Buying CBD online can be a tricky business. Currently, CBD oil is not regulated in the UK, meaning that all the responsibility lies with you when it comes to purchasing a safe, high-quality oil.
This means doing a lot of research and learning an awful lot about CBD and its products before you feel confident in buying an oil. Even more worrying is the vague legislation surrounding CBD, which gives many people concern over whether their purchases will actually be legal.
Rather than spending hours trawling the internet for all the information you need and feeling like you might have missed something vital, we have put together these 5 essential tips that you need to keep in mind when buying CBD oil online.
1. Check for Lab Reports
When buying a CBD oil online, it is important to remember that this is an unregulated industry. Theoretically, companies could slap ‘CBD Oil’ on the label to any old product and sell it as is. Manufacturers could also lie about the cannabinoid content of the product, so it’s important that you find a way to confirm you aren’t getting scammed.
Luckily, the reputable companies in this field are looking to promote transparency, and these businesses will always pay for third-party lab testing. This involves sending samples of their oil off to a third-party source in order to have it tested by an unbiased laboratory. These reports are then usually posted on the company’s websites and can be easily accessed by prospective customers.
Lab reports will not only verify that the oil is in fact CBD oil, but it will also determine what amounts of each cannabinoid are contained within the bottle. As well as helping you avoid a scam, these reports also vouch for your safety.
Some reports detail what other compounds can be found in the oil. Sometimes, fertilisers and pesticides used in the growing process manage to find their way into the oil, and these may show up on the chromatograph. Other potentially harmful chemicals may also be found, including heavy metals like lead. Most often, the amount is negligible and won’t harm you, but it is better to know about what you’re putting into your body.
As a general rule, you shouldn’t buy from a company that doesn’t publish results from a third-party lab test on their site.
2. Ensure That it is Not Hempseed Oil
Here’s another potential scam: Hempseed oil and CBD hemp oil are not the same thing. In the UK, CBD oil must be made from the industrial hemp plant, a type of the Cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.03% THC. This law is in place to prevent production and sale of illegal drugs, in this case marijuana.
The hemp plant is an extremely useful one. For a start, it can grow in extremely harsh environments, absorbing toxins from the soil – it was proposed as a solution for cleaning up the soil after Chernobyl. It also has many uses, as the plant fibres can be used in constructions and textiles. Finally, hemp is a very nutritious plant, and was once widely consumed before cannabis was made illegal.
While the hemp leaves contain cannabinoids such as CBD and are used to make oils, the seeds of the plant do not. Hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of cannabinoids, meaning they have no value in CBD oils whatsoever. However, hemp seeds are not entirely useless – they contain plenty of unsaturated fats and essential fatty acids including Omega 3 and Omega 6. Essentially, they are an amazing superfood and are great health supplements.
Hemp seeds can be cold pressed to make hempseed oil, which is sold as a food supplement much like CBD oil. That being said, you won’t want to get tricked into buying hempseed oil if you’re seeking a cannabinoid-rich supplement.
This is partly why lab tests are important – you need to know the product contains any CBD at all. But otherwise, you can simply check the label to make sure it is CBD hemp oil and not hempseed oil.
3. Look for Oils Made Using CO2 extraction
There are many ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant in order to produce CBD oils. This includes heating plant matter in olive oil or even pouring dry ice over the hemp. With the dry ice method, the plant resins containing cannabinoids are frozen and can be knocked off the plant, allowing cannabinoids to be collected.
However, both of these methods produce a fairly low-quality oil, and the olive oil method produces very low yields. Companies tend not to favour either of these methods as they are not profitable, which is why they turn to one of the following two.
Solvent extraction can produce a relatively high-quality oil, as well as producing high yields of cannabinoids. The method involves placing the plant matter into a solvent such as ethanol or butane. The cannabinoids are sapped out of the plant this way, which is why it is such an effective method. With solvents, the whole range of cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted, producing a very high-quality oil that allows for the entourage effect to take place.
However, one key issue is that chlorophyll is also extracted using solvent. Chlorophyll can be harmful for human health, so this isn’t really a great thing. It is possible to filter out the chlorophyll, but this may also filter out cannabinoids and make for a less potent oil.
Furthermore, solvents alone aren’t necessarily good for our health. Butane is used in lighter fluid – it’s not something you want to be putting in your body. In solvent extractions, the solvent is heated and burnt off out of the mixture to leave cannabinoids behind, but there is no guarantee that butane won’t find its way into your oil.
This is why the majority of companies now opt for CO2 extraction. This involves heating carbon dioxide to 31˚C and raising the pressure to 1,071 psi (pounds per square inch) to push it above its critical point. In this new, supercritical state, CO2 behaves both like a liquid and a gas. After hemp has been placed into an extraction chamber, the supercritical CO2 is passed over it. In this state, it acts as a solvent, pulling the cannabinoids and terpenes out of the plant matter. Everything is then separated out, with the cannabinoids entering a collection chamber while the CO2 can be recycled and used again.
This method is not only very effective and produces high yields, but it also results in a high-quality CBD oil that is completely safe for human consumption. So, although it is expensive, many manufacturers choose this method.
When shopping for CBD oils, you want to ensure that the product was manufactured this way. Most companies usually state this somewhere on their website, but you can always reach out and ask if you feel uncertain.
4. Make Sure it is Sublingual Oil Without Thinning Agents
CBD oils are usually taken sublingually, meaning you hold a few drops under your tongue while the CBD is absorbed. This is the most common form of CBD supplement, and it is usually what you will be searching for online.
With the market for CBD expanding rapidly, there are more products becoming available. One of these is CBD vape cartridges. Vaping CBD gives a great degree of bioavailability – you absorb a lot of the CBD and fast – which is why former smokers and people who vape nicotine are using these products.
However, CBD vape oils hold dangers of their own. Since regular CBD oil is too viscous to be vaporised, manufacturers need to find a way to make it more liquidy. To do this, they use thinning agents. This includes the likes of propylene glycol (PG) and polyethylene glycol (PEG), both of which can cause harm to your health.
PG is known to break down into formaldehyde when heated, while PEG can break down into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both of which are carcinogenic. That’s right – they could cause cancer.
While it is possible to vape your CBD, it is advisable to use sublingual oils or other means as a way of getting your daily dose. Make sure that, when you’re buying CBD oil online, you ensure that it is sublingual oil and not a vape cartridge, as consuming an e-liquid could have fatal consequences.
5. Ensure That it Has a Low THC Content
Here in the UK, it is illegal for a CBD oil to contain more than 0.02% THC. However, other countries have more relaxed laws surrounding marijuana, with some states in the US having legalized it for recreational use. This means that, in other places, CBD oil can be created from marijuana extracts – not hemp – and these can contain higher amounts of THC.
THC is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, which is why it is banned in Great Britain. While a sublingual CBD oil is unlikely to get you high by any stretch, it is vital to stay on the right side of the law.
The internet opens up a whole door to the other side of the world, and it’s possible that you might stumble across a high-THC CBD oil being manufactured in somewhere like America. It is unlikely that these companies will even ship to the UK, but if they do, you could face consequences. The oil would likely be confiscated at the border, but you need to ensure that you don’t waste money and endanger yourself by trying to purchase illegal CBD oil.
Additionally, as CBD oil is unregulated, it is possible that some companies could sneak in an illegal amount of THC. Once again using those lab results, you can make sure you are buying an oil that is both safe and legal.
Final Thoughts on Buying CBD Online
If you are armed with the right information, buying CBD oil is not at all dangerous. It can be overwhelming to get into, with so much information to learn and so much research to do, but we hope that this article has provided you with everything you need to know all in one place.
All of the 5 tips in this article are very important when shopping for CBD oil online, with perhaps the most important being searching for third-party lab reports.
Finally, never buy a CBD oil without fully researching the company you intend to buy from. If you do this, you will probably manage to stay safe no matter what product you choose to buy.