Reason 1000 to Not Drink Essential Oils: They Dissolve Plastic

The Case of the Melting Refrigerator

I shared a photo of our essential oil mini fridge we use at Ology Essentials on my personal  Facebook page this week. The post brought up a lot of questions on my page and when people shared it on their pages. So I wanted to tell you the rest of the story as an excellent case in point on just how strong essential oils really are. 

At Ology Essentials we refrigerate our citrus essential oils to extend the shelf life. Dr. Pappas, a renown essential oil chemist, explains, “You can also extend the lifetime of citrus oils by refrigeration as limonene and monoterpenes in general are susceptible to oxidation. When limonene oxide forms in a citrus oil you will know it, even a very small amount will cause a foul odor.” 

A while ago I had shared a photo of the back of the essential oil fridge when I noticed that it was literally melting off. This was just from the essential oils in the air and not from a spill. There may have also been occasions when I didn’t wipe down the bottles from any spillage down the side as well. I was taken back by the power of essential oils that were simply circulating in the closed space being able to dissolve plastic. 

Fast forward to this week. Yes–we are still using the same mini fridge because it does keep temperature. Maybe that plastic was for show. This week a new kilogram of Tangerine essential oil arrived but there was no room for it to stand up in the mini fridge. I was in the middle of something else and set it sideways inside the fridge with the intent to come back to it. The only way it was going to fit in the fridge was if I removed the shelves and drawer. The back of the fridge had melted onto both so it was going to take extra work to remove them. But then I forgot. When I came back the next day the tangerine had escaped where the Reiki cap was crimped onto the top of the bottle and spilled out into the fridge. The plastic was not only discolored but completely dissolved.

There is plenty I did wrong. I’m not sharing this story to complain about the packaging but instead to show the power and potency of essential oils. Also I know that I should have never left that bottle sideways. The essential oil was packaged in an aluminum bottle with a Reike style cap. These Reike caps are crimped onto the top of the bottle which creates an airtight seal. The cap protects the essential oil from exposure to the air until the bottle is opened. This is a very common packaging method in the bulk essential oil world because they do an amazing job guarding against leakage in transit. 

Depending on what essential oil is being poured in the aluminum bottles the supplier uses either a lined bottle or an unlined bottle because some oils, mainly those classified as aldehydes, have a tendency to break down sprayed on linings. These bottles are not meant to be left on their side and that was my fault. But who hasn’t told themselves that they will get right back to something and then forgotten? Maybe I needed a touch more CBD that day!

I’d like to address a few of the commonly asked questions that came up on Facebook. The bottle contained Tangerine Essential Oil (Citrus reticulata) from the United States. The essential oil is from a legitimate supplier that sells solely in bulk and does not have a retail brand. They are an extremely well respected company who tests for purity. It is a pure unadulterated essential oil. I’m not sharing the name of the supplier because it’s in no way their fault and supplier information of raw materials is a valuable part of the intellectual property of any manufacturer. I’ve worked decades for my supplier relationships and sources. Oddly enough some people seem quite out of sorts that I won’t share my suppliers with them.

The Culprit: The Tangerine Essential Oil Bottle

Some on Facebook have questioned whether it was really a pure unadulterated essential oils. Yes. Very much so. The company we purchase from has an onsite lab where they run GC/MS testing on all of their material, as well conducting physical constant testing. These analyses consist of a set of physical properties tests that include optical rotation, refractive index, and specific gravity. They also evaluate every sample for their organoleptic properties (color and aroma), which their team has been sent through an extensive organoleptic course to achieve an organoleptic certification that they have created in-house. Finally they test their essential oils on the GCMS and perform a marker based evaluation to determine authenticity and any potential adulteration.

When the essential oils arrive at Ology Essentials they are again QC checked by me using both aroma and visual inspection. Having worked with essential oils every day since 1998 I have a well trained nose and know exactly what to expect out of the material that we purchase.

The fact that the Tangerine Essential Oil in its pure undiluted form ate the plastic that it touched actually verifies that it was really an essential oil. If you check the Essential Oil University Database you will notice that Citrus reticulata is 89.25% Limonene. Limonene is a hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbons are excellent non-polar organic solvents. Non-polar organic molecules dissolve other non-polar molecules. Plastic is a non-polar molecule. An easy rule of thumb is that like dissolves like. “ ‘Like dissolves like’ is an expression used by chemists to remember how some solvents work. It refers to polar and nonpolar solvents and solutes. Basic example: Water is polar. Oil is non polar. Water will not dissolve oil. Water is polar. Salt (NaCl) is ionic (which is considered extremely polar). Like dissolves like, that means polar dissolves polar, so water dissolves salt.” from Kent Chemistry.

We did extensive research on how non-polar substances dissolve or weaken polymer chains while formulating our Intimate Oil to ensure safety not only for mucus membranes but also for the latex in condoms. See that blog post HERE.

The photos caused many people to be alarmed because so many people drink essential oils. This is a justified concern as many people have been seriously injured from using essential oils incorrectly. I co-authored, The Unspoken Truth About Essential Oils with Stacy Haluka after she was injured while being directed by her upline in a MLM company to drink essential oils, take essential oil capsules, and use essential oils undiluted on her skin. Her story was also shared in episode one of the Netflix documentary Un-Well

You can find more about whether you should drink, or not to drink, essential oils in our Fact or Fiction blog post. 

I was discussing what happened with many of the aromatherapist who were part of the Aroma Summit that was put on by Aroma Trust. Ginger Andro, who does amazing work incorporating art and aromatherapy, had an interesting story that again reiterates the potent strength of essential oils. “Last week while on my day job, I needed to clean some very tenacious, cured metallic acrylic paint. As always I grabbed the bottle of Lemon Essential Oil that is always in the tool kit and it worked easily.  Afterwards, I had this horrifying thought that people put this same very effective paint solvent in their water and drink it !” 

Please don’t drink the pain solvent. Essential oils are perfectly safe when used properly. At Ology Essentials we put the safety of ourselves and our customers first. All of our products are artfully blended with your safety in mind. 

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Comments (4)

  • This article definitely shows how powerful essential oils can be. Please really read it carefully and absorb it all because it shows if it can destroy a refrigerator, what may it do if you ingest them. Thank you Kayla . Sorry it destroyed your refrigerator but it definitely makes a point!

  • Great article. I’ve shared it on Facebook on both my personal page and a natural perfumery group page I administer. I relate the story of how in 2011 I launched a culinary essential oil line because I had been using oils very sparingly and food and drink since 1978. I discontinued the line within a year when I realized the customers were ignoring my very cautious dilution instructions and I felt they could damage their livers or other internal organs over time. Recently I found out a person I know had to have all her teeth removed because she had been involved with a famous MLM essential oil company who had instructed her years before to use lemon oil for the purpose of a practice called “oil pulling” on her teeth. It destroyed her teeth and she’s only 50 years old.
    BTW, I use stainless steel catering pans to hold my oil bottles in my full-size garage refrigerator. No damage ever, you might want to try that.

    • Anya, Thank you for this great comment. Wow! Your friends experience sounds awful. How heartbreaking. If we can’t find a stainless steel industrial fridge your method should very smart.


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