So, you found some old edibles at the back of your refrigerator and they've been there a while. They smell fine, but you're still wondering…"Can edibles go bad?"
Whether you're trying to determine if your once-forgotten edible stash is still safe to consume or you're considering buying edibles in bulk and want to know how long they'll last, you need to know a few things about the shelf life of cannabis edibles.
Below, we'll cover all the things that affect how long an edible will last, how to keep them fresh longer, and how some new types of THC products may last even longer than traditional ones. Here's what's to know:
Looking for federally legal THC products? Check out our Elev8 Collection.Table of Contents
There are many different types of edibles available, ranging from baked goods to beverages and more. There's also been some discussion about whether tincture oils count as edibles. For the intents and purposes of this article, an edible refers to any cannabis product that's designed to be taken by mouth.
Edibles cover a very broad range of THC products, each of which have a different onset time, duration, and shelf life.
(Also note that the information listed here will apply to other types of edibles, such as CBD or CBN edibles.)
The shelf life of an edible will depend on the type of edible it is in the ingredients in the edible. There are also two ways to classify edible spoilage—ingredient expiration and potency degradation. Let's break that down:
The ingredients used to make an edible have everything to do with how long it will remain fresh. For instance, some THC edibles are made with preservatives which obviously can extend the shelf life exponentially.
If a product contains water, such as a beverage, then the shelf life will be shorter. In general, food products that contain water don't last as long as food products that do not because water can encourage mold and spoilage.
Other ingredients may also be more prone to spoilage, like milk and dairy products. Considering the ingredients in your edible can help give you a general idea of its shelf life, but certain manufacturing techniques and preservatives can still make these perishable ingredients shelf stable, so it's best to pay attention to the product's expiration date.
Typically, edibles in the form of a beverage will come in a sealed container. It may have a shelf life of several months. After you open it and expose it to oxygen, however, you typically have between four and seven days to use the product before it begins to go bad.
Factory-made baked goods like cookies and cakes can have a shelf life of several weeks when in their original packaging. Think of store bought snack cakes. They usually contain preservatives and come individually packaged, which can keep them fresh at room temperature or in the refrigerator for several weeks or longer.
When an edible like this is homemade, it may not last quite as long. Fresh baked goods may last up to a week and may remain fresher if you keep them refrigerated.
THC candies, like hard candies, gummies, chews, lollipops, or mints, can have a very lengthy shelf life. This is even more true if the THC edibles are individually packaged. Products like this generally have little to no water content and are packaged to keep them from oxidizing, so they may last for several months or longer when stored properly.
Oils also have a lengthy shelf life when stored correctly. Many THC oils can last for several months on the shelf.
You should also consider that there are two different ways that a THC edible can go bad.
First, the ingredients used in the edible can spoil or go rancid. This type of spoilage is usually pretty obvious since the smell, texture, or flavor of the product will change. This type of spoilage is what you experience with everyday food products, so if a THC edible smells rancid, it likely is.
On the other hand, potency loss may be more difficult to notice. An edible can appear to be perfectly fine and/or unspoiled, but the THC in the product may have degraded. This may happen when the THC product is stored improperly, meaning it is oxidized or exposed to high temperatures or sunlight.
Luckily, this type of spoiled THC product typically won't make you ill or give you food poisoning like a rancid edible will. It just simply won't be as potent, which is a bummer nonetheless. The best way to avoid this situation is to make sure that you store your edibles properly.
Pay attention to any guidance on the label regarding how to store your THC edibles. Some products may need to be refrigerated, While others will be fine on the shelf. Typically, it will say something like "Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight."
Even if your THC edibles don't say this on the package, it's a good practice to keep them away from heat, sunlight, and excess oxygen. This usually means storing them in an airtight container in a cool cabinet or in the refrigerator to prevent potency loss. If the Edibles come individually wrapped, leave them that way until you intend to consume them, which will help protect them from oxidation.
If you are looking for a THC edible that has a particularly lengthy shelf life, you may want to consider the difference between different types of THC. For instance, Delta-9-THC is the most common type of THC edible, although it can only be purchased in state-license dispensaries in places where cannabis is legal. However, Delta-9-THC is less stable than Delta-8-THC, a new type of hemp-derived THC that's becoming popular across the country.
This is because Delta-8 is actually formed in the cannabis plant as Delta-9 begins to degrade. It is still psychoactive, but because it is a partially degraded form of THC, it is less susceptible to degradation over time. Researchers are particularly interested in Delta-8-THC for pharmaceutical applications because it may have a much lengthier shelf life.
Another defining factor in how long an edible will last? How well it was made.
High-quality edibles from experienced manufacturers typically have a longer shelf life and more reliable expiration dates. That's because the shelf life of a product is also affected by the original quality of the cannabis extract material and the way it is introduced to the product. Some cannabis extracts are not very stable and special manufacturing techniques are used to help stabilize the product.
Look for an experienced cannabis company that uses high-quality plant material and industry leading manufacturing practices, like CO2 extraction. Also ensure that the products are third-party tested to prove product accuracy so that you know that what you see is what you get.
If you're looking for high-quality, federally legal Delta-8-THC products, we recommend checking out our Elev8 Collection.All Vida Optima products are made using pesticide-free, US grown hemp material and leading manufacturing practices. All of our products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and third-party tested.
Edibles are at the center of our legal THC collection, and you can find classic gummies, syrups, and even unique sublingual-style edibles that meet your potency and flavor preferences. For more information, read our Delta-8-THC Edible Buying Guide.
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