Can Vegetable Glycerin Go Bad?

If you are bulk buying organic vegetable glycerin for convenient usage in your product, you might want to rethink that. Vegetable Glycerin can go bad. However, this does not mean you can’t do anything about it. 

100% pure Vegetable Glycerin does not oxidize or go bad, given that it is stored in a none transparent container in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and covered by an airtight lid. However, when mixing Glycerin with other ingredients, it may undergo specific changes with time, leading to rancid.

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Organic vegetable glycerin is a high-quality ingredient widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, food industry, herbal products, cosmetics, and skincare products. 

Can Vegetable Glycerin Go Bad?

Pure vegetable glycerin is shelf-stable and does not deteriorate under normal storage conditions. Many people claim that they found glycerin containers that were bought years ago, and when they opened the box, the Glycerin was just in perfect condition for use.

Before we get into the topic, let’s see what Glycerin is and why one would go bad.

Glycerin is a clear syrup-like liquid that has a sweet taste and no odor. It is water-soluble and alcohol and is widely used in skincare products due to its beneficial properties.

Pure Glycerin has strong dehydrating properties. Therefore it does not allow any bacteria to grow in it. The bacterial cells can not bear the osmotic pressure of the glycerin molecules, and therefore they die. This prevents the Glycerin from spoilage by various microorganisms present in the atmosphere.

Airtight containers that do not expose the Glycerin to heat, sunlight, and moisture can keep the Glycerin from going bad for years after it is manufactured. If the Glycerin is exposed to heat or any other factor that changes Glycerin’s chemical structure, it may lose its effectiveness.

What Is The Average Shelf-Life Of Vegetable Glycerin?

The industry standard shelf life of the organic vegetable glycerin is 24 months from the date of manufacture if stored in a cool dark place. 

This is for one that has not been opened. We will discuss later on how long one lasts once opened

According to the FDA’s directions, a product’s shelf life refers to the duration in which the work can be expected to retain its original condition and remain safe for its intended use. The storage conditions determine any product’s shelf life, and special care must be taken during shipment. 

If you wish to extend the shelf-life of vegetable glycerin, it is essential to protect it from direct sunlight. Also, continuously fluctuating temperatures can reduce its shelf life. Vegetable Glycerin that has crossed the suggested shelf life limit may not only lose its effectiveness; it may also create some unpleasant reactions if used on your skin. 

How Long Does Vegetable Glycerin Last Once Open?

Once opened, any container of Glycerin is safe to use within 12 – 18 months. So in case you are thinking of buying in bulk, it is best to buy only in quantities that you can use within 18 months. 

If you have an opened glycerin container and you’re not sure if you can use it within 12 – 18 months, you should take extra care in its storage, and there might be a chance it remains in good condition after 18 months. But in my personal opinion, I would not take the risk, especially if it’s to sell. 

If you intend to use Glycerin in an edible product, then it must be discarded after this period ends. But if you have to use it in a cosmetic product, you can give it a chance if there is no visible change in its quality.

If you notice a slight change in the Vegetable Glycerin’s color or texture, you should avoid using it. Otherwise, it may also deteriorate the product in which it is used.

How to Store Vegetable Glycerin?

Glycerin is relatively stable and does not disintegrate quickly. It would be best if you stored it in a tightly sealed container under dry and cold conditions where humidity is controlled. 

Exposing the container to direct sunlight may break down the chemical bonds and affects its quality. A suitable and inexpensive container such as smoked or colored plastic or glass container is perfect to avoid light exposure.

If you see that your Glycerin gets dry, open the lid of the container to get some air in. This is needed so that the Glycerin can absorb some moisture from the air to rehydrate. If this doesn’t work, then you can add a few drops of water to it, and it should do the trick.

Glycerin does not have a definite shelf life. It can and will eventually go bad with time. There is an easy way to know if it has gone bad. Once it stops rehydrating, it probably means it is no longer usable.

The ideal storage temperature for vegetable Glycerin is between 65 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures can cause changes in the chemical structure. 

Glycerin is stable at room temperature and does not require refrigeration or any other preservation form in a concentration above 50%. It requires special care if used in a concentration below 50%.

NOTE: It does not disintegrate upon freezing, but it does not require freezing for preservation.

Can You Use Expired Glycerin?

As with any product, you should not use it beyond its expiry date if the expiry date is not mentioned on the label (which can happen). As mentioned before, if it doesn’t rehydrate any longer, it means it’s not suitable to be used. A discolored or liquid Glycerin also indicates that it has deteriorated and is no more suitable for use. In that case, you should immediately get rid of the product without giving it a second thought.

As Glycerin possesses strong humectant properties, and when you use it after its expiry date in a product, it may increase the water activity. This makes the product susceptible to microbial growth, including gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, yeast, and mold. 

Expired Glycerin can deteriorate your product, and such products require the addition of a broad-spectrum preservative to remain in usable condition. Using expired Glycerin in skincare products can result in irritation and breakouts due to severe allergy and infection.


Glycerin is one of the versatile ingredients used in several pharmacological and skincare products due to several skin benefits. It suits a majority of people with a minimum risk of allergic reactions. It is shelf-stable and can be kept for an extended period under controlled conditions, and it does not require refrigeration.

It is relatively inexpensive, and most people prefer bulk purchasing, therefore sometimes it does not get used up within the given expiry period. The storage conditions determine the extent to which the Glycerin can be kept in containers without deterioration till their intended use.

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