Do Oil Cartridges Go Bad and, If So, Why Do They Expire?

Do Oil Cartridges Go Bad and, If So, Why Do They Expire?

There’s nothing like enjoying a tasty puff of that golden honey found in vape cartridges. Yet maybe you’ve neglected your favorite pen vaporizer and its reservoir of cannabis for a while. Is it still as good? How do you know?

There’s nothing like enjoying a tasty puff of that golden honey found in vape cartridges. Yet maybe you’ve neglected your favorite pen vaporizer and its reservoir of cannabis for a while. Is it still as good? How do you know?

Carts are the heart of any 510-threaded vape pen. But do cannabis oil cartridges go bad? Why would dab carts expire?

Can they be stopped from going bad? Or at least kept fresh for longer?

These are some excellent questions. If you want to puff away without worry, read on. There may be life in that old cart you found in your purse or pocket. Or maybe not.

Can Oil Cartridges Go Bad?

Things like food or prescription medication have expiration dates. What about dab carts?

You probably won’t see a ‘sell by’ or expiration date on your cannabis oil cylinder. So that must mean that it won’t go bad? No, eventually, it will begin to show signs of age and degradation.

So, what can go wrong? Well, it can grow mold. Eww, right? Inhaling moldy vapor could lead to a lung infection. That could cause some serious breathing problems.

Further, moldy weed doesn’t exactly taste great.

Loss of potency is another potential pitfall. As cannabis concentrates age, the high can lose altitude. Since buzz and benefits are big reasons why people puff, that’s a significant loss.

So, there are several reasons vape oil spoils.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these issues. 

Can Oil Cartridges Go Bad?

Why Does THC/CBD Vape Oil Expire?

Now you know that your carts can expire. But why do they decrease in flavor and effects?

There are a few different reasons that degradation happens.

1) Air isn’t good for THC. Oxygen is good for breathing, however, it’s not ideal for carts. Oxidation slowly diminishes the power of cannabinoids and terpenes. Oils have fatty acids that interact with oxygen and break down. When this happens, potency diminishes.

2) Sunlight isn’t all that great either. Carts that are exposed to bright light lose cannabinoids. So, THC and CBD molecules suffer under intense sunlight. That leads to weaker effects and less enjoyment.

3) Temperature is also tricky. Weed oil that gets warm won’t last as long. As with air and sunlight, heat can wreak havoc and deplete cannabinoids. Warmth tends to promote the growth of molds, too.

All of the above is obviously not good. Beyond taste and safety, the loss of potency is a big concern for those who want the most from their cartridges. Let’s examine that in more detail.

How Does the Shelf Life of Vape Oil Affect Potency?

Whether vaping THC or CBD, the strength of the strain is important and reliable relief and enjoyment are critical considerations. Maybe not so much if you’re vaping for fun. But for medical users, the mental and physical effects are essential.

Losing potency is a problem as cannabis ages. For pain and stress relief, you want each puff to be dependably powerful. Again, even casual consumption can be ruined if you don’t get the gratification you’d hoped for. Weaker benefits and less enjoyment can be a widespread worry for vapers.

Though everything expires eventually, there are ways you can postpone the inevitable. Proper storage is key. Doing it correctly can mean reliable puffs for well over a year.

How Should You Properly Store Cannabis Vape Oil?

There are ways to reduce the risks of sunlight, oxygen, and temperature exposure. And none are all that hard to do. You just have to have a plan when it comes to long-term storage. 

  • A cool, dark place is best for tucking away your oil. Keep cannabis away from stoves and heaters. Could you use a refrigerator? Sure, that would make marijuana and hemp products last longer.
  • A closed, airtight container is another idea. Resealable canning jars work well for that. People have been using them to store perishable foods forever. 
  • Something with opaque sides is your best bet to keep out sunlight. Jars are great for keeping out air but do let in light. That said, you can place a jar with your carts in it inside of a box or in the fridge. That would help shield your good stuff from oxygen and light.

But even with these storage options, there is a very important caveat. It’s always best to keep carts in an upright position.

Why? Let’s see.

How Should You Properly Store Cannabis Vape Oil?


How Can You Store Vape Cartridges Upright?

There are several good reasons to keep oil carts vertical. 

  • Leakage is a big concern. Vape oil is a liquid. It’s thick and flows slowly, but it can leak out the tip.
  • Protection from sunlight and air. That’s where the packaging can come in handy. Many carts come in a box that can be used as a storage case. Those boxes are generally square and can be stood on end. That way, they are both sheltered and standing up.
  • Carts in their packaging can also be organized in larger boxes. This keeps everything neat and organized. And they can be packed together to keep them vertical.
  • It’s easier to see the liquid level inside if they are stored standing. Lying down, it’s harder to gauge how much vape oil is left.
  • The packaging generally has the name of the strain on the ends. So, if you have several carts, it helps you know which is which.

Any shoebox can be used to store cartridges in their original rectangular packages. Cart boxes can even be rubber-banded and stood up together. Pack something around the packages to keep them from falling over.

And, remember, not only keep them vertical but stored correctly. Cartridges should be stored in a cool and dark place. Airtight containers are even better.

Beyond storage, you may have other considerations. What is there left to know about keeping dab carts fresh? Just a few more things.


Knowledge is your friend when it comes to ensuring the longevity of your strain carts. Here we can recap and expand on what we now know.

1) Is old cannabis oil unhealthy?

Should you worry about vaping older cannabis cylinders? Not necessarily. If they have been carefully kept, then they’re probably still good.

If there’s no noticeable mold, then you’re likely okay. Inhaling mold is toxic and can lead to a severe lung infection.

Generally, it's okay to keep vaping if it looks, smells, and tastes good.

Insofar as potency goes, you’ll have to try it and judge the effects for yourself.

2) How can you tell if your dab oil is good or bad?

Color is a clue. Most cannabis concentrates are golden yellow. If the color has changed, then that could indicate degradation.

A funky smell can mean molds have taken hold. Never smoke anything that has a foul odor.

Crystals can also indicate corruption. Improperly stashed oil may lose fluidity and begin to crystalize. That’s why an airtight container is a good idea. This is especially true if cartridges sit a while between uses.

Also, check for cracks. Any vape cylinders that are cracked could mean contamination.

3) Should you Consider Refrigeration?

Sure, it does help. While cannabis can last quite a while without fridge storage, it does eliminate heat as an issue. It’s also dark in your fridge, so there’s less chance of light contamination, and the rubber seals around the door keep refrigerators airtight.

And, yes, you can freeze your cylinders for even longer-lasting flavor and freshness. That would be worthwhile for extremely long breaks between vaping.

Therefore, this idea does have many plusses. Air, light, and temperature are less problematic.

4) Why is it best to beat the heat?

Keep in mind that warmth will speed up the expiration. The more often you expose your dab oil to sunlight and high temps, the faster it may go bad. Thus, leaving it in the car on hot summer days is unwise.

Mold loves the heat and tends to accumulate faster in warmer temperatures. Mold may also grow in colder temps, but it takes much longer.

Lastly, your cart collection should never be kept near a heat vent or radiator.

5) Does it matter how you store your vape pen?
It shouldn’t make much difference where you keep your pen vaporizer. Not as much as your dab cart, anyway.

If there’s a cart attached, then follow the same protocols as you do for cannabis oil. If there’s nothing atop the dab pen, it doesn’t matter whether it’s vertical or horizontal.

Battery bases should not be left too close to heat sources. Batteries that get too warm can catch fire. Be smart, be safe.

Does it matter how you store your vape pen?


A Few Final Words on Proper Cart Storage

Yes, oil cartridges go bad. Everything consumable does. But now you know why dab carts go bad. You also know better what to do about it.

Exposed to air and heat, cannabis concentrates will deteriorate. Reducing those things significantly slows the ravages of time. Likewise, sealing your carts off from moisture prevents moldiness.

Sure, old cannabis isn’t going to kill you. But as it ages, it won’t help you much either. Good storage can extend flavor and potency for quite a while.

And storing carts upright is crucial, too. It prevents leakage. The same containers they came in make for excellent means to keep carts. Most display packages are made specifically to keep cylinders of oil vertical.

Heat, light, air, and moisture are the enemy. Keeping containers in cool, dark places is crucial for longevity. And keep an eye on the oil’s color, consistency, and taste. Declining potency will be evidenced by lessening effects.

It’s not difficult to keep your cannabis oil carts stored correctly. And the reward is better and longer hits from your carts. Something to reflect on as you take your next glorious puff.