Maybe there’s a sale on CBD oil and you’re considering stocking up on your favorite brand. Perhaps you’ve been given a bundle of hemp flowers and you’re considering making a batch of your own oil. Or maybe you’ve noticed the CBD oil you bought a while back has an expiration date. In any of these scenarios, you may be wondering: How long will your oil really last? Does CBD oil go bad?
The short answer? Yes.
Just like olive oil, coconut oil and other products commonly found in your kitchen, CBD oil does expire. Over time, it will lose potency; eventually it can become rancid.
How long your CBD oil will last depends on a number of factors, including its extraction date and method, its ingredients and how you store it. This is your ultimate guide to understanding the shelf life of CBD oil.
Why Does CBD Oil Expire?
You may assume that CBD oil expires because it contains plant matter suspended in oil. While plants do rot over time, Herbal Academy explains that, when it comes to oil-based herbal preparations, “microbes can multiply in oil once contaminated, [but] microbes are not the main threat to the shelf-life — it’s oxidation (rancidity).”
If you wait beyond your CBD’s “best if used by” date to crack open the bottle, you may still experience an effect. However, for best results, use your oil while it’s still fresh...
Even without plant additives, all oil goes bad at some point. While this can be due to several factors, oxidation after opening the oil is the main culprit. According to Live Science:
- Oil contains unsaturated fats. These fats are liquid at room temperature, and are made up of double carbon bonds.
- When oxygen interacts with these bonds, it breaks them down, taking carbon molecules to form carbon-oxygen bonds.
- Likewise, water molecules can break oil’s carbon bonds. Hydrogen bonds with carbon in a process called hydration, while oxygen binds with carbon, too.
Much like the olive oil in your kitchen, your CBD oil is exposed to air and ambient moisture every time you remove the cap. Over time, air particles and humidity interact with your oil, breaking down its bonds. Broken bonds mean a less effective oil.
What the Expiration Date Really Means
You can check your CBD oil for an expiration date. It may even include a “best if used by” date, which probably isn’t the exact day it will become rancid; rather, it’s the date by which you should use it to experience the full effects of the CBD product.
Just as oil molecules degrade due to oxidation, CBD molecules degrade over time, too. As the chemical composition of your CBD changes, it can lose its effectiveness.
What does CBD oil do? Well, you may have bought your CBD oil for:
- healthy sleep
- relief from aches and discomfort
- decreased stress
- improved focus and energy
If you wait beyond your CBD’s “best if used by” date to crack open the bottle, you may still experience an effect. However, for best results, use your oil while it’s still fresh — and definitely before it’s rancid.
How to Tell If Your CBD Oil Has Expired
Eventually, oil becomes cloudy. As it breaks down, it takes on a different smell and color. It may begin to evaporate and thicken. Finally, it will smell and taste rancid. At this point, you won’t want to rub your CBD oil on your skin, much less take it sublingually.
To tell if your CBD oil has expired, use a basic smell test. Does it smell the same as it did when you first bought it? If so, it is still fine to use (although you may not experience its full effects). If not, it may be rancid. Buy a new bottle to avoid an unpleasant experience.
Factors Affecting CBD Oil Shelf Life
How long after purchase will your CBD oil expire? In general, CBD oil will expire within 12–24 months after it is bottled (not after you purchase it). However, in some cases, CBD oil won’t have an expiration date, and in others, it may expire quicker than advertised. This depends on several factors. Make sure you buy from a reputable company that has either a “best used by” date or expiration date clearly marked on the label.
CBD is extracted from hemp. But most CBD oils aren’t 100% hemp extract alone. Instead, they use carrier oil to improve the bioavailability of CBD. Why? Hemp oil actually isn’t the most effective way to get CBD into our bodies to bond with receptors in the endocannabinoid system. Combining CBD with another fat — one that is more easily absorbed by the human body — increases its potency and effect.
The way your CBD is extracted from the hemp plant also impacts the shelf life of oil.
Different carrier oils result in different quality CBD oil. In addition, they have different expiration dates, as follows:
- Coconut MCT oil – 2 years to expiration
- Palm oil– 18 months to expiration
- Olive oil – 18-24 months to expiration
- Hemp extract oil – 14 months
However, it’s important to note that these dates refer to the amount of time your oil is shelf-stable. Once you open the bottle and start using it, your oil may expire more quickly.
The way your CBD is extracted from the hemp plant also impacts the shelf life of oil. Extraction methods include:
- Ethanol extraction. In this process, hemp is soaked in ethanol. Then the solid plant material is removed. Finally, the full-spectrum hemp oil is separated from the ethanol. This method removes significant amounts of oil and wax, helping to extend the shelf life of CBD oil.
- Oil extraction. CBD oil can also be extracted by soaking it in another oil. This can be done with household oils like coconut oil, olive oil or almond oil, and results in a shorter shelf life than CO2-extracted CBD oil.
- CO2 extraction. In this process, pressurized CO2 is used to separate the desired components (CBD and other cannabinoids) from the hemp plant. This method can isolate specific cannabinoids to be added to a carrier oil. The precision of CO2 extraction can produce oils with a longer shelf life.
Any additive to your oil can decrease its shelf life. Your CBD oil will only last as long as the ingredient (or compound) with the shortest shelf life. CBD oil made with advanced extraction processes contains more precise ingredients, and thus should last longer.
The way CBD oil is stored affects its expiration date. This doesn’t just mean where you place it in your home; the CBD oil’s journey from its manufacturer to your door can impact freshness, too.
All of the following can have a negative impact on on CBD oil’s shelf life:
- repeated temperature changes
Your CBD oil’s packaging affects shelf life as well. High-quality packaging can protect against sun, heat and humidity, while porous plastic lets in light, air and even humidity. Glass helps give your oil longevity. Dark glass is even better, as it protects against sun.
What Happens If You Use Expired Oil?
Say you find an old bottle in the back of your fridge or medicine cabinet. It’s been in a cool, dry place, and it doesn’t smell weird, so you decide to give it a try anyway and drop some into your coffee.
Will you get sick if you’ve used expired CBD oil?
Most likely, no. The CBD may not be as effective, but it shouldn’t be dangerous. Of course, it’s important to use common sense. Don’t consume CBD oil that no longer looks or smells right.
How to Preserve Your CBD Oil
Because exposure to the elements can decrease the lifespan of your CBD oil, it’s important to store it properly. That means you should:
- Always screw the cap on immediately after use.
- Store your oil in a cool, dark, dry place.
- Don’t keep it in your car, where it may be exposed to drastic temperature changes.
You can even consider keeping your CBD oil in the fridge. The only downside is the possibility that the oil will thicken as it cools and might be difficult to pick up with the dropper. If this happens, run the dropper or bottle under lukewarm water.
For Best Results, Use CBD Consistently
The easiest way to avoid expired CBD oil? Use it while it’s still fresh and potent. If you tend to use your CBD oil only occasionally, consider adding it to your daily routine. Many people feel CBD’s strongest effects with consistent use over time. To integrate CBD oil daily, you could:
- Take CBD oil along with your morning vitamins.
- Add it to your morning coffee.
- Take a dose before bed to help promote healthy sleep.
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Live Science. Why Does Cooking Oil Go Rancid
Herbal Academy. What Every Herbalist Should Know About Herbal Preparation Shelf Life.