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What is the estimated shelf life (assuming you keep it in a dark place) for: 1)herbal infused olive oil? coconut oil? 2)herbal infused vinegar 3)herbal extract made from 50% glycerin in water (and would you refridgerate it to prolong its shelf life?) 3)does food grade beeswax even have a shelf life?
Thanks for any help you can provide.


Update: Thank you! I should have specified olive oil infused with dry herbs, not fresh-- I think it keeps for significantly longer, especially in the refrigerator, on account of the neatly absent water content. The herbal academy of ne site says to use only dry herbs because of the risk of mold, and to discard it after a month. I thought that might be excessively careful, but I guess not. By the way my main focus is not cosmetics, but rather "dietary supplements " for health purposes, made from edible ingredients and foodstuffs. If they taste, smell, and look good, so much the better!

  • Hello Janice, we are a strictly food oriented site. So we cannot really discuss the glycerine here. The others should be OK, even though I suspect you are going to use them in cosmetics :) – rumtscho Dec 16 '15 at 21:53
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    @rumtscho Glycerin is actually an ingredient used in foods including fondant, processed fruits, jams, and energy bars. Here's one reference: nutrientsreview.com/carbs/edible-glycerin.html – ElmerCat Dec 16 '15 at 22:36
  • @ElmerCat Good point! I guess it gets used in food sometimes after all. Although I have never heard it being used as an extraction agent for food purposes. If you have an idea of the shelf life of the glycerin mixture, please answer, because I have no data on that. – rumtscho Dec 16 '15 at 22:43
  • Also, I will use the occasion to mention that we have a proposal for a new site for crafters, area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/77518/arts-and-crafts. It needs more supporters, and once it opens, it will be a great place to discuss questions like this in depth. – rumtscho Dec 16 '15 at 22:46
  • @rumtscho It's in the category of food chemicals called Polyols, or sugar alcohols. The refined, pure product probably lasts for centuries, but I wouldn't want to wager on shelf life for the OP's question. You are most correct in that the herbal infusion will be the greater factor, and likely be highly variable. Another reference: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… – ElmerCat Dec 16 '15 at 22:59
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Straight 100% glycerine AKA glycerol will last decades on the shelf. It contains no water, and does not tend to pull water out of the air (hygroscopic). 50% glycerol with water will have a water activity of around 0.8 (Fig. 1) At 0.8 you likely won't get pathogens, but will get molds.

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For 1), it is 2 hours. See Infusing olive oil with herbs: infused olive oil is not a shelf stable product and the same rules as cooked meat apply to it. 2 hours on the shelf, 3-5 days in the fridge. The type of oil doesn't matter. As soon you have plant matter where the oxygen is cut off, you risk botulism (can be deadly even if treated properly).

For pure coconut oil, look at the date stamped on the package. This is what is relevant for food safety purposes. If you are asking "when will it go rancid", there is no way to predict it. Just smell it before use.

Herbal infused vinegar will last the same as other vinegar. It is safe for years, unless you notice signs of spoilage (mold).

Pure beeswax also lasts for years without becoming unsafe.

All of this is for each of the exact products you mentioned above, unaltered in any way. For example, if you were to emulsify together the infused vinegar, the beeswax, the coconut oil, and some water, the resulting shelf life would be again 2 hours outside of the fridge, after which it would be unsafe for consumption. Or, to say it another way: the storage lifetime of a prepared food is not determined by the storage lifetime of each ingredient. You can learn some more in our tag wiki on food safety: https://cooking.stackexchange.com/tags/food-safety/info.

  • What is it that makes a difference between infusing in olive oil and coconut oil? Knowing that would probably help people wondering about other kinds of oil. – Cascabel Dec 18 '15 at 20:38
  • @Jefromi there is no difference. No matter which oil is chosen, a herbs-in-oil infusion harbors a botulism risk and cannot be made shelf stable. – rumtscho Dec 19 '15 at 0:03
  • Right, that's what I thought. I think the OP was asking about infusions in coconut oil though, not just plain coconut oil? So that bit of your answer sounds like it's saying there's a difference. – Cascabel Dec 19 '15 at 8:47
  • @Jefromi OK, now I looked at the question again, I might have misunderstood it. Added a bit about infusions with other oils. – rumtscho Dec 19 '15 at 13:38

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