What is the REAL Shelf Life of Coconut Oil?

Coconut oil is one of the healthiest, healing, do it all oils. It’s been shown that consuming coconut oil is good for overall immunity, reduces hypertension, helps reduce arterial injury, and helps keep proper cholesterol balance. It’s a great source of healthy saturated fats. Coconut oil is also great for using on hair, skin and nails. With its increasing popularity and new found uses you can now find coconut oil sold everywhere, and in large quantities. This may lead you to wonder, what is the REAL shelf life of coconut oil?

About Coconut Oil

Since coconut oil has a lot of saturated fats, it’s a very stable oil. It’s fatty-acid composition makes it resistant to spoilage.  Made of primarily medium-chain fatty acids, these fatty acids are shorter in length than the saturated fats found in meat and dairy, but, as with all saturated fats, they lack any double-carbon bonds. By contrast, most other plant oils, such as soybean and corn oils, are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, which contain multiple double bonds in their chemical makeup. These unsaturated fats break down more quickly than saturated fats, leading other oils to spoil more quickly than coconut oil. It also contains anti-viral, antibacterial, anit-microbial, and antifungal properties that naturally help reduce contamination.

Shelf Life of Coconut Oil

Shelf Life of Coconut Oil

How long does coconut oil last? What is the shelf life of coconut oil? Since it has a longer shelf life than other oils, you may wonder, does coconut oil go bad? The shelf life of coconut oil generally depends on three factors; the processing method to retrieve the oil, how the coconut oil is stored, and the “best by” date from the manufacturer.

There are two types of oil; refined, which is either “expeller pressed” where a machine extracts the oil then uses steam to distill or “RBD” which uses chemical solvents to extract the oil and the other is unrefined, also called “virgin” or “extra-virgin” which contains the most nutrition. Refined, odorless coconut oil lasts approximately 18 months before showing signs of spoilage. Virgin coconut oil produced from a wet-milling process contains more antioxidants that help prevent spoilage; this type of coconut oil may last for several years without spoiling. Virgin or extra-virgin varieties have the longest shelf life after opened or the “best by” date, at least 3-5 years and some manufacturers say it is indefinite. The appearance of the oil will help to determine if it is still acceptable to use as well.

Coconut Oil Appearance

Depending on the temperature, your coconut oil can have varying appearances. Coconut oil is liquid above 75 degrees F. (25 C.), and below that it will be a solid fat. Coconut oil in its solid state is white, thick, and creamy. In its liquid state it’s clear or a little milky and easy to pour. You can easily liquefy coconut oil with a low heat or solidify it by putting it in the refrigerator.

Use your senses to guide you in deciding if your coconut oil has exceeded it’s shelf life. There is always a rancid smell to spoiled oil which you will notice when opening the jar. The white oil will also begin to turn slightly yellow in color. These factors, along with the manufacturer guidelines will tell you if your coconut oil is still suitable for use.


Coconut oil is generally stamped with a “best by” date 18 months from production. It should not turn rancid before this time unless you have introduced some type of contaminant. Always use a clean utensil to take oil out of the container. Of course, coconut oil lasts for a shorter period of time if it is not stored properly.

Coconut oil should be stored the pantry, it is a shelf stable product. The oil should be in an airtight container. It can be safely stored in either its liquid form or in its solid state. Either form of storage is fine. Coconut oil can be stored in the fridge or freezer, but it will harden and become more difficult to use. Coconut oil should not be stored in direct sunlight, as it is affected by light, oxygen and heat. Keep the container tightly sealed and out of direct light

Coconut oil does eventually go bad, but it has the longest shelf life of any oil and lasts for a long period of time. If it’s stored well and used properly, you will get the most out of this nutrient rich oil. So go ahead, buy the big jar!


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