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Media 丨 2021.08.04

Does Your Oil Have an Expiration Date? Ways to Preserve the Longevity of Your Cannabis Oil

People who vape cannabis oil are often inclined to pay less attention to the storage and preservation of their cannabis supply. Where cannabis flower can quickly dry out if not stored properly, cannabis oil stored in a cartridge can last for much longer without undergoing any changes. Moreover, the changes that cannabis oil undergoes if not stored properly are not as immediately noticeable as with flowers. Nonetheless, there are steps that consumers can take to improve the longevity of their cannabis oil. These steps may be crucial if they have an ample supply that they plan to use over a long period of time. In any case, it is always helpful to understand how to properly store your cannabis and the repercussions of not doing so. From a slight change to taste and potency to complete spoilage, knowing the signs of oil degradation can help to improve the vaping experience as well as make it safer in the case of that one cartridge you found hiding underneath your couch cushion after a year, leaving you to wonder whether it is still good to use.


Cannabis Oil Cartridge Storage: the Basics


The primary factors that must be considered for cannabis oil storage are temperature and light exposure. Specifically, cannabis oil should be stored at around 70 ℉ in a place that is not exposed to sunlight (Caliva, 2021).If cannabis oil is exposed to higher temperatures, the oil may lose some of its taste and potency, while if it is exposed to light, it can become darker in colour due to the process of oxidation and again can lose potency. Light exposure causes chemical degradation of some of the THC molecules, which are changed into a non-psychoactive cannabinol called CBN through oxidation when exposed to oxygen and UV rays (McKinney, 2021).


Finally, the question of cold storage is also important, as freezing can be a common preservation method for other cannabis products, leaving some customers to wonder whether they should store their cartridges in the freezer. However, while cannabis oil itself can be stored in the freezer without being damaged, storing your cannabis oil cartridge in the freezer can lead to unwanted moisture damage to the cartridge


Therefore, a dark place around room temperature remains the best place to store your cannabis oil cartridges and disposable pens.


 CBN.jpg

The CBN Molecule, Shown Above, is Created When THC Becomes Oxidized

Source: Wikimedia Commons


How to Determine Storage Length of Your Oil


As mentioned above, cannabis oil can be stored for much longer than flowers without any noticeable quality deterioration. Specifically, under proper storage conditions, cannabis oil will last for a year or more (McKinney, 2019). 


However, it is important to note that not all oil is the same and that a number of other factors beyond storage techniques also influence the shelf time of cannabis oil. Some of these factors include quality, ingredients, and type of extraction process (Santos-Longhurst, 2021). Regarding quality, purer oils, meaning with a higher content of only cannabinoids and oil, are known to have a longer shelf life (Zambeza, 2017). Certain ingredients used in an oil mixture may also impact the shelf life, while the carbon dioxide extraction method for making oil is known to result in the most stable and pure oil for maximum storage life. 


In other words, it is always important to look at the specific characteristics of the brand of oil you are purchasing, as each kind of oil may have a different listed expiration date.


How to Tell if Your Oil has Gone Bad


Ultimately, even in proper storage conditions, oil can go bad over a long enough period of time. As mentioned above, the oil colour can darken if it is exposed to sunlight, yet this does not mean that your oil has necessarily become spoiled or unsafe, only that it has experienced some oxidation and deterioration in quality. 


However, many indicators can help you tell if your oil has actually gone bad, all of which are similar to determining if most other types of consumable products have become spoiled. That is, the main characteristics that will tell you whether your oil has spoiled are smell, look, and taste (Santos-Longhurst, 2021). If the oil starts to have a strong and unpleasant smell, it is a strong sign that the oil has gone bad, while an unpleasant taste when taking a hit from your vape also can indicate that the oil has gone bad. Finally, while a darkened look does not indicate spoilage, a change in the texture of the oil might, with a murkiness or cloudiness indicating spoiled oil. If your cartridge filled with oil has been lying around for a year or more, or if it has been stored past the expiration date listed on the package, and if it is demonstrating any of these signs, you may wish to consider throwing away the oil and purchasing a new refill. 


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Conclusion: Simple Steps for Longevity


As demonstrated by the information given above, the storage of cannabis oil cartridges is not rocket science. All it takes to ensure proper storage is awareness to keep the oil away from excessive light or heat exposure, and there will be no issues with premature spoilage whatsoever. At the same time, understanding which types of cannabis oils have a longer shelf life can be important in situations in which you are required or simply have a desire to store a large amount of oil over a significant period of time, both for the consumer experience and in business contexts. For example, high-quality oil has a longer shelf life as one of its benefits, beyond its impact on the vaping experience itself, which may help to inform the purchasing decision in some cases. In any case, understanding storage prevents waste and helps to ensure that you do not waste any of your fragrant and calming cannabis oil.