Will jojoba oil go rancid?

Jojoba oil is extracted from the seeds of the jojoba plant, which is native to parts of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts in Arizona, California, and Mexico. Jojoba oil has become popular in recent years due to its many purported benefits for skin and hair. But there are some questions around whether jojoba oil can go rancid like other vegetable oils.

Quick answer: No, jojoba oil does not go rancid

The unique chemical structure of jojoba oil makes it resistant to oxidation and rancidity. Jojoba oil is composed almost entirely of esters of long chain fatty acids and alcohols. The high percentage of long chain molecules give jojoba oil stability against oxidation.

Other vegetable oils are made up of triglycerides, which have three fatty acid chains attached to a glycerol backbone. The ester bonds in triglycerides are more susceptible to hydrolysis and oxidation, which causes rancidity. The structure of jojoba oil does not allow for hydrolysis of ester bonds.

In addition, jojoba oil contains natural antioxidants such as vitamin E and ferulic acid which further prevent oxidation. The antioxidant properties allow jojoba oil to remain shelf stable with a long shelf life. While other oils need to be refrigerated after opening, jojoba oil can be safely stored at room temperature for long periods.

Chemical structure makes jojoba oil resistant to rancidity

Here is a more in-depth look at why the chemical structure of jojoba oil allows it to resist going rancid:

  • Jojoba oil is comprised of long chain esters of fatty acids and fatty alcohols. The predominant molecule is cis-11-eicosenoic acid, an unsaturated long chain fatty acid with a 20-carbon chain length.
  • These long chain fatty acids are linked to fatty alcohols such as 11-eicosanol, also containing 20 carbons.
  • The ester bonds between the fatty acids and alcohols are difficult to break down, preventing rancidity reactions like hydrolysis and oxidation.
  • Other vegetable oils contain triglycerides, which have ester bonds between glycerol and 3 fatty acid chains. These bonds are easier to break, making triglycerides more prone to oxidation.
  • The long chain length and linear structure of jojoba esters allows them to pack tightly and create an oil that is liquid at room temperature but resistant to degradation.

In summary, it is the unique ester structure of jojoba oil, with long chain fatty acids and alcohols, that makes it far more shelf stable than traditional triglyceride vegetable oils. The difficulty breaking down its ester bonds prevents rancidity reactions.

Natural antioxidants in jojoba oil prevent oxidation

In addition to its stable chemical structure, jojoba oil contains various natural antioxidants that further prevent rancidity:

  • Vitamin E: Jojoba oil contains natural forms of vitamin E, including tocopherols. Vitamin E scavenges free radicals that can react with unsaturated fatty acids and cause oxidation.
  • Ferulic acid: This potent antioxidant found in jojoba oil also aids in stabilizing lipids and preventing oxidation reactions.
  • Phytosterols: These plant-derived molecules have some antioxidant effects in jojoba oil.

The antioxidants in crude, unrefined jojoba oil provide a natural defense against free radicals. Refining processes can strip away some of these antioxidants, reducing the oil’s protection against oxidation. Using crude jojoba oil ensures you get the full antioxidant benefits.

How does jojoba oil compare to other oils?

Here is a comparison of the shelf life of jojoba oil versus other common vegetable oils:

Oil Shelf Life Notes
Jojoba oil 2-5 years Very stable due to unique chemistry
Coconut oil 2-3 years High saturated fat content improves stability
Olive oil 2 years Monounsaturated fats prone to oxidation
Grapeseed oil 6-12 months High polyunsaturated fat content decreases stability

As you can see, jojoba oil far outpaces the shelf life of other common vegetable oils. Coconut oil has improved stability due to its saturated fat content. But the unique structure of jojoba esters makes it the clear winner for resisting rancidity.

How to store jojoba oil to maximize shelf life

To get the most shelf life out of your bottle of jojoba oil, follow these storage guidelines:

  • Store in an opaque, UV-protective bottle. Light exposure can degrade oils over time.
  • Keep jojoba oil tightly sealed after opening to limit air exposure.
  • Store at room temperature. Refrigeration is not needed for jojoba oil.
  • Keep your bottle of jojoba in a cool, dark place like a cupboard or pantry.
  • Avoid storage in humid environments which can introduce moisture.
  • Transfer to smaller bottles once opened if you won’t use it quickly.
  • Discard if oxidation signs appear like change in color, smell, or texture.

With proper storage, you can expect your bottle of jojoba oil to maintain quality and freshness for 2-5 years. Use your senses of sight and smell to check for any degradation before use.

Signs that jojoba oil has gone rancid

Although it resists rancidity remarkably well, jojoba oil can go bad eventually. Here are the signs that your jojoba oil has oxidized and is no longer good to use:

  • Change in color: Fresh jojoba oil is clear/golden. It turns darker yellow, orange, or brown when rancid.
  • Off odors: Rancid jojoba oil smells unpleasant, with odors like paint or crayons.
  • Texture change: Separated layers or clumping in the oil indicate degradation.
  • Smoke point drops: Rancid jojoba oil will smoke at lower temperatures.
  • Poor performance: Rancid jojoba doesn’t spread or absorb well into skin.

Always do a quick visual, smell, and texture check before using jojoba oil. Discard any oil with signs of oxidation for the best quality and safety.

Does rancid jojoba oil pose any health risks?

Consuming rancid oils can potentially pose some health concerns:

  • Oxidation byproducts may be toxic like aldehydes, ketones, and free radicals.
  • Lipid oxidation products may be inflammatory, harmful to cells, and damaging to DNA.
  • Consuming rancid oils could exacerbate inflammatory conditions.
  • Rancid oils lose nutrients like vitamins E and K.

Applying rancid jojoba oil to your skin can also cause issues like redness, irritation, clogged pores, and sensitivity. For these reasons, it’s best to discard jojoba oil at the first signs of oxidation.

However, the low oxidation rate of jojoba oil compared to other oils means that rancidity is unlikely to develop rapidly. Regularly checking your oil should prevent any major safety issues from arising.

Does jojoba oil need to be refrigerated?

Refrigeration is not necessary for jojoba oil due to its stability at room temperature. In fact, refrigerating jojoba oil may have some disadvantages:

  • Cooler temperature causes components of jojoba oil to solidify.
  • The wax-like consistency makes the oil difficult to use when chilled.
  • Bringing cold jojoba oil into a warm environment causes condensation.
  • Temperature fluctuations from the fridge can accelerate degradation.

As long as it is properly stored, jojoba oil maintains its integrity just fine at room temperature. The fridge can actually do more harm than good in some cases.

Does jojoba oil need to be kept in the dark?

Light exposure is one environmental factor that can speed up the oxidation rate of jojoba oil. Keeping jojoba oil in an opaque, dark bottle helps prevent rancidity.

Ultraviolet (UV) light in particular causes chemical reactions that break down the oil faster. Make sure your storage container filters out UV rays. Amber glass bottles commonly used for essential oils block UV light.

Visible light also gradually contributes to degradation. A study found that jojoba oil stored in the dark at room temperature retained its antioxidant capacity significantly longer than oil stored in the light.

So make sure to store jojoba oil away from direct sunlight or other bright light sources. Keep it in a cool, dark place like a cupboard for the longest shelf life.

Does jojoba oil expire?

Yes, jojoba oil does eventually expire, but its impressive shelf life means expiration happens very slowly.

Unopened jojoba oil lasts 2-5 years from the date of bottling. Once opened, jojoba oil lasts 12-24 months with proper storage before oxidation occurs.

You can extend the lifespan of jojoba oil by:

  • Choosing opaque, UV-protective bottles
  • Limiting air exposure with tight lids
  • Keeping jojoba oil in cool, dark places
  • Avoiding temperature fluctuations

With optimal storage conditions, jojoba oil can far outlast the printed expiration date. But be aware of any changes in smell, color, or texture, and discard at the first signs of degradation.

Does jojoba oil clog pores?

Jojoba oil is unlikely to clog pores for most people due to its similarity to our natural sebum. Some key facts about jojoba oil and clogged pores:

  • Jojoba is hypoallergenic and contains no comedogenic ingredients.
  • The oil mimics skin’s natural lipids and is readily absorbed.
  • Jojoba helps dissolve sebum and clean pores, preventing clogs.
  • Jojoba has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe breakouts.
  • Use jojoba alone as a moisturizer, not with other oils.

While pore-clogging is rare, those prone to acne should patch test first. Discontinue use if any congestion or new breakouts occur.

Does jojoba oil need a preservative?

Pure, unrefined jojoba oil does not need added preservatives due to its inherent stability and built-in antioxidants. However, jojoba oil can go rancid faster with:

  • Added essential oils or extracts that deplete antioxidants
  • Blending with less stable carrier oils
  • Prolonged light or air exposure during use

Under these conditions, adding a natural preservative like vitamin E oil may prolong shelf life. Check for signs of oxidation regularly in blended or infused jojoba oils.


The unique chemical structure of jojoba oil makes it extraordinarily resistant to rancidity and oxidation compared to other vegetable oils. Its long chain fatty acid esters are less prone to breaking down over time. Jojoba oil also boasts natural antioxidants that protect against free radicals and inhibit decomposition.

With proper cool, dark storage, jojoba oil remains fresh for up to 5 years – much longer than the shelf life of most other oils. Refrigeration is not needed, and may even be detrimental in some cases. While no oil lasts forever, jojoba oil’s impressive longevity is one of its greatest advantages.

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