CBD Color as an Indicator of Quality Production
How CBD Oil is Made
Most CBD products available for purchase in the United States are sourced from industrial hemp that’s grown either domestically or abroad. CBD products containing less than .03% THC, sourced from the seeds or stalks of industrial hemp, are federally legal and may be sold in any state, regardless of its marijuana laws.
Hemp is a known soil remediator. This means that hemp will suck up toxins in the soil that it’s grown in and will clean these toxins out. Hemp is great at doing this job, so it’s worth noting where the hemp is sourced from in any hemp-based CBD product that you purchase. Clean soil and growing conditions make for a better end product.
Extraction Methods Matter Because…
There are two main ways that CBD can be extracted. The first is by using a solvent and the second is by using temperature and pressure. Solvent-based extraction methods involve passing a solvent through the product and then burning off the solvent, so that only the desired chemical compound, like CBD, remains. There are a number of different solvents that can be used, but ethanol and butane are the most common. Solvent-based extraction methods are used frequently with the cannabis plant because the solvents work well with the cannabis flower.
Because CBD oil is often made from industrial hemp, in which case CBD must come from the seeds and stalks of the plant, CO2 extraction methods are most often used. CO2 extraction methods use a combination of temperature and pressure to extract the CBD from the plant material. In the CBD industry, CO2 extraction methods are often considered the gold standard because they don’t involve the use of chemical solvents and do a better job of preserving CBD and other beneficial chemical compounds.
CO2 extraction methods are even further classified into two — supercritical and subcritical extraction. Subcritical CO2 extractions use low temperature and low pressure and take more time. They produce smaller returns but can retain terpenes and oils, creating a full-spectrum CBD product in the end. Supercritical CO2 extractions use high temperature and high pressure. This process may damage terpenes and other chemicals, but it will extract larger molecules like omegas, creating a different, but still potentially potent product. Full-spectrum products take the “entourage effect” into consideration. The entourage effect states that the plant chemicals work better together than they do alone. To put it simply, a CBD oil that has terpenes and other cannabinoids mixed in will have a greater impact on the body than a CBD oil with only CBD in it.
CBD Oil Color
Once the CBD has been extracted, it can undergo a filtering process that determines the color of the oil. There are generally three different categories that CBD oils fall into:
Raw CBD oil is exactly what it sounds like. Once the oil has been extracted, the oil does not go through any more processing and does not get filtered. Raw CBD oil can be green or dark in color because it often contains phytochemicals, chlorophyll, and raw plant material. Raw oil may contain impurities leftover from the extraction process.
Decarboxylated CBD oil means that the CBD will be more active in the body. Decarboxylation is when the oil is heated up to change the chemical components and “turn on” the CBD. This process improves the efficacy and potency of the oil making it easier for the oil to have an impact on the body. Decarboxylated oil is often brown or darker in color.
Filtered oil has been through the most processing. Generally, filtered oil has been decarboxylated and then even further refined by filtering out the phytochemicals and plant materials. This makes the oil gold in color which is often considered the highest quality compared to raw or decarboxylated oil. Filtered oil is commonly referred to as “gold” CBD oil and is very popular among consumers. It also tends to be the most expensive, but this isn’t always the case.
The darker or more opaque a CBD oil is the less amount of processing it’s had. Clear, gold CBD oil is considered the highest quality, but it doesn’t mean that the other forms are not valuable. It is important to remember that color can often be indicative of the manufacturing process and thus the quality of the oil, but it’s not the only consideration.
There is a new type of CBD product that is becoming popular — the CBD vape additive. This product can act as both a tincture and an inhalable when used in a vaporizer. Vape additives (often marketed as dual-purpose sublingual) are commonly mixed with vegetable glycerin. Vegetable glycerin is an odorless, clear or murky-white liquid, made from plant oils. It’s thick and when mixed with CBD oil, turns the final product darker than the original extraction process would allude to. So, you may have purchased a filtered CBD oil product so it should be clear gold, right? If it’s mixed with vegetable glycerin, it may appear opaque or darker than a pure, filtered oil.
Color can tell us a lot about CBD oil. Is it opaque or clear? If it’s opaque, is it mixed with vegetable glycerin? If it’s clear, has it been decarboxylated and filtered? Is it dark brown or green or is it lighter and gold in color? These are the types of questions that you can ask yourself when shopping for CBD oil. Color is a great way to compare what the label says to the product itself and to learn more about how the manufacturers process the product you are consuming.
CBD companies are fairly new to the market, so it’s important to understand what you’re shopping for and how to shop for it. The best CBD companies independently lab test their products for purity and potency and make these results easily available to the consumer. Just because a product is light gold in color (implying that it’s high quality), doesn’t always mean that it contains the amount of CBD that the label states. The manufacturing process is intricate and potency and quality can be lost if manufacturers aren’t careful. You can make reasonable inferences about CBD oil based on color, but you can always reach out to the manufacturers directly to make sure you understand what you’re purchasing.