The global market size for sesame oil is estimated to touch 9 billion USD in 2022, growing at an astounding rate all over the world. In the US, two thirds of sesame is used as processed oil, while one third finds its way into food. Sesame has the distinction of being known as one of the earliest ever known crop based oil, and is used extensively worldwide, despite the challenges in the manual harvesting processes used for oil extraction. One of the more common questions of users of the oil – does sesame oil go bad – is because oil goes rancid after a particular time and this can ruin food products cooked with the bad oil. While the possibility of falling sick from rancid oil is relatively less, such oil is essentially stripped of the healthy properties, including the antioxidants. Let’s take an evidence backed look at the answer to the question.

What happens when oil goes bad? Why does sesame oil go bad?

Oil is considered as bad when the oil becomes rancid as a result of fat molecules breaking down in the oil. When oil goes bad, the taste differs and this can fully alter the taste of the prepared food product. There is a difference between eating rancid meat products and consuming food made from oil that has gone bad. While it is highly unlikely for an individual to fall sick from the latter, the healthy properties of the oil end up compromised. As a result, individuals who consume food prepared from oil that has gone bad will not experience any positive benefits of the oil. Before we look at the question does sesame oil go bad is it important to understand how or why oil goes bad.

Oil goes bad because of exposure to light, heat and air, and the speed with which oils go rancid is determined by the chemical structure of the oil. For instance, sesame oil goes rancid faster than other oils because it is more susceptible to breakdown when exposed to light, heat or air. Rancid oil smells bad and this is often the fastest way of determining if oil has gone bad.

Properties of sesame oil

As we look at the question – does sesame oil go bad – it is important to know more about the oil, which will help in getting a better picture of the properties of the oil and why it should be taken before it goes bad. Sesame oil is used for multiple purposes including cooking, hair/skin improvement, mouthwash and as treatment option for constipation.

#1 Cooking – In various cuisines, sesame oil is preferred for its distinct nutty taste. The oil has impressive properties that make it popular. For instance, it has proven benefits in helping inflammation, controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. This makes it a better choice when preparing dishes including salads and stir fried recipes.

#2 Hair/skin improvement – Sesame oil has been used since ancient times for skin and hair nourishment. It is packed with nutrients that nourish the skin and hair when massaged and left on the skin and hair for a certain amount of time. A natural treatment option, this has been the secret of soft skin and healthy air of generations.

#3 Mouthwash – A common technique that has become popular among a very large percentage of global populations is the use of oil pulling. This technique has been used as an effective mouthwash option. Sesame oil has natural antibacterial properties that make it suitable for use in mouthwash through oil pulling.

#4 Treatment for constipation – In a limited number of cases, sesame oil offers relief from constipation. This is generally used when an individual requires relief from constipation that is of a minor nature. This achieved by consuming sesame oil diluted in water.

Sesame oil was originally native to geographical locations in East Africa and India, but is presently cultivated globally. One of the reasons for the question – does sesame oil go bad – is the widespread use of sesame oil and its impressive properties that make it a healthy option for cooking, and skincare. The oil has powerful antioxidants that help to combat the effects of free radicals. It has proven results in anti-ageing treatments as it helps prevent damage to the skin from free radicals. The oil is used as a massaging medium since it possesses antimicrobial properties which help destroy microorganisms. The prevention of the growth of such organisms helps maintain skin health. Another benefit that makes sesame oil popular is the powerful anti-inflammatory property. The oil helps treat inflammation and swelling through topical application and gentle massaging into the skin.


Sesame oil – nutritional fact sheet

Before we look at other details that answer the question – why does sesame oil go bad, it is time look at the nutrition in sesame oil. In every teaspoon of sesame oil (of 2 ounces), you will get 40 calories, with a total fat content of 4.5 grams. The saturated fat in this serving is 0.6 grams, while polyunsaturated fat is 1.9 grams and monounsaturated fat is 1.8 grams. The oil contains Vitamin E, which explains the protection from skin damage. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are attributed to the multiple phenolic compounds in the oil. Additionally, the oil contains fatty acids that are responsible for the effects seen in skin treatments and massage. Sesame oil is not an essential oil and is therefore safe for use on all skin types, with the exception of individuals who are prone to allergic reactions. It does not require to be diluted when used for skin or hair treatments and can be used in the same way you use olive oil or coconut oil.

Why does sesame oil go bad? What are the visible characteristics of good sesame oil

The answer to the question does sesame oil go bad includes clear instructions on identifying the telltale differences between oil that is good to use and oil that has gone bad. Sesame oil that is good to use is light golden in color, while oil that is unfit to be used is darker, and almost amber in color. In the event that you need to check if oil in an unopened opaque container is good or bad, the best way to do it is to grip the container fully. Containers with rancid oil are often sticky on the outside, and this should serve as an alert that the contents are not suitable for use. This is different from the spillage that occurs as a result of pouring out the contents from a container without a beak. Rancid oil has a distinct smell that instantly reminds you of a bitter taste. This is different from the nutty smell that is characteristic of good sesame oil.

How long can sesame oil be kept from going bad?

The answer to the question – does sesame oil go bad – will be incomplete unless the safe period is mentioned clearly. The shelf life of sesame oil entirely depends on the manner in which it is stored. For instance, sesame oil is best used within four months after it has been opened, but only if it has been stored in a refrigerator after it has been opened. There are claims that sesame oil can be stored in refrigerators for upto four months. However, this will depend on the original date of purchase of the product. If the product has been purchased very close to the “use by” date, then its properties cannot be extended in a refrigerator. The safest bet is the average of four months. If you have purchased sesame oil immediately after it has been packed, then you have the advantage of a longer shelf life and it can be stored in the refrigerator for upto twelve months.


What are the effects of refrigeration on sesame and the cooking quality?

While looking at the question does sesame oil go bad it is also essential to look at the effects of refrigeration of sesame oil. Refrigeration is touted as an effective method of extending the life of sesame oil and this needs to be seen in the context of the effects. For instance, refrigeration (depending on the duration), may cause the oil to turn semi-solid and appear clouded. However, this will not affect the quality or the properties of oil. Most oil products that are refrigerated are either slowly brought back to room temperature or are dropped on hot cooking pots/pans, where the semi-solid oil melts into normal consistency. Oil that needs to be checked for suitability is ideally smelt to understand if it is good to use or discard. Oil that has a distinct rancid smell, or has any uncharacteristic smell, is indicative that it is not suitable and deserves to be discarded at the earliest.

Tips to prevent oil from going bad fast

The methods of ensuring that oil stays intact longer should begin from the point of purchase. For instance, oil that is packed in glass containers with a tint are always a better deal as it prevents light and heat from being allowed into the container. In the event that clear containers are chosen for any reason, it would be a good idea to wrap the container (the exposed, clear portions) in foil, which will prevent heat and light from streaming in. Other practical methods of preventing oil from going bad fast is to choose appropriate bottle sizes as per actual usage. For instance, if you do not use a particular oil frequently, it would be a good idea to opt for a smaller quantity, which will prevent the oil from going bad. Bigger quantities may be certainly be a bargain with huge discounts, but if the oil goes bad as a result of being unused for a longer time, the whole amount is wasted. It is therefore prudent to buy quantities as per frequency and volume of usage. This is a simple and practical tip in answer the question does sesame oil go bad. Additionally, it is always advisable to store oil in a cool and dark place and never beside a hot cooking surface. Sesame oil can be safely stored in a refrigerator for four months without it going bad.


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