expiration dates of foods and supplies

Expiration Dates
Preps with Expiration Dates (that you wouldn't expect)

Weird stuff with expiration dates.
Expiration dates are for the weak! Or are they? We've gathered a
list of weird things with expiration dates of interest to preppers
and survivalists. Even fine wine
can turn to vinegar (under the
proper conditions)!

Before we get into the list of preps that have expiration dates,
we want to let you in on a little secret. The reason for most
expiration dates is not for you, the consumer, it's for the
manufacturer. You see, they put those expiration dates on the
cans, boxes, bottles and jars for one reason only: to make money!

  • Sometimes it's true that the food will get a little more
    mushy or stale..
  • Sometimes a product will loose its potency...
  • Sometimes a liquid will evaporate...
  • Sometimes the product will develop mold...

Weird stuff with expiration dates
List of preps you might not expect to have expiration dates:

#1: Aspirin expires!
Printed on every package is an expiration date because aspirin is
very sensitive to moisture and air. Make sure to check the
expiration date of your aspirin and replace it often, particularly if
you are on an aspirin regimen.

Right, are convenient aspirin packets for your purse or wallet,
emergency car kit or glove compartment, bugout bag, office desk
drawer and your first aid kits. Be sure to read our article on
Aspirin uses in prepping.

#2: IOSAT (Potassium Iodide) Nuke Pills expire.
Potassium Iodide, pictured at the top right hand of the page, has
a limited shelf life of around 5-6 years. They are relatively
inexpensive and provide assurance for nuclear accidents and
attacks. Be sure to check the expiration date of your supplies of
this "must have" if you are prepping for a
radiation emergency.
Ensure you have one packet for everyone in your household.

#3: Kevlar (vests/gloves) have an expiration date.
Weird but true: bullet proof vests have expiration dates, and it's
generally five years for Kevlar. This helps ensure reliability used
by law enforcement personnel in particular. Kevlar gloves are a
good prepper item to own.

#4: Maple Syrup expires with age.
You'd think that maple syrup in a glass container is as stable as
honey, but it's not!
Maple syrup can develop a mold, particularly
if you've heated and re-heated your maple syrup. Take heed to
the expiration date of maple syrup if you're the type to heat it
every time you make pancakes. Generally, maple syrup is well
tolerated for long periods if in a cool, dark place.

#5: Instant cold pack.
An instant cold pack in addition to the instant hand warmers, and
you will be able to ease your pain and suffering from injuries
while enjoying the great outdoors. This cold compress offers fast
for relief of pain and swelling caused by sprains, strains,
contusions minor burns, toothaches and insect bites.

Even if you already have a cold pack in your first aid kit, likely it's
time to get another. they last 18-24 months if kept in a cool, dry

#6: Condoms have an expiration date.
Generally, a condom expires about five years after manufacture if
stored under proper conditions. Condoms with spermicidal will
last just two years. Heat, light and humidity will affect condum
integrity as well. Store condoms in a cool, dry place. Avoid
temperatures above 100 degrees, such as your car, and avoid
also the friction in a pocket or purse which may puncture the
foiled, airtight packaging.

#7 Crisco expires.
While Crisco has an expiration date, you can extend the date two
years after the date of manufacture. Not long ago, many
considered margarine a heart-healthy product. Then the day came
when doctors realized the dangers of partially hydrogenated oils.
Facts change, but one thing doesn't: eventually all things expire
whether it's margarine, butter or Crisco.

  • Do not throw away your Crisco even if it expires! If you
    are worried about the effectiveness of expired Crisco for your
    baking needs, don't eat it, burn it! Turn your expired Crisco
    into a candle by inserting a wick. What to do with old
    Crisco? Consider using Crisco for candlemaking!

  • Lard is less greasy than Crisco (and does not increase
    risk of coronary artery disease)! Lots of people on the
    Internet make fun of the old ad from the Lard Information
    Council... and yet, lard is much healthier than Crisco. Dr.
    Andrew Weil notes that Crisco has "unnatural compounds
    [that] may also have adverse effects on cell membranes and
    the immune system, and may promote inflammation, cancer
    and accelerated aging." While saturated fats in our diet,
    including lard, isn't the principal cause of high cholesterol
    and rising rates as we once thought. There's no significant
    evidence that saturated fats increase the risk of coronary
    artery disease!

#8: Gas masks and filters degrade and expire.
Many preppers don't realize that gas masks have a shelf life, but
they do! With time protection will wear from a gas mask even
one place securely in storage for retrieval in emergencies. There
is a synthesis of resins that causes the masks to degrade over
time through heat and cold.

Gas masks are not only limited by the plastics, but they are also
limited in the absorbent capacity of the filter itself. Sealing caps
help protect the filter from air intake prior to use, but filters clog
and fill up with substrates (activated carbon and zeolites) when
unsealed. In short the reactive filters just run out of their
reactive substances.

everything a prepper needs to know about gas masks.

#9: Sunscreen expires.
Generally, sunscreen lasts only for the season. Check the
expiration date of sunscreen before you buy. While the Food and
Drug Administration requires sunscreens to last for least three
years, the one you've purchased this summer may have been
sitting there from last year. Ideally, replace your sunscreen every
year to ensure optimal effectiveness because once opened, the
contents begin to degrade.

  • Look for paraben free sunscreen! Parabens are a
    preservative (they preserve the product, not your skin).
    Parabens prevent growth of bacteria and fungi and this
    means parabens are toxic. Don't feed your skin junk food.

#10: Neosporin and Polysporin both expire!
Does Neosporin expire? Yes! Put Neosporin on the list of things
that expire that you might not expect to expire! Look for the
expiration date on the packaging.

Neopsorin loses its effectiveness, mind you, but if you have
nothing else around, use the Neosporin you have. There will be
some efficacy in the tube or pouch ~ it's just that it doesn't have
the full potency. Right is Neosporin packets, ideal for the bugout
bag or for refills in your first aid kit. Likewise, Polysporin expires
as well.

Can you use Neosporin even after it's expired?
Consumer Reports
says yes if it is within a year of the manufacturer's expiration
date because while it may lose some potency, it will still be

#11: Baking soda and Baking Powder both expire.
Baking soda, also called sodium bicarbonate, is the familiar salty
alkaline that's usually in a fine powder form used for baking.
Baking powder is a leavening agent that consists of a
combination of baking soda, cream of tartar, and a moisture
absorber. If you have cream of tartar, you don't need baking
powder if you know how to mix it properly. Either way, these
things expire, because they won't make your bread, cookies and
cakes rise properly. That doesn't mean you should throw them
out! Baking soda has a number of uses for cleaning and more.

#12: Hydrogen Peroxide expires.
Hydrogen peroxide comes in a brown container for a reason: the
brown filters out the sun's light, which would otherwise cause the
hydrogen peroxide to break down. After opening the bottle, the
hydrogen peroxide continues its decline in effectiveness. Read
more about
Hydrogen Peroxide uses for preppers.

#13: Bleach has a three to six-month expiration date.
While the primary factor effecting the active ingredient of bleach
is temperature, the expiration for bleach is less than six months
from the date of purchase. Hospitals pay close attention to the
expiration date. That's because after six months, bleach starts
breaking down into salt and water. Consumers have a little more
wiggle room for cleaning applications. For bleach that's no longer
useful for its intended purpose, dump the contents and save the
plastic bottles and tight fitting lid to refill with water. It won't be
potable water, but ideal as hand washing water. Just be sure to
monitor the bottles for leakage. In a survival situation, where
water is in short supply, you'll be glad you put this plan into

#14: Iodized salt has a shelf life.
Salt by itself doesn't expire; however, when salt includes iodine
it may reduce shelf life. Iodized salt has a shelf life of about five

  • Food storage tip: Repackage your iodized table salt in
    mason jars! This will keep the salt free from moisture. Do
    the same with your bulk salt (seal mylar packages in food
    grade buckets).

So now you know, even toothpaste may expire! Incidentally, the
viscosity of the toothpaste may be the issue (the stuff dries out
and won't squeeze through the tube).

#15: Hand warmers.
Both cold packs and hand warmers have expiration dates on
them. A cold pack will last around last 18-24 months if kept in a
cool, dry place. Handwarmers on the other hand will last much
longer -- around five years!

#16: Water disinfectants.
As mentioned above, bleach expires in 3-6 months! That's a short
shelf life, and some preppers mistakenly turn to Pool Shock to
disinfect their water, but even pool shock will last only two
years. (ncidentally, pool shock is unsafe for disinfecting water.
There are other more effective and long lasting water disinfectant
chemicals, but they have an expiration date as well:

  • Potable Aqua tablets (an Iodine tincture) have an
    expiration date.  An unopened bottle of Potable Aqua is
    good for 4 years. To calculate the expiration date, you'll
    need to look at the date of manufacture noted in the lot
    code printed on the label. Use your Potable Aqua tablets for
    one year after the bottle is first opened, then discard.

  • Aquamira Water Purification Tablets (Chlorine dioxide
    tablets) are military-grade chlorine dioxide tablets
    immediately start to produce a powerful germicidal agent
    when dropped into a one-liter bottle of water, killing off
    bacteria, viruses, Giardia and Cryptosporidium. These
    tablets even help to improve the taste of drinking water,
    while imparting no discoloration.

#17: Vinegar.
Does vinegar go bad? The answer is yes. Just about anything
ages and experiences a change, but in regards to vinegar, you
will have different expiration dates. For example, Braggs Apple
Cider vinegar "with the mother" (is the most nutritious part of
the Apple Cider Vinegar), and is unpasteurized has a much
shorter shelf life than say a Heinz white vinegar made from malt.

Bragg's apple cider vinegar will last five years, according to
the manufacturer! That's still an incredibly long time given that
ration bars last only five years, and you'll probably reach for the
vinegar long before you reach for the ration bars.

According to Heinz, "If you handle vinegar properly, it is quite
shelf stable....
White distilled vinegars remain virtually
unchanged for an almost indefinite period."

Preps with an expiration date you can stretch:
There are some things you store that can stretch a little longer
than the expiration date, and these include:

  • Butter. Freeze butter and you'll add months to the
    expiration date. Commercially canned butter will last three
    years or more!

  • Pasta. Dried pasta has little to no fat or moisture content,
    it resists spoiling easily, so why is it that manufacturers
    often give pasta only a two-year shelf life? If it's exposed to
    moisture it will degrade. If it doesn't have egg in it, you
    should get 8-10 years if you seal it in mylar. You can also
    buy pasta in convenient #10 cans,

  • Fuels.
  • Diesel has a six-month storage life.
  • Gasoline has a two-year storage life.
  • Kerosene has an indefinite shelf life, you just need to
    keep kerosene out of direct sunlight.

  • Medications: Medications often have expiration dates on
    them; however, there is likely more time in those
    medications than printed on the label, or so suggests CNN.

Preps without an expiration date:
Some of your preps may not have an expiration date! Here are a
few of them:

  • Sugar does not have an expiration date. White sugar lasts
    almost indefinitely if properly stored, though pests can
    expire your sugar. Take another look at sugar for survival.

  • Honey does not have an expiration date. Honey will last
    almost indefinitely! Be sure to buy 100% pure honey in
    glass. Make sure it's raw, too. The raw honey is the only real
    honey that will work as an antibacterial. The astonishing
    truth: much of the honey on the market contains stuff other
    than honey! Consider the many good reasons to hoard honey.

  • Essential oils, if they are 100% pure, virtually never
    expire! The reason is that Essential Oils don't evaporate (if
    not heated); they don't grow mold, mildew or yeast; and in
    100% pure there are no other substances that interfere with
    the compound or "chemical stability." For example, there is
    no water in an essential oil to carry microbes, viruses and
    bacteria. Essential oils are very stable!

    Light, heat and oxygen have an effect on essential oils (in
    the same way they have an effect on your food storage).
    Essential oils, like food, require a dark container to avoid
    sunlight, which can affect the potency. Keep them away
    from heat and keep the bottles tight. Keep the bottle tight
    so the heat doesn't make them dissipate. Dissipation is not
    the same as evaporation. When an essential oil dissipates,
    it diffuses or spreads out into the air. In other words, you're
    using it up (or wasting it by misusing it)! Evaporation is
    when a liquid changes into a gas and absorbs into the

    All essential oils approved for internal use are required by
    law to contain a printed expiration date on their packaging.

How to extend the shelf life of your foods
Did you know the United States has no standardized system for
food dating? It's shocking to note, but only 20 states actually
require perishable foods have dates on them! The only exception
is Federal law, which requires dates on infant formula.
Manufacturers put dates on products for their own benefit, not

Here's the difference between "Sell by" dates and
"use by" dates:

  • "Sell by" dates: This is information for the store for their
    own stock rotation to let the stores know how long to
    display the food. It helps them keep track: out with the old,
    and in with the new.

  • "Use by" dates: Best if used by dates are for the consumer
    to advise about the texture color or quality of the food. This
    totally voluntary information a manufacturer passes along to
    protect their brand. Generally, you can stretch the date and
    still enjoy the food.

While canned foods generally have a three-year shelf life, this is
entirely on the suggestion of the manufacturer and your canned
foods can last 10 years! All food has an expiration date, and
eventually food spoilage happens, but you can take action to
extend shelf life.

Five Causes of Food Spoilage
Here are the leading causes of food spoilage with solutions to
extend the shelf life:

Food Spoilage # 1: Oxygen.
How long does flour last? The crazy answer is 25 years if you
don't grind it! When you grind grain into flour, the surface area of
the flour has more exposure to oxygen. Oxygen is the major
cause of food spoilage.

Food Spoilage #2: Bacteria, bad molds and yeasts.
Control food spoilage by dehydrating, canning or curing.

Food Spoilage #3: Pests (insects, rodents, vermin!).
Seal mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and store in food grade
buckets. Vacuum sealed mason jars or mason jars with oxygen
absorbers also will deter pests from the outside while preventing
life inside the bucket from living and multiplying.

Food Spoilage #4: Light.
Store filled mason jars away from light in a cool dark place. Store
plastic buckets in cardboard boxes or in a dark closet.

Food Spoilage #5: Heat and humidity.
Uncontrolled heat is an enemy of food. Store foods at room
temperature, and  be sure to keep foods off cement floors, which
fluctuate between being too hot and too cold. Humidity is
moisture in the air and also deteriorates food. Store foods in cool
and dry place, such as a dark root cellar or a zeer pot. A zeer pot
is a small clay pot inside a larger clay pot with a layer of wet
sand between and works by evaporative cooling.

While it's true everything will eventually expire, certainly you'll
find a bit of wiggle room when it comes to expiration dates.

Happy endings...
Keep a lid on it: our little secret about why manufacturers put
expiration dates on their products. Now you knot that it's not
usually required by law. They just want to sell you more stuff.

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Expiration dates
Kevlar gloves
Bulk Crisco
Neosporin-to-go spray
Neosporin expiration date
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Kevlar sleeves
Hand warmer
weird stuff with expiration dates
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