One of the most important things to know when you buy a CBD product is its shelf life. With so many different types of products out there, including CBD oil, capsules, tinctures, e-liquids, and even cookies, we can’t state a specific time period that applies to everything on the market with CBD. Some products last for only a month, while others remain potent after two years. In any case, once a CBD product has gone beyond its shelf life, don’t hesitate to throw it away.
Factors that Affect Shelf Life
The shelf life of a CBD product or how long you can consume it depends on a lot of factors:
A CBD product’s manufacturing process has a huge effect on its shelf life. Most CBD in the UK is obtained from hemp, and the most common and recommended method for this is CO2 extraction. This type of extraction results in more stable compounds, so your CBD product is likely to last longer without degrading. On the other hand, solvent extraction methods are less expensive for the manufacturer but potentially dangerous, creating CBD that might be impure and prone to expiring quickly.
It’s not just the CBD that you have to look at—the other ingredients also matter. A CBD product’s overall shelf life is usually determined by the ingredient that expires the fastest. Even when the CBD in the product can last for two years, the product itself will only be good for a few months if it has an additive with that shelf life. For CBD oils, the bottleneck ingredient might be the carrier oil, which is typically olive oil, coconut oil, or MCT oil.
For a long shelf life, a CBD product should be derived from high-quality hemp that’s properly taken care of and loaded with nutrients. The better the hemp, the more stable your CBD product will be.
The components of the CBD product itself are important, but its shelf life is also largely determined by its packaging. Manufacturers are expected to provide CBD products in excellent packaging that keeps the product well-covered and shielded from its environment. For this reason, the packaging of choice for CBD oils would be dropper bottles, and tinted glass containers are also popular.
Exposure to Light, Heat, and Air
Whatever form it’s in, the main irritants of CBD are heat, light, and air. After everything the manufacturer did to preserve a CBD product, it’s also your job to store your CBD product properly so it can avoid these irritants. All of these cause your product to oxidise, which degrades it. The less exposure your CBD product has to these three, the longer it will last.
Out of these three, light is probably the worst for a CBD product’s shelf life, whether it’s artificial light or sunlight. Although your CBD product’s packaging may already be tinted, this isn’t enough protection if you put it directly under light. Avoid putting it on your window, and return it to its storage place right after using it.
A good benchmark is to store your CBD product somewhere that’s colder than 77 degrees F. Higher temperatures won’t necessarily degrade the CBD, but the quality of your product will change and it’ll turn cloudy. On top of this, your CBD product might still have other ingredients that will react badly with heat, so cooler temperatures are generally better for CBD products.
Because CBD is also sensitive to air, CBD containers are usually meant to be airtight. Exposure to air might rapidly shorten your CBD product’s shelf life, so make sure that its container is firmly closed.
Storing CBD Products Properly
With all of these factors in mind, good storage goes a long way towards making your CBD product last longer. To start with, you will find instructions on the packaging of most CBD products on how to store them. The general rule of thumb is to store your CBD product in a cool, dark place such as a cabinet, drawer, or even down in the basement. Don’t leave it on your windowsill or in your car!
As much as possible, keep your CBD product upright. Ideally, the temperature should be stable, and don’t put it near sources of heat like a stove or oven. While you’re using it, try to keep it in its original container. Make sure to tighten the lid before putting it back in. This isn’t necessary, but if you want extra precautions, wrap your CBD product in a brown paper bag or with aluminium foil.
Some people choose to store their CBD product in the refrigerator or freezer. Unless it’s stated outright in the product instructions, you don’t have to. Depending on the product, putting it in a freezer might be too cold, and it can negatively affect how your CBD product looks, making it murkier or thicker. However, the quality won’t change—the product will still work, but it’ll just look worse.
If you store your CBD product correctly, you can maximise its shelf life. CBD on its own has an average shelf life of one to two years, but it really depends on the specific product. Baked goods such as cookies and cakes along with edibles tend to expire quickly, while tinctures or pure CBD will last the longest.
How Do I Know if a CBD Product is Expired Already?
When CBD expires, it’s actually still consumable most of the time—it’s just that it won’t be as effective or potent anymore. However, the other ingredients in the product can become dangerous to ingest, so your product’s shelf life is a serious matter!
Check the expiration date
In the UK, all manufacturers are required to put clear labels on their CBD products. These should state important details such as the expiration date along with a clear list of ingredients. Approved CBD manufacturers have their CBD products tested at a government-approved laboratory, so the details here should be reliable. If you can’t find the expiration date, try contacting the manufacturer to ask directly. Once your product is beyond its expiration date, regardless of whether it still looks fine or not, the safe thing to do is to throw it away.
Observe the product
When a CBD product expires, you can tell based on how it looks and smells. CBD turns darker and cloudier once it’s already degrading. However, it can also turn cloudy if you put it somewhere very cold, such as in the refrigerator or freezer. One way to distinguish these is to let your cold CBD product reach room temperature first. If its appearance still remains different then, you know that it might have gone bad already. For expired CBD products that are liquids or gels, you will also see some sort of separation of its ingredients.
Odour might be a stronger sign. An expired CBD product will smell off, like rancid oil. If it’s unpleasant to smell compared to when you were first using it, then don’t even try to consume it anymore.
Be Mindful of Your CBD Product’s Shelf Life
As with anything that’s consumable, CBD products have a certain shelf life. To prolong their shelf life, it’s important to store them properly and choose high-quality products in the first place. This way, you can enjoy your CBD product at its best!