Coconut oil is a modern wonder of our lives. It’s the first thing we reach for when we want to add healthy fats to dinner, provide extra moisture to our hair, and even freshen Fido’s breath. With so many possibilities, it’s easy to find ourselves buying more oil than we ever thought we needed.
But crazy things happen, and sometimes it takes awhile to finish that giant jar. You may ask yourself, “Does coconut oil expire?” The short answer is yes, coconut oil does expire.
Here’s the long answer: refined coconut oil will last about 18 months. Virgin coconut oil can last for several years. Virgin coconut oil retains more of its natural antioxidants, giving it a longer shelf life. As a general rule, coconut oil made by a wet-milling process takes longer to expire. This means the coconut oil is extracted by chemical-free methods like fermentation, refrigeration, or boiling.
Thanks to its solid molecular structure and natural antibiotic properties, coconut oil has a longer shelf life than other vegetable oils. Olive oil, as a comparison, will last about a year before it expires.
Of course, these are only just guidelines. Many factors can affect how long a jar of oil lasts, like the temperature of your kitchen or how much air it’s exposed to. Fortunately, it’s easy to find out whether you have rancid coconut oil.
Here are five things to look for if you’re unsure whether your oil has spoiled:
- Color: Liquid coconut oil should be crystal clear and turn milky white as it solidifies. If it starts to turn yellow or beige while it’s a liquid or a solid, it has probably reached its expiration date.
- Consistency: Fresh coconut oil is smooth. If it starts to get chunky, your coconut oil is spoiled.
- Smell: Good coconut oil should have a subtle, slightly sweet smell. If you take a whiff and it smells strong or sour, you have rancid oil. It’s best to just toss it.
- Taste: Just like its smell, coconut oil should have a slightly sweet taste. If it’s strong or bitter, toss it.
- Clarity: Look for tiny, dark oil spots. This could be mold developing in your jar of coconut oil. Some blogs say you can scrape them off and eat what remains. It’s always better to be cautious, as the bacteria that causes mold has likely spread through the jar.
How To Store Coconut Oil
To keep your coconut oil from expiring before its time, you’ll want to store it properly. Follow these tips, and you’ll never be surprised by suddenly spoiled oil.
- Do store coconut oil in a cool, dark place. Exposure to light, air, and heat can quickly create rancid coconut oil. Keep it in your pantry or a cupboard away from the stove to prevent spoilage.
- Don’t double-dip. Make sure you only use clean utensils to scoop coconut oil from the jar, and never use your fingers. This keeps cross-contamination at bay and prevents mold from forming. If you’re anything like us, you use coconut oil as a food and as a beauty product. Consider separate jars for each use to prevent cross-contamination.
- Don’t be alarmed if your coconut oil melts. Coconut oil has a low melting point — about 76 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a warm climate, or don’t have air conditioning, your jar could stay liquid for months. That’s totally fine! Liquid coconut oil can solidify, melt, then go back again indefinitely. It won’t affect the quality or give you spoiled oil. You can refrigerate or freeze coconut oil, though it becomes more difficult to work with.
As long as you store it properly, your coconut oil should have a shelf life of at least 18 months. If you buy higher quality virgin coconut oil, you’ll be able to store it for much longer.
Do you have any tips and tricks for preventing spoiled coconut oil? Share them in the comments, and see how a spoonful of coconut oil can change your life with these 14 everyday uses.