Old Essential Oils

Our professional association’s page, recently had a question about what to do with oils that are out of date or don’t smell as good as they should etc.

Firstly, don’t just pour them down the sink! This advice becomes even more important if you have a septic tank. They will interfere with the natural bacteria that help break down faecal matter in there. For those of us who rely on water treatment plants to deal with our waste, they increase the chemical load on the purification process.

Even old oils are a useful resource. Long after they reach the stage where I would not use them on a client.

Citrus oils, are among the ones most likely to deteriorate, especially if stored in too warm an area, and if exposed too much to air allowing oxidation to occur. These I use along with bicarbonate of soda for cleaning the oven! (Actually I sometimes buy lemon oil specifically for this purpose if I don’t have any citrus oils  getting long in the tooth!) They can also be used when cleaning floor tiles or linoleum as can pine though I rarely if ever have this go past it’s use by period making it another one I buy for the purpose.

Some use them to deter pests in the garden, though for this they would need renewing on a regular basis.

They can also still be used in a vapouriser or burner as long as they smell pleasant still.

If any smell unpleasant so you don’t want to use them in the house, that is when I would go for an attempt at holding pests at bay in the allotment/garden. Failing that I would put them on the compost heap where over time any organic chemicals that didn’t evaporate would be broken down by the microbial action there.

Many essential oils are not cheap. If you find any are regularly not being used up, buy them in smaller quantities. All but the cheapest are available in 5ml rather than 10ml bottles. If you look around there are comparison packs for some that have only 2ml/bottle but if going down that route with citrus oils don’t open them all at once if that means some will be open for much over 6 months. I have learned through experience that while it may be cheaper buying a 10 or 30ml bottle of oil, if you don’t use it up before it gets too old, that can be more expensive than buying a smaller quantity.


Finally, rest assured that if you come to me for an aromatherapy massage, all the oils I use will be fresh. Of course it helps that my usual supplier is only a few minutes cycle ride so I can replace oils without having to pay postage on small quantities or wait a few days for them to arrive.