Essential oils are pure and natural products. They contain no additives or preservatives. Some of them can be dangerous and give toxic reactions if procedures for safe handling and storage of essential oils are not followed. Hence, follow some basic measures that will ensure the quality of the oils is preserved and users do not suffer from adverse reactions.
Proper Storage of essential oils
Essential oils can lose their beneficial therapeutic properties, oxidize and deteriorate over time if they are not properly stored. Essential oils for individual use are sold in 5, 10 and 15 mil bottle sizes. Some expensive oils come in 2ml or 1 dram sizes. Some oils like citrus deteriorate rapidly while others like sandalwood and patchouli mature with age. Safe handling of essential oils is necessary to ensure they do not lose their beneficial effects.
So, here are some tips on storage of essential oils in bottles:
Store them in cobalt blue or amber bottles. This ensures the therapeutic and aromatic properties of the bottles are preserved. Dark colored bottles guarantee that the oils are protected from sunlight. Do not buy essential oils stored in clear bottles, for these oils can get quickly damaged due to exposure to strong light. Plastic bottles are again poor storage medium for essential oils can eat through the plastic and they get ruined quickly.
Sometimes essential oils are stored in lined aluminum bottles. This is acceptable as long as the bottles have the proper lining. Essential oils sold in bottles with rubber droppers must not be bought for the oils will quickly eat away the rubber and ruin the integrity of the oils. Usually essential oils are sold with an ‘orifice reducer’ attached to the top. This inserts on to the top of the bottle, does not harm the oils and it is easy to pour out the oil drop by drop.
Choosing right place to store essential oils
Essential oils must be stored in cool, dark places away from sunlight, other harsh, bright lights and in places where temperature fluctuations are minimal. You can use wooden boxes for storage of essential oils. These are economical and protect the oils from harsh lights. They also look decorative, if you spend time to finish the boxes to suit your specific taste.
Storage of different types of oils
Essential oils act like natural preservatives and protect carrier oils. However, over time, the quality reduces and scent fades unless they are stored properly. Grapefruit, lemon, orange and other citrus oils quickly lose their aroma if not stored correctly. However, if they are kept refrigerated, they will even last for two years and more. These oils need to be disposed off once they start to smell rancid or turn cloudy.
The scent of some oils actually improves with age and if stored properly, they develop a strong, rich and fragrant aroma. They also influence the aroma of the other oils combined with them. Some of these oils are benzoin, patchouli, myrrh, clary sage, sandalwood and vetiver.
Some oils like otto, vanilla, rose and fennel solidify when stored in cool conditions. Just keep them out for a while before use and they will turn liquid again at room temperature.
Safe Handling of essential oils
Learning the right techniques in the safe handling of essential oils is a must – whether for personal or professional use – for they are powerful and can cause several skin and various health problems.
Try not to touch the tip of the bottle or the inner part of the lid. Use disposable pipettes if you need them to transfer oil. Do not use the same pipette for different oils. If you want to use them for the same oil, then store them in a clip-seal plastic bag for a few days only.
Do not let undiluted essential oils come into direct contact with the skin. Using protective glasses and latex gloves is one recommendation for the safe handling of essential oils. When you want to apply these oils on the skin, make sure that they are mixed in the correct proportion with the right type of carrier oil. Some good quality carrier oils that mix well with essential oils are olive oil, jojoba and almond oil. A safe ratio is 97%: 3% of carrier to essential oils. However, read the specific proportion in the oil that you are using for proportions can vary.
If you want to use essential oil lamps in the home, follow a few safety procedures for they are highly flammable. Use 2-3 drops mixed in ¾ measure of clean water in your oil lamp or diffuser. Make sure that pure essential oils are not brought near an open flame. Light the burner of the lamp only after the oil is properly mixed with water.
Here are a few more tips for safe handling of essential oils:
- Do not take them internally
- Keep out of reach of children and use these oils very carefully on children
- Those who are pregnant, breast feeding, have hypertension, epilepsy, cancer, liver damage or other medical conditions must only use essential oils under medical supervision.
- Do a skin test if using any oil for the first time
- If you develop any form of allergy, discontinue use and consult a doctor.
- Do not consume alcohol when using essential oils.
- Learn about all banned oils
- Do not let undiluted oils come into contact with sensitive areas of the skin like the face, eyes, nose and neck
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after an application or client
- Do not use essential oils on broken, cracked or sore skin.
Essential oils are strong and concentrated substances. They can prove toxic if the right procedures for safe handling and storage of essential oils are not followed. So, do not misuse essential oils and make sure you buy oils from reputable manufacturers with properly labeled products. Follow the above safety and storage procedures and enjoy the many benefits of essential oils.