As you may be stocking up on products, you may be wondering… how long will these things last, anyways? This depends on the product and they way you store it.
Tinctures, proper storage and shelf life
My tinctures are made with grain alcohol or apple cider vinegar (always noted with a V after the name if it is made with vinegar; ie, Lobelia V). These are natural preservatives. When stored properly, tinctures can last indefinitely; but they will gradually lose some potency overtime.
Tinctures need to be kept properly sealed: This literally means just reclosing the lid snug. Keep the lid and opening clean. Avoid getting bacteria or other contaminates inside your tincture bottle. This is what can cause growth inside making the tincture ‘go bad’ and should not be consumed.
Tinctures need to be stored in a climate controlled space away from direct light: Avoid storing tinctures where they will be exposed to extreme temperatures or strong, direct light. This will damage the overall effectiveness of them.
Some sediment/settling in older tinctures is normal. You may see this in the bottom of an amber bottle when you hold it up to the light and tilt it back and forth. This is just settling of powdered herb partials that can be shaken in and ingested safely, or strained out if you prefer. You can use a coffee filter to strain the tincture into a jar or other container. Wash out the original bottle before replacing the strained liquid.
What is NOT normal is anything globby, or thick. A white or green film on top, or inside the dropper. In general, if it looks gross, don’t ingest it. It must have been improperly sealed or contaminated and now some kind of growth is happening that you shouldn’t eat!
Avoiding contamination: Your daily use tincture should be in the smallest bottle you have. Refill this one as needed out of your larger bottles. Wash your small bottle and dropper before each refill. This will keep your bulk storage cleaner and opened less frequently.
Washing your dropper bottle: The glass pipette easily pops out of the rubber cap/plunger. Pull these pieces apart and use a pipe cleaner to clean the inside of the glass pipette. Use a small bottle brush to clean inside the glass bottle.
Ointments, proper storage and shelf life
Ointments have a typical shelf life of 2 years, 4 at best. But this is entirely dependent the shelf life of the oil base that is used in the ointment. When the oils go rancid, the product has expired.
There are conflicting opinions of whether or not using rancid oils on your skin is harmful, as opposed to ingesting them. I do not recommend using the ointments if they smell ‘off’ and have gone rancid.
Ointments need to be kept properly sealed: This literally means just reclosing the lid snug. Keep the lid and opening clean. Avoid getting bacteria or other contaminates inside your ointment jar. This is what can cause growth inside making the ointment ‘go bad’ and should not be used.
Ointments need to be stored in a climate controlled space away from direct light: Avoid storing ointments where they will be exposed to extreme temperatures or strong, direct light. This will damage the overall effectiveness of them and the natural oils will melt and freeze and it will ruin the texture and consistency.
Avoiding contamination: Keep your daily use ointment jar as clean as possible. Consider washing your hands/fingers before and after each use, avoiding ‘double dipping’. Or consider using a q-tip to apply the ointment to keep bacteria away.
Sprays, proper storage and shelf life
Sprays are more similar to tincture storage and shelf life. They will last indefinitely when stored properly.
Bugoff will be effective as long as it still smells of the essential oils it contains. Like tinctures, it will gradually lose potency over time.
Jewel Wash should still be effective for years, again, like tinctures, it is expected to gradually lose potency over the years, but you will likely use it in that time.
Hopefully this is helpful to understand how to use and get the most life from your products! Let me know if you have any questions.