How to Tell If Your CBD Oil Is High-Quality: A Step-by-Step Guide
There’s a lot going on in the CBD world these days. So many new brands, so many new products, so much content and education and claims…you may be wondering who to trust!
We think it’s time for some more objective guidelines. Which is why we’ve compiled a step-by-step set of metrics you can use to find out if the CBD product of your choice is truly premium…or just hype. Ready to be a smart-shopper? Now you can.
Before the article gets going, here’s an outline of what to look for:
Where does your CBD come from?
When it comes to CBD, how a product gets sourced is critical. Good CBD starts with good hemp. And good hemp starts with good farmers growing good seed!
Unfortunately, most CBD brands don’t actually have any control or oversight over where their CBD products come from. That’s because most brands are simply white-labeling products sourced from a distant supplier! And that makes quality control tricky.
While smaller brands may be forced into this type of outsourcing, larger brands have the chance to become a little more vertically integrated. Look for brands that retain oversight of their products from seed to sale.
If a brand is talking about its hemp farmers, its extraction facility, its R&D lab, et cetera, that’s definitely a good sign! Take the brand Joy Organics, for example, who clearly state where and how their CBD is made. CBD companies that have their own farming operations will also be able to get more creative when it comes to making new and novel products.
How is the quality of CBD extraction?
Even the highest quality hemp out there needs to be extracted properly to product premium CBD.
But not all CBD extraction processes are created equal! Some CBD may be created from butane or hexane extraction, methods which produce high yields but also risk chemical contamination. Not good.
Instead, look for brands that use food-grade ethanol or supercritical CO₂ to extract their CBD. These methods do a good job of harnessing hemp’s most important active ingredients…without leaving any harsh solvents or chemicals behind. Other good methods for making CBD include distillation or cold-pressing, though CO₂ extraction is most common by far.
And not all CBD is created equal, either. Different types of extractions yield different CBD products. Ethanol extraction almost always yields a full spectrum CBD product, while CO₂ extraction usually yields a broad spectrum product. Some companies further purify their products with a second extraction.
How can you tell good extraction techniques from bad? Look for a CBD oil that tests rich in cannabinoids and terpenes and free from residual solvents.
What is your CBD strength?
Depending on your health needs you may want to modulate your CBD strength. Here’s a good rule of thumb: the more severe your health challenges, the more CBD you’ll need to overcome them. For more info on dosing, check out our Guide to CBD Dosing 101!
And it’s only practical to choose a product strength which meets your dosing needs. Common CBD oil strengths include:
- 250 milligrams CBD: 8 mg/mL
- 500 milligrams CBD: 16 mg/mL
- 750 milligrams CBD: 25 mg/mL
- 1,000 milligrams CBD: 33 mg/mL
- 1,500 milligrams CBD: 50 mg/mL*
*All mg/mL concentrations assume a standard 1 oz/30 mL bottle.
If we’re honest, CBD product labels can be confusing. Look for a product whose label clearly states its total CBD content and CBD content per dose. Think about it: why wouldn’t a brand want consumers to easily view such things? There may be reasons, but probably not any good ones.
What other ingredients are in it?
CBD oil doesn’t contain just CBD. Most CBD oils have two other important elements: a carrier oil and a flavoring/additive.
Let’s look at carrier oils first. Practically every CBD oil has one. Even the 1,500mg example above is far from just CBD — it’s actually mostly carrier oil by weight.
And that’s not a bad thing! Carrier oils are useful; they serve to dilute what would otherwise be a pretty dense (and pretty messy) hemp extract. The only thing to consider is that carrier oils need to be high quality, too. Some of the best oils include MCT oil, coconut oil, hempseed oil, and olive oil. Some research shows MCT oil is most shelf-stable. Products that use an organic carrier oil get extra points, too.
Next up, many CBD products contain additives that either strengthen or flavor the product. Don’t let the term daunt you — many additives are actually good! Look for brands that use organic or all-natural flavoring to spice up their products.
And some brands take plant extracts a step further by combining their CBD with other botanicals. Why? It may actually make CBD even stronger by engaging the entourage effect. So don’t be surprised if you see lavender, ashwagandha, lemon essential oil, et cetera on a product’s label.
Is your CBD lab tested?
This question is one of the most important ones to ask. If a CBD product isn’t clearly lab tested, stay far, far away from it! There’s simply no reason in this day and age for a CBD product to not be independently lab-tested.
Instead, look for CBD products that have been tested by “3rd party” (independent) labs. The most important tests include:
- Cannabinoid testing: this one is essential to ensure products contain as much CBD as they claim…and under .3% THC. In addition to CBD and THC, premium cannabinoid tests analyze CBDa, THCa, CBG, CBC, CBC, CBDv, THCv, and more.
- Terpene testing: while not essential, terpenes are a component of CBD oil that deserves more attention. Why not test for them? Premium hemp contains terpenes like beta-caryophyllene, guaiol, pinene, myrcene, ocimene, linalool, and more…each of which has its own health benefits.
- Mold/Mycotoxin testing: hemp can be prone to mold — and 2019’s hemp growing season saw more mold than usual. Make sure mold isn’t in your CBD product by selecting products from companies that do mold and/or myctoxin testing.
- Solvent testing: this test ensures your CBD product was extracted safely and correctly. Companies that don’t test for residual solvents may have something to hide, whether it’s butane or hexane or residual ethanol. The best CBD products are completely solvent-free.
Basically, there are two sides to CBD testing. For one, CBD products need to be tested to ensure all the right good things are actually present. Two, testing ensures that the bad stuff isn’t present. Both sides of the equation are important!
And the best thing brands out there make both types of test results obvious. Look for brands that clearly demonstrate their test results online and on each product they sell (via a linkable QR code). In some states, like Indiana, this QR-code link is actually required by law.
Is your CBD certified?
The CBD industry used to be a real Wild-West-type landscape. But things are finally changing, and today more CBD products than ever are certifiably high-quality!
What type of certifications are important, you might ask? Here are a few good ones to look for.
- USDA-Certified Organic: brands that earn this certification use verifiably pure hemp, carrier oils, and flavorings. It’s one of the hemp industry’s best seals of approval.
- cGMP-compliant: short for current good manufacturing processes compliant, think of this certification as a baseline guaranteeing products were produced in safe, clean, standardized facilities. Brands that meet cGMP standards care.
- US Hemp Authority certified: the CBD industry may lack government-issued standards…but in the past few years it’s developed a governing body of its own, the US Hemp Authority! Brands who meet the mark must possess:
- Quality Management Systems
- Master Manufacturing Records
- ISO Quality Standards
- Current Good Manufacturing Practices
- Employee Training for Best Practices
- Good Agricultural Practices
There are other certifications CBD products may acquire, too. Brands that are vegan, non-GMO, cruelty-free, or otherwise sustainability-focused get kudos from us!
Is your CBD affordable?
CBD used to be expensive. And here’s the thing: it was justified. A shortage of supplies (i.e, good hemp), extractors, and general resources meant it took a lot just to get a single bottle of CBD oil from soil to, well, oil.
But times have changed. Today there’s no reason for CBD products to be priced at much over 10 cents per milligram of CBD. To find out if your product of choice meets the mark, simply divide its milligram content by ten, and voila, you’ll have an ideal price:
- A 250 mg product should cost about $25 or less
- A 500 mg product should cost about $50 or less
- A 1000 mg product should cost about $100 or less
- A 1,500 mg product should cost about $150 or less
While the above guidelines are a good starting point, also realize that many brands issue steep discounts for concentrated products. That 1,500 mg CBD oil you’re considering? You might just get it for under a hundred bucks.
Of course, some products still warrant a higher price point. CBD that’s organic, liposomal/nano, or made in small batches may be pricier than normal. If it works better…great!
Is the company transparent?
Things to look for in a CBD company include:
- A focus on education
- A customer service team
- Money-back guarantees
- Discount programs (they’re like icing on the cake)
In today’s digital age, a company’s transparency level can be gleaned from a single look at their website. Is info from the founders available? Are lab tests featured somewhere? How about some info regarding production processes, or where the products come from?
If any info is missing, there might be a (less than honorable) reason why.
Is the company trustworthy?
Moving past the issue of transparency…there are additional things to look for in your CBD company of choice.
Companies that are publicly traded, backed by medical doctors, or connected to charities may be more trustworthy than others. Of course, in today’s world of flashy marketing practices, all is not always what it seems…but these are still good things to look for.
And any premium CBD company will also demonstrate social proof. In other words, they’ll have a large following of loyal consumers that can vouch for the efficacy of their products. Companies like Joy Organics of Charlotte’s Web feature hundreds of real reviews from real customers — nearly all of them pretty favorable.
The Brands We Carry
At this point, you have a few good options. You could diligently search through the thousands of CBD brands out there and eventually form a list of those that measure up…
…or you could follow the lead of a 3rd party that’s gathered some of the industry’s best brands together on one carefully curated website. That’s where All Premium CBD comes in! We carry three premium brands:
Medterra: Medterra is loved by thousands of customers for a reason: the brand features a huge variety of simple-but-effective, highly affordable products. Capsules, tinctures, and cooling creams are just the start.
Joy Organics: Is there any brand that does transparency better than Joy Organics? Probably not. Their products are extensively lab tested, and their mission is clear: to become the best CBD company in the world. Hundreds of good reviews from customers show that the time is right.
Tru Organics: example, is only $67! Tru Organics also carries CBD softgels and other truly premium products.