When a certain product category becomes really hot, you can expect companies around the world to want to get in on the action. That's exactly what has happened in the world of cannabidiol (CBD). Although CBD prices have yet to really come down significantly, there is an absolute glut of product on the market – and the quality can vary greatly from one CBD product to the next. As the end user, all that you see when shopping for CBD oil is a glass bottle with a pretty label. Every product looks just about the same. As you're about to learn, though, every step of CBD production – from the field to the bottle – is of crucial importance. At every step, people make decisions that can drastically affect the quality of the final product. These are the 5 things that CBD experts such as Popular CBD Brands say you must ask before buying any CBD oil.
1. What Is The Source Of The Hemp?
CBD isn't a lab-created product; it's extracted from natural plant material. CBD comes from industrial hemp, and it has helped to make hemp one of the world's most profitable crops to grow. The total size of the world industrial hemp industry reached $3.9 billion in 2017, and Grand View Research expects that the market will grow by 14 percent every year through 2025.
With more and more companies getting into the CBD industry every day, the demand for high-quality industrial hemp often exceeds the supply – and the demand for domestic hemp is highest of all. You might think that the price of a particular CBD oil can help you determine whether it's made from domestic hemp or cheaper hemp imported from Asia, but that isn't the case. The product will be expensive either way. If you care about the origins of the natural products that you buy, ask about the source of the hemp before buying any CBD oil.
2. Is The Hemp Organic?
Hemp is a bioaccumulator. It draws toxins such as heavy metals out of the soil. Researchers have even used hemp as a soil remediator at the site of the Chernobyl disaster. The downside of this incredible property, though, is that anything removed from the soil by hemp ends up in the plant. Hemp is relatively easy to grow. A farmer doesn't need to use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides to ensure a successful crop – and you shouldn't have to pay more for CBD oil made from organic hemp.
3. What Is The CBD Extraction Process?
There are two common ways of extracting CBD oil from hemp plant material. The first method involves exposing the hemp to a solvent such as benzene or ethanol. After the extraction, the solvent is allowed to evaporate away until nothing but dark, viscous CBD oil remains. Solvent-based CBD extraction is very inexpensive, but trace solvents may remain in the final product.
The second method of extracting CBD oil is supercritical fluid extraction. In this method, an extraction machine shoots pressurized liquid carbon dioxide through a chamber packed with plant material. The liquid CO2 acts as a solvent, drawing the CBD oil out of the hemp for collection in another vessel. The machine then collects the CO2 for reuse.
Between the two methods of CBD extraction, CO2 extraction is cleaner by far because it leaves no trace solvents behind. The downside is that the equipment needed for CO2 extraction is very expensive. Because CO2 extraction is so costly, some CBD oil producers still use less expensive solvents. Many of the people who use CBD oil consume it daily. Do you want to consume trace benzene or ethanol every time you use CBD oil? Of course not. Determine the extraction method before buying any CBD oil.
4. Is The Product A Full-Spectrum Extract Or An Isolate?
Hemp is an incredibly complex plant full of compounds that the body can use. It contains at least 113 known cannabinoids that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system. It also contains plant compounds called terpenes that provide benefits of their own. If you want to buy a CBD oil that contains all of hemp's beneficial compounds, you'll want a full-spectrum extract. Here's the thing about full-spectrum CBD oil, though: Industrial hemp isn't strictly THC free. Federal guidelines allow for CBD products to contain up to 0.3 percent THC. No, that's not enough THC to make you feel high. However, it could potentially be enough THC to generate a positive result in a drug test. If that possibility concerns you, you'll want to buy a CBD oil that uses CBD isolate instead.
CBD isolate begins its life as a full-spectrum CBD oil. From there, the CBD oil goes through a process in which it's exposed to ethanol, heated, frozen and filtered until nothing but pure white CBD powder remains. The powder is over 99 percent pure CBD, and it is oil soluble. By adding the CBD powder to a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil, a manufacturer can create a CBD oil with absolutely no THC or other impurities and a very consistent CBD content. You won't get the added benefits of a full-spectrum plant extract when you use CBD oil made from CBD isolate, but you also won't ingest anything that could potentially cause you to fail a drug test.
5. Is The Product Verified Through Third-Party Testing?
As you now understand, there are many steps involved in the production of CBD oil. No CBD oil producer controls every aspect of growing, extraction and bottling, and that means several outside parties are going to touch the product before it finally ends up in your hands. You deserve to know exactly what is in a bottle of CBD oil before you buy it. The producer should be able to provide independent lab reports verifying the CBD content of the oil. The reports should also verify that the oil is free of pesticides, heavy metals and solvents.
Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.