How to store coconut oil?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “How to store coconut oil?” with an in-depth analysis of the storage technique for coconut oil. Moreover, we will also discuss the signs of spoiled coconut oil.

How to store coconut oil?

Maintaining the quality of coconut oil relies on proper storage practices. It’s crucial to use a well-sealed and air-tight container, ensuring each use ends with thorough resealing to prevent oxygen from interacting with the oil and to keep contaminants at bay.

Two key considerations for coconut oil storage are light and temperature. To preserve its quality over time, store the oil in a cool, dark place, away from heat sources and direct sunlight exposure.

While not obligatory, refrigeration is an option for storing coconut oil. Be mindful that low temperatures can cause the oil to solidify and harden. Nevertheless, refrigeration can extend the shelf life and reduce the risk of spoilage.

Designating a dedicated storage spot for your coconut oil is beneficial to minimize temperature and texture fluctuations that may lead to unwanted chemical reactions within the product.

When scooping coconut oil from the jar, ensure your utensil is clean to avoid introducing bacteria and germs, which could accelerate the oil’s rancidity and shorten its overall shelf life. (1)

Can coconut oil expire?

Coconut oil has a considerable shelf life before it eventually expires. It serves as a significant commercial product derived from coconuts and finds various applications. 

This versatile oil is utilized as a cooking fat, hair oil, body oil, and industrial oil. In particular, refined coconut oil is specifically produced for industrial purposes and finds extensive use in the production of diverse food items. 

Its desirable qualities, including a low melting point, resistance to rancidity, pleasing flavor, and easy digestibility, make it an excellent ingredient for the food industry.(2)

Coconut oil is abundant in saturated fatty acids, with approximately 70% of these fatty acids being short- and medium-chain in nature. In contrast, the content of unsaturated fatty acids in coconut oil is relatively low. (3)

What factors affect the shelf life of coconut oil?

Coconut oil spoilage can be influenced by various factors. One factor is the quality of the copra, which is derived from dried coconuts and serves as the source of coconut oil. 

Contamination by aflatoxin and the presence of high levels of free fatty acids can occur due to excessive moisture content in the copra, which can contribute to spoilage. (4)

The exceptional resistance of coconut oil to oxidative rancidity is attributed to its abundant saturated fat content and low levels of unsaturated fatty acids. This unique characteristic renders coconut oil well-suited for storage without experiencing deterioration. (2)

Coconut oil derived from thoroughly dried and appropriately stored copra typically possesses a low concentration of free fatty acids. 

In contrast, if the oil is extracted from copra that has been inadequately dried or stored, the occurrence of free fatty acids is significantly higher. (5)

Due to its low level of unsaturation, coconut oil exhibits remarkable stability. However, the refined oil may have reduced stability due to the loss of natural antioxidants during the refining process. Nevertheless, much of the stability can be restored by adding citric acid, a common practice in oil deodorization. (6)

The shelf life will vary, depending on the type of processing and if stored properly away from heat and light. (1)

How long does coconut oil take to expire? 

Coconut oil has been recognized as a favorable frying oil due to its stability and acceptance. Refined coconut oil typically maintains its quality for a few months, while virgin coconut oil has the potential to last even longer. (1) 

Blends of coconut oil, which consist of a combination of two or more types of oil, have demonstrated stability for up to 12 months when stored in diverse flexible and rigid packaging systems at different temperatures.

Store-bought coconut oil is typically labeled with a “best by” date, which serves as a rough estimate of its shelf life. It is important to note that the oil does not necessarily spoil immediately after this date. 

As long as you remain attentive to the signs of spoilage, you can still utilize the coconut oil beyond the indicated date. (4)

What are the signs of spoiled coconut oil?

During storage, coconut oil is susceptible to oxidation, which can lead to the development of a rancid odor, color changes, and a loss of nutritional value. Oxidation affects the vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids in the oil, ultimately degrading its overall quality.

Oils containing high levels of saturated fatty acids tend to be more resistant to oxidation compared to those with unsaturated fatty acids. Oxidation is a process of fat deterioration that generates undesirable flavor compounds, commonly known as rancidity.

The presence of oxidized compounds such as peroxides, aldehydes, and ketones in coconut oil can pose risks to human health. Signs of spoilage to watch out for include the growth of mold, a yellowish hue, or the presence of “off” odors and flavors.(1, 7)

What are the health implications of consuming rancid coconut oil?

Evidence suggests that the decomposition products produced by oxidized oil can have detrimental effects on health and have been associated with the development of neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

Consuming rancid fats and oils can diminish the nutritional value of food by causing the destruction of vitamins such as Vitamin A and E.

Rancidity refers to the breakdown and deterioration of fats and oils, which involves various chemical reactions and leads to unpleasant odors and flavors.

In animal studies, exposure to oxidized oils and fats has been found to cause harmful effects, including growth retardation, organ toxicity, accelerated atherosclerosis, and reduced immunity parameters.(8)

Other FAQs about Oils  that you may be interested in.

Why use olive oil?

Can you eat fish oil with milk

Can you eat canola oil without cooking it?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to store coconut oil?” with an in-depth analysis of the storage technique for coconut oil. Moreover, we discussed the signs of spoiled coconut oil.


  1. Harvard The Nutrition Source. Coconut oil, 677 Huntington Avenue, 2023.
  2. J.J. Lal, C.V. Sreeranjit Kumar, M. Indira, COCONUT PALM,Encyclopedia of Food Sciences and Nutrition, Academic Press,1464-1475, 2003.
  3. Boateng L, Ansong R, Owusu WB, Steiner-Asiedu M. Coconut oil and palm oil’s role in nutrition, health and national development: A review. Ghana Med J. 2016
  4. A.M. Marina, Y.B. Che Man, I. Amin, Virgin coconut oil: emerging functional food oil, Trends in Food Science & Technology, 20, 481-487, (2009).
  5. Hoover, R., Laurentius, S.F. & Gunetileke, K.G. Spoilage of coconut oil purification and properties of a fungal lipase that attacks coconut oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc 50, 64–67 (1973)
  6. Amri, I. N. . The lauric (coconut and palm kernel) oil In Gunstone F. D. (Ed.), Vegetable oils in food technology: Composition, properties and uses (169–197, (2011)
  7. S Karouw et al. Pattern of coconut oil quality during storage,  2021 IOP Conf. Ser.: Earth Environ. Sci.
  8. The Olive Wellness Institute. Health Implications Of  Rancid Fats And Oils January 2020.