Does Castor Oil Expire + Storage Tips to Increase Castor Oil Shelf Life

Does Castor Oil Expire? How Long Does Castor Oil Last? Learn about Castor Oil Shelf Life and how to store it properly!

Castor oil is a magical potion with a plethora of health benefits. However, if you are wondering Does Castor Oil Expire and, if it does, how would you detect it, this informative guide is all you need!

Does Castor Oil Expire—How Long Does Castor Oil Last?

Does Castor Oil Expire + Storage Tips to Increase Castor Oil Shelf Life 1
shutterstock/Alexander Ruiz Acevedo

Before answering the question—Does Castor Oil Expire, or How Long Does Castor Oil Last? We must learn about its shelf life.

Castor oil, a versatile oil derived from the seeds of the Ricinus communis plant, has a long, long shelf life, typically ranging from 2 to 5 years if unopened. Infact, the Castor Oil Shelf Life can extend up to 5 years when it’s stored under optimal conditions.

Castor oil has a relatively high oxidative capacity compared to many other natural oils; this is primarily due to its unique composition of fatty acids. Over 85% of the fatty acids in castor oil are ricinoleic acid, a monounsaturated fat, which provides a moderate level of stability against oxidation.

However, after opening, it retains its best qualities for upto 1 year and gradually starts oxidizing after coming in contact with air, heat, or light, hence turning rancid. So if you are wondering, Does Castor Oil Go Bad—Unfortunately, it does.

How Does Castor Oil Go Bad?

The process of spoilage isn’t usually sudden, and the oil may start to change in smell, color, and texture as it goes bad. If you notice these changes, it’s best to dispose of the oil as it has likely gone rancid. 

  • Oxidation: Once castor oil is exposed to air, oxidation begins. This process involves the reaction of the oil with oxygen, which can break down the oil’s chemical structure, leading to rancidity. The longer the oil is exposed to air, the faster the oxidation process.
  • Heat: High temperatures can accelerate the rate of oxidation, causing the oil to spoil more quickly. This is why it’s recommended to store castor oil in a cool environment.
  • Light: Exposure to light, especially sunlight, can also hasten the oxidation process. The UV radiation in sunlight can interact with the oil, leading to the breakdown of its beneficial compounds and eventual spoilage.
  • Moisture: Water can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria in the oil, which will cause it to spoil. Although this is less common with oil than with water-based products, it can still occur, particularly in a humid environment.

How to Know if Castor Oil is Expired?

The foremost way to know if castor oil is expired is to keep an eye on the Castor Oil Expiration Date, usually printed on the bottle. Apart from that, there are certain signs to detect the same:

  • Smell: Fresh castor oil has a mild, somewhat nutty, or earthy scent. If the oil develops a strong, off, or rancid smell, it’s likely gone bad.
  • Color: Castor oil is usually a clear, pale yellow. If it changes color, becoming darker or cloudy, it may have gone bad.
  • Texture: Castor oil has a smooth, somewhat thick consistency. If the oil’s texture changes and it becomes overly thick, sticky, or grainy, it may be expired.
  • Taste: Although castor oil isn’t commonly consumed due to its strong laxative effects, if you happen to taste it and it seems unusually bitter or off, it might be expired. However, do remember that consuming rancid oil can lead to digestive discomfort or other health issues, so it’s better to rely on other indicators.

What are the Side Effects of Expired Castor Oil?

shutterstock/Alexander Ruiz Acevedo

Expired or rancid castor oil can have several negative effects, particularly when used topically or ingested. Here are some major Side Effects of Expired Castor Oil:

  • Skin Irritation: Using rancid castor oil on the skin can cause various forms of irritation, including redness, itching, swelling, or rashes. This is because the beneficial fatty acids in the oil have broken down and can irritate the skin instead of nourishing it.
  • Ineffectiveness: The beneficial properties of castor oil diminish when the oil goes bad. Therefore, if you’re using expired castor oil for hair growth, skin care, or other wellness purposes, you may not see the results you’re expecting.
  • Infections: Expired oils, including castor oil, can become a breeding ground for bacteria or fungus, especially if the oil has been contaminated through touch. Using such oils can potentially lead to skin infections.
  • Digestive Issues: Although castor oil isn’t typically consumed in large quantities due to its potent laxative effect, ingesting rancid castor oil will lead to digestive discomfort or more severe symptoms like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Storage Tips to Increase Castor Oil Shelf Life

Proper storage of castor oil can significantly extend its shelf life and maintain its quality. Here are some important tips for storing castor oil:

  • Avoid Heat: Store your castor oil in a cool place, as heat can accelerate the oxidation process, leading the oil to become rancid. Avoid placing it near heat sources like radiators, stoves, or direct sunlight. Store safely between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Limit Light Exposure: Light, especially sunlight, can degrade the oil over time. It’s best to store castor oil in a dark place, like a pantry or a cabinet. If the oil comes in a clear bottle, consider transferring it to a dark-colored glass bottle to protect it from light further.
  • Tightly Seal the Container: Every time you use the oil, make sure to close the lid tightly. This will prevent exposure to air, which can also speed up the oxidation process.
  • Refrigeration: If you live in a warm climate or won’t be using the oil for a while, you might consider refrigerating it. This can further slow down the oxidation process and extend the oil’s shelf life. Note that the oil may thicken in the refrigerator, but it will return to its usual consistency at room temperature or when warmed slightly.
  • Avoid Contamination: Always use clean, dry utensils or hands if you’re dipping into the oil. Any form of contamination can introduce bacteria or other microbes, which could spoil the oil.

Get some Expert Castor Oil Buying Tips here

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Castor Oil Go Rancid?

Yes, like all natural oils, castor oil can go rancid over time, especially if you do not store it correctly. This happens when the oil is exposed to air, light, heat, and moisture, leading to oxidation and degradation of its quality.

2. How Long Does Castor Oil Last Once Opened?

Once opened, you must use it ideally within a year. However, its lifespan can vary depending on storage conditions. If you keep it in a cool, dark place and sealed tightly when not in use, it can last a few more months.

3. Can You Use Expired Castor Oil on Eyelashes?

It’s not recommended to use expired castor oil on eyelashes, or any part of the body, for that matter. Expired or rancid oil has lost its beneficial properties and can potentially cause irritation, infection, or other issues.

4. What Happens if You Use Expired Castor Oil on Hair?

Using expired castor oil on hair could lead to reduced effectiveness as the beneficial properties of the oil deteriorate over time. In some cases, it may also cause scalp irritation, itching, or even hair damage due to the presence of degraded components.

5. Does Jamaican Black Castor Oil Expire?

Yes, Jamaican Black Castor Oil can also expire. Like regular castor oil, it has a typical shelf life of 2 to 5 years if unopened and stored properly. Once opened, it’s best to use it within a year. Always check for signs of rancidity, such as a change in smell, color, or consistency.

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  1. I’m sorry, I almost killed myself using clay baths…… conversation with a bio-chemist I was working with at the time, he was the one
    that explained to me that when I had taken the first clay bath, the clay had passed into my blood stream, hit my kidneys, clogged up the micro-tubules
    in my kidneys, and next thing I knew, my whole body was swelling up with fluids, and of course by then I had taken ANOTHER clay bath, making things worse, and was about to take a third, and God STOPPED ME………I totally believe that if I had taken that 3rd clay bath, I would’ve wound up dead…..

  2. Hello! I have hair loss due to a medication that I was taking. I lost at least half of my hair and do not take that medication any more. Now I am researching which carrier oil to use with rosemary oil. Your article says, “Skin experts don’t recommend consuming or using castor oil on hair, skin, or body”. But, when you look at the top of this page {website,}, and you click on HAIR, it has recipes that use castor oil. I’m confused, do I use it, or not use it? Please advise.

  3. Why there is whitish color small bubbles (on bottom of the bottle) in castor oil earlier it was not there? Do my castor oil has turn rancid

    • Hey Shivani, so let’s see. How was the castor oil stored? It truly depends if it was tightly sealed, with normal temperatures, and away from light. You can also smell it to see if it smells “rancid.” I would say get a new bottle, but try to test out a small portion on your leg hair or somewhere less sensitive than say, your head or eyelashes! Hope this helps!! Best of luck!

  4. Thank you for this informative website!
    Do you know if Bentonite Clay, dry, can go bad? I have a jar of clay that expired in 1/2017…but it looks good to me.

    • Thank you, Marian! To answer your question, no I don’t think your dry clay will be bad. As long as there are no additives or anything, and if it’s just pure clay then it should be fine! Just make sure to store it in a tightly sealed container and out of humid places. 🙂


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