Castor oil is a natural substance that has been used for centuries in medicine and food. There are many ways that you can use castor oil, and it’s beneficial to your health. To get the most out of your castor oil, you want to make sure that it stays fresh.

As with anything, unopened castor oil will last longer than product that has been opened. However, once you’ve opened it, there are ways to help it stay fresh for longer.

Below, I cover what castor oil is, whether it goes bad, how to tell if it’s bad, how long castor oil lasts and how to store castor oil so it lasts as long as possible.

What Is Castor Oil?

Castor oil is a type of vegetable oil that has a lot of different uses. It has been used for thousands of years in foods, medications, and skin care products. In some industries, the oil is even used as an industrial grade lubricant or a component of biodiesel fuel.

The oil is created by first extracting the natural oil from seeds. The seeds come from the castor bean plant, or Ricinus communis which is a plant native to Africa’s tropical regions.

The main ingredient found in castor oil is ricinoleic acid which is a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties.

In its natural form, the castor oil is toxic because it contains ricin, an enzyme that is toxic to humans. However, to create the commercially-used caster oil, the oil is heated which makes the ricin no longer harmful.

Castor oil has been used for centuries, and it’s still being used today. Here are some of the most common uses today:

  • Laxative
  • Moisturizer
  • Healing Wounds
  • Cleaning Dentures

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Seeds And Castor Oil
Castor Oil and seeds

As A Laxative

Besides using castor oil as a moisturizer, its next most popular use is as a laxative. Castor oil is a stimulant that causes the muscles in the intestines to contract. The contractions helps waste to move through the bowels to clear the digestive system.

Castor oil works very quickly and effectively as a laxative. However, it is seen as a temporary measure and isn’t a long-term option for chronic constipation. It is most often used before medical procedures or occasional constipation.

When using castor oil as a laxative, be careful not to use too much. A small amount works great as a laxative, but too much can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and cramping.

As A Moisturizer

A large component of castor oil is ricinoleic acid which is a monosaturated fatty acid. These acids work very well as a moisturizer because they help the skin to retain moisture. It retains moisture by preventing the skin surface from losing water.

Because of this, castor oil can be found in many cosmetics, lotions, and cleansers.

Castor oil is great to use as a moisturizer because it contains no harmful ingredients, it’s relatively cheap, and you can use it on both your face and body.

Some people even like to create their own hybrid moisturizer by combining castor oil with other oils. Castor oil is thick, so it mixes well with almond, coconut, and olive oil. In fact, it’s best to mix castor oil with other oils because pure castor oil can be irritating to some.

Healing Wounds

Castor oil is useful in helping wounds heal because it is very moist. The added moisture in the oil prevents the wound from drying out and helps it to heal faster. How does it do this?

The oils contain anti-inflammatory properties and even helps to relieve pain.

Because of this, castor oil is used as an ingredient in many medical products. It can be very helpful in the healing of ulcer, burns, and wounds resulting from surgery.

Some doctors recommend soaking a cloth in castor oil and placing it against the skin. Doing so will improve circulation which aids in the healing of tissues and organs. This method is commonly used to relieve pain, reduce inflammation, improve the function of the liver, and help with digestion.

Similarly, castor oil has been known to reduce the pain associated with arthritis. In studies done, researchers found that 90% of participants who consumed castor oil noticed some kind of pain relief. It’s also important to note that researchers noticed no symptoms associated with this use.

Cleaning Dentures

Castor oil can be very effective at cleaning dentures because it helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi. When not cleaned properly, dentures are very prone to growing Candida fungi and other bacteria.

Does Castor Oil Go Bad?

Generally, most people use all their castor oil before it has a chance to go bad. But, maybe you don’t use it very often, or you’ve forgotten you still have a container in your cupboard.

Yes, castor oil can go bad, but it can usually last for about one year.

How To Tell If Castor Oil Is Bad

Fortunately, there are a few easy ways to tell if your castor oil has gone bad.

Step 1: Examine The Castor Oil Container

The main thing you can do to make sure your castor oil is fresh is to look at the “best by” date. Do not purchase any oil that is about to reach its expiry date.

Also, make sure to purchase your oil from more reputable brands. Better brands will create better quality oil that will last longer.

Always ensure that you purchase oil that is sealed. Castor oil that is not in an airtight container will go bad much more quickly. Likewise, even if your oil was sealed when you purchased it, if it’s been unsealed for a few months, it might no longer be good.

Step 2: Examine The Castor Oil

When it is fresh, castor oil will be clear with maybe a slight tint. If you notice that you castor oil has turned dark, murky, or cloudy, it’s time to throw it out.

Some clear signs that your castor oil has gone bad is if it has turned yellow or brown in color.

Step 3: Smell The Castor Oil

Fresh castor oil doesn’t have much of a smell to it, so if you’re oil has a strong odor, it’s probably time to get rid of it.

How Long Does Castor Oil Last?

There aren’t many ways that you can store castor oil because it doesn’t do well at cool temperatures. Because of this, how long castor oil lasts doesn’t change much as long as it’s stored properly.

The Castor Oil Is…It Is Stored In The…It Will Last For…
Unopened CanPantryUp To 2 Years
Opened CanPantryUp To 1 Year
Cold Pressed PantryUp To 5 Years
How Long Does Castor Oil Last?

How Long Does Castor Oil Last Once Opened?

Castor oil can last for about 2 years when it is sealed and unused. Once it’s opened, its shelf life goes down to about 1 year.

It can only last for 1 year if it’s stored properly. Otherwise, it can go bad several months sooner.

How To Store Castor Oil

Generally, castor oil will last for about one year. However, to get the most out of your castor oil’s shelf life, you want to make sure you store it properly.

Storing Castor Oil In The Pantry

Castor oil is best kept in a pantry rather than a freezer or fridge because it doesn’t hold up well in cold temperatures. It’s best stored at temperatures between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit.

A pantry is also a good option because it helps keep the oil out of light. You want to store your oil in a dark location because excess sunlight can make the oil become stale.

Always make sure that you keep your oil stored in an air-tight container. Excess air getting into the oil can cause it to go bad more quickly.

Similarly, you should store the oil in a dry location. Moisture can also make the oil go bad faster, so an airtight container is of the utmost importance.

Storing Castor Oil In The Refrigerator

Additionally, if you want your oil to last even longer, you can add a few drops of Vitamin E oil. You’ll then want to place your castor oil in the fridge. Vitamin E oil combined with the cooler temperatures of the refrigerator acts as a preservative and will help your oil stay fresh longer.

As I said, normally you don’t want to store your castor oil below 55 degrees Fahrenheit. However, when you add Vitamin E oil to the castor oil, it allows it to be safely stored in the fridge.

Can You Freeze Castor Oil?

Castor oil is best stored at temperatures between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. When it is stored at temperatures below this, the oil begins to degrade. For this reason, castor oil generally should not be kept in the refrigerator or the freezer.

The only exception to this rule is keeping your oil in the fridge when you’ve added Vitamin E oil.

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When castor oil is stored properly, it can last quite a long time. When it’s unopened, it can last for about 2 years. Even when opened, castor oil can last up to 1 year as long as it’s kept at the right temperature, it’s kept in a dark place, and it is kept in an airtight container.

If you’re afraid that your castor oil might not be good, there are ways that you can tell if it has spoiled. Fresh oil will be mostly clear and odorless. When it’s gone bad, it will turn dark or murky in color and it will develop a bad odor. This is how you know your oil has spoiled.

As long as you purchase good quality oil and store it properly, castor oil is a great aid in helping you feel your best.

Find our more about whether castor oil expires here and read all our guides to castor oil here. Also learn how long avocado oil lasts here.


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