Does CBD oil need to be refrigerated?

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

Does CBD oil need to be refrigerated

CBD aka cannabidiol needs no introduction. This immensely popular cannabis product has reached every house, conquered all sorts of markets, dealt with almost every form of ailments in some way or the other and though not approved by FDA, has been approved by thousands of people who swear by it whole-heartedly.

These hemp-derived CBD products are now available in almost every form. You can buy an oil or a yummy gummy or a tincture or a lotion or a vape or even a cosmetic soap to get rid of your concerns like mood disorders, pain, inflammation, sleep, appetite, pimples, injury, scars and many more. And all these without getting stoned up as CBD from cannabis hemp has almost nil psychoactive THC levels.

The sad part is the lack of strict regulations on CBD products make it difficult to select the quality product and if we somehow manage to procure one, there are no definitive guidelines regarding how to store them. And we all know that proper storage is the key for maintaining the quality and longevity of any product, same goes for CBD oil too. But currently, a lot of confusion is going around CBD oil storage with users suggesting varied modes of storages like

  • Keep your CBD oil in kitchen cabinets/cupboards
  • In the pantry
  • Inside the fridge
  • Freezer compartment
  • Some even go to the extent saying that if not refrigerated, you are spoiling your CBD oil

Is this true? Which is the correct way to store your CBD oil?

Let’s solve this question once and for all by digging the depths,

What determines the storage process?

Storage means keeping a drug in a secure environment to prevent or slow down its degradation and also prevent any chances of contamination.

Coming to CBD oil,

Being a natural substance, CBD oil is bound to undergo deterioration in a defined period of time. But if not stored properly, this process will be accelerated due to the high sensitivity of CBD to its 4 enemies:

  1. Extreme temperatures
    Exposure to harsh or even fluctuating temperatures especially heat can adversely affect CBD, taking away its freshness and dimming down its potency.

    Heat can alter the cannabinoid strength by messing up with the minerals and terpenes present in the CBD oil. Higher temperatures may even separate the carrier oils from CBD impeding its absorption and hence efficacy.

  2. Light
    Light mostly in the form of sunlight imparts some warmth to the oil which then provides a hostile environment for the development of molds and bacteria. This can ruin the quality of CBD oil. In addition, UV light can also cause damage to the cannabinoid profile.

  3. Air/ oxygen
    Open bottles, loose/broken lids allow the outside air to mix with the oils. This exposes the cannabinoids and terpenes to an oxidative stress induced by oxygen from air leading to their breakdown and reduced effectiveness.

  4. Humidity/Moisture
    Facilitate the growth of molds in the oils converting the health promoter CBD to a serious health hazard.

 

Any of these if present can degrade CBD oil faster reducing its shelf life.

To avoid these, enter the 4 coolest virtues of CBD storage:

Cool, Dark, Air-sealed and Dry

A place fulfilling all these 4 criteria such as a dark cupboard or pantry can serve as an ideal site to store CBD oil.

And here begins the misconception behind the word ‘cool’, mentioned on the bottle labels which misleads the users to store CBD in the fridge. In real sense, the term cool on the label suggests ‘not warm’ and hints towards the temperature range around 60-70o F (16-21OC) that does not promote microbial growth.

Does that mean a bottle of CBD oil should never be stored in a refrigerator?

No, absolutely not.

  • Refrigeration though not essential, it can serve as an easy, failure-proof alternative to store CBD oil as it also provides the 4 virtues of good storage
  • It blocks the entry of light (except when the doors are open).
  • Provides cooler surroundings, a steady temperature with no fluctuations.
  • No chance of humidity or moisture.
  • An enclosed environment with limited access to air.
  • Rather a fridge provides some additional ‘nice to have’ (but not compulsory) features too like
    • Cooler oils are more soothing and tempting to the palate.
    • Lower temperature can stretch the shelf-life of CBD oil.

If CBD oil bottles are purchased in bulk quantities, it is better to start using one and store others in the refrigerator wherein the stable cool temperature maintains the integrity of the carrier oil, delays deterioration, inhibits microbial growth and thus maximize shelf life (2 years). This is not needed for CBD oil bottle used regularly.

  • If the expiry date is approaching

Expiry date indicates that around and after this date, the quality of product may go down. When this date is approaching, the products must be chilled in fridge to slow down the degradation process a bit.

  • Solidify melted products.

Sometimes, in harsh summers, the CBD topicals like salve may meltdown at room temperature. They can be solidified back to the original form with lowered temperature.

  • Manufacturer recommendation.

Certain strains or components of specific oils may require cooler environment for their maintenance.

  • Concern with refrigeration

Lower temperatures can sometimes make the oil thicker and difficult to consume especially if olive oil and coconut oil are the carrier oils present. This issue can be resolved by placing the bottle of CBD oil in warm water baths or leaving it outside for melting down. But this cooling-warming cycle every time in regular use is neither recommended nor user-friendly.

Hence, the option to store CBD oil in a fridge should be considered preferably for an unopened bottle meant to be preserved for a much longer duration.

So now what’s your answer to the following question?

Does CBD oil go bad if not refrigerated?

No. not at all.

Refrigeration in terms of storage essentials is equivalent and not better than pantry or cupboards for regular use. Though it may add to the shelf life of CBD in long run, skipping refrigeration do not adversely affect the CBD oil profile.

Can deep freezing be an option too?

There are conflicting opinions with respect to deep freezing of CBD oil.

  • Many say, the cooler the temperature better will be the CBD oil quality and shelf life making it more desirable. 
  • Research suggests that this can be true but only to store your CBD oil for long term and that too in sealed air-tight bottles (as freezing-melting daily for regular use is not recommended.)

Points against freezing suggest that:

  • Oils may contain other ingredients that should not be frozen. So, before freezing, contact the company to check the details.
  • Freezing crystallizes the oil which is later thawed in warm water whenever needed. This can add a distinct cloudiness to the oils. This cloudiness is nothing but tiny undissolved cannabinoid crystals which neither affect the quality nor change the longevity of the product but definitely distracts the user consuming it.

How long does CBD oil last once opened?

Normally an unopened bottle if stored properly stays good for around 12-24 months and this limit can be further extended by few months with refrigeration.

However once opened, the oil gets repeated encounters with sunlight, air, temperature variations and even humidity reducing the shelf-life to somewhere around 6-8 months.

How do you store CBD oil after opening?

At the manufacturers level, CBD oil is well-packed in medical-grade tinted glass bottles to limit heat and light exposure. It is advised that even after opening, oil should be retained in its original packaging to prevent unnecessary exposures and should be stored in a cool, dry, dark moisture-free place away from sunlight, such as a pantry, cupboard, closet or box.

Finally,

Where should you store CBD oil?

  • In a cool (16-21o C), dark, dry and clean place ideally a cabinet of pantry situated away from direct sunlight and heat sources like windows and heat-generating appliances like stove, gas-range, dishwasher or oven.
  • Make sure that there is no moisture around your bottle of CBD oil.
  • Use original tinted glass packaging to prevent unnecessary contact with air and light. If you need to transfer your CBD products, make sure the new container is adequate for long-term storage.
  • Though the bottles are tinted to avoid light, it’s better to cover them with aluminium foil to prevent even the slightest exposure to light.
  • Always close the lid of a CBD bottle tightly while storing to keep out the excess oxygen and other potential contaminants.
  • For long term storage, prefer refrigerators.
  • Keep your CBD oil out of reach of pets and children.
  • While deciding over CBD oil storage, also consider the storage requirement of carrier oils.

 

To summarize:

Storing CBD oil efficiently is not difficult. Just look for the nearest accessible clean, dry, dark and cool place and you are done. As far as, refrigerator storage is concerned, it is neither a compulsion nor a bad option.

There is no harm either in refrigerating or not refrigerating CBD oil. It’s totally your call. It may be a smart choice for long-term storage in order to extend the shelf life of the CBD product if you have bulk.

 

FAQs

How about the storage of CBD products of categories other than CBD oils?

  • Topicals CBD products such as salves, and creams follow the same protocol as oils. Should be stored in dark, dry, cool, clean bedside medicine cabinet. For long term, they can be stored in a fridge, tightly sealed.
  • CBD infused edibles are perishable and hence need to be refrigerated.
  • Vaping CBD can be stored at room temperature in cool, dark places.
  • CBD flowers need air-tight containers. Never refrigerate.
  • CBD concentrates are stored as oils.
  • Capsules in medicine cabinets, no refrigeration.

 

How to tell if hemp oil is gone bad?

  • Altered smell-unpleasant.
  • Looks different: change in colour with a different viscosity.
  • Tastes rancid.
  • The expiry date is gone.

Why would you need to buy CBD oil only from reputable companies?
Reputed companies grow their hemp in better conditions and use the best extraction process to derive oils. This will ensure the best quality of cannabinoid content and longer shelf life of CBD oil.

Which is a more sensitive type-CBD isolate, broad-spectrum or full-spectrum CBD oil?

Full-spectrum type as it has more components.

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