CBD is so special, you may be the type of person to only use it on occasion… which make one ask the question, does CBD oil expire? 

CBD Oil Expires, But Why?

The average shelf life of CBD oil is 1-2 years or 24 months. This can fluctuate depending on the products quality, storage, packaging, and a host of other factors. A simple overview of these important factors can help you choose a product with maximum shelf life. We will also give you some helpful pointers on how you can help preserve your oil. 

For starters, here are a few reasons why CBD oil can expire. 

  • Packing: CBD is a light sensitive product. Degradation of its potency can be affected by the the packaging.  CBD oil lasts far longer in darkly coated amber bottles than in clear ones. Look for amber bottes. This packaging protects the oil from potential UV radiation.
  • Temperature: Temperature can affect the degradation of CBD and other cannabinoids. From extraction to storage, temperature is a very important part. Store your CBD oil in a cool environment, away from humidity, light, and heat.
  • Storage: Both heat and light accelerate loss of CBD potency. If you live in a warmer climate, storing your CBD oil in the fridge is a trick to keep your CBD oil fresh.
  • Quality: Higher quality CBD oils are held to a higher standard. This is because of the quality standards of the company. A quality CBD oil may lost longer because of the brand’s quality of hemp, choice of ingredients, and even process.
  • Ingredients: From flavor to preservation, ingredient choice matters in CBD oil. Ingredients in and of themselves all have a unique shelf life. Fewer ingredients in CBD oil can mean a much higher shelf life. Read your COA’s for ingredients.
  • Extraction Process: CO2 extraction is the golden star of processes. It uses natural carbon dioxide to extract botanicals. Carbon dioxide preserves many cannabinoids and terpenes during the extraction process, maximizing CBD potency. 

Let’s Talk Preservatives And Expiration

Preservatives are natural or synthetic food or cosmetic additives that prevent the growth of fungi, decomposition, bacteria, and microbial contamination. Natural preservatives often have a greater health advantage over artificial preservatives. 

  • Natural preservatives can include but are not limited to citric acid*, rosemary extract, guar gum*, neem oil*, algin… 
  • Synthetic ingredients can include but are not limited to sodium benzoate*, benzoic acid, potassium sorbate, sorbic acid…

Essential oils are also well recognized natural preservatives. Citrus essential oils like Citrus × sinensis (L.) Osbeck, lemon Citrus × limon (L.) Burm.f., and bergamot Citrus aurantium var. bergamia (Risso) especially has been shown to suppress much bacteria. 

*holus CBD uses many natural preservatives in product production

How Do I Know If My CBD Oil Has Gone Bad?

Check your oils expiration date that should be visible on the outside of your bottles packaging. If not shown, expiration dates should be found in products’ COA. Sometimes we are just lazy, and don’t want to look for it either. 

There are a few visible indications you can use to know if your oil has gone bad.

  • The smell is off. CBD oil should have an earthy smell. If it smells off… you should not continue taking it.
  • Color. CBD oil color and thickness depends on the CBD used. Oil that was made with CBD powder will be clear. CBD oil used with oil, will be dark. If either color turns on itself, your oil may be degraded. 
  • Bad taste. Even with flavors added, CBD has a very earthy scent and taste to it. It is described as tasting “earthy,” “nutty,” or “grassy.” If your oil tastes “off,” it could be expired.
  • You can’t feel anything. CBD potency slowly but surely breaks down over time. If you take your normal amount of CBD, but don’t feel much of anything, your oil may have come to the end of its line of duty.

All these things can be signs that you CBD oil has gone bad. CBD has a rather long shelf life is quality is good, but frequent use will prevent your oil from spoiling. 

How To Make Your CBD Oil Last 

Besides taking the time to background check oil quality, packaging, and other important factors that affect shelf life, your simple efforts can make a difference in preserving your CBD oil too. Here are some tips you can use today. 

  • Store your oil in a dark environment like your cupboard or pantry, or if atmosphere is humid on the average, store in the refrigerator. 
  • Keep away from sources of heat like radiators, ovens, and stoves. 
  • Always make sure your bottle is closed all the way to keep air tight. 
  • Avoid transferring your oil from its original packaging to another container to avoid potency loss.
  • Shake your bottle. Your oil shouldn’t separate, but depending on how many ingredients were added, give it a good shake.
  • Store bottles upright.
  • Keep away from areas that get sunlight like windows. 

What Happens To CBD Over Time?

CBD degrades over time. Under specific acidic conditions it can form THC, but not at any significant rate. THC too will degrade, to CBN over time when exposed to light (UV) and air at room temp. CBN is best known as the cannabinoid that is created as THC ages. CBN isn’t anywhere near as psychoactive as THC though.  

“THC degrades at almost 4x the rate of CBD as long as the samples are sealed in an air free environment and not exposed to light, they will have no significant degradation over the 1 year shelf life we put on our products.  If they are exposed to light and there is oxygen present, there will be an 10% decrease in potency over 1 year.” says R&A chemist Douglas Fryer with holus.

CBD Is Not A Plant

CBD is not a plant? Yes, well it actually is, but it isn’t in the sense is doesn’t sit well in sunshine. CBD potency degrades with heat and light, so don’t leave it under a lamp. CBD also degrades as it gets exposed to oxygen. Opening your bottle of CBD goodness is inevitable, but don’t leave it sitting on a table open and exposed. 

What Happens If I Ingest Expired CBD Oil?

CBD is a safe substance even if it is expired. It is unlikely that you will get sick like you would if you ate mold. Expired CBD oil will not do much of anything in fact. When cannabinoids have reached their finish line, potency and effects will be hardly noticeable if used.

Does CBD Oil Need To Be Refrigerated? 

CBD oil does not need to be refrigerated, although it doesn’t hurt. As long as your oil is kept in a moderately cool area (45-60 degrees), it should be fine. Cool temps keep the viscosity of CBD oil and prevents degradation of cannabinoids. Some may prefer to refrigerate their oil. It may thicken. If it thickens, do not microwave but let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. 

How Long Does CBD Oil Last Once Opened?

Unless your bottle says otherwise, general rule of thumb with CBD oil is that it will last 1-2 years depending on the storage condition. Direct light and intense heat can cause your oil to go rotten along with those leftovers you forgot were in your fridge from last month. 

To Conclude

CBD oil expires, but there should be plenty of time between the time you purchase and the time the bottle runs dry. In the long run, CBD oil with fewer ingredients, natural preservatives, and dark packaging are pro tips. Your care for it by keeping it away from sunshine and heat will play a lasting role in preservation. All oils have different shelf lives depending on the quality, packaging, and your care for it. 

Elisa Thompson

Elisa Thompson

Marketing Team & Content Creation

Elisa is one of our content creators and marketing team member at hōlus! You’ll find her writing endlessly on various CBD topics while on duty, and spending time in the great outdoors in her off time.