Bread, eggs, milk, and canned goods, have a “use by,” “best by,” or “sell by” date printed somewhere on the label. The dates stamped on perishables tell you how long you can expect your purchase to retain its flavor, freshness, and overall quality. You’ll find similar dates printed on over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and natural supplements.
When you purchase CBD oil, you’ll also find an expiration date printed somewhere on the label, at least you should. Although most high-quality CBD products have a reasonably long shelf-life, certain conditions can cause products to degrade sooner than you might expect. Whether you’re still contemplating your first purchase or just found a long-forgotten tincture tucked behind your gummies and capsules, it’s important to know the signs that suggest your CBD oil has gone bad.
Why Your Tincture Could Go Bad Before Its Time
Like any plant-sourced oil in your pantry, hemp-derived CBD oil tinctures have a fairly predictable shelf-life. But whether your CBD oil retains its flavor and overall potency for six months or twenty-four depends on several variables. Once you know how the following factors can compromise shelf life, you’re well on your way to purchasing products less likely to go bad before their time.
Questionable Crop Cultivation
Industrial hemp has a well-documented ability to draw heavy metals and other potentially harmful substances from the soil as it grows. That’s why the best CBD oil is sourced from non-GMO, naturally cultivated crops. If you’re purchasing CBD oil from a company that relies on plants grown in soil not routinely tested for heavy metals, chemical residue, and microbial contamination, your CBD oil could go bad rather quickly.1
Substandard Extraction Methods
Once hemp crops are harvested, the cannabinoid-rich extracts must be separated from the non-essential plant components. Some extraction methods are better than others. Although extracting plant oils with chemical solvents is considerably cheaper, CO2 extraction is much “cleaner” because the process is far less likely to introduce potentially harmful byproducts into the plant extracts. Plant extracts compromised by substandard extraction methods may not be chemically stable.2
Improper Storage or Clear Glass Packaging
Even high-quality plant extracts can go bad quickly if they’re not handled properly. CBD oil is no exception. Ideally, industrial hemp extracts should be stored in dark, airtight containers at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’ve purchased CBD oil from a company that allows their products to be exposed to temperature extremes or sunlight at any point during extraction, product manufacturing, or distribution, your CBD oil could go bad weeks or even months before the expiration date.3,4
Has Your CBD Oil Gone Bad? Here’s How You’ll Know
Even with occasional use, most CBD users have no trouble getting every last serving of CBD from their tincture long before their product expires, but it can happen. Although expired CBD oil is unlikely to cause serious illness, you’ll want to replace any expired product as soon as you can. Cannabinoid quality degrades over time, meaning your CBD oil may not work as well as it did when you first opened the bottle. You’ll also want to discard your oil, whether expired or not, if you notice any of the following signs of a product gone bad.5
Your CBD Oil Has a Funky Odor
Like many other plant oils, fresh hemp extract has a rather distinctive aroma. Although many first-time CBD users find the fragrance a bit unusual, the smell of hemp is often described as fresh and grass-like, not unpleasant. When hemp extract, carrier oils, or flavoring agents in a CBD oil tincture go bad, they’ll often produce an offensive odor. If your CBD oil smells funky or skunky, it’s probably rancid.
Your Tincture Tastes Bad
The flavor of hemp-derived CBD oil is most often described as natural, nutty, or grassy. Even if the natural taste of hemp isn’t necessarily your favorite flavor, if a tincture you once found at least palatable suddenly tastes bad or “off,” stop using it. Even if your CBD oil smells fine, any noticeable change in flavor could be a sign of mold, yeast, or bacteria.
The Color or Consistency Has Changed
If you store CBD oil in your refrigerator, you might notice that your tincture looks somewhat cloudy. That’s fine. The changes will resolve at room temperature. But if your oil looks dark or murky at room temperature, you’re likely seeing signs of product degradation. Even if these changes occur months before the anticipated expiration date, changes in color or consistency should not be ignored.
Is There Anything I Can Do to Help Keep My CBD Oil from Going Bad?
The shelf-life of any CBD oil can vary significantly from one brand to the next. Although most oils retain their freshness and potency for 12-24 months, there are several ways to help extend the lifespan of your CBD oil or keep it from going bad before the expiration date printed on the label. When maximum longevity matters, consider how the following recommendations could help extend shelf-life.
Pay Attention to Temperature
Although you can keep your tincture in the refrigerator if you live in a hot climate, the ideal temperature for CBD oil is 60-70° F, room temperature. Temperatures about 90° F could make your tincture cloudy. If you’re in the habit of storing your CBD oil near your stove, oven, or on top of your refrigerator, the excessive heat could contribute to product degradation. Instead, move your CBD to a cooler location away from heat-producing appliances.
Keep Your (Original) Bottle Tightly Closed
Keeping your CBD oil in its original (dark) glass bottle helps keep the tincture protected from the effects of moisture, oxygen, and sunlight. Water causes hydrolysis, oxygen causes oxidation, and sunlight can compromise product potency. Neither interaction will do you any favors. Although there’s little you can do to prevent exposure to oxygen or humidity entirely, taking a moment to verify that your bottle is tightly capped after each use can help keep your CBD oil from going bad before its time.
Stick With Third-Party Tested Products
Overall product quality has a direct impact on CBD oil shelf life. One of the easiest ways to ensure you’re getting high-quality CBD oil is to stick with well-established companies that rely on third-party testing to confirm their CBD products are pure, potent, and safe for their intended use. Sticking with a brand that routinely screens its products reduces the risk of purchasing a CBD oil tincture that goes bad before you’ve had a chance to finish the bottle.
When Shelf-Life and Expiration Dates Matter, Visit CBDistillery®
Any CBD company can claim their products are third-party tested. The most reputable companies back those claims with verifiable evidence. CBDistillery® was one of the first (if not the first) to publish the third-party test results, the Certificate of Analysis (COA), for every product we offer. What does that have to do with shelf-life or expiration dates? More than most people realize.
When you view the COA on our product pages, you’ll see that every product we offer is tested by an unbiased, independent lab. Not only can you use those test results to verify that your CBD oil is as potent as we claim, you’ll also know that every product is tested for evidence of microbial contamination, the yeast, fungi, mold, and bacteria that could compromise product quality. At the top of the Certificate of Analysis, you’ll also see a batch and sample number, collection date, and report date.
Those dates are important. When you scan the QR code printed on every CBDistillery® label, you’ll be directed to the third-party test results for the very product in your hand. If time has blurred the expiration date on your bottle, you’ll still have access to the date your CBD oil tincture was initially tested for purity and potency.
Are You Ready to Learn More?
To learn more about our hemp-derived CBD products or how you might benefit, visit CBDistillery® to download The Ultimate CBD User Guide, the #1 resource for CBD users. Then consider browsing our selection of hemp-derived CBD, CBG, and CBN products. All CBDistillery® products are sourced from naturally cultivated, non-GMO crops. Our full spectrum, cannabinoid-rich oil is CO2 extracted, and our products are Leaping Bunny and US Hemp Authority™ certified.
1. ACS Labs. (2020) Mycotoxins.
2. CFAH. N Julia. (2021 July 29) Does CBD Oil Expire? Things to Know About Hemp Oil Shelf Life.
3. Healthline. A Santos-Longhurst. (2021 February 12). Yes, CBD Oil Expires – Here’s How to Check Yours.
4. Cannabiz Daily. R Kavanaugh. (2019 January 14) Why You Should Store Cannabis Oils In Dark Bottles.
5. CBD Facilitator. J Murdoch. (2021) Does CBD Oil Go Bad? – How to Maximize Shelf Life.