A vast number of different CBD products and manufacturers on the market can cause quite a lot of confusion when deciding which CBD oil to buy.
Before we even start looking for CBD oil, we need to ask ourselves: “Do I need to worry about little THC?”. If the answer is yes, then you should look for CBD Isolate or Broad Spectrum CBD oils. Although users who want, or should we say expect the best medicinal value, always try to find a quality Full Spectrum CBD oils as they are in most cases much more effective.
When we decide which CBD oil we want to buy, we need to realize, that there is a ton of misinformation on the internet about CBD, countless mislabeled products and shady companies that are scamming innocent people just for the sake of profit.
This is why at Hempika we decided to put together a complete guide with A LOT of Examples on:
Deciding between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate Oils
Understanding Certificates of Analysis (CoA)
Recognizing Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate Oils
How to know if THC is below legal limit
Understanding the potency of CBD oils
How to read Lables of CBD oil
Finding a reputable vendor
Choosing the strength of CBD oil
Why you shouldn’t buy CBD oil on Amazon
Payment methods, PayPal and CBD oil
Oils have a different density than water (somewhere between 0,840 and 0,960 g/ml), but for easier understanding and calculation, we’ll take into account that its density is 1/1 g/ml. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the first of example. This is a fake CBD oil that “has” 50.000mg of “hemp extract” in 30ml bottle, which is physically impossible as the max-content in that volume would be 30.000mg of CBD oil in total.
As we said before, the risk or “fear” of THC is in most cases the only reason that people decide for CBD Isolate or Broad spectrum products rather than Full spectrum.
CBD (cannabidiol) has a lot of medicinal benefits and great therapeutic potential on its own. But when we combine the whole plant extract (Full spectrum) that is full of cannabinoids, terpenes and other beneficial compounds that are found in hemp/cannabis, all the compounds work in synergy, providing us with an entourage effect. It is important to know that CBD Isolate oil doesn’t provide an entourage effect – here is an example of an intentionally mislabeled CBD Isolate product, with an intention to mislead customers and increase sales:
You can clearly see on the label “99% CBD Isolate”. This is also important when we are reading the label of a CBD oil and try to gather as much info as possible. From this label we can learn:
- 99% CBD Isolate – this is the main (active) ingredient of CBD oil
- 10% – 1000mg – here we can see that oil has 1000mg of CBD in it, and since it is 10%, it means that it comes in a 10ml bottle.
- “full entourage effect” – here we can see that the product is mislabeled and provides misinformation to potential customers, as if we remember from before, CBD on its own (CBD Isolate) doesn’t provide an entourage effect.
We can say that this product probably contains CBD Isolate, but it is mislabeled. If anyone should decide for this kind of product, always ask for a Certificate of Analysis – and be sure that they don’t send you a CBD Isolate powder analysis instead of CBD Isolate oil analysis. If you’d like, you can also check a comparison of CBD Isolate vs Full spectrum.
Certificate of Analysis (CoA) is the only thing that you can “trust” regarding the content of cannabinoids (CBD, THC,…) in CBD oil and it is also the only way to see the difference between Full spectrum, Broad spectrum and CBD Isolate.
The analysis results are usualy presented in numbers (percentage and weigth), but are sometimes found in graph form for easier understanding. It is also a common practice that the limit of detection (LOD) and limit of quantification (LOQ) are also listed – this are the terms used to describe the smallest concentration that can be reliably measured. The majority of laboratories test for the best known and most abundant cannabinoids in CBD products and hemp in general:
Standardizing the tests is a very difficult task and international cannabinoid standards don’t exist yet, so results from Cannabinoid analysis might slightly differ from laboratory to laboratory.
Many cannabinoids are present in hemp/cannabis in such low quantities that machines aren’t able to detect them at all. Why is this important? Broad spectrum CBD oils should be THC free, but it can happen that during the elimination process of THC, traces of it are still left in the CBD oil. For the average consumer, this shouldn’t present any problems or cause fear to be THC positive if drug tested.
So, how to recognize CBD Isolate, Broad spectrum and Full spectrum CBD oils? Easy. When looking at CoA of CBD Isolate oil, graph (or numbers) should show only CBD and none of the other cannabinoids – although it is true that sometimes CBDV can be found in CBD Isolate powder. Here is an example of a CBD Isolate oil Certificate of Analysis:
This is how CBD Isolate oil CoA looks like. Note that this is a CoA from a product that was marketed as a “Broad spectrum” CBD oil.
What can we learn from this CoA?
- The product clearly contains only CBD
- The percentage of CBD in this product is only 0,73%
- There is 7,25mg of CBD per ml of CBD oil
- Whole bottle contains 218mg of CBD, so the bottle is 30ml or 1oz.
- It is a “low potency” CBD oil
- The product should be sold cheap
- The CoA indicates that the product is mislabeled
Broad spectrum products shouldn’t be hard to recognise either. There should be some other cannabinoids present in the CBD oil besides CBD (this also depends from strain to strain), and THC should be undetected. This is probably the perfect moment to mention that some companies have resorted to even faking certificates of analysis (you’ll see soon). This makes it hard for a consumer to trust any company and even harder for a company to gain trust from a potential customer.
Here is an example of a CoA from a Broad spectrum concentrate:
What can we learn from this CoA?
- CBD, CBN, CBDV and CBC are present in the Broad spectrum concentrate
- CBD presents 97,21% of weigth (972,1mg per g)
- CBN presents 0,8% of weigth (8mg per g)
- CBDV presents 0,44% of weigth (4,4mg per g)
- CBC presents 1,1% of weigth (11mg per g)
- There is a total of 99,55% of cannabinoids
- THCA and THC aren’t present so the product is broad spectrum (although other cannabinoids are barely present)
- Certificate of analysis looks legit
We can conclude that this product is broad spectrum with a high amount of CBD. FALSE! This is a fake CoA and there is no way to disprove it unless the product is tested in another laboratory. For the final customer, this probably isn’t the option, as analysis costs probably the same or more as the product itself. Every company that cares about their customers and want to be as transparent as possible, will always test their products (no matter if they produce CBD oil by themselves or they buy it from a supplier). And this was exactly the case that revealed this fraud.
Here are examples of two CoAs that were made for this specific product. Note that they were made in two different laboratories, so the results vary a bit.
What we can learn from this CoAs?
- Different cannabinoid standards were used as results vary
- THC, CBD, CBDV, CBN, CBG and CBC were found in both analysis, but THCV and THCA only in the first one
- Total THC is in both cases much over the legal limit (0,3% US & 0,2% most of EU), making the product illegal
- 4 more cannabinoids were found in additional analysis
- This is a Full spectrum product
When it comes to THC, it is good to know if the CBD oil or any other CBD product is legal or not in your country. If we take a look at the certificate of analysis, we can see the content of different cannabinoids, including “different” THC’s:
- delta-8-Tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ8-THC)
- delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol (also referred to as Δ9-THC or just THC)
- THCA – Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid
When calculating the total THC content of a CBD product, we have to look only at Δ9-THC and THCA. Why? Because with the process called decarboxylation, THCA converts to Δ9-THC. Δ8-THC is a legal cannabinoid in most of the world as it is far less potent from its precursor (in terms of psychoactivity) and it only exists in small quantities as it is oxidised from Δ9-THC.
So, when calculating total THC, we have two options:
- Use this simple formula: Δ9-THC + (THCA * 0,877) = Total THC
- Or use this THC Calculator (coming soon)
When we came across a product that was strangely labelled at first sight (picture below), we had to investigate.
On the picture we can see CBD flowers with supposedly 20,3% of CBD, 2,5% Terpenes and 0,0% THC. Here, the legality isn’t the first thing that comes to your mind, but the question “how can CBD flowers have 0,0% THC, unless they are washed and sprayed with CBD Isolate and terpenes?” Here is an answer:
On the cannabinoid analysis report we could see that there is actually 0,8% of THCA and 0,7% of THC in total. Not only that this product represents a danger for the potential consumer who could be drug tested but can be illegal in many countries as well.
Before we buy CBD oil, we also need to understand its potency. Usually, the CBD content is clearly visible on the product label but that isn’t always the case. And that’s why is important that we know how to read labels and certificates, so we can understand how potent the CBD oil is.
Different volumes of CBD oils can sometimes cause confusion among inexperienced users. Although it is mostly true that bigger volume bottles of CBD oil have more CBD in them than the low volume bottles.
Here is an example: Many companies are selling 30ml bottles of CBD oil, and even to up to 100ml ones can be found on the market. So, if we look at 4 different CBD oils with different volumes (10, 30, 60 and 100ml) with the same amount of CBD (let’s say 1000mg). All of the oils have completely the same amount of CBD, but different amount of carrier oil (hemp seed oil, MCT oil, olive oil,…). This is a piece of important information when we are converting mg of CBD into percentage and vice versa.
The percentage of different volume CBD oils with 1000mg of CBD:
- 10ml = 10%
- 30ml = 3,3%
- 60ml = 1,67%
- 100ml = 1%
We can see that the amount of CBD didn’t change, but the percentage did. With this information, we can conclude that different percentages don’t necessarily mean different amounts of CBD.
Some people are a bit sensitive to oils (diarrhoea, stomach ache,…) so they might want to look for a higher percentage CBD oil that is lower in volume.
Here are examples of two different 30ml CBD oils with different concentrations.
Both of the products come from a trusted brands, so we can say that they are legit. But what can we learn from their label?
The first product:
- Has 300mg of CBD (although it doesn’t specificaly says 300mg of CBD)
- It is dilluted in MCT coconut oil
- Is made with Supercritical CO2 extraction method
- Has 30ml of CBD oil
- Has 1% of CBD
- Is probably full spectrum (as it uses the term “hemp extract”)
The second product:
- Has 167mg of CBD per serving
- Has 30ml of CBD oil
- 1 serving = 1ml, so 30 servings total
- Has 5010mg of CBD (30 x 167)
- Is Full spectrum
- Is lab tested and has THC below 0,3%
- It is made from hemp and not from cannabis
- Has 16,67% of CBD
If we compare both products, we can clearly see that the second one is much more potent as the first one – to be precise, 16,67 times more potent.
Because we are looking at Full spectrum products, it isn’t always better to have as much CBD as possible, but to have as many other cannabinoids as possible (this is also a subject of the “problem” or disease that we want to treat, as different cannabinoids have different benefits). Of course, if we are looking only at CBD, there is no doubt which oil is more potent.
If those two products were made only with CBD isolate, all we had to compare was the price. But here, we are comparing two Full spectrum products, and the price shouldn’t be the first (even worse, the only) condition that we take into consideration. We have to look at the cannabinoid profile of the specific product and try to find one with a high content of other cannabinoids besides CBD. But keep in mind that other cannabinoids, unlike CBD, are found in much lower quantities.
For example, the first product costs €40 or $43 (prices are rounded for easier calculation) and the second one costs €240 or $260. We have to buy 16 products to get the same amount of CBD as in the second product. So, 16 x €40 ($43) equals €640 ($690).
Again, if those were CBD Isolate oils, there wouldn’t be a question which to choose, as the price for mg of CBD in the first product would be almost 3 times more expensive than in the second CBD oil. Since both oils are Full spectrum, there is still recommended to learn more about cannabinoids, so you can see which ones to look for if you are taking CBD oil for specific problems, illnesses,…
The best way to be sure about potency is to look at mg of CBD in a product and not the percentage. For example, if you have 2 different products, one 10ml and one 100ml with the same amount of CBD, the only difference is that you would have to take 10 drops of 100ml CBD oil to achieve the same effect as with 1 drop of 10ml CBD oil.
With all the information above, we can see, that finding a reputable vendor isn’t as hard as it looks, but it requires some caution. Here is a list of things that you should look out when searching for a reputable CBD vendor online:
- Clearly labelled/described products – Mg of CBD or percentage, Full spectrum, Broad spectrum or CBD Isolate, carrier oil and volume.
- Certificates of analysis – if CoA can’t be found on the website, always ask for it (don’t believe if someone tells you the content over the phone or sends you only a written e-mail).
- Customer service – look for a responsive vendor which would provide you an answer to your question if you have one (don’t trust the ones that just want to make a sale without providing you the info that you want – or at least point you to the right direction, especially about any medical claims).
- Medical claims – in most of the cases it isn’t allowed to make any medical claims about CBD products, so be aware of the sites that are full of them.
- Customer reviews – it is always nice to see customer reviews, but they aren’t something you can always trust. We’ve come across numerous sites that have fake reviews with fake people (stock pictures of the same people “commenting” whole novels on multiple CBD sites). Some sites might translate their reviews from other languages, so the names of the people might let you believe that the reviews are fake. If you want to be 100% sure, our recommendation is that you search for reviews on Trustpilot or similar sites, where only verified customers can comment – even if there isn’t a ton of them, it is a sign that the company can be trusted (if the reviews are good of course). Because there is a lot of competition on the market, some companies are even using “dirty tricks” and posting low-star reviews, just to ruin the reputation of other vendors (we’ve also been a target of this kind of attack by a company…but when you know that you provide high-quality products, some fake reviews shouldn’t be a big deal).
- Contact information – if contact info can’t be found on the website, it is better to avoid it. Why? There are a lot of scams going on, so if you get a faulty product, you practically can’t do anything.
- “Free trial” CBD oils – if you ever notice “Free Trial” or anything like “Rush My Trial”, carefully read the terms and conditions! In majority of cases (actually all of them that we were able to find), they provide you “free CBD oil” for “exchange” of your credit card info and then if you don’t cancel automatic subscription, they overcharge you for a low quality CBD product on a monthly basis.
- Rushing you to buy – if you are buying CBD oil, you don’t need to decide in 5 minutes if you need this exact oil for “special price before going out of stock”. This is usually a marketing trick that lets you believe that they have a “really special price”…which isn’t special at all.
- MLM schemes – the same as the illegal pyramid schemes. Most people who start selling CBD (or anything other) this way, start losing money (picture below). Only a few percent are actually able to make a living out of it. We highly recommend that you try to avoid this kind of deals and rather focus on affiliate marketing.
When it comes to choosing the strength of CBD oil, we should ask ourselves what do we want to use it for. If we are first time users of CBD oil for no specific reason (let’s say well-being) or if you are buying CBD oil for your pet, you can start with a lower strength CBD oil. From our experience, most of the “first-timers”, decide for 500mg CBD oil as a starting point.
It is a completely different story if we want to treat specific illnesses and/or problems. The best example here is epilepsy and seizures, where doses are well researched. Scientists recommend doses between 1,5 and 2,5 mg of CBD per kg of bodyweight. Because every individual is unique, so are the doses – it is best to start with a lower dose and then work your way up until you find the optimal dose for you. “Bigger is better” isn’t the case when it comes to CBD, so jumping to the highest possible probably won’t have the effect as it should.
Because CBD isn’t researched to the point that we could recommend specific doses for specific problems, a lot comes down to anecdotal evidence from other uses and trial & error with dosing. Well, one thing is for sure. If your problem or illness is severe, you might want to buy high strength CBD oil rather than a low one.
We highly recommend you to visit ProjectCBD where you can find a lot of useful information about CBD, dosing and links to numerous studies to get the approximate idea about doses for specific illnesses.
If you still can’t decide, choose a medium strength CBD oil, start low and gradually work your way up, until you find the optimal dose for you. Note that it can take to up to 5 weeks for our Endocannabinoid system to balance itself and that it starts functioning properly – sometimes you have to be a bit patient to feel the effect.
Let’s keep things straightforward – Amazon has a strict “NO CBD” policy. Every product that is “masked” in a dropper bottle under the name “hemp oil extract”, “oral hemp extract” or anything similar most probably isn’t real CBD oil. There were few cases when real CBD oil could be found on Amazon under a different name, but most definitely, those products are long gone. Even if they aren’t, just ask yourself if it’s worth playing this kind of lottery.
We’ve come to the end of the process of buying CBD oil, and the last thing we need to do is purchase it. Just like we can pay with cash or credit card in a supermarket, we can pay for CBD oil with different payment methods:
- Credit card – the most common payment method. We, along with some companies also provide a 3-D secure credit card payment which requires 2-point verification process, that provides additional security against an abuse of your credit card.
- Cash on delivery (COD) – payment method usually only available when delivering to the same country from where the product is shipped.
- Bank transfer – pro forma invoice is usually sent by e-mail. It contains the info about the company and the total amount of money needed for the transaction.
- Cryptocurrency – not many companies offer their CBD products in exchange for cryptocurrency, but this will surely change in the near future. If you want to buy CBD oil with Bitcoin, Altcoins and Ripples (Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple), you can do this HERE.
Every payment method has its own benefits and if you followed the guide and have been able to recognize a quality CBD oil and reputable vendor, they shouldn’t have any weaknesses.
You might be wondering why PayPal isn’t on this list. The case with PayPal is similar as with Amazon. They also have a “NO CBD” policy because they think of it as a high-risk business. Is this due to different and constantly changing laws about CBD products around the world? Hard to say.
If you come across a website that enables you to pay for CBD oil with PayPal, you have to think twice before buying at that particular website/company:
- CBD products can be legit and PayPal haven’t found out that the company sells them. When they do find out, all the funds transferred with PayPal will be confiscated from the company and their account will be shut down – nothing to be worried as a customer.
- “CBD products” aren’t CBD products in reality and vendor is able to freely accept payments with PayPal (although this kind of sites don’t mention CBD and have products similarly labelled as on Amazon, so this should already be a signal for alarm) – this is something you should be careful with.
In conclusion, we do not recommend buying CBD oil via PayPal.
Now we’ve come to the end of our Guide where we learned everything that we need to know when buying CBD oil and especially what to be aware of. We hope that this guide will help you choose the best CBD oil that will suit your needs.
There is no need to look further, here you can buy CBD products that are:
- Full Spectrum
- High quality
- Lab tested
- Made with Supercritical CO2 extraction method
- Made from only natural ingredients
- Made from ECO certified hemp
If you want to raise awareness and help people choose the right CBD oil, share the post with any of the buttons below 🙂
Author: L. O.