How to Tell if Essential Oil has Gone Bad?

How to know if your essential oil has gone bad this question may be on your mind if you use essential oil. Here are a few indicators that your oil may be past its prime. Since essential oils dislike direct sunlight, their black bottles are made to keep them from oxidizing. Every three years, you should change your essential oils. Sandalwood and patchouli are a couple of the few exceptions to this rule. Three years is on the short end of the scale, even if some essential oils are believed to get better with time.

Essential Oil

Make sure to select dark glass bottles to store your essential oils in. This will stop the oxidation of volatile chemicals and slow their escape. Could you keep them in a cool, dark place? The oil will start to deteriorate if you don’t use it frequently. To increase the bottle’s lifespan, close it properly. Consult an aromatherapy store in your area if you’re unsure how to determine if an essential oil has gone bad.

What is Essential Oil?

Compounds are taken from plants to make essential oils. The oils, or “essence,” of the plant are captured. Each essential oil’s distinctive essence is derived from distinct aromatic components. Essential oils are obtained mechanically, such as cold pressing or distillation (steam and water). After extraction, the aromatic compounds are mixed with a carrier oil to produce a finished product ready for use. It matters how the oils are created because those obtained by chemical procedures are not considered genuine essential oils.

Popular Types

There are more than 90 types of essential oils, each with its unique smell and potential health benefits.

Here’s a list of 10 popular essential oils and the health claims associated with them:

  • Peppermint: used to boost energy and aid digestion
  • Lavender: used to relieve stress
  • Sandalwood: used to calm nerves and help with focus
  • Bergamot: used to reduce stress and improve skin conditions like eczema
  • Rose: used to improve mood and reduce anxiety
  • Chamomile: used to improve mood and relaxation
  • Ylang-Ylang: used to treat headaches, nausea, and skin conditions
  • Tea Tree: used to fight infections and boost immunity
  • Jasmine: used to help with depression, childbirth, and libido
  • Lemon: used to aid digestion, mood, headaches, and more

How to Tell if Essential Oil has Gone Bad?

Here are some signs to tell if an essential oil has gone bad:

The Smell

The usual fragrant scent of different essential oils varies. If you are familiar with its scent, it can be simpler to detect problems with a beloved oil. Make sure you are familiar with the aroma of each essential oil you store to tell when anything doesn’t smell right.

Remember that the aroma of different batches of oils can vary. The plants that generate essential oils can be influenced by weather and climatic factors, just like wine, giving each harvest a distinct character. However, rancid oil should be readily distinguishable from fresh oil.

Increased Sensitization

Keep an eye out for any redness, itching, or irritation on your skin. This may occur if the oil is too potent for your skin, which may cause oversensitivity. However, you shouldn’t suffer redness or irritation if the oil is adequately diluted (as it should be), and if you do, the oil has probably gone bad.

Consistency of Oil

The viscosity of most essential oils is fluid and silky, and the oil’s consistency will likely thicken if it has gone rancid. Instead of the usual translucent color, the oil might sometimes appear hazy.

How Long do Essential Oils Last?

The shelf life of different essential oils varies. If it isn’t stated on the container, it’s a good idea to write down the expiration date of essential oil when you open it to have a record. Fortunately, essential oils last quite a while, so if you just recently bought any, you don’t need to worry. Eighty years after being initially opened, essential oils lose their effectiveness.

We’ve made a handy document for reference if you’re unsure of when your essential oil expires. If your favorite essential oil isn’t on this list and the container doesn’t have a best-by date, we advise doing some research. This list is by no means exhaustive, and just because an essential oil isn’t included doesn’t imply it doesn’t have a shelf life.

1-2 Year Shelf Life

These oils have a shelf life of 1-2 years when stored safely and without anything else, like another essential oil or carrier oil. Citrus oils generally have the shortest shelf life.

2-3 Year Shelf Life

These oils have a shelf life of 2-3 years when stored safely and without anything else — like another essential oil or carrier oil — mixed in.

  • Bergamot
  • Black Pepper
  • Camphor
  • Catnip
  • Chamomile
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Juniper Berry
  • Lemongrass
  • Manuka
  • Melissa
  • Neroli
  • Nutmeg
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Spruce
  • Tea Tree

3-4 Year Shelf Life

These oils have a shelf life of 3-4 years when stored safely and without anything else, like another essential oil or carrier oil.

  • Basil
  • Cardamom
  • Citronella
  • Clary Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Jasmine Absolute
  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Thyme

4-5 Year Shelf Life

These oils have a shelf life of 4-5 years when stored safely and without anything else, like another essential oil or carrier oil.

  • Allspice
  • Blue tansy
  • Cedarwood
  • Clove
  • Geranium
  • Peppermint
  • Rose
  • Sage
  • Vanilla
  • Wintergreen
  • Ylang Ylang

6-8 Year Shelf Life

These oils have a shelf life of 6-8 years when stored safely and without anything else, like another essential oil or carrier oil.

  • Buddha wood
  • Patchouli
  • Sandalwood
  • Vetiver

Is There any Way to Extend the Shelf Life of your Essential Oil?

Essential Oil

Unfortunately, oxidation is a normal and unavoidable process that results in expired oils. You must be mindful of your expiration dates because essential oil safety is important. However, you may employ a few do-it-yourself methods to extend the shelf life of your essential oils so you can utilize them as much as possible.

Keep it Covered

Since oxidation is the problem, reducing the amount of exposure your essential oils have to oxygen is the best way to slow this process. Don’t leave the cap off a bottle of essential oil, and make sure it’s screwed on as tightly as it can be before putting it back.

Keep it Cool and Dark

Your essential oils will do best when stored in a dark, cool place. Any cabinet or storage container will do. If you’ve purchased an essential oil that’s in a light-colored bottle, you might want to think about replacing it with something tinted or opaque. The more you can minimize your essential oil’s exposure to light, direct sunlight, and heat, the better. Also, you’re best off purchasing your oils in glass bottles, as these better protect the contents.

Keep it Small

If you’re a bargain shopper, it can be tempting to buy things in bulk. But when it comes to essential oils, you don’t want to go for something that comes in a large container. The smaller the bottle, the less oxygen you can trap inside it.

Safety and Side Effects

Something is not necessarily safe just because it is natural. Essential oils are bioactive substances found in plants and herbal goods that might harm your health.

Most essential oils are considered safe when used topically or when mixed with a base oil for inhalation. Remember to consider any nearby individuals who might be breathing in the perfume, such as children, pregnant women, and pets.

Nevertheless, they may cause some side effects, including:

  • Rashes
  • Asthma attacks
  • Headaches
  • Allergic reactions

Although a rash is the most frequent adverse reaction, essential oils have also been linked to more severe reactions, including one fatality. Lavender, peppermint, tea tree, and ylang-ylang are the oils that have been most frequently linked to negative reactions.

Cinnamon oil and other phenol-rich oils shouldn’t be used directly on the skin without blending them with a base oil because they can irritate the skin. Meanwhile, citrus fruit essential oils can cause burns because they alter the skin’s sensitivity to sunlight.

It is not advised to swallow essential oils because doing so may be dangerous and, in some cases, fatal. Pregnant or nursing women should avoid these oils, but very few studies have looked at their safety.

Storage Tips

Here are some storage tips for essential oil:

  • Keep lids tightly closed. When you plan to use an oil, dispense it and close the lid immediately to minimize air exposure. Remember not to leave the bottle open.
  • Essential oils are best stored in a dark-colored glass bottle. Most oils are sold in amber glass to protect them from quality degradation – keeping them in a bottle like that is important.
  • Store oils in a cool, dark space, perhaps a closet, box or case – where they have minimal interaction with elements such as light or heat.
  • Essential oils can be stored in a refrigerator.


Your essential oil’s scent will evolve. Bad essential oils will have a completely different aroma from good ones. Particularly with citrus oils, its consistency may alter. The fragrance may also change if it becomes hazy. Throw the bottle away if the fragrance is offensive. The essential oil has run out if this occurs. It’s better to keep your oil out of direct sunlight and hot environments if you’re concerned about it.

Essential oils are more expensive than food. Long-term returns on investment might be expected from them, but you should be mindful of their expiration dates. Months or even years can pass between them. If you purchase them too late, they may deteriorate and severely impact your health. Here are a few indicators that your essential oil has lost its potency. Before using them, examine their color, smell, and consistency.

Although essential oils have a shelf life, oxidation is a normal process that develops over time. Skin, respiratory, and respiratory system hypersensitivity may result from this. The oil begins to deteriorate as soon as it is exposed to air, and it will start to smell worse and lose its therapeutic qualities. Even if the oil still smells the same as when you originally opened it, you will be able to smell this deterioration.