One of the main reasons we decided to create this blog (the biggest, really) is to educate consumers about CBD and how it can improve lives. Since CBD has only been considered “mainstream” for the past two years most shoppers don’t really know how to choose a safe and effective CBD brand. In addition, because there aren’t any definitive and long-standing laws surrounding the manufacturing and marketing of CBD, there are numerous manufacturers in the marketplace that are selling ineffective, unsafe products. Obviously we think Purelix Wellness offers the best but we also recognize that there are many other brands that follow the same high standards. In an effort to choose the best brand for you we’ve made a list of all of the things you should consider while shopping for CBD and explain why we think these things are important.
Third Party Lab Testing
First and foremost, there is one thing ALL trusted brands do and that is third-party test their products. What is third party testing, you ask? It means that they send their products for independent (not in-house) testing to determine potency and purity. Potency means the amount of cannabinoids present in the products. This is important because, as you may have read in the news, there have been a number of brands that have been promoting CBD products that actually contain little to no CBD. And purity means that the brands offerings contain, among other things, no residual solvents or heavy metals. In addition to advertising that they conduct this third party testing, it’s important to verify that the test results are readily available to the consumer. Once that fact is confirmed, the smart thing to do is to check to see that the results coincide with the label on your product. If, however, they don’t do third-party testing or SAY they do but don’t have an efficient and quick way to pull up the results, we would strongly recommend avoiding this manufacturer. There isn’t any way to know for sure what you’re buying or using and, given the chaotic state of the hemp industry at present, you could very well be ingesting something that contains negligible amounts of CBD or, worse, metals and pesticides. The last part of testing that you should investigate is “batch” testing. This means that they don’t just test one huge amount of the product once or twice a year. If that was the case, how could you be sure that you are looking at the testing results from your particular product? Purelix Wellness products, for instance, have a batch number on the packaging of each item so you can easily and quickly look up the results for that specific batch.
Finally, it’s a good idea to do an online search to see if the brand you’re considering is on the list of companies that have received warning letters from the FDA concerning their products. These letters are issued after the FDA conducts independent testing to ensure that the products contain the potency and purity they advertise on their packaging.
How CBD oil is extracted from the hemp plant for use in consumer products will has a huge impact on the purity and potency of the final compound. To extract CBD oil, you must apply pressure to the plant and the method manufacturers use to apply that pressure is what separates high-quality CBD products from low-quality CBD products. Four of the most common methods for CBD extraction are as follows:
The Rick Simpson Method
This is the cheapest and most straightforward method of extraction but is also the worst possible means of isolating CBD. A hydrocarbon such as butane, pentane, propane, hexane, or acetone is used to separate the CBD oil and, because these solvents are highly flammable, this process is incredibly dangerous. Additionally, this method destroys certain plant waxes and can leave behind very harmful residues so, needless to say, there are plenty of reasons we wouldn’t recommend using this extraction method.
Carrier Oil Method
Carrier oil such as olive, coconut or hemp seed oils are added to decarboxylated plant material through a heating process during this form of extraction. Although safe and cost-effective, it results in a perishable product with very low potency. This is another form of extraction that trusted brands don’t use as it is nearly impossible to produce an end result that is of high enough quality to compete with other brands. It’s easy but archaic and low-tech.
Ethanol or ethyl alcohol extraction
This method involves soaking raw plant material in the solvent and pulling the trichomes into the ethanol. Once the plant is removed the remaining liquid is filtered and the alcohol is purged from the final extract. This method is popular, the equipment used is sophisticated and it produces a clean, potent end result.
CO2, or carbon dioxide, extraction is probably the most widely-used method for extracting CBD. Because of its efficacy and purity, it has become an industry standard. In a nutshell, CO2 acts as a solvent when used at the proper temperature and pressure. The equipment used during this process is very expensive and complicated however it poses none of the dangers that come with using other solvents which makes this method incredibly safe and effective and, therefore, popular.
Of these methods we would strongly suggest only using products that have been created using either Ethanol or CO2 extraction methods. Virtually all trusted brands in business today use one (or both) of the two.
Website and Contact Info
This might sound like common sense but you’d be surprised. As you probably know, it’s pretty easy to put up a website with a random address and phone number as contact information. Dig a little deeper and make sure that the website is functioning, that they have a working customer service number and an actual physical address. Google the address they give and make sure its not just someone’s house. There are plenty of “manufacturers” who, in reality, are just mixing formulas in their basement and bottling them at their kitchen table. We can’t know for sure if those products aren’t potent and safe but why take the chance? I usually do a deep dive on a brand’s website as well and try to look for extensive misspellings and mistakes. If they take pride in the way they appear to the public chances are they work hard to produce a quality product.
Public Feedback and Company Reputation
As with any company you’re thinking of buying your wellness products from, pay attention to what their client base – both past and present – has to say about them. A quick online search will undoubtedly uncover any obvious pitfalls as people love to complain loudly about a product that they’ve paid for that doesn’t do what it advertises. Having trouble finding information? Hop on to Facebook and search for a CBD-centered Facebook group to join. CBD advocates and users want to spread the word about good CBD so are usually quick to share their thoughts on various brands and are usually super-friendly and helpful.
Who is producing the hemp that they use in all of their products? This is a really important piece of the puzzle as well. First, make sure they work only with farms in the US. I know, I know, there isn’t a ton of legislation surrounding the growing of hemp in the United States but it is much better regulated here than it is in other countries. Important hemp, especially that sold out of China, is notoriously low in CBD and contains potentially dangerous pesticides and heavy metals. It’s true that we have a ways to go in the regulating of hemp but, again, we are way ahead of other governments. Beware of any hemp sourced outside our own borders!
For our purposes in this instance, “transparency” means that the company is willing share information relating to each step of their growing and manufacturing processes. With CBD, this goes back to traceability. Every reputable CBD brand should be able to prove high standards of quality control by providing a traceable path from “seed to sale” (or, in some circles, “crop to shop”). In the hemp industry this information is crucial and is a great indicator of how legit the company is. If the brand sources from their own farm will they divulge details of their harvesting practices? On their website do they show pictures of, and invite customers to, their corporate offices? And do they promote their dedication to transparency by offering up information on traceability? Are their batch test results from a third party and are they easy to find online? Make sure the answers to all of these questions is a resounding “yes” before using their product.
We aren’t suggesting that only brands that have fancy, high-end packaging can be trusted. On the contrary, we admire companies who attempt to keep sustainability in mind when presenting environmentally-friendly containers for their CBD (like us!). It should also be noted, however, that CBD products should be packaged in a manner that lengthens and protects the effectiveness of the contents. The moment a hemp leaf is harvested, it begins to die. As such, a good manufacturer will do what it takes to preserve all of the natural elements that make the extract effective. While softgels, topicals and gummies can be kept in plastic, make sure that all containers for all CBD products are opaque and all tinctures are packaged in amber, not transparent, glass. Amber is preferred over other options because it won’t let UV rays penetrate and degrade the potency of the CBD.
An informed CBD consumer will soon learn that the best brands offer premium CBD sourced from reputable farms and extracted using the best technology. CBD can, and does, change lives and those of us who are dedicated to helping our customers get the most from our products are more than willing to share our practices and processes with the World. So now that you have a list of criteria to use when shopping for your CBD we encourage you to get to work!