Cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil, is a chemical compound produced by hemp, a close relative of the infamous cannabis plant. Over the past few years, CBD oil has gained quite a reputation for being a versatile and potent medicine. Although research into CBD’s health benefits and side effects is still limited, preliminary studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, have found it to be effective against everything from stress and anxiety to chronic pain and seizures.
CBD can be consumed in numerous ways, including edibles, tinctures, and isolates, but CBD oil is undoubtedly one of the most popular forms of consuming the hemp extract owing to its simplicity and versatility. That leads to a question most CBD users inevitably ask, what is the shelf life of hemp oil? And most importantly, can hemp oil go bad? Let’s jump right into it.
Does Hemp Oil Expire?
CBD oil is an organic compound and given enough time and coupled with the right conditions, your bottle of hemp oil will indeed expire. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to happen as plenty of people run through their supply of CBD oil before it has a chance to expire. Furthermore, most CBD products have a pretty long hemp oil shelf life. This refers to how long the main ingredient, CBD, will last before it loses potency and becomes ineffective.
So on average, what is the shelf life of hemp oil? The consensus is that CBD oil will last 12-24 months. However, note that the shelf life of your bottle of hemp oil will depend on a variety of factors, including the quality of the product and how well you store it. If you have a product that’s older than two years but still hasn’t expired, you may want to replace it with a fresh one anyway. The active components lose potency and become inactive over time, making the CBD oil ineffective.
When Does CBD Oil Expire?
Now that we know the answer to the question ‘does hemp oil go bad,’ let’s look at some of the situations that can make your CBD oil expire faster. Although CBD products are generally designed and packaged to last for up to two years on the shelves, some factors can reduce hemp oil shelf life, increasing the chances of your CBD oil expiring earlier than it typically would have.
Factors That Determine the Expiry Date of CBD Oil
Before the CBD oil is packaged into a small, dark bottle and dispatched to retailers, it goes through various production steps. Some of the factors introduced during the production phase that ultimately affect the product’s expiration date include;
The Extraction Method
CBD and THC cartridges, the main psychoactive component in cannabis vape, occur naturally as cannabinoids in certain varieties of the cannabis plant. Companies use different extraction methods to pull the cannabinoids from the hemp material and turn them into oils. The type of extraction method typically affects the chemical composition and potency of the resultant CBD oil and consequently determines how long the oil will last before going bad.
- CO2 extraction - Most companies prefer this method as it preserves the plant's chemical integrity, giving the compounds a stable chemical composition that takes much longer to break down. CBD oil extracted via CO2 extraction tends to be very potent with a very long shelf life.
- Solvent extraction - This extraction method is less favorable as it comes with an increased risk of contamination by harmful by-products like residual solvents. CBD oil acquired through solvent extraction is of lower quality and has a reduced shelf life.
- Steam extraction - Unlike solvent extraction, steam extraction has no risk of contamination via residual solvents, and it usually results in very stable CBD oil with long shelf life.
See also: What is CBD Distillate?
CBD oil may have an average shelf life of 12-24 months, but some of the additional ingredients used during the production phase may make them expire faster. Additives like artificial flavor, coloring, and even the carrier oils used to hold the CBD molecules may affect the expiration date.
So What Will Make Your Oil Expire Faster?
How you store your hemp oil will greatly determine how long it lasts. To keep the CBD preserved and active for as long as possible, avoid the following;
- Direct sunlight and heat - Exposure to light is the leading cause of degraded and inactive CBD oil. Most products are packaged in dark or green-tinted bottles to prevent light from interacting with the CBD. Heat is also a big contributor to cannabinoid degradation as it interacts with minerals in the oil, altering its chemical composition and causing it to degrade.
- Air - Alongside heat and light, the last thing you want to interact with your CBD oil is air. Once CBD oil is exposed to air, it interacts with oxygen and experiences oxidative stress, causing it to lose its potency and become ineffective. The same thing also happens when the THC oil in vape pens is exposed to air.
Speaking of THC oil, does vape juice expire as well? Yes, it does. THC and CBD are both cannabinoids, subject to the same limitations of time and the degrading effects of heat, sunlight, and air. Treat your vape cartridges as kindly as you do your CBD oil, and they will have a long shelf life.
Is Old CBD Oil Dangerous?
Whether it’s leftover pizza or a bottle of fruit juice, most organic compounds will cause health issues if they are consumed once they’ve expired. So does rancid CBD oil have the same effect? Will you develop a bad rash or a stomach ache if you use expired CBD oil? No, you won’t. As long as the CBD oil was of high quality and did not have any harmful contaminants, you’ll be fine.
Once the active compounds in the CBD oil have completely broken down and evaporate, all you will be left with is an ineffective but harmless bottle of oil. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to ensure you never have to find out how expired CBD oil affects you.
How to Tell if Hemp Oil Is Rancid
Unlike other organic compounds, which can stink up the place and attract all kinds of pests when they go bad, expired CBD is more subtle. Look out for:
- Change in odor - Expired CBD oil will develop a strong, unpleasant aroma.
- Change in color - If your hemp oil has darkened and looks cloudy, it will most likely expire.
- Change in effects - If you need a higher dose of CBD oil to experience the same effects or the CBD doesn’t have the same effects at all, it is probably expired.
How to Store CBD Oil
When shopping around for a product, go for one packaged in a dark bottle. Look for products labeled amber, CBD sun protection, or UV protection. Green tinted bottles are also great at preventing light exposure. Store the CBD oil away from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture, preferably in a cool, dark, and dry place. Always store your hemp oil at a temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or less to prevent the chemical composition from breaking down.
Drawers, closets, and dark pantries are great places to store CBD oil. If the location is cool, dark, and isn’t close to an artificial heat source, you’re good. Avoid countertops, windowsills, and high shelves.
How to Make CBD Oil Last Longer
We now know the answer to the ever-present question ‘do oils expire?’, the factors that determine CBD oil’s expiry date, and conditions that cause hemp oils to expire faster. We also know how to store CBD products to ensure they don’t expire faster and how to tell if hemp oil is rancid. Now let’s look at how you can extend your CBD oil product’s expiry date.
- Avoid any exposure to light. Go for CBD oil packaged in a dark or UV protected bottle to reduce exposure. If your favorite product isn’t packaged in such a bottle, wrap it in aluminum foil to keep the light away. You can also wrap a dark bottle in aluminum foil for additional light protection.
- Keep them away from heat. Although some people refrigerate their CBD oil to keep the heat at bay, you don’t have to. Storing CBD oil at room temperature of 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit away from any heat sources will prevent heat degradation.
- Minimize air exposure. Make sure the bottle is tightly sealed and open only when in use.
- Keep moisture away as well as it can encourage the formation of mold. Any room with a humidifier is off-limits.
- Avoid ‘double-dipping’ or using a spoon or dropper to retrieve the CBD oil more than once without cleaning. Doing so may introduce harmful bacteria that can contaminate the CBD oil.