The CBD market is still in its relative infancy, and although it is growing rapidly it is still not all that well-known. Nevertheless, CBD oils are being sold on the UK high street, and they are incredibly easy to get a hold of on the internet, too.
It is legal to buy CBD products in the UK as long as they contain less than 0.02% THC and are not sold as a medication. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) issued a statement in 2016 that labelled CBD products as a medicine, meaning that licensed products have to meet MHRA guidelines. CBD supplements continue to be sold as a way to support general health, but these are not actually government-regulated and therefore may be dangerous (although most CBD products are safe).
Due to these circumstances, it is important for consumers to be clued up on CBD oil so that they can buy these products safely. Below, we have listed the top 3 dangers to look for when buying CBD oil in the UK so that you can stay safe when buying CBD products.
1. CBD Vape Oils Containing PEG
With vaping being so common in the UK, it is no wonder that manufacturers have begun to sell CBD vape oils. These are cartridges that can be smoked in e-cigarettes and vaporisers, sold different strengths for a variety of CBD consumers.
Vaping is not really the healthiest way to consume CBD, and studies on the safety of vaping are currently few and far between. That being said, it is a popular option for people who already vape and want to switch from nicotine to CBD.
However, regular CBD oil cannot be vaped on its own because it is much too viscous. As a result, producers need to employ thinning agents in order to make the substance into something more liquid that can be turned into a vapour.
A company called Project CBD, which aims to educate people on CBD and its uses, published a report in 2015 which exposed the hazards of heating and inhaling a thinning agent called propylene glycol (PG). When it is heated in an electronic vaporiser, PG decomposes into formaldehyde, which is a dangerous carcinogen.
Worse still is polyethylene glycol (PEG), which decomposes into formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, both carcinogenic.
While thinning agents as a whole are dangerous to inhale, it is best to stick to PG rather than PEG if you are really insistent on vaping your CBD. Better still, switch to something much safer like sublingual CBD oil or edibles.
2. CBD Oils with No Lab Reports
A huge problem with the lack of regulation is that manufacturers can slap any old information on a label and sell the product. That’s certainly not the case, though, with many producers, who sell safe products and who value transparency.
When it comes to telling who the right sellers are and who are the conmen, all you need to do is look for lab reports. Trustworthy producers will publish third-party lab reports on their website, or at the very least will have them available on request.
It costs money for companies to send off samples to a third-party laboratory to have them tested, but it’s worth it for those looking to promote transparency and safety in the industry. Furthermore, it proves to customers that their products are worth buying.
The third-party lab reports will determine whether the product, first of all, contains the amount of CBD and other cannabinoids that it says it does. Other parts of the report may state whether any fertilisers or pesticides from the growing process worked their way into the final product – some companies will state that they don’t use these at all. Additionally, it is common for lab reports to state whether any heavy metals such as lead or arsenic were found in the chromatograph, as well as exactly how much is in there. These compounds usually have a maximum ‘acceptable limit’ where it stops being safe for human consumption, so you can look up whether the oil is within these guidelines.
If the company has no third-party lab reports, it’s probably not worth buying their products. To ensure your safety, you have to check that the company can provide these.
3. CBD Oil Made from Chemical Solvents
Since consumption of cannabis is illegal in the UK, manufacturers have to remove the CBD from the hemp plant itself in order to make it legal for sale. There are multiple ways to extract CBD from hemp, including:
- Olive oil: After the plant has been decarboxylated, meaning that it has been heated to activate its chemical compounds, the plant material is placed into olive oil and cooked at 120˚C for 60 minutes, or at 140˚C for 30 minutes. The cannabinoids are sapped into the oil, producing a ready-made CBD oil. The resulting oil is low quality, since not much CBD is yielded.
- Dry ice: In this method, the hemp is placed in a large bucket and dry ice is poured over the top. After being left for three minutes, the plant resins are frozen and can be knocked off by shaking the product through mesh. These resins contain cannabinoids which are then utilised.
Both of these methods do not create very high-quality products, and the dry ice method is quite labour intensive. They are not cost-effective for commercial manufacturers, so other methods tend to be used.
One of these is solvent extraction, which involves placing the plant material in solvents like ethanol or butane. The solvent can extract a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant, allowing for a high-quality product. However, this also extracts chlorophyll, which is not really all that safe for human consumption. Chlorophyll can be filtered out, but this can reduce the potency of the product.
Moreover, solvents are not great for human health, either. Butane in particular can irritate your lungs and cause you harm, so it’s best to give it a wide berth.
Thankfully, most companies now use CO2 extraction, which involves decreasing the temperature and increasing the pressure until carbon dioxide reaches a supercritical state, meaning it behaves both like a liquid and a gas. In this state, it behaves somewhat like a solvent, meaning that passing it through an extraction chamber containing hemp can draw out cannabinoids from the plant.
CO2 extraction is by far the safest method, which is why it is favoured by manufacturers who care about their consumers. Companies will usually boast about the fact that they use CO2 extraction to get a hold of their CBD, so all you need to do is check their website for information. If you’re really unsure, you can always reach out to them for answers.
Final Thoughts on Buying Safe CBD Products
CBD oil is not a scary industry; most of the products available out there are safe. That being said, it’s important to be clued up on the possible dangers so that you don’t get scammed or end up ill as a result of a wrong purchase.
Whenever you purchase a CBD oil, it’s important to take account of the above information and make sure to avoid any possible dangers associated with low-quality CBD oil. At the end of the day, it’s better to spend a little more money in return for good health.