Ever wonder about whether or not cannabis oil can go bad? Learn about the factors that influence how long cannabis oils and concentrates last from Leafly. CBD oil is an organic compound with a shelf life, and it can go bad. Most hemp extracts last 12 to 18 months, depending on storage.
Can Cannabis Oil Go Bad?
Finding a long-lost cannabis concentrate is a bittersweet moment. Your discovered concentrate was left stranded in a pair of jeans that had been stuffed in the far reaches of your dresser, untouched since that last camping trip. For about a year, it’s been sitting in between some parchment paper, waiting for you to unearth it.
The good news: no mold. The bad news: it doesn’t look like the translucent and golden “shatter” you once had. What’s before you now looks like a collection of off-yellow sugar crystals. Has this hash oil gone past its shelf life? Can you still enjoy it?
How long a cannabis concentrate lasts depends on a number of factors ranging from the quality and classification of the starting material used to the packaging and storage of the final product. While some extracts and infusions can experience quality degradation in a very short time span, others may stay fresh and useable indefinitely.
The Impact of Extraction Method on Concentrates
Over time, some shatters will sometimes “sugar out” as their terpenes degrade away, leaving a substance with a higher concentration of THCA behind.
The golden standard in any extraction methodology is that the quality of the end product will always reflect the quality of the starting material. “Gold in, gold out; Garbage in, garbage out.” There’s a direct correlation between the quality of the starting material and what remains post-extraction. Inferior products containing compromised cannabinoid profiles will, in every case, result in an inferior extract.
Terpenes will almost always experience degradation of some kind during extraction. The loss will not only affect the flavor and medical efficacy of the final product, it could play a role in that product’s shelf life as well. Some products, such as those purposed for dabbing, utilize extraction methods intended for terpene preservation. Extractions meant for infusions such as for edibles, topicals, and tinctures however, may not necessarily need to utilize these terpene preservation methods.
Concentrates come in a variety of forms, ranging from extracts like saps, shatters, crumbles, butters, and distillates to sifted mechanical varieties like kief, ice water extract (IWE), and dry sift. Their attributes, such as consistency, viscosity, and clarity, are all byproducts of their extraction method.
The basic principle of an extraction is to remove the many impurities from the starting material, which include plant matter, fats and lipids, and other foreign contaminants. Many fats and lipids in solventless concentrates remain because they are more difficult to mechanically remove.
Solvent extractions, on the other hand, produce “oleoresins” that contain a combination of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, as well as other impurities such as fats and lipids, in many cases. Through a secondary solvent filtration process called “winterization,” these fats and lipids may be removed from a product, leaving behind a more purified substance.
The process of winterization is known to cause some terpene degradation that could compromise both the flavor profile and the consistency of the final product. However, this process is necessary for the production of super stable hash oil products such as glass-like “shatters,” as well as high terpene-containing saps and sugars.
Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and Concentrate Shelf Life
The greatest perceived enemies of any concentrate, be it a wax, shatter, sap, or any cannabis oil-infused product, are all the same: light, heat, air, and time.
Concentrate varieties range in consistency from stable shatters and viscous saps to butters and sugary waxes. Each variety contains a different combination of molecules (e.g. cannabinoids, terpenes, lipids , impurities), but most carry a high concentration of the cannabinoid tetrahydracannabinolic acid (THCA).
The geometric structure of pure THCA is comprised of lattices stacked onto one another, forming a crystalline structure. However, THCA in a concentrate mixture will crystallize differently, depending on variables such as the ratio of other impurities present to agitation and temperature.
For instance, “shatters,” known for their super stable glass-like consistency, are typically monocrystalline in final form, meaning they exhibit many properties consistent with amorphous solids (they have softer melting point ranges and appear less rigid in molecular structure) when exposed to varying concentrations of terpenes, impurities, or even other cannabinoids like CBD.
In order for shatter to maintain a glass-like physical structure, it must go through further filtration to remove these impurities. If left in a product, these other components can do many things, one of which is to cause a “buttering” effect in a concentrate when agitated or brought to varying temperatures.
When terpenes or even other cannabinoids such as CBD are present in a concentrate, they can also act as emulsifiers (a mixing or solvating agent) to the crystalline THCA. A concentrate that is richly saturated in both THCA and in terpenes can take on different consistencies depending on how the product was agitated and at what temperatures that product was exposed to. These varying phases that concentrates exhibit (e.g. polycrystilline to amorphous) are largely influenced by the many impurities that prevent THCA from crystallizing.
Impurities can include anything from elevated levels of terpenes to fats, lipids, solvents, as well as the presence of other cannabinoids. For example, concentrates high in cannabidiol (CBD) will appear sappier due to the distinct structure of its molecule.
Over time, some shatters will sometimes “sugar out” as their terpenes degrade away, leaving a substance with a higher concentration of THCA behind. Although this process may compromise the experience a hash oil product may have once given, it’s not a final indicator that the product is unable to be used for vaporization (dabbing). Rather, it simply means that the molecular structure of the oil has changed as a result of the terpenes degrading out of the concentrate.
“Sugary”-like hash oils that were once “shatter”-like in consistency is our visual observation of what happens during terpene degradation, when THCA no longer has to worry about terpenes getting in the way of crystallization.
Cool, dark, dry, still environments (refrigerators, freezers, low cabinets, freeze driers) are best for promoting longevity of your cannabis concentrates.
The greatest perceived enemies of any concentrate, be it a wax, shatter, sap, or any cannabis oil-infused product, are all the same: light, heat, air, and time. All of these elements facilitate the degradation of terpenes and cannabinoids, and will hasten the process by which some of your concentrates and infusions change.
Cool, dark, dry, still environments are best for promoting longevity, and when exposed to as few environmental contaminants as possible, some of these products will last a very long time without changing or losing anything.
Optimal storage options include refrigerators or freezers, low cabinets, or a freeze drier. These will help to eliminate the variables that tend to break down extracts. Over time, the cannabinoids (and, in some cases, terpenes) will inevitably change in some ways, regardless of condition. THCA will eventually degrade to cannabinol (CBN), a process which creates an “amber-ing” or darkening effect. Shatters and other dabble oils with higher terpene profiles may also sugar up, just like the one you found in your dresser.
At the end of the day, that sugary shatter isn’t going to be a deal breaker. While your concentrate may not taste quite the same or give you that “full spectrum” feeling, a nice dab will still do the trick as those THCA crystals will still pack a punch.
How to Tell if Your CBD Has Gone Bad
CBD oil is an organic compound with a shelf life, and it can go bad. Most hemp extracts last 12 to 18 months, depending on storage.
CBD oil is an organic compound with a shelf life, and it can go bad. Most hemp extracts last 12 to 18 months, depending on storage and additional ingredients. So, if you’ve had your CBD oil for more than that time frame and it doesn’t seem to work the way it used to, it might be time to ditch it and buy a fresh bottle. However, there are other ways to tell if your CBD oil has gone sour.
The color of CBD oil depends on the quality and extraction method. The decarboxylation and refinement process produces a light golden color after removing all extra components, such as chlorophyll and waxes. Once the oil has gone rancid, it will become dark brown or black, and a good sign it’s time to throw it away.
The texture is an essential indicator of the quality of CBD oil. High-quality oil is smooth and thick, with a viscosity like olive oil. In contrast, an oil that has gone bad will be thin and watery, with a closer consistency to vinegar.
CBD oil should have a robust and plant-like smell. The natural, earth aroma should be present, with no other scents detectable. If your oil has an off odor or smells like chemicals, that’s a warning it’s gone bad, and you should toss it.
If your CBD oil has gone bad, it will probably taste unpleasant. It might be acrid, bitter, or have a sour taste. If it doesn’t taste right, stop and throw it out.
All CBD products have an expiration date, and you should always check this before using the product. If the CBD oil is past its expiration date, it’s probably not going to be as effective. The CBD cannabinoid isn’t as stable as some other cannabinoids, so it can degrade.
What Factors Can Change the Shelf Life of CBD Oil?
Many factors can affect how long your CBD oil lasts. Here are some of the most common ones:
Quality of the CBD oil:
The higher the quality of the oil, the longer it will last. You want a product developed from hemp flowers, not the stems and leaves. The oil should also be free of pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants. Check with the Observer to find the best quality CBD oils available.
Different extraction methods can affect the shelf life of CBD oil. Many consider the supercritical CO2 extraction method the best because it produces a purer product.
The refinement process also plays a role in how long your CBD oil will last. A more refined product will usually have a longer shelf life than oil that hasn’t gone through the additional steps to remove unnecessary compounds.
If your CBD oil contains other ingredients like essential oils or herbal extracts, it might not last as long. These additional elements can also affect the oil’s color, smell, and taste.
You should always store CBD in a dark glass container. If exposed to light or air, it can degrade faster. Glass is also a more stable material than plastic, so it won’t leach chemicals into the oil.
Can Bad CBD Oil Make You Sick?
If you’re wondering, “Can bad CBD oil make you sick?” The answer is yes. Just like any other food product, if CBD oil has gone bad, there’s a slight risk it can make you ill. Pay attention to the additional ingredients in your CBD oil as well. If it contains other components, they can have different risks.
How Should I Store My CBD Products?
You should store CBD products in a cool, dark place to preserve their quality and efficacy. While some people choose to keep their CBD products in the refrigerator, this is unnecessary. If you decide to store it in the fridge, make sure the container is airtight to prevent condensation from developing and ruining the oil. An airtight, dark glass jar is an excellent option for long-term CBD storage.
Most CBD products will remain potent for at least one year when stored properly. A dark cupboard or drawer away from direct sunlight is the best option. It is also essential to keep CBD products away from heat sources, such as radiators or stovetops, as excessive heat can degrade the cannabinoids and terpenes in the product.
CBD oil is a booming market, and it’s crucial to know what you’re buying. With so many CBD products on the market, it’s tricky to know which ones are effective and safe. Be sure only to purchase CBD oil from a reputable source and always check the expiration date before using it.
Qrius does not provide medical advice
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS Act) outlaws the recreational use of cannabis products in India
CBD oil manufactured under a license issued by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 can be legally used in India, for medicinal purposes, only with a prescription, subject to specific conditions. Kindly refer to the same here for the legalities of use in India
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