Anything that can be consumed can expire, and this includes castor oil. Fortunately, castor oil has a long shelf life — up to 1 year — as long as you store it properly.
To keep your castor oil fresh, you want to keep it somewhere dark, at room temperature, away from moisture. These are the most important things you can do to keep your oil lasting as long as possible.
Below, I cover what castor oil is, when it expires, how to tell when castor oil has gone bad, how long castor oil lasts and how to best store castor oil.
What Is Castor Oil?
Castor oil has been used for centuries as a natural medication and health supplement. Many people use it to relieve constipation, help with wrinkles, and healing wounds.
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is produced from the oil that comes from castor bean seeds. The castor bean, or Ricinus communis, is a plant that is native to the tropical areas of Africa.
Ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid, is the primary ingredient found in castor oil, and it contains anti-inflammatory properties.
The properties found in Ricinoleic acid makes castor oil a very useful laxative, moisturizer, wound healer, and cleaner.
Using castor oil as a laxative is the most popular use of the product. Castor oil is a stimulant, so when it is consumed, the muscles of the intestines contract. These contractions help the digestive system to move along.
Just be careful not to use too much castor oil when using it as a laxative. Too much can cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, and nausea. Castor oil is only to be used as a temporary laxative and shouldn’t be used for chronic constipation.
The fatty acid, ricinoleic acid, also works very well as a moisturizer. It keeps water held within the upper layer of the skin, keeping the skin hydrated and healthy. Even better yet, researchers have found no negative side effects when using castor oil as a moisturizer.
Because of this, you will often see castor oil used in lotions, skin cleansers, and cosmetics.
The way that castor oil retains moisture in the skin also makes it very good at healing wounds.
The oil prevents the wound from drying out. It also reduces pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Castor oil also has properties that prevents it from growing bacteria and fungi.
Because of this, many people use castor oil to aid in the cleaning of their dentures.
When Does Castor Oil Expire?
Can castor oil expire? Fortunately, castor oil has a fairly long shelf life even after it’s been opened. That is, as long as you store it properly. But, it can still expire.
What about other kinds of castor oil? Does Jamaican castor oil expire? Does black castor oil expire? The answer is yes, all castor oil can and will expire. Likewise, all castor oil will last about the same amount of time.
How long it lasts depends on whether you have opened or unopened castor oil. Shelf life of opened oil is generally about 1 year. Unopened castor oil will generally last for about 2 years before it goes bad.
You can also sometimes find castor oil that has been cold pressed. Cold pressing is a specialized process that helps the oil to stay fresh much longer than it would naturally. If you buy cold pressed castor oil, it can last for up to 5 years.
However, how you store your castor oil is very important. If you don’t store your castor oil properly, it can go bad several months sooner than it should. Fortunately, if you’re not sure whether your oil is still good or not, there are easy ways to tell.
How To Tell If Castor Oil Is Bad?
It’s really easy to tell if castor oil has gone bad, so you never need to worry about consuming expired oil.
The easiest way to tell if your oil is good is by looking at the expiration date and the packaging. If you’re still not sure though, you can also check the smell and the appearance.
The Expiration Date
There are a few different dates that your castor oil may be labeled with.
The “sell by” date is simply the date that the store should sell the product by. It doesn’t mean that the product expires after that date.
The “best by” date means that the product is simply “best” when consumed by the date on the container. However, the product is still generally good for a time afterwards.
The “expiration” date generally means that the product is no longer good after the printed date.
However, some product is still good even after the expiration date. This is where the smell and appearance of the castor oil comes in handy.
Also, make sure that you always purchase your oil from a reputable brand. Brands that care about their products will produce better-quality products that will last longer.
It is also very important to make sure that the container is properly sealed. Castor oil stored in a container that is not properly sealed will cause your oil to go bad much sooner than it should. If you notice that the product is not properly sealed in the store, don’t purchase it.
Fresh castor oil will be a clear or cream coloration. You might notice a slight tint, but the oil should never be too dark. If you’ve noticed your oil turning brown or yellow, it is no longer good.
Likewise, fresh castor oil will generally look clear. If you notice that it is opaque or cloudy, you should throw it out.
Does castor oil smell bad? No, castor oil is all but odorless when it’s fresh, and you really shouldn’t notice a smell. At the very most, your castor oil may have a slight earthy scent to it.
So, if you notice that your castor oil has a pungent, foul odor to it, it is no longer good.
How Long Does Castor Oil Last?
For best results, castor oil should only ever be stored in the pantry at room temperature.
If you store it about 75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 55 degrees Fahrenheit, the oil will begin to degrade.
When stored in the fridge, your castor oil’s shelf life may go from 1 year down to a few months. Frozen castor oil will expire even sooner.
|The Castor Oil Is…||It Is Stored In The…||It Will Last For…|
|Unopened||Pantry||Up To 2 Years|
|Opened||Pantry||Up To 1 Year|
|Cold Pressed||Pantry||Up To 5 Years|
How To Store Castor Oil So It Lasts As Long As Possible
Castor oil has a significantly long shelf life as long as it’s stored properly. If you don’t store it right, it will go bad much more quickly than you probably hoped. But, how exactly should you store your castor oil to ensure that it stays fresh for a long time?
Keep It In The Pantry For The Right Temperature
The pantry is always the best place to keep your castor oil whether it’s open or unopen. The pantry is great because the interior will be kept at about the same temperature as the rest of your house.
To stay good, castor oil should be kept between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people keep their houses within this temperature range, so it usually works well for castor oil.
Keep It Out Of The Light
Light is a bad element for castor oil. Exposure to light will cause your castor oil to go bad much more quickly than it should and you may notice that it tastes stale.
This is another reason why the pantry is a good place to store the oil. Pantries are dark and will protect your oil from excess light.
Keep It In An Air-Tight Container
Moisture is just as bad for castor oil as light and temperature is. If moisture gets into your oil, it can cause a build-up of bacteria which will lead to premature spoiling.
If you don’t keep the castor oil container properly sealed, it won’t matter what temperature you store it at or how much light it receives.
Don’t Keep It In The Fridge Or Freezer
Both moisture and temperature are the reasons why castor oil shouldn’t be kept in the refrigerator or the freezer. Castor oil begins to degrade in temperatures below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Most refrigerators are kept at about 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and freezers are kept much lower.
Likewise, refrigerators and freezers produce a lot of moisture. Even if you think your castor oil is in an air-tight container, the moisture from the cold might still make its way inside.
There is one exception to this rule: you can keep castor oil in the refrigerator if you put Vitamin E oil in the castor oil. Vitamin E oil acts as a preservative, so some people will add a few drops to their castor oil. Vitamin E also helps the castor oil stay fresh even in the refrigerator.
However, it’s best to just keep your castor oil in the pantry while taking the precautions I suggested. If you do these things, your oil should last for about 1 year without any added preservatives.
So, can castor oil go bad? Like all food, castor oil can and will expire. However, you can prevent your oil from going bad prematurely by storing it in the right place. Keep it in the pantry where it’s warm, dark, and dry. Never keep it in the fridge or freezer, and always keep it away from light.
If you’re still worried that your castor oil has gone bad, there are things you can do to tell. Castor oil should be clear and odorless. So, if you notice that it’s gone dark or smells funny, it’s time to pitch it.