Can coconut oil go bad? (+3 ways to tell)


In this article, we will answer the question “Can coconut oil go bad?”, and “How to store coconut oil?”.

Can coconut oil go bad?

Yes, coconut oil can go bad. Coconut oil is susceptible to oxidation processes, which can be favored, when it is not stored properly or if it is of low quality. 

When coconut oil goes bad, it can develop a rancid or sour smell, a cloudy or murky appearance, and an off-taste. 

How long is the shelf life of coconut oil?

If stored under appropriate conditions, such as a cool and dark place, with an airtight container, refined coconut oil can last up to 24 months (3).

The shelf life of coconut oil is 2 years for refined coconut oil and 5 years or more for virgin coconut oil (11).

How to tell If coconut oil has gone bad?

To tell if coconut oil has gone bad, you should be aware of the possible signs indicating its deterioration. Here are some signs to help you tell if the coconut oil has gone bad:


The smell of rancid coconut oil is sour and unpleasant. If your coconut oil smells off, it is probably no longer safe to use. Oxidation of lipids produces primary and secondary oxidative products such as peroxides, hydroperoxides, aldehydes, ketones, acids and alcohols which adversely affect the sensory quality of the coconut oil. 


When solid, coconut oil should be a creamy white color, and when melted, it should be a clear liquid. It may have gone bad if it has a yellow or brown color.


If your coconut oil presents an off taste or an unpleasant aftertaste, it is probably no longer safe to use.

What happens if I use bad coconut oil? 

The consumption of bad coconut oil can lead to many health problems. The oxidation process of coconut oil can produce harmful substances, and its ingestion can lead to hepatic problems. 

It is known that the consumption of oxidized products will lead to inflammation and oxidation of tissues in the human body. The products of lipid oxidation are peroxides, alcohols and aldehydes, which are toxic when ingested in large doses.

One study with mice demonstrated that the ingestion of oxidized coconut oil increased the low molecular weight compounds (8), which in humans are related to kidney and liver damage. 

How to store coconut oil?

Coconut oil can be stored in the pantry at room temperature or in the fridge. Coconut oil has a melting point ranging from 23-26 °C (9). Thus, storing it in the fridge will make it hard. 

Avoid using unclean spoons to scoop out your coconut oil as this can introduce contaminants in your oil. If the coconut oil is stored at room temperature, make sure it does not suffer extreme temperature fluctuations as it will degrade its quality rapidly.

Type of storage container

Glass jars or containers are the best storage option for coconut oil. Unlike metal containers, you do not have to worry about the leaching of metal in glass containers. 

Metal ions trigger the oxidative processes, as they increase the catalytic activity related to free radical production in crude oils.

If the coconut oil is stored in a metal container, make sure the container is not damaged, so there is no risk of contaminating the oil.

What are the factors that affect coconut oil’s shelf life?

The processing conditions can affect the coconut oil’s shelf life, since the amount of moisture and the presence of free fatty acids can promote chemical changes during storage (10). 

Blanching, degumming and deodorizing are used to remove some possible impurities of the coconut oil, such as oxidized fatty acids, metal ions, and pigments. Metal ions and pigments are pro-oxidants. 

On the other hand, these processes, in which different chemicals are used, can result in the presence of residual acids (phosphoric acid, citric acid) in the oil, or residual moisture, which affects shelf life (12).

The composition of the oil can vary with the processing conditions. The presence of natural antioxidants, such as tocopherols and carotenoids, decreases the rate of oxidation reactions.

The storage conditions can also have an impact on the quality, because the presence of light and oxygen, and high temperatures can promote oil oxidation, and lower the oil’s quality.

The temperature affects the shelf life of the coconut oil. Oxidative reactions are accelerated by the increased temperatures of storage.

Do all types of coconut oil have the same shelf life?

No, different types of coconut oil have different shelf lives. As mentioned above, the composition of the coconut oil is one of the factors that affects its shelf life (2). 

For example, chemical refining may remove a major proportion of natural antioxidants. As a result, refined coconut oil, also called virgin coconut oil, which is extracted from fresh coconut milk under controlled temperature, is more stable than refined coconut oil.

Refined coconut oil contains less phenolic compounds and less carotenoids, as these compounds are removed by the refining process. Studies showed that refined coconut oil has increased oxidation rates during storage than virgin coconut oil. 

Carotenoids and tocopherols in virgin coconut oil act as antioxidants in the oils, decreasing the rates of oxidative reactions. In addition, due to the refining processes, refined coconut oil contains residues, which triggers oxidation.

Other FAQs about Oils which you may be interested in.

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Does Olive Oil Evaporate


In this article, we answered the question “Can coconut oil go bad?”, and !How to store coconut oil?”.


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