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Home Page > Hydrosol Profiles > Hydrosol Shelf Life and Storage Tips

Hydrosol Shelf Life and Storage Tips

Unlike essential oils, hydrosols are water-based. As a general rule of thumb, hydrosols possess a shorter shelf life than do their essential oil counterparts.

Hydrosol Shelf Life

The shelf life of a hydrosol depends on the specific botanical of the hydrosol, its pH level, the conditions and details of its distillation, the storage conditions of the hydrosol after distillation and how it's bottled and handled. In some cases, alcohol or another preservation agent is added to a hydrosol to prolong its shelf life. Unless a supplier clearly states the contents of its hydrosols, be sure to ask for clarification.

Each of the hydrosols profiled on AromaWeb lists the typical shelf life of the hydrosol. The listed shelf life is an approximation and the above factors can all play a huge part in impacting the ultimate shelf life of any given hydrosol.

Storage Location

Ideally, hydrosols should be stored in the refrigerator. If you don't have room in your fridge, keep your hydrosols stored in a dark location that is kept at a cool, consistent temperature.

pH Levels

Testing and recording the pH level of a hydrosol at the time of purchase/receipt can be helpful in assessing the condition of the hydrosol as time passes. Changes in the pH over time can be an indication that the hydrosol has become contaminated.

Suzanne Catty says: "Generally hydrosols with a pH of 5.0 or less last longer than hydrosols with a pH over 5.0. As a very broad rule of thumb, I rate those under 5.0 pH at two years and over 5.0 pH at twelve to eighteen months." [Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2001), 147.]

Within Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Catty provides a great deal of information on the typical pH level of particular hydrosols and gives insight on how to use pH values to determine the condition of a particular hydrosol, how to filter hydrosols to remove unwanted substances and to prolong shelf life.

Hydrosol Bottling

Mixed information exists regarding the necessity of storing hydrosols in glass vs. plastic bottles.

In many cases, suppliers ship hydrosols in plastic to prevent glass breakage during transit. Glass is heavier than plastic and can also increase shipping costs.

Some reputable hydrosol suppliers package their smaller size hydrosols in plastic sprayer bottles to save on the cost and risks of shipping glass while simultaneously offering the convenience of a sprayer top. For small quantities of hydrosols that will be used up within a couple months, purchasing and storing your hydrosols in plastic (i.e. plastic bottles with sprayer tops) is fine.

The ideal bottle type for hydrosol storage of several months or more is dark glass.

For those interested in the vibrational and energetic properties of hydrosols, Suzanne Catty offers some interesting information about violet bottles and bottles made with true cobalt. [Suzanne Catty, Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy (Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 2001), 167.]

Look to the Bottles and Packaging section of AromaWeb's Global Aromatherapy Business Directory for bottle suppliers. Each supplier can assist you in choosing glass or plastic bottles that are suitable for hydrosol storage.

Be sure that the bottles that you choose to use are clean and sterile.

Make it a habit to always tighten the caps on your bottles well. You don't need them to be so tight that you risk breaking the cap.


Over time, oxygen can be an enemy to hydrosols. Headspace is the amount of empty space within a bottle of hydrosol. Reducing headspace reduces the amount of oxygen that can react over time with the hydrosol. If you have a bottle of hydrosol with a lot of headspace, transfer the hydrosol to a smaller bottle.

Keep Hydrosols Free of Contaminants

To prolong the shelf life of your hydrosols and keep harmful bacteria out, refrain from allowing your hands, skin, nose, cottonball or other substances from coming into contact with your primary bottle of the hydrosol. Instead, pour a small quantity of hydrosol into a smaller bottle and work with that tiny quantity. That will ensure that your main supply is kept sterile.

Blooming Hydrosols

Contaminated, aging hydrosols can sometimes grow a bloom. Although dark glass is the ideal bottle type for hydrosols, dark or opaque bottles can make it more difficult to see a hydrosol bloom, but you should still be able to spot a bloom in dark translucent bottles by holding it up to a light.

A bloom is a ghost-like, swirling substances that can be seen towards the bottom of a hydrosol that has aged or is going off. If you gently lift a bottle of hydrosol to eye level and gently move the bottle slightly, you can see the bloom dance.

Not all old or contaminated hydrosols bloom. If you have a blooming hydrosol that has reached its shelf life, you should consider discarding it. Within Hydrosols: The Next Aromatherapy, Suzanne Catty offers tips for checking the pH level of a hydrosol and for filtering hydrosols to eliminate the bloom and plant debris that can motivate bacterial growth and blooms.


Disclaimer: The hydrosol information and safety precautions provided within this area are intended for educational purposes only. The data is not considered complete and is not guaranteed to be accurate.

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