We talk to experts about CBD expiration dates, and get their tips for storing hemp CBD for product potency and lifespan

Medically reviewed by Katherine Golden, RN
Written by Denise Gonzalez-Walker

We’ve all been there before—eyeing a recently expired hemp CBD product in our cabinet, wondering if it is still safe or if it will be as effective as when we first bought it.

This dilemma prompted us to ask manufacturers of high-quality hemp for their tips on storing CBD to ensure product quality and potency over time. We also asked about expiration dates, as well as what not to do when it comes to storing hemp CBD.

These hemp experts are made up of some of our own fully-vetted Leaf411 business members who manufacture hemp CBD products, as well as a few other industry leaders suggested to us by Alan Greenberg, Founder and CEO at CBD Garage. (See the bottom of this post for a complete list of hemp industry professionals who shared insights.)

Top tip: Store hemp CBD in a cool, dark, dry area

Across all hemp CBD categories, the hemp experts agreed that storing products in a cool, dark area improves product lifespan. Fortunately, most hemp CBD products are packaged in amber or solid-colored containers that block light, making it easier for consumers to ensure a dark environment.

A dry environment can help prevent mold; however, with hemp CBD flower, an overly dry environment like the refrigerator can cause the product to dry out prematurely. (See below for tips on storing hemp flower.)

Avoid sunlight, heat and excessive exposure to air

Heat and sunlight are the biggest culprits when it comes to CBD degradation. While it may seem easy enough to avoid storing your hemp CBD under these conditions, it’s worth paying attention to special situations, like when you bring your hemp CBD with you when traveling.

CBD can also break down faster when exposed to air for a long time due to oxidation—for example, if a hemp product is left open on a countertop for days at a time. To prevent this from happening, you will want to store your hemp CBD in its original container with the lid tightly closed.

Retro refrigerator with door open, indicating cold storage

How cool is cool enough?

We can hear what you’re thinking: “When you say ‘cool,’ just how cool is that? Is it better to store my CBD in the fridge?”

Room temperature works perfectly well for most hemp CBD products. Cannabinoids from the hemp plant (CBD, CBG, CBN and others) are oily by nature. Most oils, including CBD oil, are shelf-stable at room temperature and do not require refrigeration.

Also, many hemp CBD tinctures use MCT oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil as carrier oils—the base that the CBD is added to. You can think about how these oils are commonly stored unrefrigerated on dark pantry shelves—the same rules apply to CBD hemp products made with these ingredients!

In fact, in some cases, an oil-based hemp CBD tincture liquid may become too thick or difficult to use if refrigerated.

On the other hand, for some products like pills and capsules, refrigeration could extend the product’s lifespan. For example, Lauren Stall from Trill Pills says, “We only state to customers one-year shelf stability out of the fridge since that is certified by the state. However, my personal experience is that Trill Pills can be kept in the fridge for longer with no deterioration.”

Does hemp CBD stay good past its expiration date?

For hemp CBD products made in Colorado, the state sets a standard one-year shelf-stable expiration date. However, most high-quality hemp products may remain good for up to a year after the expiration date has passed as long as they have been properly stored.

Now that we’ve covered some general questions, let’s dive into the best ways to store hemp CBD tinctures, edibles, topicals, flower, vapes and transdermal products.

Wana Wellness Rest Quick hemp tincture bottle showing manufacture date. The tincture utilizes nanotechnology to more rapidly deliver CBD. More info here.

Mary’s Nutritionals Remedy full-spectrum hemp CBD tincture. More info here.

How to store hemp CBD tinctures

  • Store in a cool, dark, dry area. (One exception is Wana Wellness Quick hemp tinctures, which can handle warmer temperatures due to their proprietary manufacturing technology.)
  • Avoid leaving tinctures in sunny areas like on a windowsill or in a hot car.
  • Shake tincture before using.
  • When using a tincture dropper, do not let it touch your tongue or mouth where it could pick up bacteria that would then be transferred to the bottle. If your dropper touches your mouth or other unsterilized surfaces, it can be cleaned using soap and water and rinsing thoroughly before returning it to the bottle.

How to store hemp CBD edibles

  • CBD gummies, chocolates and other hemp-infused edibles are just like any other food product when it comes to storage and product lifespan. The hemp CBD is relatively stable, but other ingredients may have additional considerations. For example, Mike Hennesy, VP of Innovation at Wana Wellness, points out that gummies may begin to dry out and lose their soft consistency over time, particularly in arid climates in places like Colorado or Arizona.
  • Make sure packaging is always tightly closed to help reduce product drying out. For items like a half-used chocolate bar, store the remaining product in a sealed ziplock bag.
  • If an edible tastes or smells “off” or has mold on it, throw it out. You may also want to contact the manufacturer if you believe the product spoiled prematurely despite being correctly stored.

Wana Wellness Mixed Berry hemp gummies. More info here.

Elixinol Sports Gel topical containing CBD, capsaicin, arnica and other botanicals. More info here.

How to store hemp CBD topicals

  • Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
  • Always replace and tighten the lid on the container after use.
  • If possible, use an applicator like a tongue depressor or firm cotton tip to scoop topicals out of a jar,  instead of using your fingertip. This will help prevent bacteria from your hand getting into the product. 

How to store CBD transdermal patches

  • Store at room temperature away from direct sunlight.
  • Use the transdermal patch soon after opening the package, or put the unused patch in a sealed ziplock bag away from light.
  • If you are cutting a patch in half or quarters for a smaller dose, then store the remaining unused portion in a sealed ziplock bag, says Jeremy Riggle, PhD, Mary’s Nutritionals. “If stored correctly, the patch portions will stay good for up to a year. If the half or quarter sections are not stored properly, then its shelf life drops to a few months.”

Mary’s Nutritionals hemp CBD transdermal patch allows cannabinoids to be absorbed continuously throughout the day. More info here.

RESTART CBD hemp flower which can be smoked or vaped to provide faster onset and offset of hemp CBD effects. More info here.

How to store hemp CBD flower (buds) for freshness

  • Store in an airtight glass container in a cool, dry area.
  • Avoid storing in direct sunlight.
  • For a partially smoked hemp pre-roll, snuffing it out by putting it in an airtight container (glass jar or the plastic tube it came in) is better than stubbing it out (grinding the end on a hard surface the same way people put out cigarettes) according to RESTART CBD co-founder and CEO Shayda Torabi. Airtight storage tubes can be found online by searching the term “doob tube.”
  • When it comes to humidity and rehydrating bud, some people turn to humidity packs; however, Torabi urges caution, noting that if not used correctly, humidity packs can cause hemp CBD flower to mold, making it unsafe to use. “If you want to re-hydrate your bud, do it with small amounts of flower you are going to use within 48 hours. Don’t leave your humidity pack in the jar with your flower for extended periods of time, and make sure to follow the instructions on the humidity pack to ensure the best experience,” Torabi says.

How to store CBD vapes

  • Store in a cool dry area, in an upright position to reduce the risk of leakage.
  • Do not leave your vape in a car since extreme temperatures can impact the consistency of the vape liquid, as well as product quality.

Other product ingredients also make a difference

Your favorite CBD chocolate bar or flavored tincture contains hemp-derived cannabinoids, but it also contains other ingredients that impact shelf stability and overall product lifespan. Other ingredients—water-based ingredients in particular—can limit product lifespan in some cases.

Ryan Lynch, co-founder of Boulder Hemp, explains that high water content more readily supports microbial growth if the product has not been pasteurized or sterilized. Oil-based products, on the other hand, should last longer due to the lack of water content.

You only need to look as far as your kitchen to see examples of how water content impacts shelf life. Most foods with higher water content, like fruits and meats, have a shorter lifespan. They are either stored in a refrigerator or are canned, which sterilizes them and makes them shelf-stable until they are opened.

On the other hand, cooking oils are stored at room temperature even after opening. The lack of water, combined with a lack of sugar or other ingredients, makes ingredients like olive oil and MCT oil shelf-stable at room temperature for long periods of time. These are the same oils used in many hemp CBD tinctures.

In short, when thinking about how to store your hemp CBD, check the manufacturer guidelines and consider all the ingredients in your product to help guide you. 

trupura CBD chocolate-covered cherry flavored chocolate bar. More info here.

Need hemp CBD answers? We can help at no cost!

Our Leaf Nurses are happy to answer your hemp CBD questions about any product on the market today—the brand does not need to be one of our member businesses, either. Call our free hotline at 844-LEAF411 (844-532-3411), or chat us from our home page during hotline hours, Monday-Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Hemp CBD manufacturers and retailers who shared tips for this post: Alan Greenberg, CBD Garage; Mike Hennesy, Wana Wellness; Jeremy Riggle, PhD, Mary’s Nutritionals; Shayda Torabi, RESTART CBD; Erika Sauerwein, Elixinol; Abigail Nueve, trupura CBD; Ryan Lynch, PhD, Boulder Hemp; Lauren Stall, Trill Pills

 

The Leaf411 cannabis nurse hotline provides free, anonymous education and directional support to the general public about the safe use of legal cannabis. We partner with select business members who meet our rigorous standards to extend our education and outreach efforts.