If you are new to CBD, choosing a product by simply weighing all of the options before you can be an overwhelming process. Given the changing legalities around hemp, you can find CBD products nearly everywhere – from your grocery store health aisle to your beauty store, and even at your local pet store.
So how can you uncomplicate the selection process? In this article we will help you understand how to look for and determine CBD quality in a product, from selecting reputable brands to understanding the Certificate of Analysis (COA).
Choosing a High-Quality CBD Oil
With the CBD market currently unregulated, the quality of CBD oil is akin to safety and effectiveness. It is highly recommended by experts that a high-quality CBD oil should not contain any chemicals or heavy metals, which can often be difficult to keep out, since hemp is a hyperaccumulator that easily absorbs pesticides and metals directly from the soil. It is recommended to find a CBD oil produced from organic hemp plants, meaning they are not grown on lands filled with heavy metals or by farmers that use chemicals. Therefore, it is not necessarily a product’s potency that determines quality, but rather the safety and effectiveness mentioned above.
If the goal is to avoid intoxicating effects, then the safe choice is to find a hemp-derived CBD oil that contains less than 0.3% THC. If the CBD product contains more than 0.3% THC, then it is considered to be marijuana by federal definition and can run the risk of the user feeling intoxicating effects.
Which CBD Oil Products are Best?
Identifying high quality CBD oil is oftentimes not obvious, but it can be done by keeping a few tips top of mind. Since there are many untested products on the market, strong research is critical to ensure you are receiving the best CBD products in the market. It’s important to keep in mind as you’re researching to find a high-quality CBD product that if a company is making it difficult to find information on their products, then it may not be the most trustworthy brand. In an unregulated industry, transparency is a key marker for how trustworthy a company really is.
Hemp Quality: Soil, Harvest and Extract Testing
Making top-quality CBD products starts at the very beginning, from the location of the hemp plant to the cultivating and management of the plant.
This begins with soil testing, which analyzes the pH, organic matter, and micro- and macro- elements of soil samples. The most important goal with soil testing is to confirm there is no heavy metal buildup or toxins within the soil because the hemp plant is incredibly absorbent.
Once soil is tested and the hemp plant has been harvested (crops have been gathered), now it’s the plant’s turn to undergo testing. Similar to the soil, hemp plants are examined for heavy metals, toxins and other contaminants such as pesticides.
Finally, the hemp plant has passed inspection and is on to the final stage, which is extract testing. While the name may imply that testing is run during the extraction process, this particular test is actually performed after extraction is completed. Depending on the type of CBD, the extraction will be tested for anything that may have occurred or contaminated the product during the act of concentrating ingredients. An example of extract testing is looking for harmful residual solvents such as acetone or ethanol in the final CBD product.
Check for a Certificate of Analysis (COA)
One of the quickest ways to ensure quality of a CBD product is by reviewing its Certificate of Analysis (COA). A COA is a document that shows the product’s results when testing for cannabinoid levels and contaminants. Not all states require testing, but most reputable companies will include a Certificate of Analysis regardless of state requirements.
You can usually find the COA on a company’s website, but if a company hides or does not share their COA, we recommend finding another vendor who is more transparent. At HOLISTIK Wellness, the COA of each product is incredibly simple to find - both directly on the label in the form of a QR code and under each of their product descriptions, such as on this page for HOLISTIK sleep. If you are in a state that permits medical and recreational marijuana use, CBD products sold from dispensaries should be required to have COAs available for you to see.
When reading a COA, it should include some key information:
- A recent date in the header: Ensure their test results are current.
- Who performed the analysis: This should be a 3rd party lab and not the company selling the product.
- The name of the product tested: Make sure this matches the product at which you’re looking.
- For whom the product was tested: The majority of the time this should be for the company selling the product.
- Full cannabinoid profile: Look for <0.3% THC content and the amount of CBD present, represented in mg/g.
- Final approvals: The COA should be signed by the technicians that analyzed the sample and offer contact information for the lab
With the CBD market growing every day it is important to understand that not all CBD is made equal. High-quality CBD oil is determined by numerous factors - from the place that it’s grown to the final product after the extraction process has taken place. Remember that within an unregulated industry, the best way to ensure you are choosing the best high-quality CBD product in the market is by doing your own research, hopefully through a company that is transparent and provides you with a recent Certificate of Analysis (COA).