We’ve looked at natural oils as preservatives in homemade concoctions in various posts previously amongst which were vitamin E oil, tea tree oil and peppermint oil. I’ve recently discovered the goodness of star anise oil as a preservative as well and carried out some research to find out more about it and what makes it useful as a preservative in homemade products.
The star anise aka Illicium verum is a spice, which comes from a tree that’s native to Vietnam & China. The seed is obtained from the eight pointed star-shaped fruit produced from the tree. The fruit is harvested just before it ripens and dried out. The oil is then extracted by steam distillation. It is thin and pale yellow, and has a licorice scent. A similar tree grows in Japan known as Illicium anisatum. However, this is a different strain, which is toxic.
What Makes Star Anise Oil a Good Preservative
- Star anise oil has antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, which inhibit the growth of bacteria especially in water based concoctions.
- Star anise oil is full of tannin, an astringent which provides high amounts of antioxidants and inhibits free radicals.
- If you are making skin care products, star anise oil is particularly beneficial as it has been indicated for its anti-aging properties as well as acne fighting capabilities. It has also been found to be less irritating on the skin.
How to Use Star Anise Oil as a Preservative
When you have finished mixing your products, add 3 – 5 drops of star anise oil into the mix (this is good for a 4 oz bottle approx.) and stir thoroughly. If products are heated, allow it to cool a little before adding the oil.
While this is an excellent preservative, keep in mind that these types of preservatives provide a short shelf life of anything from 4 – 8 weeks. If you require a longer shelf life, you will need to consider other preservatives like optiphen and potassium sorbate.
Fast Fact: Star anise oil is a key ingredient in the manufacture of the avian flu drug, Tamiflu.