Your first jar of coconut oil sits half-open in storage three months after opening. That’s when you start thinking: does coconut oil go bad?
Or perhaps you’re not quite sure if you can store it in the pantry, or does it require the fridge.
Either way, it’s time to learn a thing or two about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of coconut oil.
If that’s what you’re looking for, read on.
How To Store Coconut Oil
You can store coconut oil in the pantry, in the fridge, or at room temperature.
The thing you need to know is that its melting point is around 75 °F (ca. 24 °C).
If the temperature in the room where you keep it is higher, it will liquefy. Few degrees less, and it’ll be of a jelly consistency. When the temperature goes even lower, the oil will solidify.
That means that if it sits in the fridge, it will become hard as a rock.
You can store coconut oil in both mentioned consistencies – liquid and solid. Melted coconut oil is not bad by any means, and the consistency change is perfectly natural.
If coconut oil is firm and you can’t scoop any from the bottle (or jar), heat it for a while in a pot of warm water. You should be able to scoop some oil after a few minutes.
There’s one more thing about scooping oil: remember that the utensils you’re using must be clean.
If you’ve used the spoon for other purposes, remember to wash it before scooping oil with it. That’ll avoid leaving any contaminants in the oil and the possibility of it getting moldy.
Coconut oil (similarly to MCT oil and other oils) suffers from light, oxygen, and heat exposure. Keep the container tightly sealed and out of direct light (e.g., in a cupboard).
When it comes to storage temperature – if you store it in a room where the temperature is hot, its quality will deteriorate quicker.
Avoid storing coconut oil in a place where air temperature often changes (e.g., above the stove).
With these suggestions in mind, the pantry seems like a clear winner that covers all the bases.
How Long Does Coconut Oil Last
Every bottle or jar of coconut oil should have a date on it. In most cases, it will be a “best by” date.
That date is just a rough estimate, and it informs you that coconut oil should be at peak quality up to that date. Usually, the “best by” date is somewhere between two and four years after the production date.
Of course, coconut oil doesn’t magically go bad a day or two after that date. As long as any contaminants didn’t get to the oil, it will be just fine for months, or even years longer.
With time its quality will very slowly deteriorate, but it will be still safe to use. As long as you can’t spot any signs of spoilage, coconut oil is fine to use.
The guidelines above don’t change after opening the jar. You can still store it for a long time. There’s no rush in using it. Take your time and use it only when needed.
|Refined (Closed)||3 – 6 months after “Best by”|
|Refined (Opened)||3 – 6 months after “Best by”|
|Extra Virgin (Closed)||3 – 6 months after “Best by”|
|Extra Virgin (Opened)||3 – 6 months after “Best by”|
Please note that the given times are approximates and you should always check if the coconut oil is fit for consumption before using.
How To Tell If Coconut Oil Is Bad
Since coconut oil has a lot of saturated fats, it’s a very stable oil. It can, however, go bad, especially if you scoop it from the container with a dirty spoon or fingers.
Checking whether this oil is still fine to use is similar to checking other vegetable oils.
The first thing to do is to analyze its looks.
If there are any signs of mold on the surface of the oil, it’s better to discard it. Some people decide to scratch up the mold and an additional inch of the oil and use the rest of it, but I don’t recommend that.
If the oil is liquid and you notice any mold, throw it away immediately.
Take a look at the bottom of the jar, too. If there are any brown or green (or other unexpected) particles, get rid of the oil.
If the oil turned yellow-ish, it has started going rancid and tossing it is the way to go.
Assuming that everything is okay up to this point, smell it. If it hasn’t developed an off, bitter odor, the final test is the taste test. If it tastes fine, feel free to use it.
Related: What does rancid oil smell like
Coconut Oil FAQ
Does coconut oil go bad if it melts?
No. As described earlier, melting of coconut oil is a perfectly natural process, and it doesn’t mean the oil is bad. If the temperature where you store it is above 75 °F (ca. 24 °C), melting is expected.
Does coconut oil go bad if not refrigerated?
No, coconut oil doesn’t need refrigerating.
You can store it in the fridge if you want, but it will become really firm. And firm coconut oil means scooping some won’t be as easy as it should be.
If possible, store coconut oil in the pantry.
What’s the difference between refined and extra virgin (unrefined) coconut oil?
The difference between extra virgin and refined coconut oil is in the production process.
Extra virgin coconut oil is made from coconut milk, without any chemicals or heat used in the production of it.
Refined coconut oil, on the other hand, is made from copra that goes through a refining process to make it fit for consumption. The refining process changes the flavor to neutral and raises the smoke point.
For more differences between these types of oil, check out this article.
Can you use expired coconut oil on hair?
As already mentioned, coconut oil doesn’t go bad after the date on the label.
It’s okay to use for months or even years after that date if stored properly. That means that as long as your oil is fit for consumption, using it as a hair care product shouldn’t cause any issues.
Coconut Oil Shelf Life and Spoilage Summary
Coconut oil doesn’t last forever, but it doesn’t go bad right after it passes the printed date either. Instead, coconut oil often lasts for a couple of months after the “expiration” date, especially if you keep it sealed tight and in a cool place.
Also, coconut oil benefits from refrigeration, but you don’t have to necessarily refrigerate it. Leaving it in the pantry or kitchen, away from any heat sources, is good enough.