What is the shelf life of oil?

The Shelf Life of Oils

When I buy my oils for soap and lotions I’m sure to check the expiration date and make sure the oils are used before they go bad.

Some oils such as coconut are used on a regular basis so they don’t have time to go bad, but with other oils such as Rose hip I don’t use them as often and need to make sure I can when the bottle is opened  There is nothing worse than going to start a batch of lotion and when the bottle is opened you find out it has gone rancid.

The Longevity of Oils

Oils are made up of different properties and those properties all have their own special benefits. There are many types of oils such as coconut, avocado, wheat germ etc.  and none of them have the same properties.  Expirations dates will vary between the oils, most however do expire between 1 and 3 years.  Where and how the oils are stored can shorten or extend that shelf life.

I like to mark the expire date clearly on all my containers to be sure I don’t miss a soon to be expiring oil and have to throw it away, doing that can add considerable cost to your business.  I use a big black sharpy pen and write the expiry date clearly on the front of the container.

When I first started making soap I had a book that I listed the oils in stock and the expiry date, but I find to open the cold storage room and look at the container is far better for me, since doing this I have seldom had to discard of rancid oils.

Organic Soap and Lotion Oils

Below is a list of some of the Organic Oils I use and the approximate shelf life of those oils, remembering that proper storage is key to these shelf lives.

  • Castor Oil – 3 years
  • Coconut Oil – 2 years
  • Palm Oil – 2 year
  • Olive Oil – 3 years
  • Sunflower – 3 years

Soap and Lotion Oils

Here is a list of many of the oils you may use in soap or lotion making and the expiry dates, as above remember that keeping your oils stored in a cool, dark place will give the longest shelf life.

  • Castor Oil – 5 years
  • Palm – Deodorized – 2 years
  • Palm Kernel – 2 years
  • Lard – 2 years
  • Olive Oil – 3 years
  • Coconut Oil – 2 years
  • Coconut Oil Fractionated – Indefinite with proper storage – out of direct sunlight in a cool environment
  • Apricot Kernel Oil – 3 years
  • Hemp Oil – 2 years
  • Pumpkin Seed Oil – 3 years
  • Jojoba Oil – 2 years
  • Macadamia – 3 years
  • Carrot Tissue – 2 years
  • Neem Oil – 2 years
  • Rice Bran – 3 years
  • Calendula – 2 years
  • Rose hip Oil – 3 years
  • Borage – 3 years
  • Seabuckthorn – 2 years
  • Wheatgerm – 2 years

Anti-Oxidants to increase shelf life

Some people will add anti-oxidants to increase the shelf life of oils, I don’t do that, but I do add them to my lotions when making them.  I also use perservative to be sure nothing starts to mold, these vary depending on what I am making.

When anti-oxidants are added to your oils or products it will help to extend the life of your product. I used natural anti-oxidants such as vitamin E and Rosemary Essential Oil in my lotions.

Natural Anti-oxidants



  • Grapefruit Seed Extract
  • Potassium Sorbate – Potassium Sorbate is the natural potassium salt of sorbic acid
  • Sodium Benzoate – which is a salt of Benzoic Acid which is found naturally in many fruits such as cranberries, prunes, plums, apples etc.


  • Geogard ECT
  • Suttocide A
  • Geogard Ultra
  • Phenoxyethanol
  • Germaben II

Anti-oxidants are used to prevent oxidation in your oils or product. Using an anti-oxidant can help to extend its shelf life of your product Rosemary Essential Oil or vitamin e oil to shield your oils from oxidation.

Keep in mind thou that anti-oxidants are different from preservatives, they do not contain anti-microbial properties; if you are producing a product that contains water then you will want to use one of the preservatives listed above.

What oils have the longest shelf life?

Castor Oil seems to have the longest shelf life, but remember proper storage is key to the life of your oils. All fats and oils keep better in a cool area of your home, I keep mine in the cold storage area of our basement. With proper storage the storage time can sometimes be extended.

In closing

Keep track of your expiration dates either in a notebook or label clearly on the front of your container and rotate your stock regularly so the oldest oils are used first.

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15 Responses to What is the shelf life of oil?

  1. RoDarrick says:

    You are spot in with this article concerning shelf life of the oils. I’ve not been the type that actually take into  considerations how the oils in my shelf often get expired because I try all possible best use up all the ones I gave within a year by not buying too much quantity. Definitely, after reading this article, I will surely try to ho for higher quantity since I’m sure that all is safe here with me. Geat article and nice tips

  2. drinkteahub says:

    A really useful and practical post. I appreciate the research you’ve done to put this together – I didn’t really understand that oils do have a shelf life because, mostly, I use them up before they have time to go bad but sometimes I’ve opened up a bottle and smelled it and thought “hmm, no” so it’s good to have a list. Also, thank you for the list of preservatives, I hadn’t realized the significance of vitamin E and grapefruit seed extract in that role.

    • Tes says:

      Thanks for stopping by the website, I too try and get them all used up before they expire, but sometimes you miss them lol.  The preservatives certainly help for some of those oils that are used less often.  Happy soap making!

  3. John says:

    I really need to thank you for showing me how to preserve the oils. I have never thought that there’s would be more than one way to store it. My sister is looking to start making soaps at home just like you so this comes very handy. I’m not sure she knows how to preserve it. You have given very good natural ways to store oil and I have to say a big thank you. This post is valuable and worth sharing. Thanks!

  4. RoDarrick says:

    While dome oils can live longer, some give up their existence rather too quickly by getting spoilt. This is usually a loss of good quality oil. I personally add anti-oxidant to make sure that nothing spoils my oil and definitely, I dont have any plans to stop the use of that anytime soon. I agree with you that, clearly indicating when each oil would finish is a good way to go as that would create self awareness and also get me prepared for it. This is very nice I must say. Great post!

  5. Willy says:

    This is not just a helpful review bit a value adding one. I have had problems where my 3 of my oils got expired and I didn’t realise on time. I had almost starred my production before I realised that they had expired the past week and I had to look for a quick alternative. Thanks for giving this new method that would make me know on time and keep check on my oils. Thanks, I hope to see more nice reviews from you.

  6. Jones says:

    My neighbor was a victim of the expiration date once and she told me about me her oil wasted. Taking proper note of expiration date helps to keep record of when and how quick to use the oil and also the mode of storage determines how long or short the shelf life spans. This post will be a blessing to my neighbor and I’ll be delighted to share it to with and many other. Its is really educating and informative. This post is good.

    • Tes says:

      Thanks Jones, feel free to share this article with whoever you think may be interested in the information.  Thanks for stopping by the website.

  7. Tim says:

    Hi Tes this is such an informative article!

    I do not have any experience with making soaps or lotions, but I do agree that a clear and concise labelling system can help reduce waste and cost in the long run. And I think those who are involved in the industry should use this method to keep track of their oils.

    Thanks for sharing, I think this is a valuable article for those in this line of business!

  8. Anusuya says:

    Hi there,

    It is a great inventory of soap making oils with expiration dates.

    I really like checking the storage for rancid oils by visual inspection.

    I have made soaps for personal use but never on commercial scales. We have coconut trees and we make our own coconut oil from sun-dried pieces of coconut, then pressing them.

    I add a measured amount of caustic soda to a measured amount of oil. Using a protocol that had kind of optimized overtime I distribute the hydrolyzed mixture and leave them for hardening. 

    These are plane and simple soaps. 

    I learned a lot from your post. Thank you for the share.

  9. Michael says:

    I Love this site full of great advise what exactly I was hunting for it helped me a lot which oils last longer with beautiful benefits for cold process soap making – a billion trillions thanks to the writer and author

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