Every molecule has its own unique decomposition process. But let’s zoom out for a moment to provide a general understanding. Due to the second law of thermodynamics entropy is always increasing. On a long enough timescale most molecules are thermodynamically unstable. The molecules in our products are always degrading, albeit slowly. Eventually there will be a measurable decrease in potency. This can take several years with proper handling and storage. Changing the temperature of storage will affect the rate of degradation.
Let’s go over common scenarios.
- If a product is exposed to lower than recommended temperature there will be no increase in rate of degradation, with the exception that a solution product may precipitate and thus lose uniformity.
- If a product is exposed to higher than recommended temperature the rate of degradation will be accelerated. For illustration let’s say a product requiring room temperature storage is exposed to 115°F, in that case there may be an increase in the rate of decomposition but this may not be measurable without months of continued exposure. Meaning you could leave a product in heat for a few days and if after it is properly stored the shelf life will still be years.
- If a product requires cold temperature storage, such as a deep freezer at –20°C, then the risk of degradation from high temperature exposure depends on the degree and duration and the presence of oxygen, moisture and sunlight. Oxygen, moisture and sunlight all produce free radicals and break chemical bonds that can accelerate degradation. Even so, less than 24 hours of human-tolerable temperatures will not substantially degrade any of the products we carry.