How to Dispose of Essential Oils

Essential oils aren’t like your ordinary oils that can be poured down the drain or in your trash.

These oils are highly concentrated and require you to follow proper disposal methods if you’re looking to discard them.

It would help if you remembered that essential oils are flammable and labeled as hazardous materials. They can cause damage to the environment and even spoil your water pipes.

Therefore, you must follow all the right protocols when getting rid of your essential oils. If you’re wondering how to do so, you’re at the right place.

Here is everything you need to know about how to dispose of essential oils safely.

How to Dispose of Essential Oils

If you’re wondering whether it’s time to dispose of your essential oils, it could be because you no longer have any use for them.

Perhaps you have had them lying around for over a year and worry that they have expired.

While essential oils are quite long-lasting, they do lose their therapeutic properties over time.

Moreover, some oils start to emit a rancid smell, indicating that they are no longer safe to use. That’s how you know it’s time to discard the oils.

Before you decide to go ahead with any of the disposal methods mentioned below, make sure you read all the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) instructions offered by the retailer or supplier.

This sheet has all the details you need to ensure safe disposal and prevent any risk to yourself, your family, or the environment. It also clarifies whether the oils can inflict any harm on exposure to various substances.

Once you’ve gone over the MSDS, you can use one of the disposal methods mentioned below to get rid of your essential oils.

Let them Evaporate

To dispose of essential oils, you can’t simply put them in the trash as they’re flammable liquids.

Instead, pour out small amounts of the oil in a safe dish and let it evaporate. Try to use a dish with a larger surface area for rapid evaporation, for example, an aluminum pie dish.

Leave the oils out in open air along with their containers to ensure all of it has evaporated.

Discard any residue left behind, wash your dish well and rinse out the containers and vials to be reused elsewhere.

P.S. You can throw out emptied essential oil containers, but we recommend repurposing them around your home. They can be used to store different liquids or even set up as decorative pieces.

Use Your Cat Litter

Your clumping cat litter has super absorbent properties, and you can use this to your advantage when disposing of essential oils.

Simply pour the oils over your litter and leave them to soak overnight. Dispose of the litter in your garbage disposal bins as per usual.

Important note: Make sure your cats don’t use the litter once you’ve added your old essential oils to it. Breathing in oils can cause respiratory issues for pets and should be avoided at all costs.

Take them to Hazardous Waste Landfill

Reach out to your local Waste Management Department and ask them for guidance on how to dispose of your leftover essential oils.

Put them in Compost Heap

Essential oils that smell ‘off’ and have lost their aromatic properties can simply be added to the compost heap for safe disposal.

Add to Baking Soda

If you’re looking for a quick and hassle-free way to dispose of your old essential oils, head to the pantry and take out some baking soda.

You’ll need to cover the bottom of a dish with baking soda and pour your essential oils over it. Leave it out to evaporate, and that’s it!

We have a little tip for people who aren’t too keen on the smell of this mixture. Leave out this bowl in the garage or your backyard.

Not only will it prevent the smell from entering your home, but the outdoor environment will also speed up the evaporation process.

Dig Up a Hole

An eco-friendly way of disposing of your essential oils is by digging up a hole in your garden or backyard and pouring them into it. Cover the hole back up with the soil, and you’re done!

However, before you do this, read up on the effects that your essential oils can have on garden plants.

Since different oils have different properties, some may promote vegetation while others stun your plants’ growth. Also, research on whether this can affect your underground water supply lines.

Find Other Uses for the Oils

It is always a good idea to remember that reusing is better than disposing of any material, particularly your essential oils.

It ensures that landfill sites don’t get filled up even more than necessary and offers an eco-friendly way of getting rid of your leftover essential oils.

First, you need to categorize your essential oils based on whether they’re aromatic or therapeutic.

If your oils have lost their therapeutic properties but still have an aroma, you can easily reuse them.

Once you have separated your oils, here are some ways in which you can use them around your home and eliminate the need to send them to a landfill site.

Diffuse in Water

If your essential oils still have their aromatic properties, you can use them diffused in water for various purposes.

They can be added to your cleaning bucket for a fresh, clean aroma around the house. But, you will need to check up on which essential oils you have left behind.

After all, having the smell of oregano wafting around your home doesn’t really sound pleasant.

On the other hand, some Pennyroyal or mint would smell wonderful when you’re done mopping the floors.

They also have antiseptic properties to kill off any germs or pathogens on the floor.

Another key benefit is that these essential oils serve as natural insect repellants, ensuring optimal hygiene inside your home.

Use for Toilet or Drain Scenting

While it isn’t safe to dump your essential oils down the toilet, you can add 2-3 drops every few days to get rid of any unpleasant odors.

Aromatic essential oils work excellently as toilet fresheners or drain scents.

Just make sure not to pour in too much and follow the oil with a constant water stream to avoid damage to your pipes.

In Stored Away Vehicles

If you’re going away on vacation or have a camper that needs to be stored away until the next camping season arrives, here’s a little tip.

Use peppermint oil to keep the mice and other rodents away. You just need to place a small ceramic bowl on the car’s floor and pour in the essential oils.

Add a cotton ball to the bottom of the bowl for safe measure. Whenever you decide to take out the vehicle again, you will find it insect-free and without that pungent ‘stored away’ odor.

Some Useful Pointers

Now that you know how to dispose of essential oils, let’s cover a few important pointers to ensure your oils last their maximum lifetime.

This will help you ensure nothing is wasted, and there isn’t a need to dispose of oils that you’ve invested your hard-earned money into.

Get them in Small Quantities

Different essential oils have different shelf lives.

Instead of keeping track of all the dates, a better practice is to buy your essential oils in smaller quantities to be used up within six months max.

A few base oils like sandalwood can last for a few years, so they can be bought in larger volumes but otherwise, try to make it a habit to only buy a little at a time.

Purchase from Companies with a High Turnover

When you purchase from a company with a high turnover, you can make sure that the oil you’re buying is freshly extracted.

This means that the oil will last for longer after being bought, and you won’t need to dispose of it anytime soon.

Transfer into Smaller Bottles

As you use up your essential oils, remember to transfer them to smaller bottles or vials. This prevents the oils from coming in contact with oxygen due to reduced empty space.

The lack of oxidation will ensure your oils stay good for longer.

Store in a Cool, Dark Container

You should consider storing your oils in a cool space.

It is even better if you can keep them inside the refrigerator to prevent the chemical formula from breaking down.

Also, use dark bottles to prevent sunlight exposure.

Final Words

Essentials do a lot more than just scenting up your bath. They have numerous therapeutic properties that can help the body heal and rejuvenate.

Whether you use essential oils for aromatic purposes, traditional healing, or even professional therapy, you need to know how to dispose of them properly.

Safe disposal of essential oils ensures they don’t cause any damage to the environment or enter your water lines.

Additionally, it keeps the flammable liquids away from potentially causing a fire on our property.

Remember never to pour large volumes of essential oils down the drain and opt for one of the techniques we’ve mentioned above. Good luck!

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