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Vegetable Oil Storage Tips and Guidelines

Most vegetable oils oxidize over time and eventually become rancid. You can generally tell when an oil becomes rancid as the aroma and flavor gradually changes over time. Rancid oils usually have a sharp, bitter, unpleasant aroma characteristically different from the aroma of the same oil when it is fresh. Educate your nose by smelling each of your oils when you first get them and throughout the duration of your use of them. Some oils do have a naturally sharp or distinctive aroma (i.e. neem) to begin with, so it's important to know what each smells like in its natural, fresh state.

Vegetable oils differ in the type of fats they contain and the rate in which they oxidize and deteriorate. Oils that are highly saturated like coconut oil (nearly 85% saturated fat) have a stable shelf life. Oils that are rich in essential fatty acids and other polyunsaturated fats are the most nourishing for our skin, but are also the most fragile of the oils. Their shelf life is generally shorter than oils that contain saturated and monounsaturated fats. Three exceptions to this generalization are our Strawberry, Cranberry and Red Raspberry oils from our line of Berry Seed Oils. They possess a remarkable combination Essential Fatty Acids and Anti-oxidants that gives them a prolonged shelf life of 2 years.

To extend the shelf life of your vegetable oils, we recommend the addition of an anti-oxidant. Mixed tocopherols such as our T-50 and T-80 Vitamin E oils help protect vegetable oils and oil-based formulations from rancidity. T-50 and T-80 Vitamin E oils can be used at a rate of 0.04%-1.0% to help protect your oils.

Calculating the Percentage:

For this example, let's pretend that you purchased a 16 fl oz. bottle of Borage Seed Oil and want to add 1% T-80 Vitamin E to it in order to prevent oxidization.

To calculate small percentages, it's often easiest to convert ounces into milliliters.

1 fl. ounce = 29.57 ml

The total ml quantity is as follows:

29.57 ml (equivalent to 1 fl. ounce) x 16 fl ounces = 473.12 ml

To calculate how much T-80 or T-50 Vitamin E oil to add to 473.12 ml of vegetable oil, multiply this amount by 1%.

1% is the same as .01

473.12 x .01 = 4.73 ml of T-80 or T-50 Vitamin E oil is needed. It is fine to round that measurement to 5 ml

Our 1/2 oz. Measuring Cups with Pour Spout contain metric (ml) and ounce measurement marks. These small beakers are a great way to measure in milliliters.

General Oil Storage Guidelines

The below guidelines will help you maximize the shelf life of all your precious oils. These tips apply to vegetable oils, essential oils, fragrance oils and flavor oils. Although each of these oil types differ from the others in chemical composition, they all can deteriorate over time, especially if they are stored in less than ideal conditions.

Store Oils in Amber or Dark Glass Bottles
Dark glass bottles, including amber and cobalt glass are ideal for storing all oils, most especially those that are fragile and have a shorter shelf life. From Nature With Love ships some smaller sizes of essential, vegetable and fragrance oils in amber glass bottles, but larger sizes of some oil types are shipped in plastic. This decision is intended to keep product and shipping costs reasonable. Larger glass bottles become costly and are more prone to breakage during transit. We are a wholesale supplier, and most of our customers are artisans, practitioners and manufacturers. Since a large number of our clients use their oils up immediately after purchase, there is an added reason why it's not always necessary to ship some oils in glass bottles. For oils that are shipped in plastic but that you intend to keep for a prolonged period of time, transfer the oils into dark glass bottles as promptly as possible.

Do Not Keep Bottles Partially Full
When a bottle of any type of oil is left only partially full, the oxygen that also lives inside the bottle reacts with the oil and begins to oxidize it. This process can cause vegetable oils to become rancid more quickly. For essential oils, oxidization can harm the fragile aromatic and therapeutic constituents of the oils. With fragrance and flavor oils, oxidization causes the volatile components to permanently separate (after this occurs, shaking the bottle does no good).

The empty space inside a bottle of oil is called the "headspace." You can prolong the shelf life of your oils by reducing this headspace. As an example, let's say that you have a 16 oz. bottle of orange essential oil that is only half full and that you won't be using up within a short period of time. You will prolong the shelf life of this orange essential oil by either transferring the oil into an 8 oz. bottle or by transferring it into two 4 oz. or four 2 oz. bottles. Transferring a larger quantity of oil into multiple smaller bottles helps you use only what you need later on.

Keep Bottle Caps Tight
Oxygen is an enemy to oils. Don't overly tighten your bottle caps as they could potentially break and allow oxygen in, but do always ensure that you keep all bottle caps screwed tightly onto each of your oils.

Store Oils Away from Direct Sunlight And Ideally In a Dark Location
Direct sunlight and UV rays are especially damaging to all oil types. Repeated exposure to any light source may be damaging to oils as well. Store your bottles in a room that does not receive much, if any direct sunlight. Store your bottles in a manner that prevents them from being repeatedly exposed to light sources.

Store Oils In a Dry, Cool Location
Store your oils in a room that is kept cool and dry.

The ideal place to store essential oils is in the refrigerator. All oils can be refrigerated (not frozen!) if space permits, but it's not necessary for refrigerate stable vegetable oils, fragrance/flavor or essential oils. Vegetable oils can solidify at cold temperatures. The essential oils of Rose Otto, Aniseed, Star Anise and Fennel solidify when refrigerated. It is best to allow refrigerated oils to warm up to room temperature on your countertop for a few hours prior to using them.

Maintain the Integrity of Your Oils
Don't allow unsterilized items like your fingers, cotton balls or other items to come into direct contact with the oils you are storing. Instead, pour off the quantity that you need or measure it into a container and then work with that, leaving the integrity of the remaining oil intact.

Other Important Tips:

Keep a Record of the Date Purchased and the Expected Shelf Life for Each Oil
For convenience, write the date that you received the oil on the label using a permanent marker. Also jot down the shelf life of the particular oil. If you have a large grouping of oils, you can purchase small circular labels where office supplies are sold. Adhere the circular label to the top of the bottle cap and jot down the name of the oil, the date received and shelf life of the oil.

Remember That Oils are Flammable
Essential oils, fragrance oils and flavor oils are flammable and should be kept away from hazardous situations.

Keep Oils Away from Children
Essential oils, flavor oils, fragrance oils and some vegetable oils can smell especially delicious to curious children. Keep all oils, even vegetable oils, out of the reach of children.

One point that bears repeating, especially for those that use our oils for massage or facial applications is to avoid contaminating your primary supply of oils with your fingers. The bacteria and germs from your fingers can accelerate the speed in which your oils go bad. Instead, use a pipette to dispense (or simply pour) the oil into a separate small bottle/container and work from that.

Shelf Life of Vegetable Oils

Below is a list that displays the typical shelf lives for vegetable oils when stored properly. The most stable vegetable oils include jojoba (actually a liquid wax), meadowfoam, fractionated coconut, watermelon seed, moringa and high oleic sunflower oils. When receiving new shipments of oils, we recommend recording the date of receipt and the shelf life on the label of each oil to help you keep track.

6 Months:
Flax Seed
Rosehip, Cold Pressed

6 - 9 Months:

6 Months - 1 Year:
Andiroba (Refined)
Evening Primrose (10% GLA)
Tamanu (Foraha Oil)

1 Year:
Almond, Sweet
Apricot Kernel (Refined)
Avocado, Refined
Black Raspberry Seed Oil
Blueberry Seed
Broccoli Seed
Chardonnay Grapeseed, CP
Cherry Kernel (Sweet)
Emu, Clear, AEA Certified Fully Refined
Emu, Grade A, AEA Certified Fully Refined
Emu, Ultra, AEA Certified Fully Refined
Grape Seed
Hemp Seed
Kiwi Seed
Kukui Nut
Macadamia Nut
Maracuja (Passion Flower), Refined
Passion Flower (Passionfruit), Refined
Pomegranate Seed
Poppy Seed
Pumpkin Seed
Rice Bran
Riesling Grapeseed, CP
Seabuckthorn Berry (Fruit)
St. John's Wort
Super Berry Trio Blend
Veggie Trio Blend

1- 2 Years:
Aloe Vera
Argan, Deodorized
Camellia Seed
Monoi de Tahiti, Unscented
Perilla Seed
Sangre de Drago Resin, Refined
Yangu (Cape Chestnut)

2 Years:
Black Cumin Seed
Blackberry Seed
Camelina, Refined
Castor, Pale Pressed
Coconut (76 degree)
Coffee, Green
Cranberry Seed
Olive, Grade A
Palm (96 degree)
Palm Kernel (106 degree)
Peach Kernel
Pomace Olive
Red Raspberry Seed
Safflower High Linoleic
Strawberry Seed
Turkey Red
Vegetable Squalene
Vitamin E, Natural (1000IU/g)
Vitamin E, Natural (1400IU/g)
Vitamin E, Natural (250IU/g)
Vitamin E, Natural (400 IU/g)

2 Years+:

3 Years:

Coconut Oil
Fractionated Coconut
High Oleic Sunflower Oil
Jojoba, Clear
Jojoba, Natural
Meadowfoam Seed
Virgin Coconut Cream Oil
Watermelon Seed

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