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January 03, 2021
You’ve been using essential oils for a while now. You have some favourites, but one oil that you purchased isn’t seeing much love. Now you’re wondering what you should do with the oil. As essential oils are becoming more popular, a number of people are having the same thought.
Is there a right way to dispose of essential oils?
The best scenario is to give the oil to a friend who will use it. Be aware though, that essential oils have a shelf life, which can be different from one oil to the next. Once passed its shelf life, an oil can be an irritant to skin, nose, or worse. If there is no expiration date on the bottle, an aromatherapist will be able to let you know if your oil can still be used, provided that you know the date you purchased it.
If the oil still smells ok, try searching the web for different uses for your oil. Maybe diffusing peppermint essential oil wasn’t your favourite thing, but placing a drop of peppermint oil on a cotton ball for your closet can keep ants and spiders at bay. Go pine cone collecting and create your own potpourri, or buy some diffusing reeds, pop the cap off your bottle and create your own reed diffuser.
It would be nice if you could take them to your pharmacist as you would with leftover medicine, but a recent canvas of local pharmacists came up with no takers. Essential oils can be used for therapeutic remedies, but they aren’t considered ‘medicine’ in pharmacy programs. That leaves us with our local waste management program.
Bottles with essential oils still in them should be treated as hazardous waste. When poured into the sink they can get into the water supply and cause damage to animals and the environment. When poured into the backyard they can harm pets and children. A couple of drops in the sink to combat odour isn’t a problem, but anything more and you’re taking a risk. I love my backyard bunnies and birds. So take a family trip to the city dump and dispose of your unused and expired oil as hazardous waste.
In my region of Halton, the waste program provides dates for community events and locations for safe disposal of unwanted oils in any amount. Refer to the Health Products Stewardship Association for information.
A completely empty bottle can be recycled in your community recycling program. If you are the crafty sort, there are a number of websites with interesting ideas on repurposing or reusing bottles. My husband likes the idea of creating patio lights out of the cleaned-out bottles.
Let me know how you are handling your extra essential oil. Does your region have a hazardous waste program?
Yours in wellness,
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