Help me not kill my friends and family with DIY sugar scrub!
February 2, 2010 2:21 PM   Subscribe

How long will a homemade sugar and olive or grapeseed oil scrub last in a sealed container?

I've been making skin exfoliators at home for awhile now using sugar, grapeseed or olive oil, honey, and various extracts. I've found my homemade product to be comparable to many commercial exfoliators that go for egregiously high prices and contain some dubious ingredients.

So, I've been thinking of packaging it up in jars and giving it as gifts to my friends/family for holidays and birthdays, etc. Usually, however, when I make it for myself, I make small quantities that only last for one or two uses. Since it contains no preservatives, and I know sugar is a great medium for bacterial growth, I'm a little concerned about how safe it will be to use for several months rather than several days. I'd really appreciate any insight you all might have about whether or not this is safe, and if there are any tricks I could employ to make it so. Thanks!
posted by faeuboulanger to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I've also made my own scrubs using grapeseed oil, sugar, and orange extracts, and as long as the bottles they were stored in were sealed tightly, they lasted quite a while without any discernible change in texture or oil. Several months, at least. I figured if the bottle of canola oil and bag of sugar in my pantry can last six months, so can this.
posted by HeyAllie at 2:31 PM on February 2, 2010

I've stored similar mixes for weeks, at least. If it's the sugar you're worried about, could you do a salt scrub instead?
posted by BlooPen at 3:06 PM on February 2, 2010

You'll run into problems if water gets into the jars, for example in the shower. Once water is introduced, the mixture can quickly become moldy. You can instruct the recipients not to take the jar in the shower, but perhaps scoop only what they will use at that time into a little cup or something that they can bring in the shower.

The antioxidant properties of Vitamin E will help keep the oils from going rancid as quickly and will increase its shelf life, but it does not protect against mold.
posted by zach braff's mixtape at 5:51 PM on February 2, 2010

I've got a couple sitting on the shelf, unopened, that were made in September. They look fine from the outside - no sign of discolouration.
posted by Leon at 6:21 PM on February 2, 2010

You can instruct the recipients not to take the jar in the shower, but perhaps scoop only what they will use at that time into a little cup or something that they can bring in the shower.

Make this easy by using a wider-mouth jar and giving them a nifty little scoop. You can be really cute and creative with this -- raid the kitchen store for tiny ramekins or the local Asian market for those soup spooners. Call it the "serving size."
posted by desuetude at 8:48 PM on February 2, 2010

My wife has a jar made from almond oil, vanilla, apple essential oil and sugar sitting covered (not sealed) in the bathroom. It was made in May 2009, and it still looks, feels and smells the same as when it was made.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:24 AM on February 3, 2010

Ooh - I just remembered. We also broke up a few vitamin E capsules and squeezed those in. Maybe it's a preservative?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:25 AM on February 3, 2010

I do the same, only using salt (a natural preservative) rather than sugar, and mine last indefinitely, even with a little shower water getting in here and there.

I don't know whether adding half salt would work for you? Or even change to salt - it's antibacterial properties are good to have in a scrub!
posted by greenish at 1:39 AM on February 3, 2010

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