How To Identify High Quality CBD Oil
Today there are literally thousands of CBD oil products on the market, so how can consumers choose quality products?
CBD oil is an amazing supplement, but now it’s also an unregulated, fast-growing industry. That means there are unscrupulous scam-artists trying to rip off consumers, too.
Are there signs of quality CBD oil that you can use to determine if it’s reliable or snake oil?
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy for consumers to determine which CBD brands are trustworthy. With the growth in popularity of CBD oil, new brands and merchants are coming out every day. Each one promises to offer you the best, high-quality supplement. However, until the FDA releases its final regulations for CBD supplements, the products remain in a regulatory gray area, and consumers are at a high risk of buying poor quality CBD.
We conducted some research to help you identify high-quality CBD from its low quality counterparts when selecting CBD oil for sale online.
Table of contents
- How to identify high-quality CBD
- How was your CBD made?
- Where and how did the hemp grow?
- Are third-party lab-results available?
- Full spectrum vs. CBD isolate
- Good CBD brands are transparent
- Final thoughts on high quality CBD
How can you identify high-quality CBD oil?
Cannabidiol, or CBD is an extract of the cannabis plant. Although present in psychoactive cannabis (“marijuana”), most CBD oil is extracted from agricultural hemp. While psychoactive cannabis remains federally illegal, the 2018 Farm Bill took hemp-based CBD out of the control of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
These hemp-based CBD oil supplements are very low in THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol), the natural compound that produces psychoactivity in humans. In other words, THC is what makes people feel high. CBD offers many of the health benefits of “medical marijuana” without the high, making it more versatile and less controversial to both users and the community.
However, quality matters: low-grade CBD oil may not offer the same levels of benefit offered by top rated CBD oil because of a variety of factors, and it could even potentially contain harmful toxins. In addition, many products are misleadingly labelled. You should never buy CBD on Amazon due to the profusion of fake products there.
Five of the most important factors when identifying high-quality CBD are: how it’s made, where and how the hemp was grown, and picking brands which offer third-party lab results. Other important factors include whether the product is a “full spectrum” extract, and the overall transparency and communication available from the brand. We’ve examined each factor in more detail below.
Manufacturing CBD: It Matters How CBD Oil Is Made
Unfortunately, due to the young age of the CBD oil industry, there aren’t any regulations that control the manufacturing process. This means that different CBD brands may have different extraction methods in order to process CBD oil from hemp.
Unscrupulous companies, especially those who sell their products at a ridiculously low price, may use cheap methods when extracting CBD oil. This requires toxic solvents that are dangerous to our health such as propane, hexane, pentane and butane.
Better companies use pharmaceutical-grade ethanol to process CBD. Ethanol is essentially grain alcohol. It removes unneeded toxins and residues from the base hemp plant. Many experts consider ethanol among the most efficient extraction methods. This method retains the highest amount of natural cannabinoids among the different refinement processes. It’s also considered one of the safest methods of extracting CBD for human consumption.
Some brands manufacture and extract CBD oil through “supercritical CO2 extraction.” This process involves using carbon dioxide under high pressure in an extremely cold environment. Supercritical CO2 extraction requires expensive equipment, more complex refinement process and production expertise, but it ensures that CBD oil maintains its purity all through the process.
There are some less common, but still safe methods such as lipid extraction.
- SUGGESTION – Before purchasing any CBD oil, research the vendor’s production methods. The information can be found on their website, or through talking to a customer service representative. Quality CBD brands most commonly use ethanol or supercritical CO2 extraction.
Growing Hemp: The Source of Your CBD Matters
Like any manufactured product, one of the best ways to ensure quality is to use high-quality materials. This is especially important in CBD oil. Hemp acts as a “hyperaccumulator.” This means that the hemp plant easily absorbs any toxins or heavy metals in the soil. If a hemp plant grew on rich soil, the resulting hemp plant will be of high quality and can produce CBD oil in the same high-quality as well.
Being a hyperaccumulator also has drawbacks. If you grow hemp in soil with heavy metals or pollution, those toxins could find their way into any CBD oil or consumable products made from those plants.
Sadly, some manufacturers would choose to purchase low-quality hemp to process as CBD oil, and such hemp may be polluted with heavy metals. These manufacturers only have profit in mind, and don’t care about the possible consequence of their products. This is one reason why CBD oil risks getting a negative reputation.
- SUGGESTION – Look into where the CBD brand sources their hemp from. We recommend buying CBD oil products made from U.S.-grown hemp whenever possible. Such information can be found on the retailer’s or manufacturer’s websites as well as through their support center.
Check for third-party lab results (COAs) when buying quality CBD
A high quality brand of CBD will always provide third-party lab results to their consumers. These results are also known as Certificate of Analysis (COAs). Some laboratories finds favorable results, while some CBD products fail their lab tests.
These independent labs exist to ensure that CBD oil is everything it claims to be, with a high level of CBD, low in THC (legally, under 0.3% THC), and lacking in impurities that can be harmful to consumers. Depending on the brand, results might show just levels of CBD and other cannabinoids. However, many brands offer detailed tests which show levels of terpenes, and verify the lack of pesticides, fungus or other harmful chemicals.
Reading these results can be a bit confusing for new consumers, but it helps to at least briefly check COA and educate yourself about their contents as much as you are comfortable doing.
- SUGGESTIONS – A reputable brand of CBD oil should always have recent lab results available. Some provide them on their website, while others include them in the packaging or both. You might also be able to look up a product using a special batch code or QR code on the packaging. When in doubt, reach out to customer service for help.
Full-Spectrum vs. CBD isolate products
Another sign of a quality CBD oil is that it is manufactured using the whole plant and more of the natural compounds found in it. CBD Isolates are increasingly popular, but in reality, they may be less effective than whole plant extracts.
Full spectrum CBD or Hemp Extract retains more of the natural chemicals found in hemp. These include terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids that are generally believed to work synergistically with CBD, making the benefits higher than CBD alone. These products do contain very low amounts of THC. By contrast, a Broad Spectrum CBD or Hemp Extract retains some of these natural compounds, but lacks any THC.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s theoretically possible for any type CBD oil to cause a false positive for marijuana in a drug test. That’s because many tests are very inefficient and inaccurate. However, broad spectrum or CBD isolate products may be less likely to do so than full spectrum hemp extract. More research is needed before we have definitive answers about CBD and drug tests.
- SUGGESTION – Check the labels on the product to determine if the manufacturer uses the whole plant in their products, or check their websites for the information. Some brands use the term Whole Plant while others could use Full Spectrum or Broad Spectrum. Experiment to find out which works best for you.
Look for CBD brands that value communication and transparency
One common theme you might have noticed in this article? We frequently encouraged you to reach out to brands directly for more information.
The reason for this is two-fold. First, a brand knows their products best. But, perhaps more importantly, high quality CBD brands prioritize transparency and good communication. It should always be easy for consumers to find more information about CBD products, including how they were made. Customer service should be easy to reach and respond quickly, whether you use email, phone or social media.
Sometimes we hear from inexperienced consumers who see advertising for a disreputable CBD brand. One of the simplest indicators of high quality CBD brands is whether they have an easy to browse website and an active, friendly presence on social media.
- SUGGESTION – Only buy from brands with a professional looking website that’s easy to browse. If you can’t easily get questions answered by customer service, move on to another CBD brand that values its customers more.
Final thoughts on choosing high quality CBD oil
CBD oil is growing in popularity every day and we’re happy to say that it’s here to stay.
While most brands want to deliver high quality products, not all companies maintain this same level of integrity. CBD regulations and enforcement are likely to improve with time. But until this happens, the consumer must be cautious about what CBD brands to trust.
We have gone through five important things to look for when purchasing CBD oil and offered some suggestions on how to determine if your brand checks out. It is important that you do your own research before making your choice. Remember, you can always check for product reviews, or search for more answers to your questions on sites like Ministry of Hemp.
While buying CBD can feel intimidating at first, with a little knowledge you’ll be ready to make the right purchase.
Kit O’Connell contributed to this article.