Why glass? We’re asked this often, so it seemed to be an appropriate topic for our very first blog post. While the aesthetics of amber glass are pleasing, the reason that we bottle our products in it is much more important than a design choice. Despite the fact that many natural grooming & wellness brands package in plastic, storing essential oils in most plastics is dangerous.
Some plastics are safer than others in terms of their resistance to degradation and leeching, but there are only two that are said to be appropriate for essential oil storage- HDPE and PET. HDPE is widely shown to be a safe plastic, with a minute risk of leeching or off gassing. However, PET has questionable findings, showing a strong possibility of leeching antimony, phthalates and endocrine disruptors (Sax 2010). If you’ve seen companies that store essential oils in plastic bottles (with some exceptions, such as the above mentioned HDPE) there are some unfortunate truths: they’ve done so because they know the effects and have chosen to take the risk of leeching/ off gassing, and/ or they’ve diluted their oils so much that the plastic won’t degrade, in which case the concentration is so low that they have little benefit left to offer.
Essential oils are concentrated plant extracts, and when they meet plastic, create a chemical reaction which releases several unsavory chemicals. One of the worst chemicals released by the chemical reaction between essential oils and plastic is diethyl maleate. According to Santa Cruz Biotechnology’s MSDS, diethyl maleate is a hazardous substance known to cause permanent lung damage, irritation to the eyes and skin, and is harmful to aquatic organisms. In addition to deithyl maleate, storing oil in plastic leads to the leeching of pthalates and BPA. Animal owners using products that store essential oils in plastic are unknowingly exposing their animals to potentially severe adverse health effects.
Another reason not to store essential oils in plastic is the degradation of the bottle itself. The oils are so strong that they will “eat” the plastic, causing the bottle to become deformed and eventually start leaking. Glass bottles are inert, so they won’t break down and warp from the storage of oils. It would take a decent amount of time for this to happen, but if you’re purchasing a product that you plan on storing rather than using quickly, it’s more likely to occur.
Lastly, the purpose of using essential oils in a product is to reap the benefits of their strong medicinal qualities. Plastic does not offer any form of UV protection, and by exposing the oils to UV rays, they will degrade. UV damage alters the composition of the oil, which can change the efficacy or even make the oil unsafe to use. Amber glass offers excellent UV protection, capable of blocking wavelengths up to 450nm.
In addition, glass bottles are sustainable, therefore friendlier to our Earth. Although there are components of plastic that we do use out of necessity, HDPE hoof oil bottles (unfortunately, glass hoof oil bottles don’t exist yet!) and the sprayers on our bottles, our packaging is predominantly glass and metal. Glass, as you know, is unfortunately breakable. This does mean that you’ll need to take extra care with your bottles, including keeping bottles off the barn floor and away from your rambunctious four legged friends. But, we’ve made these packaging choices because it’s safer for you, your animals and the environment. And, they’re aesthetically pleasing!
Sax, Leonard. “Polyethylene terephthalate may yield endocrine disruptors.” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 118, no. 4, 2010, pp. 445–448, https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.0901253.