Natural products have a shelf life and CBD oil is no exception. If you’ve been using CBD oil for a while you may not have ever seen it go off— or it’s used up before it can. So how long does it take for CBD oil to go bad?
CBD oil has a long shelf life of between one and two years. It’s a natural product, which means it will always go bad eventually. It can either spoil (go bad because of bacteria) or go stale (because of air and/or sunlight). Stale CBD can still be taken but may not have all the beneficial effects of fresh oil. Spoiled oil must be replaced.
So, how can you tell when CBD oil goes bad? And what can you do to keep it fresh for longer? Read on to find out.
So, CBD oil goes off after around a year. If it’s kept at room temperature in a cool place, unopened, one year is a rough estimate. Two years is if it’s kept cool in a fridge. This slows the breakdown of any foodstuff or supplement.
There are two ways in which CBD oil can go bad. The first is through spoiling, i.e. contact with bacteria, which then proliferate and eat what they can in the product. When bacteria get into something—anything—it will keep reproducing for as long as there’s food. Because there are lots of natural compounds for them to eat in CBD oil, they can spoil it. This has the usual smell you associate with spoiled things.
The second is natural degradation, where the molecules in the product break down not in response to bacteria, but sunlight and heat. If you have herbs and spices in your pantry, then this is something you will have experienced before. The product loses its colour and its flavour and might become dry and unpalatable. Something similar can happen to CBD oil, too.
The better the conditions you keep your CBD oil in, the longer it will last. You, therefore, have a lot of control over the process.
There are two parts to every shelf life: the ‘best before’, and the ‘use by’. It’s important to understand the difference between the two, so you know how long you can use your oil for.
‘Best before’ refers to the time during which the oil (or any other product) is fresh. If you keep the product past the best before date, you can still use it, and it should still be fine. But it might not taste as fresh as it used to, perhaps because it’s begun to break down.
The ‘use by’ date is more important. It refers to the time at which the product will become unusable. This could be because the product has likely gone rancid/spoiled, at which point you won’t be able to consume it, and it may even hurt you. It could also be because its active ingredients have completely broken down. Once this happens, there’s no point taking the oil.
The issue is that not all CBD oil is the same. Some are distilled through different processes, for example.
This depends on a number of factors. The first is how much air is in the bottle of CBD. The more air, the more quickly the bottle will go off. The air reacts with the oil and makes it go stale, but this doesn’t happen overnight.
The closer the bottle is to being completely used, the more air and less oil there is, so the quicker it will go stale. Once opened, the process takes a year. But when the bottle is almost used, it can take just months.
The effect is worse if the bottle is an open one, i.e. it doesn’t have a built-in dropper. If the bottle is open, this also allows bacteria to enter the bottle more easily. This is something you want to avoid. If it’s an open bottle without a dripper to seal it off, then putting anything unsterilised inside like your finger will make it go off much quicker.
There are two main ways to tell whether CBD oil has gone bad.
The first of these is the smell. Natural degradation of a product usually causes it to change its smell, and in the case of products that you eat, its flavour. CBD oil is the same. Over time, the cannabinoid and aromatic phenol molecules inside break down into smaller parts. This leads to its smell gradually disappearing.
If the product is going off because of bacteria, you can expect a similar rancid smell to other consumable products. This is caused by the gases that bacteria create when they eat their way through natural products. If the smell is present, you will definitely notice it. Needless to say, if you were to taste it, it wouldn’t taste very nice.
Aside from the smell and taste, you may also tell that CBD oil has gone bad from its appearance. The same process as described above also causes the appearance of the oil to change from clear to murky. This applies both to full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils.
If the product is spoiled by bacteria, throw it away. By microwaving it or cooking it you would kill the bacteria inside, as can be done with food before a certain point. But in doing so you would destroy the compounds that make CBD oil what it is. Your oil would end up useless—so don’t bother. Throw it away and start again.
A product that’s simply old rather than bad may still be usable. It’s not clear exactly how CBD oil breaks down over time. But if it’s like other foodstuffs, then the chemicals like CBD are breaking down into smaller pieces. This will likely make them less effective. As such, you may not get the full effects of CBD if you take it when it’s gone a little stale.
If you do plan on buying more CBD oil, you should consider buying a smaller bottle next time. People that forget to take the occasional dose, or only want to take small doses, will take their time to finish a bottle. By buying a smaller one, you will ensure that it won’t go off before you’re finished.
Alternatively, if you’ve only just bought the product, you could always make use of the company’s returns policy
It’s surprisingly easy to stop products going bad, provided that you know how. Below are all the best ways to stop CBD oil from going off.
Most importantly, remember to take your CBD oil regularly. Normal-sized doses of CBD oil will allow you to get through a bottle long before it’s supposed to go off. If you use your product at a regular pace, then you won’t have any problems with it going bad.
The fridge is a good place to keep CBD. Like a cupboard drawer, it keeps the oil away from natural light. This slows the breakdown of the product.
If the bottle is open, then bacteria may have been introduced into it. If this is the case, then keeping the oil at fridge temperature rather than room temperature is a good idea. This ensures that the bacteria are much slower to reproduce and render the product unusable.
The coldness of the fridge won’t have any negative effects on your CBD oil. The only issue is that you may find it too cool to take, especially if you have sensitive teeth or gums. You may, therefore, want to allow a spoonful to warm to room temperature before taking it (but don’t heat it, as this will break down the beneficial cannabinoids and phenols of the product).
If you take a regular CBD dose, there won’t be any need to keep it in the fridge. You will take your supplement quick enough that it won’t get the chance to go off, even at room temperature.