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How long does coconut oil last? Can it go bad?

Coconut oil is a highly popular superfood that can bring significant benefits to our health. It contains particular fatty acids called Medium-Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) such as Lauric acid, caprylic acid, and capric acids, which are known to be healthy for the heart, skin, hair, and brain. Sometimes, coconut oil is used as a fat or oil substitute to replace cooking oils or butter in a recipe. 


Studies have linked that coconut oil has the potential to lower your risk to obesity levels, reduce blood pressure, prevent heart diseases, heal wounds faster, promote hair growth, and help improve digestion. 


Coconut oil is either sold refined or unrefined. 


Refined coconut oil refers to dried coconut meat or copra. The white coconut meat is gently refined through purification, bleaching, and deodorization to neutralize the oil and strip off the typical tropical coconut scent and flavor. 


The unrefined coconut oil, also called virgin coconut oil (VCO), is derived from fresh coconut meat or copra that undergoes a cold-pressed process. This way, you get the oil with its pure coconut taste. Virgin coconut oil is known as the gold standard in coconut oils because of its incredible health and beauty benefits.


Now, you would want to make sure that the coconut oil you bought won’t go bad and would not go to waste. There are things that you should learn and take into consideration to preserve its best quality. 


How to store coconut oil?

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You do not need special equipment to retain the freshness of your coconut oil. 

1. Keep your coconut oil in an airtight container to help retain its fresh quality for a while. You can either use a glass bottle, a jar, or a BPA-free plastic bottle. Most importantly, make sure you have pressed the lid down or have it screwed tightly to prevent oxygen from destroying the oil. 


The advantage of using a glass jar or bottle is that it keeps it safe from plastic chemicals that can potentially leach to the food product. Furthermore, keeping it in the dark glass container will add extra protection from sunlight. 


Don’t forget this: metal containers can be harmful to use because oil can react with metals. The reaction will produce an unpleasant smell and undesirable flavor. 

2. Coconut oil can either be stored in refrigerated or unrefrigerated conditions. However, when you keep it in the refrigerator, it will solidify into a curdled form. But don’t worry. At least you can retain its freshness for a while. It will easily and quickly return to its liquid state if you put it back at room temperature or 76 degrees F. 

But then think about it. You might find it strangely satisfying if you keep your coconut oil refrigerated. Let us tell you. At some point, it might give you a hard time to use rock-hard coconut oil just in case you may have an immediate need for it. 

3. Since you don’t want the sunlight to destroy its quality, keep the coconut oil in your home’s dark, dry place. That can either be your kitchen pantry, kitchen cupboard or together where you keep your beauty supplies. 

4. Avoid keeping it in a room where the moisture is high or where its temperature continually changes. It can negatively affect the texture and freshness of coconut oil. Don’t leave it in a room where the temperature fluctuates from time to time.

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For instance, leaving your coconut oil (as part of your beauty regimen) to stay in the bathroom will allow moisture into the oil, and oxidation will likely occur. 

5.Use the clean, dry, and appropriate measuring tool in scooping out coconut oil from the container. Using your fingers will contaminate your coconut oil, increasing the chances of molds to form. Wet or dirty utensils can introduce bacteria into the coconut oil, which can accelerate to spoilage. 


6. Have separate coconut oil containers for cooking, health, and beauty purposes. 


See? Storing coconut oil is not difficult at all! 


How long does it last?

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Your coconut oil can last up to 2 years! Isn’t that awesome that it has a long shelf life? That is because of its high fatty acid content. Unlike vegetable oils, they only last to a year. Coconut oil for the win! We’re talking about unopened coconut oil packs, though.


Remember to check the “Best By” date or expiry date, as indicated in its packaging. This way, you can have an idea when you are going to have a new replacement. 


Does it go bad?

Unrefined coconut oil or pure virgin coconut oil that had undergone a chemical-free wet-milling process such as fermentation, refrigeration, or boiling, is expected to stay fresh and longer compared to the refined coconut oils. 

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Pure virgin coconut oils have a high antioxidant level, which prevents it from spoiling. Hence, it can last for years without going bad. As for the refined coconut oils, it can last approximately 18 months only before it spoils.


How to tell if it has gone bad?

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Coconut oil will go rancid in poor storage conditions. Here are signs you should look for to tell if your coconut oil has already gone bad:

  • Molds formation. Molds will grow if the container is not sealed correctly. Dark spots in your coconut oil may indicate that it is already contaminated with bacteria or mold. Don’t think you would want to take away that part and save the rest of the oil. No, you need to throw it away! It’s better to choose the safe option. 
  • Unusual smell. If your coconut oil smells off or odorously sour, that indicates that it has gone rancid. Unrefined coconut oils are usually fragrant with a hint of a sweet smell. 
  • Discoloration. Hardened coconut oil is milky white in color. It should become transparent and crystal clear color when it melts. If the color turns yellowish when melted, then it is already spoiled.
  • Unusual taste. Your coconut oil is already stale if it smells unusually off. Once the coconut oil is oxidized, oxygen will break down your coconut oil and make it rancid. This is why you need to keep it in an airtight container and place it in a dry, cool place. Coconut oil should taste subtly sweet. 
  • Lumpy Consistency. Dispose of the coconut oil if it has become too lumpy. Fresh coconut oil is expected to have a smooth consistency. 


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Can I freeze coconut oil?

Of course, you can. Just keep it in a freezer-safe container, then you’re right! It won’t affect its quality at all. It will only change from liquid to solid-state. 

If ever you are going to unfreeze it, just take it out and leave it at room temperature. Or, you can also place the container in a bowl of warm water or put it near a warm air source to liquefy the hardened oil. Clumps in partially melted coconut oil are typical. Those are just the crystalline structure of the saturated fats when it’s near its melting point. It will clear out once the coconut oil has reached its optimum melting point.


What will happen if I use the coconut oil that has gone bad already?

Generally, ingesting spoiled food comes with certain health risks. Oils that have gone rancid turns into a toxic substance. Hence, it’s not safe for consumption anymore. Though the effects won’t immediately harm you, it will cause potential damage to your body in the long run.


Always adhere to food safety practices to protect yourself from toxic substances. When you doubt whether or not your coconut oil is still okay for consumption, better take the safe route and toss it out.

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