So you’ve found a spare cannabis concentrate oil cartridge that you thought was long gone! It’s not unusual to stumble across a cartridge left forgotten somewhere.
There’s good news if it’s still the same color and the same viscosity (basically, the lack of ‘sludginess’) as when you first obtained it. It might have still lost some potency, just due to the fact that it’s been sitting around for six months or longer. As long as there is no mold, it should still be good to use.
But what if the oil has either formed the sugar crystals, darkened in color, thickened in consistency, or now tastes really bitter? The potency has also decreased to the point that it’s very noticeable. The oil in your oil cartridge has changed properties, been affected at the molecular level, and there aren’t any processes that can restore it back to full potency. That’s one of the realities when dealing with plant based oils.
Potency from Plants
Cannabis oil is extracted from the flowering cannabis plant. If you extract a plant based oil, such as rose oil, olive oil, or another type, it has a limited shelf life. Thanks to many factors, the cellular structure of the plant cannot sustain pure potency for an indefinite period of time. This would be the same for any plant based item, and cannabis oil falls into that category as well.
THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the main psychoactive component in the oil that affects your brain and causes the mental and physical changes in your body. This THC has its largest concentrations in the flowers, which are cured in order to get the maximum out of them. The flowers are the most delicate parts of the plant, just like the flowers in any other plant, so they have even less of a shelf life than if the roots, leaves, or stems would be used.
What are the factors that have caused these oil cartridges to go bad?
Four Factors Affecting Potency
So, with that said, then the oil cartridges will go bad over time becoming unusable. Sometimes they may show mold growing on them. But mostly, they just degrade to the point that you’d get the same effects as using olive oil if you tried to vape with them.
There are four main factors that cause oil cartridges to degrade and lose their potency:
There’s no way to keep factor number four, time, from degrading your oil cartridges, so you should use them within the first four to six months of receiving them, but you do have control over heat light and oxygen exposure.
Heat and warmth will degrade the THC in the oil cartridges. It doesn’t have to be you deliberately heating the oil in the cartridge; it can often come from just being in a pocket or handbag. The natural body heat contributes towards degradation, thus shortening the life of the oil cartridges.
If you want the oil to last longer, then try to find a dispensary that sells separate syringes filled with hash oil. That way, you can store the oil in a dark, cool place like a cabinet or cupboard and only use what you need when you need it. The less heat comes into contact with the oil, the longer it will stay at full potency.
Keep Out of Sunlight
Cannabis oil in the cartridges comes from the cannabis flowers, which, when they were on the plant, were involved in the process of photosynthesis just like other plants. When high intensity sunlight hits the cannabis oil, it decreases the rate of photosynthesis that’s still present at the molecular level. That causes the molecules to break apart into their respective atoms, and for those plant atoms to also break down.
The sunlight actually degrades the THC crystals. This in turn causes a chemical reaction that changes the cellular composition of the THC to CBN. CBN is a cannabinoid that has a few of the same characteristics as THC, including medical properties and the ability to induce you to sleep. But the psychoactive effects of the THC are gone. You no longer have THC in your oil any more. Keeping you oil in a cool dark space is important.
Oxygen Causes Oxidation
Yes, the actual air you breathe can cause degradation in the oil cartridges. The fatty acids present in the cannabis oil don’t interact well with oxygen molecules and will degrade. When it’s combined with both sunlight and heat, oxidation can wreak havoc on a new oil cartridge within just a few months.
How to Store Oil Cartridges
To prevent your oil cartridges from going bad quicker, your best options for storage include refrigeration and any dark, cool sheltered place that won’t allow in any sunlight, heat, and very little oxygen. You can’t stop time from degrading the plant properties, but you can slow it down. That will give you the full potency for the longest period of time.