature essential oils. Essential oils really CAN be good to the last drop.
If you have another great tip to share, please leave us a comment!