You (hopefully) do this with every visit to the grocery store. Regardless of the food in question, checking its expiration date is essential for quality and safety.
Naturally, your eagle eye for freshness should apply to unregulated products, like health supplements. In most cases, even unregulated products have the good sense to add expiration dates on their labels.
So given the importance to you as a consumer, why doesn’t a single cannabis product – THC or CBD – have an expiration date? Does CBD oil expire at all?
CBD oil’s lifespan isn’t finite. But since you don’t have numbers to guide you, the best you can do is take steps to keep your CBD as fresh as possible.
Let’s look at how CBD oil freshness works – and ways to maintain it.
Does CBD Oil Expire?
Yes, CBD oil inevitably expires. Cannabinoids deteriorate over time when exposed to the elements (more on that later), but these compounds won’t rot and make you ill like bad food.
Still, the carrier oils, like hemp, coconut, or MCT, can expire or become stale. Other ingredients in your CBD may also have definite expiration dates.
So while cannabidiol itself may not go nasty, other ingredients will. Consequently, they drag down the whole product.
How Long Does CBD Oil Last?
Generally, CBD oil can last between one to two years, depending on how you store it. This is in line with the expiration dates of carrier oils – like MCT and coconut – containing your CBD.
Why Doesn’t CBD Oil Have an Expiration Date?
CBD doesn’t have an expiration date because we don’t know how long it takes for a product to expire. Keep in mind oil isn’t the only form of CBD. It’s available in all kinds of foods and drinks, along with vapes, topicals, and dry hemp flower.
We need to look beyond CBD and instead focus on the bigger picture when it comes to expiration. For instance, a CBD-infused topical is likely to stay fresh longer than a brownie. Similarly, you’ll likely get better shelf life from powdered isolate compared to full or broad-spectrum oil.
Additionally, hemp-based CBD supplements aren’t regulated. Even if CBD producers know when their products expire, they’re not bound by law to disclose anything.
That being said, Tessera Naturals will happily provide that information if and when it becomes available.
What Happens to CBD as it Gets Older?
We understand CBD doesn’t expire in the typical sense, but its days are always numbered. However, instead of growing mold or fermenting, CBD simply fades away.
Cannabinoid degradation depends on a couple of factors, as one 1976 study points out in the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
Researchers noted that light (excluding sunlight) was the main “killer” against cannabinoids. The compounds are also temperature-sensitive to some extent.
Additionally, the study points out how oxidation breaks down cannabinoids when exposed to the open air.
Signs Your CBD Oil Expired
Like with any food, there are ways to tell if your CBD oil is expired. Keep an eye out for a few red flags. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and throw away your product.
The Oil is Cloudy and Thick
CBD oil isn’t watery (at least it shouldn’t be). But excessive thickness can be a sign your oil is going south. In many cases, you’ll also notice a cloudy or murky color – another red flag for expired CBD.
Something Smells Wrong
The scent is often a dead giveaway when estimating a product’s freshness. Typically, CBD oil has an “earthy” plant aroma. It might also smell sweet, spicy, or flowery, depending on the terpenes present.
But if your CBD oil smells “skunky,” that’s a sign something’s wrong. Imagine a nose-piercing mix between earthy cannabis and rotten eggs if you’re unsure what to look for.
It Tastes Strange
Odds are if something smells terrible, it tastes just as bad. CBD oil has a distinct flavor, so a strange flavor means your product is probably rancid.
Granted, CBD oil already has a unique taste. Keep an eye out for any deviations from the usual earthy, herbal, nutty aroma.
How to Keep CBD Oil Fresh
You can keep CBD oil fresh in many different ways. You don’t need any special equipment or techniques, just careful shopping and common sense.
Ingredients make or break your CBD oil. Aside from freshness issues, low-quality ingredients generally reduce your product’s potency. Perishable food additives or artificial flavors also complicate freshness.
The best way to avoid early spoilage is to buy the purest CBD possible. Your extract should come from organic or organically-grown hemp.
Look for Third-Party Tests
Most CBD vendors conduct third-party lab tests on their products and make them available online or by request. Never buy CBD from a retailer that doesn’t disclose lab results.
The analysis is vital for knowing what is – or isn’t – in your CBD. Heavy metals, microbes, fungi, and chemicals can contaminate hemp and its extracts. These unwanted ingredients could ruin the product or trigger faster spoilage.
Store Your CBD Properly
Going back to the above 1976 study, remember that light and open-air make cannabinoids degrade faster. You may notice vendors sell their oil in transparent, opaque, or dark bottles.
Given what we know, the first option should be out of the question – although it’s still not uncommon. On the other hand, opaque or dark containers limit or block light and slow the CBD’s degradation.
But regardless of your bottle’s color, the best thing you can do is keep the CBD oil stored in the dark at room temperature. You probably won’t have trouble carving some space for your bottle in a cupboard, pantry, or drawer.
Second, keep bottles sealed. As the study showed, air exposure is also a death sentence to cannabinoids, so don’t leave the bottle uncovered for long. Check to make sure the lid is closed correctly.
Choose High-Quality Extraction
A lot of people overlook extraction, but the importance of this process can’t be overstated. Typically, there are three ways companies separate CBD and other compounds from the plant.
Butane and alcohol were common solvents and continue to be used for many CBD and THC products. But in recent years, vendors (like Tessera Naturals) embraced CO2 extraction.
Although carbon dioxide processing requires industrial equipment, expertise, and money, it’s also the only solvent that doesn’t leave behind chemical traces.
Residual butane and alcohol don’t belong in CBD oil, so it’s best to avoid those whenever possible.
Follow Product Labels
Even if you’re a seasoned CBD user, you should still check your product’s label for any special storage instructions.
Don’t Buy Too Much CBD Oil
It’s best to keep a steady stream of fresh CBD oil rather than stock up for several months. As a best practice, don’t buy more CBD than you need for one month.
Will Expired CBD Oil Make You Sick?
Theoretically, expired CBD should have little to no ill effects, as long as the carrier or other ingredients haven’t picked up bacteria, viruses, or fungi.
The most likely consequences may be an off-taste and underwhelming potency. But nobody needs a reminder that spoiled food is a health risk. Don’t take any chances.
- There’s no set expiry date for CBD oil
- CBD itself degrades but doesn’t expire
- Ingredients and the type of product determine shelf life
- Check for changes in taste, color, or smell
- Buy from a reputable source