Outforia Quicktake: Key Takeaways
- Aloe vera gel can expire, lasting only 24 hours at room temperature without preservatives or up to a week when refrigerated.
- Shop-bought aloe vera gel contains preservatives and can last longer, sometimes years if stored properly.
- Signs of expired aloe vera gel include odd smell, change in texture, and cloudiness caused by mold or bacteria.
- Aloe vera gel can be used for various skin conditions, moisturizing, and relieving symptoms of some digestive issues.
- Homemade aloe vera gel can be made by extracting the gel from Aloe barbadensis Miller plant leaves and stored with natural preservatives like honey, vitamin C, or vitamin E.
As aloe vera is organic, it will indeed expire. It can last years if prepared with preservatives, sealed in an airtight container and frozen. It can last only 24 hrs if you leave the fresh gel uncovered at room temperature.
There are over 400 types of aloe plants. The one we use for our skin is called Aloe barbadensis miller. This is a desert-dwelling plant. The gel within is put into tubes of light green gel that you can buy in pharmacies.
Aloe vera gel contains beneficial enzymes, vitamins, and hormones. Including gibberelin, which is a growth hormone. This is said to aid in tissue repair for skin conditions such as sunburn or psoriasis.
But how does aloe vera gel expire? Even though it is a beauty product, it can still go moldy!
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How To Know if Aloe Vera Gel is Expired
Color and look
Homemade aloe vera gel is clear to golden in color. Shop-bought gel is light green because manufacturers use coloring to make it look nicer!
Sometimes aloe gel can oxidize (react to oxygen), turning it pink or red. Other colors, such as purple, mean your aloe vera has gone bad.
Fresh aloe vera gel should be transparent. If it is cloudy looking, this means it has gone bad. The cloudiness is most likely caused by mold or bacteria.
If you notice a sour or odd smell in your raw homemade aloe vera gel, it’s time to stick it in the bin (or on the compost heap!)
It’s much harder to tell if shop-bought aloe vera gel has gone off using smell, as the preservatives and additives stop it from smelling. This doesn’t mean it hasn’t gone off, though!
Is your aloe vera gel runnier than normal? Or isn’t absorbed by your skin as easily as it was before? It’s time to get some fresh aloe vera.
What Happens If I Use Expired Aloe Vera Gel?
The bacteria or mold in the expired gel can be bad for your skin if used topically. Plus, you risk bacteria entering your body through a wound.
Internally, use the same caution as you would for any other food product. The mold and spores in expired gel could make you ill.
Don’t use expired aloe vera gel, as the chemical balance will probably have changed too. This makes it less effective or even harmful.
What Affects the Expiry Date of Aloe Vera Gel?
Homemade or shop bought?
So here’s the rub (excuse the pun!). Homemade aloe vera gel lasts only 24 hours at room temperature, as it has no preservatives added to it.
If you refrigerate it, it will last up to a week.
Shop-bought aloe products have preservatives added. The most common are:
- Citric acid
- Ascorbic acid
- Vitamin E
- Potassium sorbate
Adding your own natural preservatives to aloe vera gel
If you would rather use natural preservatives, these are the best ones to add to your fresh aloe gel:
- Honey – add 50% honey to 50% aloe gel. Lasts 1-2 months in the fridge.
- Vitamin C – you can also use lemon juice.
- Vitamin E – for 1 liter of gel, use 6000 IU of Vitamin E. (the VItamin E bottle will tell you how many drops this is)
How you store your aloe vera gel
What containers are you using? If they are airtight and repel humidity (damp), this will prevent mold from growing. You can use glass jars, freezer bags, or plastic tubs.
Is your gel in sunlight? Or kept in the shade? Keeping your gel in the shade will stop it from going bad so quickly. Sunlight will warm it and make it go off quicker.
Is it at room temperature? Or in the fridge or freezer?
Fresh (raw) aloe vera gel will keep for up to a week in the fridge with no preservatives added.
Frozen raw gel will keep for around a year in the freezer, made into ice cubes then stored in freezer bags.
Check out this video about the five ways to prepare your fresh gel for storage:
You may also like: Are Strawberries Berries? The Answer Is Un-Berry-Vable!
Aloe Vera Gel Uses
Aloe vera gel can be used topically (on the outer surface of your body) for all sorts of skin conditions.
Studies have found that aloe vera gel has other uses when taken internally. Though caution is advised. Some parts of the whole aloe leaf (rather than just the gel) have been shown to have adverse effects on rats.
You may also like: Complete Guide To Different Types of Leaves with Pictures and Leaf Names
How to Make DIY Aloe Vera Gel
If you have aloe vera plants handy, you can make your own aloe vera gel. Cut open the leaves (like the leathery tails of dragons!) and scrape the gel off them. If you use a blender, you can make a smooth gel that will keep in the fridge for up to a week.
It’s simple to make your own fresh, raw aloe vera gel!
1. Make sure you have Aloe Barbadensis Miller plants. You can buy these from the houseplant section of a garden center or online.
2. Cut off one or two of the large, thick leaves near the base with a sharp knife.
3. Trim all around the edge of the leaf to expose the gel inside.
4. Place on a chopping board and cut into chunks around 10cm long.
5. Carefully slice off one side of the leaf, exposing the sheet of clear aloe vera gel.
6. If on a camping trip, scrape this off and mix as best you can. It will be lumpy, but you can use it as it is.
7. If you are at home, slice off the other side of the leaf and put the collected gel into a blender.
8. Store in a sealed tub or jar. Preserve (as above) or freeze if you want to store it for a long time.
Is Aloe Vera Used For Anything Else?
This is the yellow, bitter juice that is extracted from the leaf tissues of aloe vera plants. This has been used historically as a remedy for constipation. Current research suggests it may be unsafe to use in large quantities.
Aloe vera essential oil
This has the same uses as aloe vera gel – mainly external use for skin complaints and for moisturizing.
Aloe vera soap
You can use only three ingredients to make a basic soap. These are 185g aloe vera gel, 76g sodium hydroxide, and 450g coconut oil. The gel replaces the water that you would normally use. A great gift idea!
Aloe barbadensis is an attractive, graceful plant that is easy to care for. It is a good choice for a busy person as it doesn’t need much attention. Water it a little now and then. Trim off dead bits.
It has thick green leaves. These often have tiger-like stripes. The leaves are bordered with small spikes, which can be red.
You may need to wait up to four years for your aloe vera to flower! When it does, the yellow or orange-red result is more than worth it. The flower is made into tea in some places or used to dress wounds.
Studies have shown that immature Aloe Vera flowerheads contain useful amounts of nutrients. Such as Vitamin C, carotenoids, and fatty acids such as palmitic and stearic acid.
They have the potential to be a useful crop for the pharmaceutical, cosmetic, food, and nutraceutical industries. A nutraceutical is a food product that serves a medicinal purpose too.
Can I grow my own aloe vera plants?
You can grow them indoors in warm, dry temperatures as they are succulents (plants adapted to hot places). They need light soil with good drainage. You can grow them outside if you live in a mild climate with no frosts.
What are ‘bitter aloes’?
A laxative drug made from a certain type of aloe, usually Aloe perriyi Baker. This was a historical remedy found in the Middle East and Biblical countries such as Palestine.
Where does aloe vera grow in the wild?
Aloe vera (barbadensis) comes from Oman. It is now cultivated in or naturalized in over 71 other countries, including Mexico, the Middle East, India, Africa, and the Pacific. There are 250 other aloe species native to Africa, Madagascar, and Arabia.
What else can I use if I can’t find aloe vera for my skin?
If you are near the coast in a temperate area (or near a pharmacy or health store!), look out for a type of seaweed called Bladderwrack. This has a gel in it like aloe vera gel. Bladderwrack contains alginic acid, which you find in heartburn remedy Gaviscon. It is being studied for wound healing properties as well as treating inflammation.
Should I take aloe vera gel as part of an expedition first aid kit?
If you have the space, aloe vera gel is handy for going to a place with hot sun. It will soothe sunburn. It will also help if you are likely to get insect bites, stings, or skin irritation from plants. You may prefer an oil-based antiseptic cream for cold climates.