Yes, an opened tub of Vaseline will expire eventually, although it can last up to 10 years if stored correctly. Unopened Vaseline will last a lifetime as there are no active ingredients, so there’s nothing to expire.
How do You Know if Vaseline’s Gone Bad?
A tub of Vaseline that’s survived years beyond its expiry date but still looks as good as new, it probably is.
Vaseline that’s changed color or developed a strange smell may still be suitable for lubricating a squeaky door, but it may no longer be something you want to apply to your skin.
Vaseline contains few nutrients, so most people choose not to eat it. That characteristic also means bacteria will struggle to grow in it.
Some 30 years ago, a senior vice-president of Chesebrough-Ponds U.S.A told The New York Times that you could keep Vaseline for up to five years beyond its recommended shelf life, “and the product wouldn’t become harmful to use.”
William H. Schmitt went on to say,
“You’d have a product that might not be as thick as it originally was, and the scent might be diminished. But things in these categories have been very well stabilized, and they tend not to go bad.”
However, every time we plunge our fingers into a jar of Vaseline, we risk contaminating it. Our skin cells contain both moisture and nutrients. Each time we dip them into the Vaseline, we transfer enough of both for bacteria to survive. The more often we do it, the more likely it is for that bacteria to flourish.
Although contaminated Vaseline would still be good for household uses, like fixing squeaky doors or frozen locks, it would no longer be safe to use as a skincare product.
Does Vaseline Last Longer than Petroleum Jelly?
Unopened Vaseline can last a lifetime, as can an unopened pot of petroleum jelly. Neither one contains any active ingredients, so there’s nothing to expire.
Although Vaseline may lose some of its effectiveness over time, the only reason it has an expiration date is because of FDA regulations. Some brands of petroleum jelly are packaged without an expiry date because the FDA doesn’t require cosmetic products to carry one.
Like petroleum jelly, Vaseline is “a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons.”
As such, it won’t break down if exposed to air. In the right conditions, however, certain bacteria and fungi can degrade these hydrocarbons, which is why you should store your Vaseline correctly.
If kept tightly sealed and stored in cool temperatures and out of direct sunlight, Vaseline can last a decade or more.
Top 10 Survival Uses for Vaseline
Your tub of Vaseline has been languishing in the bottom of your bug-out bag since 2010. Only once you finally bug out in 2022 do you rediscover its existence. It smells and looks fine, so now it’s time to put it to good use by capitalizing on its top 10 survival uses:
- Start a fire with a Vaseline-coated cotton ball
- Smear it on your bushcraft tools to prevent rust
- Protect wounds against infection
- Treat chafing and cracked heels
- Keep your bug-out guns and weapons operational
- Release a stuck tent zipper
- Prevent blisters
- Create an emergency candle
- Remove sticky resins
- Prevent chapped lips
Even though Vaseline carries an expiry date of approximately three years, it can last a lifetime if stored correctly.
Made up of hydrocarbons, Vaseline contains no nutrients or moisture that would allow bacteria to flourish.
Store it in a cool place and use a spoon, rather than your fingers, to scoop it out, and your Vaseline could keep going long enough for you to bequeath it to your next of kin!