Natural products that are completely preservative-free will not stay fresh for as long as commercial products do.
However, there are several things you can do to help your preservative-free products stay fresh longer and extend their shelf life.
If you're a DIY lover you probably already know the many virtues of blending your products in small batches.
Small batch method of formulating also ensures less wastage. You'll be able to use up your custom products in a short period of time.
Your products will stay fresh without the need for harsh preservatives.
Formulate Anhydrous Products (without water)
Microbes love to grow in water as a medium. Any of your products using water will require a preservative to stay fresh for longer periods of time.
Generally any product made using essential oils as an ingredient, especially in high concentrations (even water based products), do no require a preservative. This is because essential oils have potent antimicrobial and antioxidant properties which act as natural preservatives.
List of Anhydrous Products:
- Bar soap - stays fresh longer when made using a natural antioxidant.
- Natural lip balms, repair butters and salves.
- Dry bath products, i.e. bath salts, bath bombs, and tea.
- Bath products like salt scrubs and bath oils.
- Oil based products, especially fractionated light coconut oil which contains caprylic acid which has been studied for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
- Use an antioxidant in any formulation which contains fragile carrier oils like sweet almond, hemp, avocado, flax or evening primrose. Any product containing carrier oil (other than fractionated light coconut oil) generally stays fresh longer with a "natural" antioxidant.
Tips for Storage & Handling
Choose product packaging that reduces potential for contamination. Use dispensing bottles with small orifice openings rather than wide-mouthed ones.
Reduce the damage that heat, light, air and moisture can cause your product. Keep it stored tightly sealed in airtight and dark containers away from heat and direct sunlight.
You may wish to refrigerate your product (as appropriate and when not in use) to preserve freshness and extend shelf life. Water-based products are always best stored in the fridge when not in use, especially during months of hot, humid weather.
Be sure to keep your hands, work space and utensils clean and sterile. This reduces any potential for bacteria to grow.
Use utensils to sample your product at every stage rather than your fingers. This helps prevent the possibility of cross-contamination and decreases the potential for introducing harmful bacteria into your latest batch of product.
READ next article in this series, When You Need a Preservative Who You Gonna Call? Ghostbusters!!
READ first article in this series, Traditional 'Artisan' Methods Preservative-Free Custom Formulations.