Friday, January 20, 2012

Points of interest relating to the cold on a very snowy Friday

I haven't written about it much this week, but apparently I'm living in the "Freezer Valley" now (as opposed to the Fraser Valley - ha ha ha, it's a pun or play on words!). The snow started on Saturday, January 14th, and has continued throughout the week. I've had to cancel four craft groups, and the university, the schools, and my work have been closed since Tuesday! I know it probably doesn't look that bad, but the roads are very dangerous right now - we don't clean them properly, people don't have snow tires, and we don't really know how to snow drive unless we grew up somewhere other than southwestern BC - and we're waiting for the freezing rain to fall.

Updated to add: I'm definitely not going out today or tomorrow or any other day until the roads are safe again! Nothing in my life is THAT important! You know when they warn you that you should be worried about the "other drivers" on the road in weather like this? I am the other driver! 

The good thing about this week is that I've managed to get all my paper work done - hooray, it's a post Christmas miracle! - and I've managed to get samples of everything for craft group for the next two months, so I'll have nice, easy to follow shopping lists with examples to show the kids!

The humidity is really low around here right now - about 25%, when it's generally more in the 50% or higher range - which means for the first time in a long time, I have to worry about my hair being too dry rather than trying to keep the frizzies away! Normally, I'd get into my workshop and make myself a nice intense conditioner with coconut oil, but it's -6˚C in there, which is just slightly higher than the outside temperature. (I don't mind the cold, but I do mind freezing! And even the little ceramic heater and the larger radiator don't get it warm enough to avoid muscle spasms!) Instead, I've just heated up some virgin de coconut oil and put it on the ends of my hair. I smell amazing right now - so coconut-y - and my hair will be happy with the extra moisturization! I look like I haven't washed my hair in a week, but it's not like I'm leaving the house any time soon, eh? (A tip for the oily haired amongst us: Don't put this near your scalp or you'll get more oily for a while. Just put the oil on the ends of your hair and the really dry bits!)

Which brings me to the second point of interest for a very snowy Friday. My oils and surfactants are either frozen or around the cloud or titer point. I get e-mails or see comments or read posts on forums about whether or not we should keep our oils in the fridge or freezer and my answer is always a resounding yes! The concern is that we might hurt a fragile oil, and my answer is that there is nothing you might find in an oil that can be damaged by freezing. In fact, you're retarding rancidity and stopping the clock on the shelf life by freezing it!

Let's put this in perspective. You've just purchased some wonderful hemp seed oil with a shelf life of three months. Let's say you're a lucky person like me, and can drive to your supplier and pick it up. Even if the three month shelf life of that oil starts on the day you purchased it (let's say January 20th), your oil will be unusable by April 20th. Time flies when you're trying to find time to get into the workshop, and before you know it, it'll be spring break in March before you find time to formulate something awesome with it. And now that product has a shelf life of one month. If you freeze the oils, you effectively stop the clock on January 20th, so when you make that product in March, it'll be good until at least June! Now that's a big difference!

I always put my more expensive oils into the freezer if I don't use them the week I buy them. Comfrey, calendula, pomegranate, sea buckthorn, hemp seed, and other exotic oils get popped into a freezer bag in the bottle and frozen. When I buy larger amounts of regular oils - things like rice bran, olive, sunflower, and soy bean - I package them into smaller bottles, label them, then get them into the freezer. (Because I make smaller batches of products and I don't sell what I make, I don't go through as much oil as you'd imagine!)

If you've been keeping your oils in the fridge (or my workshop!), bring them back by heating the bottle in warm water - something like a double boiler on low - until the cloudiness disappears. You can do the same with your surfactants - just remember to heat them slowly until they clear up and become more liquidy. (As a note, make sure you have a little plate or metal ring on the bottom of the double boiler so the plastic bottle doesn't warp while you're heating it! It won't get totally ruined, but it will have trouble standing up afterwards!)

Related posts:
Rancidity: A primer
Mechanisms of rancidity. 
All the posts on various oils


Ruth said...

Stay safe...Don't take chances on the road..
Whatever it is, it can wait for a better day..

Little Bird said...

Weather's less bad here in Maple Ridge but I'm not going anywhere near Abbotsford in the foreseeable future.

Your post made me laugh considering I was getting ready to whip up some body butter with my new coffee butter and found my jojoba oil frozen. All my other oils are still liquid.

Tara said...

Well Susan it's been -30C the past week here in Edmonton!

But excellent post on freezing oils. I always freeze the majority of mine, with the exceptions of jojoba and Fractionated coconut oil, and then others that I tend to use pretty frequently, which still get stored in the fridge.

Keep warm and hopefully your roads clear up soon :-)

Will said...

As a crafter only (with a deep freeze - one inside vs the one outside right now in Cleveland), this was great information. It's just common sense, too, so no wonder I didn't think of it!

Yes, please stay indoors! We like you! Send all the politicians outside...


Leman said...

Susan, thanks so much for this info. This is incredibly useful to know as I had quite a few oils expiring soon and was worried that I am not going to have time to use them! I put my expensive oils like rosehip, hempseed, evening primrose etc in the fridge but never knew that I could put them in the freezer! Can I ask few questions regarding this?:

1)What about if we put it in the fridge instead of the freezer? are we still stopping the clock on the day we put it in the fridge?

2) When we take them out of the fridge/freezer to use, say 10ml of that 100ml bottle and heat the bottle in warm water, are we then ruining the oils by putting the remaining 90ml back into the fridge/freezer? And can we repeat re-repeat this as many times as we need to?

thank you so much Susan.

Anonymous said...

Susan, I am completely ignorant of your area, had always thought you received a lot of snow... here in the NYC area we finally received some snow this year, only six inches but it still makes a mess.
On the oil and lotion subject, I notice that when I store my finished lotions in the basement, which is about 60F, I obtain a shelf life that is at least 1 to 2 months longer than at room temp exposed to ambient light. This is, of course, with preservatives. What do you think?

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Little Bird! I'm in Chilliwack - it was worse here than Abbotsford, but we're all experiencing the deep thaw right now. I went outside yesterday. It was great! Where did you get the coffee butter? I've been looking for another place to get my lovely green tea butter!

Hi Leman! Putting things in the fridge will slow down rancidity of our oils - that's one of the reasons we use cold with our food because it will slow down bacterial growth - but it's hard to know how long our oils will last then. I know if I have a three month oil and I put it in the freezer, the clock stops that day. If I put it in the fridge, I know I can get longer out of the oil, but it's hard to just just how much longer. (Click here for more information on storing our products in the fridge!)

As for warming the oils up, you really do need to heat the entire bottle of oil because certain fatty acids will melt sooner than others, and you want to get all the fatty acids that bottle contains. You can let the bottle cool down, then put it back in the freezer. I don't know how many times you can do this - I haven't kept count for my oils, but I do it regularly. You're only bringing the oils slowly up to about room temperature, so there's nothing wrong with putting them back in the freezer.

Hi Kimbo! I live on the west coast of Canada, just above the American border and we don't get a lot of snow, hence the closing of schools and stuff when we do get enough to cover the roads! It's a snow-pocalypse when we get more than a few inches!

It makes sense that keeping our lotions away from light and in a cooler location will keep the lotions fresher longer. If you consider that some of the mechanisms of rancidity require light and heat - click here for a primer on rancidity and here for some of the mechanisms of rancidity - then it makes sense that storing them in a cool, dark place would lead to a longer shelf life!

Little Bird said...

Susan, I got my coffee butter from Brambleberry. It is fantastic. I've now made a whipped butter, an emulsifying scrub, and a lip balm. I really like it. Smells like espresso beans to me.

I haven't been to Chilliwack in years.

Pam said...

Hi Susan,

Should we also add ROE to our carrier oils? If we add Vitamin E and ROE would that be a "bad" thing?

Anonymous said...

Hi Susan ! Can we freeze butters the same way ? I mean Shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, etc. And for essential oils, can I put them in the freezer too ? Thank you very much for your time !

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Pam! You can add ROE or Vitamin E to your oils if you wish. You don't need to add both - more anti-oxidants doesn't necessarily mean your oils are more protected against rancidity because they only use the anti-oxidants they need and the rest are wasted.

Hi Ginette! Yes, you can freeze your butters as well. I have a pound ultra refined shea butter in my freezer - one I bought forgetting I had already purchased a pound of ultra refined shea butter in my workshop!

mparmpadeli said...

Thank you Susan that was very informative.
Can I freeze algae oil (INCI: Glycine Soja , Phenoxyethanol, Fucus vesiculosus) ?

What about liquid proteins? They have aqua will they go bad if freeze?