The Shelf Life of Oils

Let’s talk about shelf life!

When formulating your product, understanding the shelf life of the oils you are using is an important step in ensuring quality and longevity for your customers.

If you’re anything like me, I don’t usually need to worry about the expiration of my cooking oils because I seem to go through them very quickly; that is, until a few months ago when I pulled out my grapeseed oil and opened the container. What a smell! While I usually love the smell of cooking oils (strange, I know), this oil smelled sour; it was the type of smell that immediately makes you want to throw the item in the garbage, tie up the bag, and toss it outside. Not the most appetizing thing to find right before making dinner, but it was really my own ignorance; after all, if I don’t use it and it looks fine, doesn’t that mean that it is fine?

Turns out, no. No it doesn’t.

Understanding the Longevity of Your Oils

There are many different types of oils, all made up of different properties and each one individual in its benefits. This can be a little confusing when you are trying to figure out the shelf life of your oils; keeping track of every expiration date can be a bit overwhelming! We’ve compiled a list of some of the most used oils to get you started.

3 Months or Less

Hazelnut Oil

Hempseed Oil

Grapeseed Oil (don’t find out the hard way, like I did!)

Under 1 Year (6 months to 1 year)

Apricot kernel oil-I’ve included this here, but be mindful that its shelf life can range from 6 months to one year. Check before you use it if  it has been over 6 months.

Evening Primrose Oil

Flax Seed Oil

Sesame Oil

Sweet Almond Oil

Wheatgerm  Oil

1 Year

Avocado Oil

Castor Oil

Coconut Oil-this can last a bit over one year, as always, check before use.

Emu Oil-this oil can actually last several years, if properly frozen.

Palm Oil

Palm Kernel Oil

Safflower Oil

Shea Butter

2 Years

Canola Oil

Olive Oil

Tamanu Oil

3 Years

Properly Frozen Emu Oil

Meadowfoam Oil



Jojoba Oil

Fractionated Coconut Oil

Whew! Of course, that’s only a small sampling of the oils available, but the moral of this story is; make sure to check your oils before each use especially if it’s been awhile since you used it last.

Using Anti-Oxidants

Anti-oxidants are substances that prevent oxidation in materials such as oils. Using an anti-oxidant in your product can help to extend its shelf life by preventing the breakdown of the building blocks of your lotions, scrubs, etc. Consider adding grapefruit seed extract or vitamin e oil to shield your oils from oxidation. Keep in mind, anti-oxidants are different than preservatives in that they do not contain anti-microbial properties; if you are producing a product that contains water or a product that may get wet in the container (like scrubs), check out our article about preservatives to understand how to avoid unwanted bacterial, fungal and mold growth.

Final Thoughts

Keeping track of numerous expiration dates doesn’t have to be an insurmountable challenge. Use a binder/notebook or digital spreadsheet to keep track of not only the quantity of your supplies, but their expirations. This documentation will help you to gain a better understanding of the shelf life of your overall product, and also help you decide whether or not to add an anti-oxidant or preservative based on the expected time frame of your sales.

Most importantly, learn from my grapeseed debacle-check your oils every time to avoid a sour final product!


What’s Up at the HSCG: March 2017

2017 has and will continue to be an exciting year for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild!

In early 2017, we were very excited to introduce a new, lower cost insurance option through Veracity Insurance Solutions. Even with a price point $100 less than the standard coverage option, this lower cost policy still covers handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers in a wide variety of situations, and has the flexibility to cover everyone from fledgling business to full grown empire.

Let’s not forget our new look! The HSCG has rebranded, with new sleek and modern logos and a fresh website. If you haven’t yet, check out; we think you’ll love the updated feel.

We also announced our first HSCG Advocacy Day, taking place in Washington DC in April. This is a great opportunity for approximately 50 handcrafted soap and cosmetic makers to discuss ongoing legislation with lawmakers, and offer their own insight into how it will affect handcrafted businesses.

As you can imagine, things are getting very busy at HSCG Headquarters in beautiful Saratoga Springs, New York; with our largest (and nearly sold out) Annual Conference just around the corner in Las Vegas and the excitement and extensive planning surrounding it, the decision was made to add an additional employee to our staff; please help us welcome Niki Cameron!

Niki grew up in a small town just north of Saratoga Springs. She loves to knit “anything and everything”, and can usually be found reading a Stephen King book (the Dark Tower is her favorite series). She has a passion for small business and customer service, and will be filling the roll of Member Services Representative. Niki will also be attending the Annual Conference in Las Vegas this year to assist Leigh and Sara with all the moving parts! Chances are, if you’ve called the office at any time in the past few weeks, you’ve already chatted with Niki a bit; she will be your go-to source for general membership, benefit, insurance and conference related questions. Welcome!

Speaking of the conference, this year is going to be the largest event that the HSCG has ever hosted! We are nearly sold out at 600 attendees, and they are in for three days of action packed networking and educational opportunities. This year, the Annual Conference will take place at the Tropicana Las Vegas, located right in the heart of the action in Las Vegas. The newly renovated space is absolutely gorgeous, with plenty of room for our incredible Exhibitors and famous Speaker Sessions.

Of course, we can’t talk about the conference without talking about the speakers! This year’s lineup has something for everyone; right out of the starting gate, attendees will be treated to an inspirational and motivation keynote speech from Bramble Berry’s Anne-Marie Faiola! She will teach attendees how to “Have the Best Day Ever, Every Day”. Then, attendees will have the option to attend a number of different sessions covering a variety of topics including formulation, label compliance and marketing. There is truly something for everyone at this event, no matter what stage of your handcrafting journey you are in!

If you haven’t registered for the Annual Conference yet, make sure to sign up as soon as you can; there are very few spots remaining, and we anticipate selling out soon! Visit to purchase your registration today.

We can’t wait to share more exciting HSCG news with you; 2017 is going to be a great year!



Common Scents: Vetiver

Welcome to our series, Common Scents! Common Scents is a series of articles exploring the history of commonly used essential oils, and how they became so popular in modern day soap and cosmetic crafting; in this edition of Common Scents, we’ll take a look at vetiver. Revered by Indian culture and referred to in Sri Lanka as the “Oil of Tranquility”, vetiver’s unique scent and purported cooling, calming and medicinal properties have earned it quite a bit of respect.

Vetiver’s Roots 

Vetiver (c.zizanioides) is part of the genus Chrysopogon, family Poaceae, and is a grass-like plant native to parts of India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Vetiver is also cultivated in Reunion, the Comoro Islands, Japan, the Philippines, West Africa and South America. It is known by different names regionally; in Java, it is known as Akar Wangi or fragrant root. In India, it is known as Khus Khus, meaning aromatic root. In Sri Lanka, it is referred to as the Oil of Tranquility. The origin of the word vetiver is thought to come from the Tamil word vettiver.

Cultural Use 

In India, mats are woven from vetiver to help keep houses cool, due to the purported cooling properties of the herb. A similar approach is used in Africa, where vetiver is used to make roof thatches and rugs/floor mats.

Vetiver is used in Indian culture for its many supposed mental health benefits, as well as spiritual benefits. A few things that vetiver oil is used for include:

Relief of muscular aches

Fever reduction

Relief from pain attributed to arthritis

Used to combat fatigue

Used in the treatment of heat strokes

Relief from various joint disorders

Treatment of various skin issues

Used in the treatment of headahces

Along with the medicinal uses of vetiver, the Chinese also believed that the oil had the power to induce calmness, and awake the brain. They also believed that vetiver could calm angry and destructive thoughts and generally stabilize emotions.

It is important to note that the FDA has not approved Vetiver for use medicinally. The HSCG does not make or support any medicinal claims, and is providing this information for educational purposes only.

Vetiver oil is used in many fragrance blends.

Use in Modern Day 

Vetiver is considered a base note, and its scent is described as woodsy, warm, and earthy. Used alone, it is classified as a “masculine” scent. Using vetiver as a base in more complex fragrance blends is very easy to do, given its heavy, sweet aroma. Mixed with lavender, ylang ylang, cedarwood, oakmoss, rose, lemongrass, or sandalwood for example, vetiver lends depth and spice.

Final Thoughts 

Vetiver has a unique history and reputation for inducing the most desired of human conditions: tranquility. After the business of the holidays and overall craziness of day-to-day life, producing a soap or cosmetic using this aroma is sure to help your customers relax! Consider adding vetiver as the base to your fragrance blends to capture the scent of well-being and calm.

Vetiver blends well with rose and lavender; have you taken a look at the history behind these two popular oils? Check out the articles for both by visiting the following links!

Common Scents: Lavender:

Common Scents: Rose:

And for advice on fragrance blending in general, take a look at