April 7, 2021

Does CBD Oil Expire? How To Tell If Your CBD’s Gone Bad

Written by - Mallory Milne

minute read

CBD oil has become extremely popular globally as a natural alternative for many people with different health concerns, including chronic pain, anxiety, and depression.

Like with more traditional herbal supplements, CBD has an expiry date – but it might not match the one on the label.

Taking care to use and store your CBD oil properly can help preserve the cannabinoids and carrier oils and extend its shelf life by months.

So if you’ve landed here asking yourself the question “Does CBD oil expire” we’re here to tell you that yes, it does, but there’s plenty of ways to make sure you get the most out of it.

Here are the main reasons CBD goes bad, and what you can do to extend its shelf life.

When does CBD oil expire?

The majority of the CBD brands on the market will have an expiry date stamped onto either the label or the bottle of CBD oil itself (and if it doesn’t have it, it should). This expiry date for your CBD can vary widely between brands, which is for a few different reasons.

Several factors play into the shelf life of CBD oil. The carrier oil used, any additional ingredients, where it’s stored, even the temperature it’s stored at.

A good chunk of them will have a range of 1-2 years from the manufacturing date as the expiry date, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will last that long, and in some cases, it will last even longer.

What affects the expiry date of CBD?

The shelf life of CBD carrier oils

CBD oils and tinctures are made by dissolving CBD extract into an oil, or “carrier.” This not only facilitates ease of use but also increases the overall bioavailability rate of your CBD.

Carrier oils for CBD are chosen primarily for their shelf life and fat content. CBD oil is fat-soluble and binds most effectively to molecules that are higher in fat.

Some of the more popular carrier oils include MCT oil and hemp seed oil, but there are many others, each with its own pros and cons.


The MCT in MCT oil stands for medium-chain triglycerides. Triglycerides are a form of fat that is found in foods or oils. They are chains of fatty acids that are either short, medium, or long.

MCT oil is harvested either from coconuts, or palm trees, though MCT oil is the usual source as palm oil is expensive and extraction is harmful to the environment.

MCT oil has an approximate shelf life of two years, and this can be extended by quite a bit if the oil is stored properly. This is the number one choice for CBD manufacturers for the extended shelf life and the health benefits that it adds to your CBD.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is made by cold pressing the seeds of the hemp plant. Even though it comes from the same place as CBD does, the hemp plant, hemp seed oil contains zero CBD.

Hemp seed oil is extremely beneficial from a nutritional standpoint, but it doesn’t have a very long shelf life. It used to be one of the top choices for carrier oils, but companies turn to other oils to extend longevity.

The shelf life of hemp seed oil varies depending on if it’s opened or still sealed up. It is recommended to consume any CBD oil with a hemp seed oil carrier within 3-6 months. Unopened, it will generally last 12-14 months.

Olive Oil

Olive oil is an LCT (long-chain triglyceride). These types of chains take longer for your body to digest than medium-chain triglycerides.

While olive oil’s shelf life is pretty good, 16-20 months, it isn’t a widely used carrier oil for CBD as it doesn’t have as high of fat content as some of the others.

Sunflower Oil

Sunflower oil has become more popular in the CBD space, but more so as a part of blended carrier oils. Many companies will combine several carrier oils to increase bioavailability and add in extra vitamins and nutrients.

Sunflower oil will generally last you 1-2 years, but this drops once opened, up to one year.

Avocado Oil

Avocado oil is rich in vitamins and nutrients. Still, most of its benefits are best realized in applications to the skin, making it ideal for any cosmetic or topical CBD products.

It has a very mild, pleasant taste and is on the thicker side. You won’t find many CBD oils with avocado oil as the base for this reason. It also has a shelf life of only 6-8 months, and that’s if it is unopened. This number drops considerably once the seal on the bottle is broken.

Good (and bad) CBD Hygiene

Bacteria also affects when your CBD oil goes bad. Every time you use a sublingual CBD oil, you risk introducing new bacteria into the bottle.

If you’re touching the end of the dropper to your mouth or under your tongue, this will affect how long your oil lasts. One way to avoid this is by transferring your CBD oil to a small spoon and administering it that way, though this is less than ideal.

Temperature fluctuations and sunlight

Heat and light are the two main contributors to CBD oil’s oxidization and can rapidly affect the quality if these two factors are left unchecked.

Heat especially accelerates this process, while the UV rays from the sun work to break down the cannabinoids and terpenes in the bottle.

Freezing also affects the oil, though it’s generally not as severe. If Freezing CBD oil may result in it being very cloudy and becoming thick and difficult to use.

Always store your CBD oil in a cool place, away from heating elements, furnace ducts, or any other heat source, and avoid leaving your CBD oil near windows or doors that allow light in.

Exposure to outside elements

As soon as you crack open your bottle of CBD oil, the clock starts ticking down to the expiry date. Every time you open it, you introduce foreign matter into the bottle by way of the air.

Oxygen exposure to your oil can cause what is known as “oxidative stress“, and causes changes to your oil over time.

You should always keep your CBD oil in its original container and close the lid tightly after each use. This ensures that the quality of your oil will be preserved.

What bottle the CBD is in

The bottle that the CBD manufacturer uses is also essential. Clear glass bottles are the least desirable, as they allow all light in, while bottles that are amber or dark filter it out.

Many CBD companies realize this, but there are still way too many that have stuck with a clear bottle. This dramatically impacts how long your CBD oil will last.

The extraction method used

There are numerous ways in which you can extract CBD from the hemp plant. The majority of companies use CO2 or ethanol extraction.

These extraction methods tend to preserve the cannabinoids and terpenes, leaving the molecules relatively untouched and more stable than other methods.

Read any additional information included with your CBD oil or the company’s website, as different CBD oils may have different guidelines.

Additional added ingredients

You need to be concerned about the CBD and the carrier oil used, and any other ingredients that have been added, as these also affect how long it will last.

Different additives include other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavorings. Some companies also add things like melatonin for sleep formulas or vitamins to promote energy.

Each one of these affects the CBD’s expiry date, so if any of them have a shelf life under that of the date stamped on the bottle, that’s the one you are judging from.

How to tell if your CBD has gone bad

does cbd oil expire

Smell it

The old saying “the nose knows” rings true for many perishable items, and it is a great indicator to let you know if your CBD oil is past its prime.

CBD oil that hasn’t spoiled, or gone bad, will generally have an earthy, pleasant hemp smell to it, along with the scent of any flavorings that are in the oil.

Expired CBD oil does not smell good at all, and some users describe it as rancid. If you open your bottle and smell anything foul coming off the liquid, do yourself a favor and toss it in the trash.

Taste it

CBD oil tastes as it smells. It’s got a mild (or strong, depending on the oil) herbal hemp flavor to it. If you’ve ever smelt marijuana, you’ll know what to expect from hemp, although it is less potent than that.

CBD oil that has gone over will have a rotten taste and may or may not be quite bitter. You’ll generally smell this before it makes its way to your mouth, but in case you don’t, spit it out and dispose of it.

Look at it

Depending on the carrier oil used, CBD can range from clear, light green to dark, amber, or brown. This oil should be clean,  and you should generally be able to see through it.

You can tell if your CBD is past its due date if you notice any particles or large chunks floating around in it, or if the oil has gone cloudy.

If you find your oil like this, put it to the scent and taste test. If it passes those, your oil may just be starting to break down. It may still be usable, but it might not be as effective as fresh CBD oil.

Can I use CBD oil if it’s past the expiry date?

Just because you’ve reached the expiry date on the bottle doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to get rid of it right away. The expiry dates aren’t a hard and true indicator of whether it’s still good to use, but general guidelines to follow.

Depending on the storage method you use for your CBD and any exposure to heat or light, your oil may expire before this date, or it may last even longer.

Over time the cannabinoids and terpenes within will degrade and lose their potency, rendering it less effective. If it hasn’t gone bad yet, you’ll still be able to use it.

This is why it is best only to buy the amount you need for a short period of time to prevent losing out on any potential benefits.

How should CBD oil be stored?

Keep your CBD oil in the original container that it came in unless something happens to damage it and you need to transfer to another one. The majority of great CBD companies design their containers and bottles to preserve the oil as much as possible, so transferring it isn’t a great idea.

Store your CBD oil in a cool, dark place, away from any heat or light. You should also keep it away from excess moisture, so keeping it in your bathroom medicine cabinet isn’t a great idea.

Places like pantries or closets are good places to store your CBD. You can also refrigerate it, but keep in mind that this may make the oil too thick to use. Depending on the carrier oil used, you may not want to store your CBD oil like this.

While freezing CBD oil is an option, it is generally not recommended as it will change the consistency and also make it cloudy when it thaws. It may also damage some of the cannabinoids and terpenes.

Tips to extend the life of your CBD oil

  • Seal bottle tightly after using.
  • Store your CBD oil in a cool, dark place.
  • Keep it away from moisture.
  • Choose a CBD oil with a carrier oil that has a long shelf life.
  • Keep your CBD oil in its original container.
  • Choose high-quality brands with good reputations.
  • Know where your oil is coming from.
  • Only buy a small amount at a time.
  • Refrigerate it.

When in doubt, throw it out

If your CBD oil has been sitting around just collecting dust for the past year or two, you’re right to question the safety of ingesting it.

If you go through and test it out, smell it, and you still aren’t sure, it is best to toss it and start with a fresh bottle, rather than risk any unwanted side effects of taking in a spoiled product.

We get that CBD oil is expensive, but the cost has decreased considerably in the past year. A few wasted dollars is no match for your general health and well being.

About the author 

Mallory Milne

Mallory is a mom of two, as well as the main content writer and owner of CBD Handle. She has been a consumer advocate and CBD user since 2018, and strives to relay accurate, easy to understand information and to educate others on the health benefits of CBD.


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