Depending on the form of CBD oil you’re using, the life expectancy of it ranges between six months to two years

Does CBD Expire? How to Extend Shelf Life

By Jenny Menzel, H.C.

Yes – It's not up for debate if your CBD (cannabidiol) will expire. The question is, when does it expire, and more importantly — why? Depending on the form of CBD you’re using, its manufactured quality, and how you store your product after purchase, the life expectancy of CBD ranges between six months to two years. Before digging into the details of how you can preserve the potency and therapeutic value of CBD, you should know about the three overarching offenders that cause CBD molecules to break down and diminish in quality.

Why Does CBD Go Bad?

1. Moisture 

Where moisture resides, mold and mildew find an opportunity to thrive. This type of contamination taints CBD’s purity, efficacy, and can be especially harmful to those with mold allergies. Reputable CBD manufacturers know this and employ proper farming practices and third-party testing to prevent mold contamination in their CBD products. 

2. Bacteria

Another contaminant causing CBD compounds to break down is bacteria. Expert hemp farmers and CBD manufacturers know how to reduce the chances of bacterial pollution throughout the production process, but it is also up to you to protect your CBD from bacteria after purchasing.

3. Sunlight

CBD extract degrades especially fast when oxidized — that is, when it’s exposed to oxygen and heat from sunlight’s invisible ultraviolet (UV) rays. A loose seal or constant opening and closing can increase the chances of bacterial contamination through air exposure, while heat and light exposure causes further deterioration to CBD molecules.

How to Extend the Shelf Life of Your CBD

CBD oil is usually packaged in dark brown, blue, or green bottles to limit damage from light exposure.

Properly using and storing CBD products will extend their shelf life. How to do this, though, depends on your CBD formula being used. Below are the most common CBD preparations, as well as tips to prolong their potency. 

CBD Oil

Due to high bioavailability, CBD oil or tinctures are the most popular way to deliver CBD into your system. Here are the top tips to slow your CBD's expiration rate, with particular attention to CBD oil.

  • Find the best CBD oil. Quality CBD with long shelf life starts with quality manufacturers. Purchasing CBD from a company that uses third-party testing greatly increases the likelihood that you purchased an effective product.
  • Use within six months. While CBD oil can remain potent for up to two years in many cases, the sooner you use your CBD, the higher the chance that you’re receiving full benefits from the specific cannabinoid profile listed on the label. 
  • Don’t buy in bulk. Even though buying in bulk can seem to save you money, you could actually waste money if you’re unable to use up all your CBD before it expires. Buy one product at a time, use it, then determine if a different brand or potency is needed before your next purchase. 
  • Store in a cool, dark place. Because cannabis molecules are damaged by heat and light, storing CBD oil in a cupboard or refrigerator is ideal for prolonging the life of your oil. Refrain from storing on counters or near hot locations like the stove.
  • Choose the right bottle color. CBD oil is usually packaged in dark brown, blue, or green bottles to limit damage from light exposure. However, some suppliers use clear bottles to best showcase oil clarity, advising extra care to store in a cool, dark space.
  • Don’t lick the dropper. Most CBD oils come with a dropper to easily measure sublingual doses. To minimize the chance of bacterial contamination to your CBD, avoid contact between the dropper or bottle opening with your mouth or hands. Wash the dropper and bottle opening with water and a gentle, natural soap when needed.

CBD Capsules, Gummies, and Edibles

  • Keep a tight seal. Whether you’re using capsules, gummies, or other CBD treats, make sure your containers or capsules are air-tight to reduce oxidative damage. 
  • Refrigerate. As mentioned, CBD needs cool and dry places to maintain its integrity. A refrigerator may be most appropriate for ingestible items like gummies, capsules, and other edible treats. 
  • Minimize touching. Wash your hands before opening bottles or bags to retrieve your daily dose. Also, minimize touching inside the container to limit opportunistic germs.

Topical CBD Gels, Lotions, and Patches

  • Apply to clean skin. Topical, roll-on CBD applicators are best preserved by applying to clean skin after showering or washing the targeted body part to avoid contact with bacteria.
  • Choose a pump delivery. Minimize destructive exposure to sunlight, air, moisture, and bacteria by choosing topical CBD products packaged in containers using a pump. 
  • Use after opening. CBD patches are especially vulnerable to oxidative damage after opening. It’s generally good to use up any product as soon as you can after opening it to limit air, light, and germ exposure. Lotion and gels in squeeze tubes are less vulnerable to oxidative damage than patches and ingestible CBD.

Signs Your CBD Has Expired

It’s common to think CBD that changes color is bad. But color changes are not often a sign of declining quality as much as other warnings. Common red flags that your CBD is teetering on the brink of uselessness include:

  • Smell. Pitch your product if your CBD smells moldy or rancid.  
  • Clarity. If your CBD looks cloudy, or you notice accumulating bacteria or mold — toss it in the trash.
  • Texture. Oil or lotion is of little use when it becomes hardened, sticky, chunky, or generally different than what you first remember its texture looking and feeling like. 

In Summary

CBD may offer therapeutic relief to a range of common ailments through a variety of delivery methods. No matter which form of CBD you use, exposure to moisture, sunlight, heat, and bacteria run the risk of destroying CBD molecules — sending your product to an early, ineffective grave. 

Protect your CBD from going bad before you get a chance to benefit from it by making simple adjustments to how you store and use your CBD. Each product varies, so be sure to check the product's storage recommendations when purchasing. You might even consider calling the supplier’s customer service line for more detailed information. Preventative measures may cost a little time to save a lot of money — while better supporting your health. 

Jenny Menzel, H.C., is a Certified Health Coach and branding specialist for various alternative healthcare practices, and volunteers her design skills to the annual grassroots campaign, the Lyme Disease Challenge. Jenny was diagnosed with Lyme in 2010 after 8 years of undiagnosed chronic pain and fatigue, and continues to improve by employing multiple alternative therapies, including Āyurveda, Chinese Medicine and Bee Venom Therapy.


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