By Kolbjorn Borseth
As a general rule it is important to use products within
their shelf life limit that is written on the label. That is the guarantee that
Aromantic as a company can give you if you have stored products in the proper
When Aromantic label their raw
materials, we set the guaranteed shelf life to the minimum advised by our
suppliers and producers. However, if you are keeping these raw materials
under good storage conditions you can possibly prolong the shelf life best before end date of your
raw materials. Here are some guidelines that you can follow yourself but
without an Aromantic product guarantee.
Normally raw materials don't need
to be kept in airtight containers and stored in a fridge, but if you want to
keep them for longer you might consider that. N.B. Never store anything in
Vegetable Oils/Fats are the most
heat-sensitive so you could keep them in the fridge for prolonged shelf life.
Never keep fragile vegetable oils and essential oils in the fridge door as it
will be shaken often and therefore oxidised and the free radical destruction
process will start again and again. If a product has no fats or oils in them,
then it is easier to extend their shelf life, for example, tinctures and herbs.
Let us say you have 2 months left
on the shelf life of a vegetable oil and you want to use it in a cream or
lotion. My experience has taught me that by using it in the heating process to
make a cream recipe, you extend the shelf life to at least 1.5 years. I
wouldn't consider an extended shelf life if you just blended it in a massage
oil blend or with Vitamin E Oil. Otherwise, the rule is that the higher part of
Omega 3/or GLA Oils you have in the oil, the more fragile the oil will be.
Examples of these oils are Red Raspberry Oil, Kiwi Seed, Rosehip, Hemp Seed, Evening Primrose, Borage, Chia Seed, Blueberry Seed and Camelina. Aromantic’s policy for buying fragile oils; First of all we never buy these oils if they are older than 3 months from production or if they haven’t been capped or flushed with nitrogen gas by the producer or some producers offer Aromantic’s recommendation to add 0.5% Vitamin-E Oil (100%) to the oil when it is produced. These fragile vegetable oils are beyond rescue if they are left untreated for 4-6months and will go rancid very quickly. By setting this standard I know that you will get and still keep (if stored properly) fragile oil with a natural shelf life of 6months extended to 1.5 – 2years.
From my own experience there are many oils in the market for e.g. Evening Primrose Oil that have a rancid smell, so never accept to buy these oils unless they have had an antioxidant added at production or within 3 months after.
When making your own vegetable oil blends, creams, lotions etc yourself you can continue by adding 0.5% Vitamin –E Oil (100%) or a few drops of Rosemary Co2 Extract as an antioxidant for your product and thereby help to keep the shelf life to stay within the 1.5 – 2 year bracket.
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Citrus oils are especially
fragile. You can keep them in a fridge (not in the door because of the shaking
when opening and closing the door as this makes it oxidise faster), and you can
add a few drops of Vitamin E Oil to them. Base notes, like woods and roots get
better over the years as they mature just like whisky. Absolutes can usually be
kept for many years.
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Fats and Waxes
Waxes like Carnauba Wax keep
forever, but beeswax keeps for 4-5 years. Fats normally keep for around 2
years. Never store in direct sunlight.
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Hydrolates will keep for up to 2 years even without alcohol in them. As they are natural products they can all of a sudden change colour and smell strange after one year. There is possibly nothing wrong with them but you may not use them because of the smell. There are companies that add alcohol to them as a preservative measure, Aromantic do not normally do this. One exception so far is witch hazel water, which retains the natural alcohol produced during its distillation process. This is a natural way to preserve the organic witch hazel water as it was very fragile previously (when the natural alcohol was removed from it). After some time, hydrolates may develop sediment at the bottom of the bottle, but you can still use it and even strain the product if necessary.
Botanical CO2 Extracts
Most Botanical CO2 extracts comes from the producers with Rosemary CO2 extract as an
antioxidant in them and if we get it in as a thick paste like Calendula CO2 and Chamomile CO2 then we dilute it ourselves with Jojoba Oil and
Jojoba keeps by itself for 5 years.
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Tinctures can realistically be
kept for up to 6 years.
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Dried herbs that are used to make herbal tea need to be used within 2 years. One of the many reasons for not using herbs that are too old in herbal teas is that the good flavour will fade away and you will be left with a so called 'hay' taste. Dried herbs that are used as an infusion/decoction in skin/hair care products can be used up until they are 5 - 6 years old, as natural chemicals and minerals are still there. A classic example is Nettle - if you are going to drink it as a tea don't use it if it is more than 2 years old, but all the minerals in the herbs haven't been lost by storing it for 6years. The important thing is that the herbs have been stored in a dry, dark place.
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If clays are kept dry they can
keep for 7 - 8 years without any problems, as you won't lose the minerals due
to any evaporation.
If the shelf life of the
emulsifier expires for example in 2 months time, my experience has shown me
that you can extend the shelf life by using it in the heating process to make a
cream or lotion where it will last for a further 1.5-2years (a cream's shelf
When storing a humectant (a
substance that draws water to itself), you need to keep it sealed as it will
attract water and then it will be slowly diluted and possibly draw bacteria to
it. Examples are Glycerine, Sorbitol and Carbamide. Thickening agents also need
to be stored in a dry place.
Detergents can be kept for up to 8 years and they will still be effective. Examples are Alpha, Sugar, Beta and Natural Surfactant.
Non-water based and water-based
colours can be kept for up to 7 years. Pearlescent colours/normal pigments can
be kept for 7 years if kept in an airtight container in a dark place out of