I find tea tree oil useful for tons of different things around the house. However, I recently discovered a bottle that is several years old that I had forgotten about. I wondered if it would still be safe to use. So, I did some research and decided to share the info with you; here is what I found out.
Tea tree oil has a shelf life of between one and two years. If stored properly in a cool, dark place, it will last for closer to two years. However, even if it is stored poorly, it will likely stay useful for a year or more. Tea tree oil does not need to be refrigerated.
Now, let’s cover what factors affect tea tree oil’s shelf life and how it should be stored. I’ll also tell you how to check to see if it is spoiled and whether it should be thrown out.
How to Store Tea Tree Oil
High temperature is one of the main reasons tea tree oil will go bad more quickly than normal. Therefore, storing it in a cool, dark place is your best bet for keeping it fresh as long as possible.
You will also want to limit its exposure to air. The oxygen in the air is what oxidizes the product, so the less air the oil is exposed to, the less chance it has to (yeah, you guessed it) oxidize. So, make sure you close the bottle each time you use it and don’t open it unnecessarily. Always make sure the lid seals securely and isn’t cracked or loose.
Do You Have to Refrigerate Tea Tree Oil?
You do not need to keep tea tree oil excessively cold, but that doesn’t mean you can’t store it in the fridge if you want to. The cool temperature and darkness will slow down the oxidation and expiration. Just keep in mind that tea tree oil is potent and may affect other things in the fridge. In fact, other items in the fridge may start to smell like tea tree oil, and uncovered food may begin to taste like it (yuck).
Also, when you do take the oil out, the shock of the lower temperature and change in storage could actually make the oil expire faster. Because of that, it’s best to only store the oil in your spare “drink” fridge, if you have one, perhaps maybe when you aren’t going to use it for a long time. Personally, I recommend just keeping it in a medicine cabinet or cupboard away from heat.
Things That Affect Tea Tree Oil’s Shelf Life
Several factors impact the shelf life of all essential oils, including tea tree oil. Both how it is stored and how it is used can shorten or lengthen the shelf life. But proper storage has the most significant impact.
Essential oils oxidize the longer they sit. This means that the oil itself begins to break down and lose its beneficial properties. However, there are ways to prevent or slow down oxidation.
The solution: Storing the oil in an opaque or dark-colored container will keep it from being exposed to sunlight, which both heats the oil and speeds up oxidation. Most oils are sold in amber glass bottles, and it’s best to keep them stored there. Indeed, the dark glass also protects from light, which can cause the oil’s good effects to leach out.
How Do You Know When Tea Tree Oil Goes Bad?
As tea tree oil goes bad, as you might expect, its smell begins to change. Instead of smelling pleasant like a tea tree, it starts to smell gross, sharp, or medicinal.
The smell isn’t the only thing to watch out for, though. The texture of the oil itself may also change, especially around the cap and on the oil’s surface. As it oxidizes, it gets thicker and stickier, which may also make it harder to use. If your oil smells off, is more viscous than usual, or is sticky around the bottle’s cap or neck, it’s probably going bad. Just throw the stuff out and pick up a replacement bottle.
What Happens If You Use Expired Tea Tree Oil?
Expired tea tree oil won’t have any of the beneficial properties of fresh oil and can even be harmful. The bad smell and strange texture can make it unpleasant to use for scent diffusing or disinfecting, and its anti-fungal properties will be weakened or totally gone.
Important: Expired tea tree oil can irritate your lungs if you breathe it in or on your skin if you touch it, and there is a greater chance of having an allergic reaction, which can be painful and even dangerous. It’s best to get rid of expired oil rather than risk adverse effects.
How Do You Dispose of Expired Tea Tree Oil?
Small amounts of tea tree oil aren’t a problem to dispose of. If it’s just a few drops, pouring them down the drain won’t hurt a thing. Although it may make your drain smell odd for a little while.
Slightly larger quantities can be poured into a bowl of baking soda and set out in a safe, ventilated area to evaporate. For larger amounts, you can take both the oil and container to the same place you take old paint, and most essential oils come with disposal instructions to follow if you have too much to evaporate.
Now you know precisely how long tea tree oil lasts and how to maximize its shelf life. Let me know what your favorite brand is in the comments below, as well as how and where you like to store it. I’d love to hear from you.
I hope this article has been helpful.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
Anne James has a wealth of expertise in a wide array of interests, including quilting, cooking, gardening, camping, and making jelly.
She has a professional canning business and has been featured in the local newspaper, and has been her family canner for decades. Anyone growing up in the South knows that there is always a person in the family who has knowledge of the “old ways,” and this is exactly what Anne is.
With over 55 years of experience in these endeavors, she brings a level of hands-on knowledge that is hard to surpass.
Lovingly known as “Jelly Grandma” by her grandkids, Anne hopes your visit here has been a sweet one.