Aromatherapy – an Introduction Part 3 – Safety and Storage

Essential Oils Safety and Storage

There are a number of things to consider when using aromatherapy and buying essential oils for personal use. Things like storage and safety are key to looking after yourself and your family, plus prolonging the quality of the essential oils.


Storage of Essential Oils


To maximise the shelf life of essential oils follow the simple points below:

  • Essential oils should be stored in a cool, dry and dark place away from direct heat and sunlight. Therefore avoid leaving them on a windowsill in direct sunlight or next to a radiator. Best is to store them in a wooden box in a drawer.
  • Heat, light and oxygen will cause oils to deteriorate so they should be stored in dark coloured glass bottles, dark blue or brown bottles are ideal. They should be firmly closed with a close-fitting plastic or safety screw cap when not in use.  Cool temperatures will prolong the life - imagine you are storing a very expensive bottle of red wine (but don't store them in a fridge).
  • Essential oils, or made up massage oils, should not be stored in plastic as this tends to cause a chemical reaction which will spoil the odour and therapeutic properties of the oil.
  • Shelf life varies from oil to oil but most will keep for 2 years if stored properly. Base notes last longer than middle notes which last longer than top notes. For example, citrus oils such as grapefruit and sweet orange are top notes and will degrade the fastest. Base notes like vetiver, myrrh and frankincense will last a lot longer than 2 years.


Safety Data

The following points should always be adhered to when using essential oils:

  • Never swallow essential oils
  • Always keep them out of the reach of children
  • If you are pregnant consult a qualified aromatherapist before using oils on yourself
  • Always dilute the essential oils before putting on your skin - never apply them neat to the skin
  • Keep all essential oils in a cool, dark place
  • Children under 3 months should not be treated with essential oils.


Essential oils are in general safe but special precautions should be taken if you fall into one of the following categories:

  • If you have any Medical condition e.g. high blood pressure, epilepsy
  • Pregnancy
  • Sensitive skin
  • General allergic reactions e.g. nut oils
  • Using prescribed drugs

Certain oils are contra-indicated for these above conditions.


Next time I'll write more about the different ways you can use the essential oils at home.


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