Saturday, January 10, 2015

Weekend Wonderings: A few administrative things. Do we have to throw away distilled water after opening?

Welcome to all the new readers of the blog! I'm so happy to see your enthusiasm for making your own bath & body products! I can't encourage you enough to do a search for what interests you or take the quick tour of what the blog has to offer to see where you can find information. I know this is a large blog - almost 2400 posts - and you can't be expected to know where everything is, so I put together the tour so you can see the different sections and labels.

Please please please put your name on your comments! I have been trying to enforce a very strict no-name, no comment policy as I find anonymity doesn't offer the sense of community I would like to have around here. You don't need to have a Google account - just put "bye, (name)" and that's fine. I've been a little lax about this lately, but I will be deleting anything without a name in the future, regardless of the topic.

If you could subscribe to the post in which you put a comment, you will be more likely to see my answer. It does get a bit frustrating to spend half an hour writing a comment for someone who never comes back to respond! (Subscribing can mean that you write a quick comment and click the box that says "notify me when there are responses" or something like that!)

In this post, What ingredients do you need when you're starting out? Candice asks: I have a pressing question, after reading your post today. I always thought that, once a bottle of distilled water was opened, it was best to use it within 3 days (kept refrigerated), then throw out. Is this NOT true? Have I wasted dozens of mini bottles of water (well, I did drink the 3 day old water, so not a complete waste) through ignorance? I always thought it was a strange rule, as I keep my flower waters in the fridge for up to 6 months (though I do add LG+ to them...).If you could confirm, the earth would be a happier place with less plastic (thrown out by me at any rate!).

You drink distilled water? Ick! I've always thought it tasted terrible...but I digress...

I've always kept my distilled water after opening until I used it up, so I thought I'd do a search for this question. That was a mistake! I found page after page of people talking about how God instructed them to drink distilled water, how someone in their lives lived a long time drinking distilled water, and how you can tell it has gone off by its terrible taste. I didn't find any useful information, just page after page of supposed health and spiritual benefits when drinking distilled water. The general consensus seems to be that the expiry date on the distilled water bottle is because "chemicals from the bottle are leaching into the water", not because of contamination. I found a few sites that said we should throw the water away after 3 days to "ensure its purity" I found another site that stated that "Care must be taken in the way distilled water is stored, because of it's aggressiveness....distilled water will leach out (combine with) some of whatever the container is made of..." a concept that complete baffled me.

Raymond had fun making up stories about distilled water's aggressiveness. It swears at your children! It tries to borrow money from you and won't take "no" for an answer! It comes home drunk! (Ha!) 

Eventually, I found a few reliable sources. A commenter on the Soap Making Forum said, "It's just water. It won't go bad, and you don't need to keep it in the refrigerator. Just keep it tightly sealed in the original container. As long as it doesn't become contaminated, it will last forever." Health Canada suggests for bottled water, "Once water bottles have been opened, Health Canada recommends that you consume the content and refrigerate any leftover." I found this Reddit discussion that bacteria could grow in the container once opened, so the idea of refrigerating the water is a good idea, or at least keeping it out of the light and heat after opening.

So what to do? I have not had a problem keeping distilled water in my very cold workshop in the winter and in the fridge in the summer, and I feel comfortable making that suggestion to you.

Join me tomorrow for more Weekend Wonderings!


Goya & Fig said...

Hi Susan - thanks for the answer! But now I will have to do reasearch, because for me distilled water = Evian and such (ie. spring water). Which is what I use in my lotions (spring water with the smallest amounts of minerals). So perhaps that is where my mistake is. I am supposing that distilled water does not = mineral water, and that distilled water can be kept in the fridge ad infinitum and mineral water cannot?? Another can of worms? If you have any hooks, I am willing to go fishing....

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Candice! I thought it strange that you were drinking distilled water! Distilled water is a very specific thing. From Wikipedia: "Distilled water is water that has many of its impurities removed through distillation. Distillation involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam into a clean container." It will say "distilled water" on the container and is generally found in the pharmacy section of the grocery store, not the drinking.

Mineral water is the opposite of distilled water and not a good idea in our products. The minerals can promote auto-oxidation, which speeds up the process of rancidity.

From this post on rancidity: Metal ions in the water at low levels can promote auto-oxidation. This is why we use chelating agents (also called sequestering agents) like citric acid and EDTA to bind the metals so they won't be a nuisance in our lotions. (And why we use distilled water that should not contain these metals!) The main culprit is iron, and the process can be speeded up by exposure to light.

We want to use distilled water to get rid of the minerals, not add more of them. I really can't stress enough how much you don't want to use spring water in your products. De-ionized or distilled water, never spring or mineral water.

Bonnie in SJ said...

Hi Susan! Thanks for the info. Anecdotally, I store opened distilled water in the refrigerator to be on the safe side. Sometimes it stays in there for a few months, but I try to limit its exposure to the air as much as possible. So, I always keep its cap on unless I'm actively pouring it out.

When msking a lotion, the water phase is always heated to pasteurization temperatures (72 C) and then held for 10 in as you recommend -- which is much longer than needed for mere pasteurization (says this: So that should kill any select lurking microbes looking for an excuse to colonize a nice yummy lotion.