Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Shelf life and proper storage:

We so often are asked, "what is the shelf life of ____?" or "Why don't you have use by dates on your labels?"  and the answer always is, "It depends!"

Because we do not know how you are going to take care of these lovelies after you receive them.

There are three specific factors that will damage your essential oils, and specific steps you can take to protect them.

  • Heat
  • Light
  • Air - Oxygen


The best way to extend the shelf life of all oils is to store them under refrigeration.  Now, that is a direct quote (more or less) from Robert Tisserand. He recommends refrigerating all oils.  This is not always possible, or realistic. But we strongly urge that you store the Citrus Rind oils, the Conifers (needle oils.. fir, pine, spruce, etc.), and the "Blue" oils, in the refrigerator if at all possible.  If refrigeration is not an option, find the coolest spot of your house for long term storage.


Bright sunlight does as much damage as summer's heat.  We would love to ship our beautiful oils and extracts in clear glass, so that you could see the range of colors, but it is not in your best interest.  The cobalt glass that we use blocks 70% of ultraviolet light,  and (on the five ml bottles) the labels cover most of the glass.  Still, that's not enough. Please store your oils either in a covered box, or in a cabinet.


The third factor that will shorten the life of your oils is Oxygen, in the air we breath, and of course, in every bottle.  Leaving a bottle open or loosely sealed will definitely cause oxidation.  To lengthen the shelf life of your retail sized oils, consider decanting them into smaller bottles, either upon arrival, or as the level in the bottle drops.  If you are buying in larger, bulk sizes, we urge you to use our "Oxygen Barrier," a blend of inert gasses, heavier than air, that float on top of the oils and prevent contact with the oxygen in the bottle.  (It is to apt to cause splash back in the smaller retail sized oils.)

So, to sum it up, to protect and extend the life of your beloved oils, store them cool, dark, and away from air. It's that simple.

Except that it isn't always.  I keep a small selection of oils and blends on my bed table. In air conditioning, but certainly not refrigerated.   But for the most part, they are in small (two or five ml) bottles, or, if larger, I know I will use them within three or four months, well within the 'best usage' time frame.  So there is the "ideal" storage, and then there's what works.  If I had small children, I would be more concerned in storing the oils out of a curious child's reach than I would be extending the shelf life.

For a real life example of how heat, light, and temperature can affect an oil, try this experiment.  Pour a few drops of cold pressed Orange Oil in a saucer or a glass, and let it sit on a sunny windowsill for a few days.  You will find yourself with a thick, sticky mess as the components of the oil become oxidized.  You have just sped up the process that would have happened inside an improperly stored bottle.

To give you an estimate on many (but not all) of our oils' shelf life we have added an "estimated shelf life" to the long description of the oils we offer on our website.  (Scroll down, it's at the bottom, near the gc/ms links.) We are gradually researching those that we don't know.

Best suggestion we can give? Even though purchasing in bulk, or larger sizes always gives you a lower price, please don't buy more than you can use within the estimated shelf life.  At cool room temperature, out of direct light and away from heat, you can probably expect the average, middle of the quoted range.  Keep refrigerated, tightly sealed, decanted into small bottles, they may well exceed the estimate.

Because we store our fragile bulk oils under refrigeration, and the less fragile at "cool room temperature" and all are stored under our Oxygen Barrier they can not oxidize while in bulk storage. This is why the countdown for aging begins when you purchase and open.

Another question, we are frequently asked, "Will shipping the oils in summer's heat ruin them?"  The answer is no. It would be best NOT to let them sit in a sunny hot mail box all day, if you can possibly have them delivered when you will be home to receive them, or ship to an alternate address. But no, they will not be ruined.  Allow them to cool down to room temperature before opening them though. This is what we do with the bulk oils we import. Jim will often wait till the following day to decant and measure.

Hope this helps!

Monday, July 2, 2018

Essential Oil First Aid Kit

Your Essential Oil First Aid Kit

Please note.. this was written almost 20 years ago...today's recommendations are listed below.
Reprinted from Natural Living Today, June 1999
Quoting "Marge Clark, aromatherapist and owner of Nature's Gift"

  • Lavender for headaches, burns, bug bites, and sore muscles.
  • Everlasting [Helichrysum Italicuum] for bruises, inflammation, sprains, and swelling.
  • Peppermint for migraines, tummy aches, fatigue, congestion. Also can be used for poison ivy and other "itchies."
  • Tea Tree or Manuka for disinfectant (antibacterial and antifungal), bug bites, scratches, and scrapes.
  • Roman Chamomile for relaxation, easing sore muscles, and as an antispasmodic.
  • Cajeput for fire ant and other more serious bites.

For a few years we offered this, diluting the oils to appropriate dilutions, we discontinued it a few years ago... this was the description and usage suggestions that accompanied it.  (Please note, this was years before we were aware of many of the safety issues we know today.)

Lavender for Headaches, Burns, Bug Bites, Sore Muscles, Stress, Insomnia

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the one essential oil that is commonly recommended for use “neat” in case of emergency. We are not in favor of “neat” or undiluted usage on the skin. In an emergency a couple of drops of the essential oil into a lotion or aloe vera gel on your palm gently blended with clean fingers remedies this dilemma.
Headaches: Put a drop of Lavender into small amount of unscented lotion, aloe vera gel, or a favorite carrier oil, and apply to the temples and the nape of the neck. A travel friendly inhaler may be preassembled with Lavender for inhalation in the case of headache or insomnia.
Minor Burns: Blend Lavender and the juice of a fresh aloe leaf and apply. Aloe Vera gel may be used if no fresh aloe is available. Please note, aloe will be more effective at immediately easing the pain of a burn, but Lavender will promote faster healing with no or less scarring.
Mosquito Bites: Lavender diluted (in a carrier oil), or blended with a bit of well diluted Peppermint essential oil to ease itching.
Sunburns: Either mix a few drops of Lavender into some cool water, shake well and spray the sunburn, or make a compress: to a bowl of cold water add a few drops of Lavender floated on top, wring a damp cloth and cover the sunburned area. Repeat as the compress warms up. After the first day, add 5 drops of Lavender to 5 ml (one teaspoon) of your favorite carrier oil and gently apply to the burned area. A tepid bath, with cider vinegar and Lavender Essential Oil added will also promote healing and help “take the heat out.”
Sore, Over-Used Muscles: Lavender essential oil in your favorite carrier oil helps soothe the ache of abused muscles. Again, 5 drops to 5 ml (one teaspoon) of carrier. You might consider adding some diluted Roman Chamomile to the above blend as well.
Stress, Tension, Too Many Visitors, Too Much To Do: A few drops of Lavender in a bath eases tension. Consider blending with some Roman Chamomile.
Insomnia: A drop of Lavender on a cotton ball or tissue tucked into your pillowcase, or a Lavender bath before retiring will help ease you (or your excited children) into a natural relaxing sleep.

Helichrysum for Bruises, Inflammation, Sprains, and Swelling

We suggest organic Helichrysum essential oil in a 10% dilution in Jojoba Oil.
Bruises: apply diluted Helichrysum immediately, reapply frequently to ease pain, swelling, and discoloration of a bruise.
Inflammation: Helichrysum is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Apply diluted Helichrysum Essential Oil to inflamed skin.
I would immediately add Helichrysum italicum to any injury that does not involve broken skin; it is reported to have wonderful results in accelerating healing. I have used it on a broken toe, jammed fingers, etc. Friends have used it on a hand caught in the car door for emergency treatment and been amazed at how quickly the bruising and pain went away.

Peppermint for Migraines, Tummy Aches, Fatigue, Congestion, Sunburn, and Various “Itchies”

Use Peppermint Essential Oil in a skin-safe 2.5% dilution.
Migraines: Many migraine sufferers report relief after rubbing properly diluted Peppermint essential oil on their forehead, the back of the neck, and the solar plexus. You may consider adding a few drops of Lavender essential oil to the blend, as Lavender also is often helpful for migraines.
Upset Stomachs: can often be calmed by either inhaling Peppermint straight from the bottle, or rubbing a drop or two on the abdomen.
Fatigue/Exhaustion: Peppermint is a stimulant and can aid with both physical and mental exhaustion. A great oil to carry in the car, both to keep the driver awake and aware and to ease any carsickness that might occur.
Congestion: If summer's pollens cause sinus congestion, diluted Peppermint is a wonderful treatment for either stuffy noses or sinus headaches. Either inhale the diluted oil to help clear a stuffy nose, or blend with some diluted Lavender essential oil and gently rub into cheekbones and forehead to ease a sinus headache.
Sunburn: Cool the “heat” of a sunburn or fever by adding about eight drops of the diluted oil blend to a tepid bath. Peppermint will not help a sunburn heal more quickly, but will help the “burning chill” out.
Poison Ivy and Other Itchies: We have had success adding a few drops of Peppermint essential oil to commercial calamine lotion to help ease the itch of poison ivy rashes. In fact, a tiny amount of Peppermint essential oil is a good addition to almost any “anti-itch” preparation.

Tea Tree or Manuka for Disinfecting, Bug Bites, Scratches, and Scrapes

Tea Tree, organic, in a proven effective 2.5% dilution, is a powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal essential oil.
Scrapes: After washing a scrape, you might consider a bit of diluted Tea Tree Essential Oil to help keep the abrasion germ free.
Puncture Wounds: Should never be treated with Lavender, since it can cause the surface to heal, rather than letting the wound heal from the inside to the surface. In this case, Tea Tree Essential Oil, diluted, is the perfect blend to apply.
Disinfecting: Any sort of skin irritation that shows signs of perhaps becoming infected, whether they are mosquito bites, cuts or scrapes will benefit from Tea Tree's antimicrobial properties.

Roman Chamomile for Relaxation, Easing Sore Muscles, and as an Antispasmodic

Use Roman Chamomile, organic, in a 10% dilution in Jojoba.
Relaxation: blend with Lavender for the most relaxing bath around.
Sore Muscles: alone, or with Lavender added. Roman Chamomile is wonderful for tired, achy muscles.
Antispasmodic: useful for intestinal cramps (massage clockwise onto abdomen).
Muscle Spasms: apply to painful area, a touch of Lavender may help here as well.
Anti-Inflammatory: useful for skin abrasions, scrapes, rug burns, etc.
Colic or Teething Pains: in babies and children (dilute for use with babies and children: add two parts carrier oil to this already diluted bottle of Roman Chamomile Essential Oil).

Cajeput for Fire Ant Bites

Apply undiluted Cajeput immediately, reapply several times the first day. On day two, switch to diluted Lavender Essential Oil to hasten healing.

What would I recommend today?

SkeeterBeater Gel and After The Bite, to repel most (but not all) "critters" and to deal with the aftermath. (Yes, After The Bite contains the above named Cajeput.)   I would make an Aloe Gel based Tea Tree or Manuka dilution for cleaning scrapes and cuts.   Trauma Oil or That's Better! for bumps, bruises, injuries of all sorts;  a Happy Morning inhaler for tummy upsets.  Because now I know more. I might still go with some very dilute Roman Chamomile (although I might substitute Sweet Marjoram.)   

Christi reminds me that we need Sunburn Soother,  and that she would choose either German Chamomile or, better yet, Blue Tansy...  because the latter is effective both against allergies *and* very helpful in soothing "itchies" whether they are rashes, bites, what have you.   

The advantage of packing an aromatic first aid kit? Murphy's Law indicates that if you pack it, you will never need the contents, but if you neglect it...