The popularity of Aloe Vera can be gauged from its market size; its total market value in North America is 57 million dollars annually. Known as Barbadensis Miller, Aloe Vera has been used through the ages, with anecdotal evidence linking it to the ancient Egyptians, and virtually every single civilization across the world. Historical texts rate Queen Cleopatra as one of the most beautiful in her times, while Biblical passages identify the Queen of Sheba to be one of the most beautiful of her times. Records have referred to the use of Aloe Vera by these women to maintain their beauty. Unsurprisingly, aloe vera is known by superlatives such as beauty elixir and the plant of immortality, among others. The increased interest in the gel has triggered a question among those interested in the product – does aloe vera gel expire? We will therefore, look at this closely to address this doubt with complete clarity.
What is aloe vera gel? Does aloe vera gel expire?
Aloe Vera is the extract from a plant belonging to the Liliaceae family. The extract is effectively classified into two different substances – aloe vera gel and aloe vera latex. The latter is generally consumed for treating constipation while the more commonly used substance is the gel. The gel is a powerhouse of anti-oxidants and properties that render it as the first choice in treating a host of conditions including skin tone, skin texture, wound management, and control of blood sugar in addition to treating dental plaque. The gel is used as a primary ingredient in a host of products, including food, cosmetics and toiletries, apart from pharma formulations. While the gel can be used in its natural form, the challenge is in maintaining its properties after it has been harvested or used in various products. To answer the question – does aloe vera gel expire – it is important to understand the properties of the gel.
What are the properties of Aloe Vera Gel? Does aloe vera gel expire?
Aloe Vera boasts of an entire range of properties that make it one of the most sought after. Curiously, Aloe Vera comprises 95% water, with the remaining 5% comprising a combination of bioactive compounds. Rich in minerals, calcium, polysaccharides, vitamins, iron, amino acids, potassium and enzymes, the combination facilitates nutrient absorption. The gel has impressive anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that have made it an immensely popular choice for its medicinal value. Another distinct property is the presence of vitamin B12 that is typically available only in animal based foods. This is vital for the formation of new red blood cells, which makes this an important ingredient for vegetarians, who do not have plant sources of Vitamin B12. While, the plant is native to specific regions, such as Africa and certain parts of the Middle East, it is now grown in homes in most locations globally. Despite being one as one of the most popular remedies, the challenge of growing and using Aloe Vera is actually in ensuring that it does not oxidize after the leaves are harvested. The question does aloe vera gel expire is best answered by looking at its composition – 95% water. When the liquid in the gel dries up, the effects of the gel wear off, giving the product an expiry date that depends on circumstances.
Does aloe vera gel expire? Can its shelf life be extended?
There are multiple answers to the question – does aloe vera gel expire. It depends on the form of the gel. All organic matter and plant matter have a shelf life. While certain fossilized or preserved parts of plants are likely to be available for a very long time, the properties of such plants will expire after a certain period. This applies to aloe vera gel, like all organic and plant matter. This is especially in the case of aloe vera because of the higher water content. Different forms of Aloe Vera have different expiry dates. Here is a small list that will help understand the reasons behind the differences.
Aloe Vera extract from plants – If you happen to grow aloe vera in your residence and have harvested the turgid green leaves from the stem, then the gel from the leaves will either be used raw, refrigerated or frozen. Each has its own expiry date. For instance, if you plan to use the gel raw, either as a topical application or if you intend to consume it, then you need to finish consuming it applying it, within one day of harvesting the leaf. If you happen to refrigerate the gel (in a regular tray of your refrigerator), the maximum time within which it can be applied is 5 days. If the gel is frozen in your freezer, the maximum time, within which it needs to be used is 10 to 12 days. Here, it is always important to ensure that the gel remains inside the leaf, till the time it is actually used. Exposing the gel by removing it from the leaf will result in oxidization, and the bioactive compounds will be less effective when applied. This is in addition to the possibility of mild allergies that can manifest.
Aloe Vera gel in products – The question – does aloe vera gel expire – is also often asked in the context of products that are commercially available. Manufactured products rely on processes that extend the shelf life of Aloe Vera gel through the use of permitted preservatives. These preservatives, in combination with the purification and advanced extraction processes help to extend the life of the gel substantially. The shelf life of such products are typically two years and do not require refrigeration. However, the manner in which the products are stored are also important to ensure that its properties are not compromised. Aloe vera products are to be stored in a cool and place. This will ensure that it is effective even towards the end of its shelf life.
Aloe vera gel in juice and liquids – This is another popular product offering in the markets. Aloe vera juices and liquids are increasingly consumed for health benefits. This is one of the reasons for the question – does aloe vera gel expire – as most users are apprehensive if the juice/liquid from the gel has a short expiry date. The juice/liquid needs to be refrigerated for maximum shelf life. An unopened bottle/can of aloe vera juice/liquid has a shelf life of two years if it has been refrigerated throughout the supply chain and by the buyer at the end of the chain. The contents of any bottle/can containing aloe vera juice/liquid has a shelf life of two to three weeks after it has been opened, provided it has been refrigerated properly.
Important points that need to be borne in mind
In addition to the question – does aloe vera gel expire – it is also important to understand that aloe vera gel will oxidize when exposed to oxygen. The gel used in products are treated and processed to reduce the effects of oxidation. However, raw gel is not treated, and is to be therefore handled in a manner that reduces exposure to the oxygen in the air. This is precisely why it is always recommended to store the full leaf, and extract the inner gel only at the time of use. Storage of aloe vera gel products also need to be handled with care, to ensure that the bioactive compounds are not compromised due to exposure to heat.