• Cannabis or cannabis extracts may remain stable for one or two years when stored in a dark place at room temperature(1). This result suggests that cannabis-derived cannabidiol (CBD) oil may be safe to consume within one to two years.
  • Checking the expiration date is one method to tell when CBD oil may go bad. According to the manufacturer, this date is the last day consumable products may maintain their best quality(2).
  • The expiration date does not indicate the product’s safety(3). The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that the “best if used by” date does not predict when a product will no longer be suitable for consumption(4).
  • Refrigeration temperature should be between 0°C and 5°C (32°F and 41°F) to prevent the growth of food poisoning bacteria(5). This effect may help the product maintain longer shelf life.

What Is CBD Oil’s Shelf Life?

Shelf life is the period when a product is stored and remains suitable for consumption.

One study showed that cannabis or cannabis extracts stored in a dark place at room temperature may be reasonably stable for one or two years(6).

This result suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) oil, typically extracted from cannabis plants, may remain effective or safe to consume within one to two years before expiring.

Additionally, the study mentioned that herbal cannabis in extract or resin form, if carefully prepared, may be reasonably stable for one to two years when placed in dark storage at room temperature.

How to Tell That CBD Oil Has Gone Bad 

Consumers may be able to determine how long does CBD oil last by checking a product’s color, texture, smell, taste, and expiration date.

Expiration Date

Checking the expiration date on the product’s label or packaging allows individuals to have an idea of when exactly does CBD oil expire.

The expiration date is the last day a consumable product, such as medicine or food, maintains its best quality according to the product manufacturer(7).

The expiration date also goes by other terms, such as(8):

  • “Best if used by” date
  • “Sell by” date
  • “Use by” date
  • “Freeze by” date

However, this date does not necessarily indicate the product’s safety and, thus, is not required by federal law(9).

Additionally, the FDA mentioned that the “best if used by” date pertains to the product’s quality and not for predicting when a product will no longer be suitable for consumption(10).

Color and Texture

Individuals may consider the CBD product’s color and the texture to determine whether or not the product is still fit for consumption.

CBD brands claim that CBD oil may turn murky or foggy when its cannabinoids and terpenes break down. Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds in cannabis plants responsible for their color, flavor, and aroma. 

The change in these compounds may indicate whether the CBD product is starting to turn bad.

Additionally, the murkiness may suggest that the oil and other ingredients may be separating from each other. This effect may signify that consumers will have to replace their products soon.

However, refrigerating the CBD oil for a long period may cause the texture to thicken or become murky naturally. Thus, this change may not always indicate that the CBD oil has expired.

Individuals uncertain whether the product is suitable for consumption when looking at the color and texture may also check the expiration date or the product’s taste and smell. Consumers may also compare this particular product to similar unexpired products to see the color and texture differences.

Taste and Smell

One study mentioned that cannabis produces more than 200 metabolites contributing to the plant’s distinct aroma(11).

Researchers mentioned that volatile sulfur compounds may be responsible for this scent. In particular, the 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol compound may be the primary odorant of cannabis’ “skunk-like” smell.

Additionally, fresh CBD oil typically has a grassy or earthy flavor. However, some individuals claim that bad CBD oil smells and tastes worse than usual and may have a repelling taste.

Consumers unsure whether CBD oil’s taste and smell have gone bad may consider comparing the unsuitable product with a good one to know the difference.

Factors That Determine the Shelf Life of CBD Oil

When selecting the best CBD oil that lasts long, individuals should consider the factors that may affect shelf life, such as the administration route, extraction methods, lab test results, CBD product types, and individual preferences.

Administration Method

The administration method or delivery route is a process of taking CBD oil. These techniques and products include the following:

  • Sublingual administration: This method involves applying the substance under the tongue, allowing the content to enter the bloodstream directly and bypass the digestive tract.

Sublingually administered products include CBD tinctures, high-potency oils, and oromucosal sprays.

Tinctures contain carrier oils such as coconut oil, hempseed oil, or olive oil to dilute the CBD concentrate. These oils may have varying degradation rates that may affect the product’s expiry.

Hempseed oil is extracted from hemp seeds, which typically do not contain CBD(12).

CBD brands sell tinctures in glass bottles with calibrated droppers, convenient for adjusting the dosage.

  • Ingestion: Ingesting CBD involves taking the substance orally, allowing the drug to pass through the body’s digestive tract before spreading throughout the bloodstream.

Oral CBD products include CBD capsules and edibles such as CBD gummies, candies, cookies, or chews.

Some cannabis brands may add different flavors to edibles to make these products more appealing to individual tastes.

These flavors, either artificial or natural, may have different rates of degradation that may affect how long the product remains suitable for consumption.

  • Topical application: This method involves applying the CBD product to the skin. Topically applied CBD does not get absorbed into the bloodstream.

Topical CBD products include CBD lotions, creams, balms, salves, and ointments.

Some companies add to these products other substances that may degrade at different times, making the product’s longevity challenging to predict.

  • Inhalation: Inhaling CBD allows the substance to enter the body through the lungs, heart, and brain before getting distributed evenly throughout the body(13). One method to inhale CBD is by vaping.

However, vaping can cause health risks linked to lung disease(14). Additionally, selling vapes or e-cigarettes to individuals below 21 (18 or 19 in some U.S. states) is illegal.

Thus, individuals should take precautions before using vapes to administer CBD.

Regardless of the chosen product or administration method, individuals, especially those with preexisting medical conditions, must consult a doctor or healthcare provider for a diagnosis before using cannabis or CBD products.

Extraction Methods

Manufacturers obtain CBD and other compounds from the cannabis plant using various extraction processes, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbon, or ethanol methods.

  • CO2 extraction: Manufacturers using this method utilize liquified and highly pressurized carbon dioxide to extract CBD. Many CBD companies consider CO2 extraction the safest extraction method(15).
  • Ethanol extraction: This technique uses ethanol or ethyl alcohol for CBD extraction. For centuries, different cultures have used ethanol extraction to obtain medicinal compounds from cannabis plants(16).
  • Hydrocarbon extraction: This method uses butane, propane, or other hydrocarbon solvents in extracting CBD from hemp plants.

Hydrocarbon solvents are flammable and neurotoxic. If manufacturers do not adequately remove these substances from the CBD extract, consumers may accidentally ingest the hydrocarbons, possibly causing a health risk.

The hydrocarbon extraction method may be effective in obtaining CBD from cannabis, provided manufacturers follow safe manufacturing processes(17).

Product Category

After extracting the hemp extract and processing it into CBD oil, manufacturers categorize it as full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate.

  • Full-spectrum CBD oil: This product contains all beneficial compounds from the cannabis plant, such as terpenes, flavonoids, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Terpenes are essential oil constituents that produce a distinct aroma(18). Meanwhile, flavonoids are substances in plants with antioxidant and antimicrobial properties(19).

Some CBD brands may formulate full-spectrum CBD oil with other additives like essential oils and other compounds that may have varying rates of degradation. Thus, predicting the expiration of full-spectrum CBD oil products may be challenging.

  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil: Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains most cannabinoids and compounds found in full-spectrum CBD oil. However, broad-spectrum CBD oil products are usually THC-free.
  • CBD isolate: Isolates contain pure CBD oil only and do not include THC or other compounds. The expiry of isolates may be easier to predict since it has no other additives.

Individuals planning to purchase CBD products containing no THC or its psychoactive effects may choose CBD isolates or broad-spectrum CBD oil.

On the other hand, consumers who prefer to experience the full benefits of CBD oil may opt for full-spectrum CBD oil.

Individual Preferences

Buyers may consider their personal preferences when deciding what high-quality CBD product to purchase.

Some consumers may choose non-GMO or gluten-free CBD products. Others may prefer products made from organic hemp grown in hemp farms certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Other individuals may choose a product based on their personal needs, such as mental health or overall wellness.

Still, some customers may prefer brands with attractive offers such as discounts, subscription opportunities, free shipping, or money-back guarantees.

Storage Tips: How to Make CBD Oil Last Longer

The label or packaging of CBD products typically contains instructions on the proper storage of these products. These instructions help individuals maintain long shelf lives for CBD products.

Many CBD brands recommend storing the CBD product in an airtight container placed in a cool, dry area away from light.

Bacteria that cause food poisoning usually grow and multiply between 5°C and 60°C (41°F and 140°F)(20). This range is known as the temperature danger zone. 

Storing CBD oil in a cool place may help lower food poisoning risk. For example, storing edibles in airtight containers may help keep the food from drying out and prevent the transfer of odors to other edibles(21). This storage method may help CBD products have a long shelf life.

Should CBD Oil Be Refrigerated?

Individuals may store CBD oil products, such as tinctures or edibles, in the refrigerator to help keep the food cool and prevent bacterial growth. Such bacteria may cause the product to go bad if it is not refrigerated.

The recommended temperature in the refrigerator is between 0°C and 5°C (32°F and 41°F) to ensure that food poisoning bacteria do not grow(22). This effect may help keep the CBD product from going bad and maintain a longer shelf life.

Some individuals may consider storing food in the freezer. However, freezing may change the texture and taste of food(23).

Before storing CBD oil products in the refrigerator, individuals must read the storage instructions on the product’s label.

What Happens When an Individual Takes Expired CBD Oil? Can Expired CBD Oil Make an Individual Sick?

Some brands claim that CBD oil does not turn bad or rancid like other organic liquids. Additionally, these brands also claim that consumers are unlikely to become sick when consuming CBD oil in small quantities, especially when performing microdosing.

Furthermore, researchers have not conducted clinical trials determining the effects of expired CBD oil products, and there are no indications whether or not consuming CBD after its expiration may cause adverse side effects.

Thus, the safety of consuming expired CBD oil products is not guaranteed.

A study published in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology mentioned that exposure to light (not direct sunlight) and air oxidation may be significant factors in cannabinoid loss in the solution(24).

This effect indicates that CBD products may lose their effectiveness over time, suggesting that expired cannabis products may no longer be effective when consumed.

Still, individuals should consult a doctor, preferably one familiar with cannabis use, before taking CBD products. These professionals can give expert medical advice on the safety and effectiveness of consuming CBD products.

Why the Quality of CBD Matters

Many companies market and sell CBD products as alternative medicines or supplements rather than through pharmaceutical research and development(25). Thus, determining the product’s quality is essential because purchasing and using CBD oil may affect an individual’s health or overall wellness.

How to Find a Good Quality CBD Product That Lasts Long

CBD companies claiming their products are safer and have higher quality than competitors should provide certificates of analysis (COA) to back up such claims.

COAs contain details of a CBD product’s actual content and are provided by third-party laboratories. These labs perform industry-standard testing and analysis procedures to minimize the concerns regarding falsely labeled products(26).

Third-party labs can also provide COAs that disclose whether the product contains harmful contaminants, including solvents, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals, which can affect the product’s quality and cause a health hazard to consumers.

Thus, when buying high-quality products, consumers should consider purchasing from CBD brands that provide updated COAs with complete details and upload these documents on the brand’s websites.

Individuals may compare the COA results with the information on the product label to ensure consistency.

Expired CBD Oils: Beware of CBD Oils Sold at Suspiciously Low Prices

Producing high-quality CBD oil involves numerous expenses, including expenditures for hemp farming, the extraction process, product formulation, third-party lab testing, and marketing.

In addition, a bottle of CBD oil may vary in price, depending on the potency, formula, size, and quality. For example, one company may sell a 1,000-milligram (mg) broad-spectrum CBD oil product for $64.99 and a 1,000mg CBD isolate for $39.99.

Thus, an individual who finds a similar CBD oil product sold at a much lower price may need to take precautions and consider the possible factors why that product has such a price.

Possible reasons for the low price include the product being close to its expiration date or the company attempting to cut costs, which may affect the CBD oil product’s overall quality.

  1. The Stability of Cannabis and Its Preparations on Storage
  2. Expiration Date
  3. Food Product Dating
  4. Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods?
  5. Storing Food Safely
  6. The Stability of Cannabis and Its Preparations on Storage
  7. Expiration Date
  8. Food Product Dating
  9. Ibid.
  10. Confused by Date Labels on Packaged Foods?
  11. Identification of a New Family of Prenylated Volatile Sulfur Compounds in Cannabis Revealed by Comprehensive Two-Dimensional Gas Chromatography
  12. Page 252 of Healing With CBD
  13. Best Way to Take CBD
  14. Can Vaping Damage Your Lungs? What We Do (and Don’t) Know
  15. CBD Oil: An Introduction
  16. Ibid.
  17. Ibid.
  18. The Cannabis Terpenes
  19. Flavonoids as antioxidants
  20. Food Safety and Storage
  21. Safe Home Food Storage
  22. Storing Food Safely
  23. Ibid.
  24. The Stability of Cannabis and Its Preparations on Storage
  25. Cannabidiol Primer for Healthcare Professionals
  26. Page 260 of Healing With CBD
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