Vaseline is one of those products that has a million uses and also comes in a large enough container that you never seem to run out. Everyone has that rectangular Vaseline jar that has been sitting in the medicine cabinet for years nestled alongside all other essential first aid supplies. You may look at your well used jar of Vaseline and realize you can’t remember when you purchased it. The next obvious thought is to question if this has a shelf life and if it does, when does Vaseline expire?
Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly with added emollients. Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of the oil refining process. The chemical makeup of this thick substance causes it to repel water, which makes it a useful product to have on hand around the house. With Vaseline, a little goes a long way, which is why the standard 13 ounce size seems to last forever.
The hydrophobic properties of petroleum jelly make it perfect for cosmetic use, first aid and some types of household maintenance. It’s great at sealing moisture into skin and hair, removing makeup and softening cuticles. Many physicians prescribe Vaseline as a safe, effective method of protecting, moisturizing and soothing surgery incision sites, burns and abrasions. It’s also been shown to reduce the appearance of scars.
The many uses of Vaseline, plus the inexpensive price point, has made it practically a staple in households, but how long it lasts before it’s time to toss it is an interesting topic to explore. Does Vaseline expire fast? If you look at your jar of petroleum jelly, you will notice a best by date stamp. Unlike an expiration date, a best by date is simply a general time frame for when the product is expected to perform at peak efficacy.
The concern for many people is the safety of using a product past the best by date indicated on the packaging. For Vaseline, you may have a little more leeway than with other products. The chemical makeup of this substance makes it resistant to normal environmental factors that are the usual culprits in product spoilage.
Moisture, mold, germs and chemical breakdown are the main reasons the products in your medicine cabinet need to be tossed. Vaseline repels water, and exposure to the air does not cause it to oxidize. These two factors are what cause a majority of damage to most products. Vaseline is also extremely resistant to the growth of mold and bacteria. These microorganisms require nutrients to survive and grow. Vaseline contains no food for bacteria and mold, so it is naturally antimicrobial if you are careful not to introduce contaminants.
There is a surefire way to tell if your tub of Vaseline needs to go into the garbage. If either the texture or the smell changes, it’s time to toss your trusty jar of jelly. Eventually, the hydrocarbons that make up petroleum jelly will separate, and you will notice a layer of liquidy substance sitting on the top of the jelly. You may also notice an unusual scent. Any time your Vaseline changes in consistency or smell, get rid of it.
If you’re still wondering when does Vaseline expire? The important tip is that Vaseline lasts longer if stored in a cool area away from light, like a closet or cabinet. When it comes to Vaseline expiration date, use your own best judgement. If you don’t feel comfortable using it past the date on the jar, a new tub is not exactly going to break the bank.