Updated November 1, 2021

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. This can fluctuate depending on the product’s quality, storage, packaging, and a host of other variables. A simple overview can help you choose a product with maximum shelf life, and 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 bottles. 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 very important. 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 may help keep your CBD oil fresh.
  • Quality: Higher quality CBD oils are held to a higher standard. Quality CBD oil may last longer because when you start with quality hemp, choice of ingredients, and even the process – the end product is more stable and pure.
  • Ingredients: From flavor to preservation, ingredient choice matters in CBD oil. Each ingredient has 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 uses natural carbon dioxide to extract botanicals. Carbon dioxide preserves many cannabinoids and terpenes during the extraction process, maximizing CBD potency. CO2 extraction is the lowest cost & cleanest extraction technology.

Let’s Talk Preservatives And Expiration

Preservatives may be natural, synthetic, food, or cosmetic additives to 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*, or algin. 
  • Synthetic ingredients can include but are not limited to sodium benzoate*, benzoic acid, potassium sorbate, or 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 have been shown to suppress bacteria. 

*hōlus CBD uses many natural preservatives in product production

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

Check your oil’s expiration date. This should be visible on the outside of the product’s packaging. If not shown, expiration dates should be found in products’ COA. 

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 made with CBD powder will be clear. CBD oil made 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 have diminished benefits, your oil may have come to the end of its ability.

Any one or more of these indications could be signs your CBD oil is no longer optimal. CBD has a rather long shelf life – when the quality is good. Regardless, frequent and consistent use is the best prevention to 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 affecting shelf life, your simple efforts can make a difference in preserving your CBD oil too. Here are some tips you can use today. 

  • Keep away from direct sunlight & windows. 
  • Store your oil in a dark, cool, dry environment such as a cupboard or pantry. If your climate on average is humid, it may be best to store in the refrigerator. 
  • Store away from sources of heat like radiators, ovens, and stoves. 
  • Make sure your bottle is always closed completely, to keep air tight. 
  • Unless container breakage happens, don’t transfer your oil from its original packaging. This will also help 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.

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. As THC ages, it is best known for creating CBN. However, CBN from THC isn’t anywhere near as psychoactive as THC.  

“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 a 10% decrease in potency over 1 year.” says R&A chemist Douglas Fryer.

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 is inevitable, but don’t leave it sitting open and exposed. 

What Happens If I Ingest Expired CBD Oil?

CBD is a safe substance even if when it is expired. It is unlikely you will get sick. 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.

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 the cannabinoids. Some may prefer refrigerated 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, a general rule of thumb for CBD oil is a shelf life of 1-2 years depending on the storage condition. Direct light and intense heat can cause your oil to become rancid. 

To Conclude

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