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Like most good things, cannabidiol (CBD) oil does eventually expire. Shelf life typically ranges from 1 to 2 years.

Here’s a closer look at what affects CBD oil’s shelf life and what you can do to keep yours fresh.

How long CBD oil lasts depends on a few factors, from the quality and ingredients to how you store it. An understanding of these factors can help you choose products that’ll last longer. It can also help you stretch the shelf life, giving you even more bang for your buck.

Here are the big ones:

  • Quality. Not surprisingly, higher quality products tend to last longer. This comes down to things like growing conditions and the quality of the plants, as well as the quality of any other ingredients. Speaking of which…
  • Ingredients. What’s in CBD oil matters because every ingredient, like flavoring, has a shelf life of its own, which can affect the lasting power of the overall product. Less is usually more when it comes to CBD oil shelf life, so read the product label and the certificate of analysis (COA).
  • Extraction process. The carbon dioxide method of extraction is considered the gold standard. It maximizes the level of CBD — and other cannabinoids, if we’re talking full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil — obtained from the plant during extraction. It also keeps the compounds stable.
  • Packaging. Those amber bottles aren’t just for looks. CBD oil lasts longer in dark-colored, airtight glass containers. The right packaging helps protect the oil from exposure to air and sunlight.
  • Storage. Research shows that heat and light accelerate CBD degradation, which is why proper storage is important. Ideal conditions can help CBD oil keep its potency and freshness longer.

There should be an expiration date on the bottle that can give you an idea of whether or not it’s past its prime. That said, expiration dates aren’t an exact science, labels can fall off, and sometimes you just don’t want to put your glasses on to read the fine print. This is where your senses come in.

Here are indicators that CBD oil has gone bad:

  • It smells funky. More like skunky, actually. Fresh CBD oil should smell earthy and not unpleasant in any way.
  • It’s thick and murky. This isn’t to be mistaken with cloudy, which can happen if the oil’s been sitting in a cold room or the refrigerator. A couple of minutes at room temperature should take care of any cloudiness and return the oil to its natural viscosity and color. Otherwise, thickness and darkness are signs of degradation.
  • It tastes rancid. Unless it’s artificially flavored, CBD oil is usually described as tasting “nutty,” “earthy,” or “grassy.” Even if you don’t care for these flavors, the taste should still be palatable. Expired CBD oil, on the other hand, will taste “off,” like most other oils that have seen better days.

Expired CBD oil probably won’t make you sick. In fact, it likely won’t do much of anything.

Over time, cannabinoids begin to degrade and lose potency. This means that if you use expired CBD oil, you won’t get the full therapeutic effects of the product.

CBD oil is sensitive to changes in oxygen, light, and temperature, making proper storage a must if you want to preserve its potency and freshness.

A good rule of thumb when it comes to storing CBD oil is to treat it the way you do other oils — think olive oil, coconut oil, and other cooking oil that’s in your pantry.

This means protecting the oil from excess light, heat, and air, beginning with the right container.

Good quality CBD oil is usually packaged in medical grade, airtight dark glass bottles and that’s not for nothing. The dark glass reduces light exposure and helps with temperature control. The lid keeps out excess oxygen and other potential contaminants, all of which can affect freshness and speed up expiration.

Along with storing it in the right container, here are some other tips that will help preserve your CBD oil’s freshness:

  • Keep CBD oil in its original packaging to prevent unnecessary exposure to air.
  • Store oil at room temperature, which is typically around 60 to 70°F (16 to 21°C).
  • Store the oil in a dark place away from light, such as a pantry, cupboard, or closet.
  • Keep oil away from potential sources of excess heat or cold, like windows, radiators, air conditioners, and stoves.
  • Use a clean dropper or spoon every time you take CBD oil to avoid getting bacteria and other contaminants in the bottle.
  • Always make sure to close the bottle properly after use to keep air out.

CBD oil does expire, but the typical shelf life should be plenty, even if you don’t take it regularly. Choosing a good quality product and storing it properly will help maintain its freshness and potency longer.

If you do happen to unearth a forgotten bottle of CBD oil, a quick look and sniff should tell you if it’s still past its prime and time to chuck it.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddleboard.