With everyone and their mom starting their own CBD product line, it can be hard to know which options are high-quality and which are duds. Although pretty labels and slick packaging are nice, the quality of your CBD product is dependent on the quality of the manufacturing.
Checking up on the manufacturing practices of your CBD product can be the difference between seeing great health benefits…or ingesting mold, fungi, and other nasty junk.
Manufacturing Facilities & Certifications
The CBD industry is largely unregulated, meaning that your oil could be sourced from pretty much anywhere. Your preferred CBD brand should be able to show proof of a real manufacturing facility.
It’s better if your manufacturer owns the seed to sale process. If they don’t – they should be able to show proof of a credible and transparent relationship with their manufacturing partner.
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From the Start: Check for These Important Certifications
In addition, check for some of the standard regulation licenses and manufacturing certifications. This includes the Good Manufacturing Process (GMP) certification, Governance and Professional Practice (GPP) certification.
You’ll also want to check that your manufacturer offers a Certificates of Analysis (COAs) for each product they sell. The COA can help you know that you’re getting exactly what the label says on the bottle. It also helps ensure that your product is free from unsafe compounds like pesticides, mold, and other contaminants.
Alright – so now that you know what to look for in the facility and final product, here’s the manufacturing process that the highest-quality CBD producers follow.
Organic isn’t just a buzzword. The term ‘organic’ is a formal U.S. Department of Agriculture labeling term that indicates that an agricultural product was produced through approved methods.
These methods are designed to support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. Always nice to keep Mother Nature happy, right?
So…what does organic mean for your final product?
Organic farming means your hemp will be grown in nutrient-rich and non-polluted soil. Doing this ensures you’ll get the best quality out of the hemp strains. Organic farming contributes to a safe, regulated, and high-potency final product.
Harvest & Store
Once the happy hemp plants are grown – it’s time to harvest. CBD Oil is derived from the hemp plant flowers. Hemp seeds don’t contain CBD Oil, but that’s where hemp seed oil comes from.
The hemp plant is first dried then stored until it’s ready for production.
Production involves milling it into a coarse powder. Your supplier may either then process it on-site or ship it off to a manufacturing facility.
Extract the Goodness
Now that the hemp plant is ready to be milled into nutritious oils, it’s time for hemp to undergo extraction and purification process.
High-quality processes ensure that beneficial terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds are preserved. This process also works to get rid of the unwanted compounds, as well as preventing degradation over time.
There are a few ways that CBD is extracted. The two main ways are CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction. Ethanol is typically seen as the safest CBD extraction method.
The CO2 extraction method is newer for CBD extraction but results in a purer final result. It’s actually a common process that’s used in producing omega-3 oils, coffee, and other everyday food products. Ethanol extraction uses ethanol as a solvent to remove CBD from the cannabis plant.
Purify Through Distillation
Next, the CBD compounds must be isolated and separated and then infused into the product. The process that does this is called distillation.
Distillation works by heating and cooling the oil. This purifies it and makes it ready to use.
The CBD distillate can now be infused into a range of products. These are all the CBD products we see on the shelf, including tinctures, soft gels, salves, edibles, and other options.
At this stage, the CBD brand might decide to add in other ingredients to enhance the effects of the product. For example, Appa’s Liquid Lullaby includes lavender oil to support deeper sleep period. These flavors are separately infused in a consistent manner to create a reliable final product – both in taste and potency.
Being able to isolate THC is one of the most important aspects of the manufacturing process. THC is the part of hemp and cannabis that is psychoactive, meaning it’s the part that gets you high.
Products such as CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD are specifically designed to have zero THC in the final product. These products need to go through this extra step to isolate and remove THC.
At this stage, compounds including wax, chlorophyll, fatty acids, and trace amounts of THC are removed.
Now you’re left with high quality, zero THC, CBD oil.
Bonus Round: Nano-Emulsion
Some products may require a final processing step. The raw hemp oil may go through a special process that transforms it into nano-sized particles. Making the particles tinier makes them more bioavailable, meaning your body can more easily absorb it. Basically, this allows the CBD to become water-soluble.
This is super cool – and here’s why.
Your body doesn’t ingest CBD right away. It goes through a ‘first-pass’ that starts to digest food, drinks, or CBD products before circulating it around your body and bloodstream. Ultimately, this degrades and decreases the amount of CBD that makes it into your system.
The increased bioavailability of water-soluble CBD means you can more precisely use capsules as a form of CBD delivery – since the dosage on the bottle would better reflect the amount of CBD your body actually receives. And if capsules aren’t your style, it also lets you easily put CBD into any of your favorite foods or drinks.
Third-Party Lab Testing & Quality Assurance
At this point, the CBD oil is ready for consumption. However, the work continues for CBD producers.
The best producers conduct regular third-party testing by an accredited lab. You can check for a Certificate of Analysis and a Certificate of Quality Assurance on their website.
If you’ve already purchased the product, some brands have a QR code on each item that links to a quality control and assurance report. Only trust lab tests and certificates that were earned in the past six months to a year.
In short, a good rule of thumb: the more of these steps that are managed by the manufacturer, the better. The closer your brand manages the process from seed to sale, the more likely you are to be able to trust the source of their hemp and their manufacturing processes.
Every step that’s not carefully managed by the producers raises another question mark in the process. This means variation in consistency, potency, product quality, and product safety.
Next time you’re choosing a CBD product or brand partner, refer to this list to make sure you’re choosing the best. A great product means it’s safe to use, offers great value, and maximum health benefits.