How Long Does CBD Oil Last and When Does It Expire?

Most bottles of CBD oil come with an expiration date or use-by date, but what does this actually mean? Can you get sick if you consume old or expired cannabidiol? Can CBD degrade more quickly under specific conditions (like leaving food on the counter instead of refrigerating it)? And how long should a bottle of CBD oil last in the first place?

Does CBD Oil Expire in the Traditional Sense?

CBD does not expire the same way a food expires. In the cannabis and CBD world, “expire” carries a different meaning than it does in the food and beverage world. If a food expires, this typically means that the food is no longer safe to consume. The longer a food remains unconsumed, the higher the likelihood of dangerous bacteria developing.

This doesn’t typically happen with CBD oil. When a CBD product expires, it generally means that the product is simply past its prime. In other words, there’s a high likelihood that the cannabinoids and terpenes have degraded to the point where the product is no longer as effective. If enough time passes, the product may even lose all potency. You’re basically just drinking coconut oil with degraded hemp byproducts.

For this definition, we’re talking about CBD oil in the strictest sense (i.e. the classic CBD tincture). If we’re talking about CBD edibles, the traditional definition of expiration may very well apply. After all, edible CBD products are commonly made with ingredients like milk and eggs, which can be very unsafe to consume past their prime. If you’re purchasing CBD edibles, you should absolutely take the expiration date to heart.

What Is the Shelf Life of CBD?

How long does CBD oil last? The shelf life of CBD generally varies from 1 to 2 years with optimal storage. There are several factors that can influence the lifespan:

The Quality of the Hemp From Which It Was Extracted

Premium-grade hemp will yield richer and longer-lasting cannabinoids. That’s why it’s important to shop high-quality CBD oil from trusted brands. Domestic-grown hemp that adheres to organic practices is a good place to start.

The Extraction Method Used

There are numerous ways to extract CBD, such as with a closed-loop hydrocarbon extraction system, an ethanol extraction system, or even olive oil extraction. CO2 extraction, using supercritical pressure, tends to yield more potent and long-lasting CBD oil because it draws more cannabinoids out of the plant and keeps them in a stable state.

The Type of Packaging Used

CBD maintains its integrity best when stored in dark, airtight glass containers, much like other cannabis products. This ensures that air, light, and extreme temperatures are less able to degrade the compounds prematurely.

The Type of Delivery System

A typical CBD oil tincture may last a year or more on average, but other delivery systems may last longer. For example, CBD topicals are generally combined with chemicals and stabilizers that can extend the shelf life, meaning that you might still have a highly potent product as you near the two-year mark.

In addition, the shelf life of your CBD oil may depend on how well you store and maintain the product.

Can You Extend the Shelf Life of CBD Oil?

It is possible to promote the maximum shelf life of your CBD, but it’s unlikely that you can maintain peak potency beyond the 2-year mark. The goal is simply to store your CBD oil in such a way that the cannabinoids and terpenes don’t degrade before they absolutely have to.

Again, the trick is to eliminate the three factors that are most damaging to cannabinoids: heat, light, and air. Check out our comprehensive guide on how to store CBD oil, and get the complete rundown on how to store your product properly, how to choose the right packaging, whether or not you should refrigerate your CBD oil, and much more.

The good news is that CBD is almost always packaged with preservation in mind. So unless you make a critical mistake, and as long as you use basic common sense (e.g. don’t leave your bottle of CBD on your car’s dash on a 100-degree summer day), you should be okay for the most part.

Pro Tip: Avoid buying CBD on clearance unless you’re planning to consume it quickly. Dispensaries and retailers often place items on clearance after they’ve been sitting on the shelf for a while, which means they’re already much closer to their expiration date than something you’d pay full price for.

How Can You Know if Your CBD Oil Has Gone Bad?

There are a few telltale signs that your CBD product is past its prime:

The Expiration Date Has Passed

As with all types of expiration dates, CBD expirations are based on estimates. Your product won’t magically stop working when the expiration date hits, and in fact, it may offer maximum or close to maximum potency for months after the date has passed. However, if the expiration date is a distant memory, there’s a good chance that the product has declined somewhat.

It’s No Longer Working

If the effects aren’t as strong as they once were, or if you’re not noticing the benefits at all, this is a good sign that the cannabinoids and terpenes have degraded.

It No Longer Smells or Tastes Right

CBD oil should have an earthy smell. If it smells skunky or tastes rank, the product is no good. It’s usually the carrier liquid and not the CBD itself that turns bad over time. It might also take on a thick or murky appearance.

When in doubt, throw it out. You can always browse updated CBD coupons online and purchase something fresh.

Can Expired CBD Make You Sick?

Expired CBD oil probably won’t make you sick. As previously noted, it’s more an issue of reduced potency than of bacterial contamination. Even if the carrier liquid has an unpleasant taste, it probably won’t do anything more than test your gag reflex.

Expired CBD edibles could make you sick if the ingredients are prone to bacterial contamination. Baked goods, pastries, chocolates, gummies, and similar products should be tossed out after their expiration date. Capsules, coffee pods, and powders should still be safe to consume after their expiration date (but check the ingredient list to be sure).

What if My CBD Product Has No Expiration Date Listed?

Every licensed CBD product should have either an expiration date, a use-by date, or a best-by date. If it doesn’t, look to see if there’s a date of harvest. You can estimate the expiration date by calculating 2 years from the harvest date—just note that if you want to keep the product fresh for 2 years, you’ll have to be diligent about optimal storage.

If you can’t find any date on the label, you can contact the dispensary or manufacturer. If you provide them with the batch number on the label (this should also be clearly displayed), they should be able to research the product and provide you with a harvest date or expiration date.

You can also refer to the certificate of analysis if one is available. There should be a testing date or a “date received” at the top of the certificate. The testing date is usually within just a few days of the harvest date, so you can also use that information to estimate the expiration date.

Don’t Take a Chance on Expired CBD

If you’re looking at your old CBD bottle and thinking “I’m sure it’s probably still okay…”, now is the perfect time to toss it out and invest in a fresh supply. Even if there’s little chance that the expired product will make you sick, you don’t want to waste your energy (not to mention your tastebuds) on something that’s not going to give you the effects you’re looking for.

 

Consider trying a new brand, graduating to a higher concentration, or even exploring a new delivery system like a CBD beverage or gel cap. The market is expanding every day, and there’s a world of products that you’ve yet to explore. You might just find exactly the product you’ve been looking for.

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