If you want your CBD oil or another CBD product to stay fresh and effective it’s important to store it properly. Improper storage can cause the CBD to degrade faster.
Studies suggest that the ideal way to store CBD is in a closed container away from light at room or refrigerator-like temperatures.
In this evidence-based guide, we’ll go over how temperature, light, air, and other factors can affect CBD degradation and highlight the best tips and ways to store your CBD products.
Table of Contents
- Factors Affecting CBD Shelf Life
- Best Way to Store CBD: What the Research Tells Us
- The Best Way To Store CBD
- Storing Your CBD The Science-Backed Way
Factors Affecting CBD Shelf Life
When it comes to CBD degradation, high temperature is by far the most damaging factor. All three studies I discuss below showed that CBD exposed to high temperatures degraded much faster and that other factors didn’t have a significant effect until they were combined with high temperatures.
Although it’s not the most damaging factor on its own, light works with oxygen and temperature to speed up the breakdown of CBD (1). If you must store your CBD products in a place that gets some light, always keep them in an opaque container. This is why most CBD oils come in amber glass bottles. Still, it’s best to keep CBD products in a dark place, like a cabinet.
CBD products are sensitive to oxygen exposure, although it’s less damaging than high temperatures (2). Store your CBD products in an airtight container, and always seal the container tightly after each use.
Higher-quality CBD products are more likely to contain the correct amount of CBD, be packaged properly, and be free of contaminants and additives that could affect the shelf life.
Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to pay more for quality CBD. There are plenty of affordable, top-tier CBD brands like Lazarus Naturals.
Type of Product
The shelf-life of your CBD product will also depend on its form:
- CBD powder – CBD isolate powder seems to be the most stable form of CBD (1).
- CBD oil – CBD oil has a shelf life of about a year when stored properly. It isn’t harmful to use after that, but it won’t be as effective due to the gradual loss of CBD.
- Topical CBD products – Balms and other oil-based products are likely to last for a fairly long time, whereas water-based products like lotions will likely last less as CBD doesn’t fair as well in water (1).
- CBD capsules – Each capsule forms an airtight seal around a small amount of oil or powder, so its potency should be well-preserved as long as the container is kept in a cool, dark environment.
- CBD gummies – gummies last for a fairly long time because their main ingredients (pectin or gelatin) have a long shelf-life. But you should still store them properly.
CBD oils are formulated by mixing CBD with a carrier oil such as hemp seed, olive, or coconut MCT oil, which helps your body absorb it. Some carrier oils are more shelf-stable than others.
Coconut MCT oil typically lasts about two years, which is one of the many reasons it’s the most popular carrier oil for CBD. Meanwhile, other common options like hemp seed and olive oil offer additional nutritional benefits but tend to degrade faster.
In general, oils are past their best-by date if they:
- Become thick or sticky
- Smell or taste unpleasant
- Darken in color
Best Way to Store CBD: What the Research Tells Us
Several studies have looked at the mechanics of how environmental factors break down CBD over time. Here’s what we can learn.
Effects of Temperature, Air, and Light on CBD
One 2021 study compared the stability of pure CBD isolate powder to CBD dissolved in sunflower oil. Researchers stored both for up to a year at 25 °C/77 °F or 40 °C/°104 F in open or closed vials that were either covered or exposed to daylight.
They then compared how much CBD was lost between the different testing conditions. They found that: (2)
- CBD powder degraded much slower than CBD oil, losing only about ~10% of its CBD content after 1 year, regardless of how it was stored
- The temperature had by far the biggest impact, followed by air exposure
- After one year, CBD oil held at 25 °C/77 °F lost about 40% of its CBD content both for open and closed vials
- Meanwhile, CBD oil stored at 40 °C/104 °F lost about 75% for the closed vial and 99% for the open one
- Exposing CBD to light only sped up CBD degradation a little bit
In summary, the study seems to confirm that you should store your CBD products in a cool, dark place. More importantly, it highlights that high temperatures are the biggest problem. Meanwhile, air and light exposure have a much smaller effect but do speed up the breakdown of CBD when combined with high temperatures.
The study also gives us a rough estimate of how long your CBD oil should last (when stored properly) before it starts to degrade — about 9 months to a year.
Stability of CBD in Vape Juice
A 2020 study examined the stability of cannabidiol in vape e-liquids stored at different temperatures and light conditions (3).
Researchers tested the CBD content in e-liquids over 30 days when stored at 4°C/39°F (close to the temperature of a typical refrigerator), room temperature (22 °C/72 °F), or at 37°C/98.6°F. Another test was done for the effects of light at room temperature, with one e-liquid tube being exposed to sunlight and another covered.
As expected, CBD degradation increased at higher temperatures, with most samples losing 10-15% CBD after 30 days at 37°C, whereas most samples kept at the lower temperatures lost less than 5%. The coolest temperature (4°C/39°F) was slightly better than room temperature for preserving CBD content.
Light exposure had less impact than high temperature, with kept-in-the-dark samples losing about 4% CBD and exposed ones losing 13%. These findings are similar to the first study we discussed, confirming that temperature has the biggest impact on CBD degradation and that storing CBD products in a cool, dark location is the best option.
Stability of CBD in Solution
Another study published in 2020 looked at how CBD potency holds up in a water-based solution compared to an alcohol-based solution. Various light, air, and temperature conditions were tested (1).
CBD in alcohol was found to be much more stable than in water, which isn’t surprising since CBD doesn’t dissolve in water. Again, the researchers found that temperature was the most important factor:
- At 5 °C/41 °F (close to fridge temperature), CBD in ethanol didn’t degrade much after a year
- CBD stored close to room temperature (25 °C/77 °F) lost about 10% of CBD at 6 months and 20% after a year
- CBD stored in water degraded faster, likely because of the presence of dissolved oxygen
- CBD stored in light lost slightly more than when stored in dark, but the difference wasn’t noticeable at 5 °C/41 °F
The researchers concluded that “it is necessary to keep the ethanol solutions of CBD in the refrigerator to guarantee a shelf life of more than one year, since at room temperature the solutions remain stable for less than 4 month.”
Summing up these 3 studies, we can see that temperature is the biggest factor that leads to CBD degradation, followed by oxygen and light exposure.
The Best Way To Store CBD
As such, I recommend storing CBD products either in the fridge or a dark, cool, dry cabinet. I usually go with the cabinet option because it’s more convenient and I know I’m going to finish my CBD products long before I need to worry about their shelf life. Still, CBD will last slightly longer when refrigerated.
Be aware that storing CBD oil in the fridge may cause it to separate. But that won’t harm the oil and you can always take it out for a few hours or run it under hot water and shake it well before use.
Other Helpful Tips
- Store CBD products in a place with stable temperature and low humidity.
- Keep CBD away from heat sources like windows, radiators, and stoves. Air conditioners cause temperature fluctuations, so it’s best to avoid those too.
- Opt for dark or opaque containers, such as amber glass bottles, to reduce light exposure. It’s generally best to keep your CBD in the container it came in.
- Seal your CBD product tightly after each use to prevent oxidation.
- When taking CBD oil by dropper, avoid direct contact between your mouth or tongue and the dropper. This can cause contamination.
- Close the CBD oil or other container quickly after use.
- Be careful about storing CBD in a bathroom cabinet, since bathrooms can get humid and hot from the shower, bath, and sink.
Storing Your CBD The Science-Backed Way
Once you’ve discovered the benefits of CBD, you’ll want to make sure your product stays as effective as the day you opened it. Start with quality CBD from a trusted manufacturer to ensure that the product is accurate and effective. Keep it away from light and heat, and seal it quickly after use.
Remember that CBD will lose potency over time even with careful storage, so it’s best to use it within 6-12 months. But that’s a pretty long time.
In my experience, most CBD products (except topicals) last me at most 4 months, which isn’t enough to cause any significant degradation. With a little care, your CBD products will be ready to get to work whenever you need them.
- Fraguas-Sanchez, A. I., et al. “Stability characteristics of cannabidiol for the design of pharmacological, biochemical and pharmaceutical studies.” Journal of Chromatography B 1150 (2020): 122188.
- Kosović, Ema, David Sýkora, and Martin Kuchař. “Stability study of cannabidiol in the form of solid powder and sunflower oil solution.” Pharmaceutics 13.3 (2021): 412.
- Mazzetti, Carlo, et al. “Quantification of the content of cannabidiol in commercially available e-liquids and studies on their thermal and photo-stability.” Scientific Reports 10.1 (2020): 3697.
Gleb is a freelance writer from Vancouver, Canada specializing in CBD and cannabis. He’s read thousands of studies on CBD and other supplements, helping him translate complex science into plain language. Gleb has tried and reviewed dozens of CBD brands and products, written third-party testing reports, and knows the CBD industry inside and out. When not writing, he likes to kickbox, travel, and tell everyone how awesome intermittent fasting is.