Do Essential Oils Evaporate? Facts and Tips for Optimal Use

Essential oils are aromatic compounds extracted from plants and trees. They capture the plant’s distinctive scent and flavor, which comes from phytochemicals that help defend the plant.

Because of this, essential oils are extremely potent. Their high concentration of volatile aroma compounds gives them a strong, quickly evaporating scent.

Evaporation is the process of a liquid transforming into a gas. For essential oils, their volatile components enable easy transition to vapor which allows us to benefit from their diffused aroma. However, it also means essential oils can deplete rapidly.

Many elements impact the evaporation rate of essential oils. By understanding these key factors, we can take steps to prolong the life of our oils.

Factors That Affect Essential Oil Evaporation

Several key factors determine how quickly an essential oil will evaporate. These include:

Air Circulation

  • Air movement disperses aroma molecules, encouraging evaporation
  • Stagnant air allows saturation which slows evaporation


  • Heat provides energy to promote transition from liquid to gas
  • Colder temperatures slow down molecular activity

Oil Composition

  • Smaller molecules found in lighter oils like lemon evaporate faster
  • Larger molecules in heavier oils like patchouli evaporate slower

Container Type and Size

  • Small bottles with less airspace reduce evaporation
  • Materials like plastic and clear glass allow more gas exchange

Opening Bottles Frequently

  • Accessing oils allows volatile components to escape each time
  • Keeping bottles sealed limits evaporation mainly to headspace

How Fast Do Essential Oils Evaporate?

The rate of evaporation can vary extensively based on the unique characteristics of each essential oil. Some general observations:

  • Citrus oils like lemon and grapefruit tend to be lighter and evaporate very quickly. Their aroma does not last long.
  • Medium weight oils like lavender and eucalyptus evaporate at a moderate pace, diffusing aroma for a medium duration.
  • Heavier oils like patchouli and myrrh evaporate slowly, maintaining their aroma profile over an extended period.

Factors like heat and frequent opening will speed up evaporation across the board. But the inherent density of an oil’s components has a major influence on evaporation potential.

Consequences of Essential Oil Evaporation

Allowing your essential oils to evaporate excessively can lead to several undesirable outcomes:

  • It changes the aroma diffusion, shortening the fragrance duration
  • Faster evaporation concentrates the oil, increasing irritation risk
  • Interaction with oxygen can alter the oil’s scent and texture
  • Financial loss from oils evaporating before fully used

Tips to Reduce Essential Oil Evaporation

Here are some simple tips to help curb evaporation so your oils maintain potency:

  • Proper storage: Keep oils in a cool, dark place in bottles with tight lids
  • Transfer oils: Use smaller bottles to minimize airspace once partly used
  • Limit access: Open bottles only when needed to limit aroma escape
  • Control drops: Drip only what you need onto a tissue instead of open bottles
 image illustrating proper essential oil storage

Best Practices for Using Evaporating Oils

You can optimize your use of essential oils with different evaporation rates by:

  • Using lighter citrus oils more frequently before they deplete
  • Choosing slower evaporating oils like patchouli for long term diffusion
  • Adjusting expectations for aroma duration based on the oil

When first using a new essential oil, take note of its evaporation pattern. Then adapt your methods to take full advantage of its aroma profile.

Helpful Products for Essential Oils

Using high quality accessories can help reduce evaporation. Here are some recommended products:

  • Amber glass bottles – Blocks light and limits air exposure
  • Cobalt bottles – Protects oils from sun damage during storage
  • Essential oil case – Keeps bottles securely capped and organized
  • Mini plastic funnel – Prevents spills when transferring oils

Be sure to keep bottles sealed tightly and stored properly between uses to get the most longevity from your precious oils.


Essential oils are prized for their healing and aromatic benefits, but their volatile nature means they will inevitably evaporate over time. Certain oils with smaller molecules will evaporate much faster than others.

However, by understanding the key factors involved and taking proactive steps to limit evaporation, you can extend the life and enjoyment of your essential oils.

With proper care, your oils should maintain their therapeutic potency and fragrance. Follow the guidance provided to optimize your essential oil use, and you will be rewarded with their remarkable advantages for many months to come.