Have you ever noticed how varied the pricing of CBD oil is? If so, you may have wondered why two seemingly identical CBD products do not cost the same.
Even within the same producer, the price of CBD oil can differ. Let's take HERBLIZ as an example. Our popular Blackcurrant CBD Oil can be purchased for €32 and €62, even though the bottles are the same size which can seem confusing.
But when you pass the superficial similarities and look a little deeper into how CBD is made and what high-quality CBD really is, you will see that all these price disparities make complete sense.
CBD is a cannabinoid, which is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. In Europe, CBD derived from hemp (a variety of the cannabis plant) is legal and generally safe, as confirmed by the EU Court and the WHO.
It is not possible to simply harvest hemp, package it into bottles and sell it as CBD. Instead, you need to extract CBD from the plant. Hemp is the species of the cannabis plant used for such extraction due to its high CBD and low THC content.
What's the difference between CBD and THC? THC has an intoxicating effect, whereas CBD doesn't. And that's why CBD is legal and THC is not. So, as a result, plants grown for CBD extraction in Europe are strictly controlled and must have a very low THC content.
The long CBD journey, from the field to the laboratory
First of all, hemp has the potential to become an eco-friendly, biodegradable alternative to many harmful products (such as plastic or fuel).
Secondly, hemp is known for absorbing harmful chemicals from the soil it grows on. Whether it is pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals or other pollutants, hemp has been shown to absorb them while growing. This fantastic quality of hemp makes it a perfect crop to clean previously unusable or contaminated soil and make it suitable for future crops.
As wonderful as it is for the planet, this quality is a challenge for farmers growing hemp for CBD extraction. The field on which the farmer seeds his hemp needs to be impeccable to allow hemp to be grown safely. Otherwise, there is always a chance that unwanted compounds might end up in the final product designed for human consumption.
Storing the crop appropriately can also be challenging. If it's done wrong, it will increase the chances of various fungi and pathogens developing and transmitting to the end product.
Step 2: Extraction
Once the hemp has been harvested and stored, it is time for the extraction process. The extraction requires a very technical set of skills and specialised knowledge. If this process is done poorly, it can be dangerous for both extractors and, more importantly, consumers.
It is, therefore, essential that costs are not cut on the extraction method, as only real professionals using the right equipment will be able to deliver safe and high-quality CBD.
Step 3: Laboratory
Last but not least, most responsible CBD companies will make sure to check the safety of their products yet again by a third, independent body. While not required by law, testing CBD extract in an independent laboratory will help ensure no heavy metals, pathogens, or other dangerous ingredients end up in the final product, no matter whether it's due to inappropriate growing, storing or extracting techniques. But more on that later.
Why do different companies offer different prices?
While the above explains why CBD is not cheap, one question remains unanswered. If the process is the same for every CBD company, why do CBD oils differ so much in pricing?
Here is your answer. The price of CBD oil will differ depending on:
The overall quality of the product
Sustainability practices of the producer
High quality, highly-concentrated CBD with multiple accompanying ingredients that are produced sustainably will automatically be more expensive.
The extraction method is key
There are many ways to extract CBD, with solvent (usually ethanol-based) extraction, steam distillation and CO2 extraction being the most popular extraction methods.
Extracting CBD using CO2 is considered the best method. However, when done correctly by skilled and well-trained professionals, this method allows hemp to be treated with care, ensuring all the delicate ingredients stay intact and are not compromised.
CO2 extraction takes advantage of CO2's ability to be both a liquid and a gas (the so-called supercritical state of CO2). It allows for extraction without using harsh substances, which can be dangerous for our health.
As a result, CBD extracted through this method will be more expensive than CBD extracted using other methods.
Quality may differ
Not all CBD is equal. Like food, cosmetics and electronics, the difference in the quality of CBD can be huge, depending on the producer. Unfortunately, the CBD industry is still in its infancy, meaning there is a lack of compliances and conformity, leading to a vast disparity in the quality of CBD products found across Europe.
CBD companies whose sole purpose is to cut costs wherever possible to increase the profit margins as much as possible do unfortunately exist. However, as a result, these producers will often extract CBD from non-organic hemp or claim that their products contain more CBD than they really do (if any).
Lab reports are not free
CBD companies in Europe are not obliged by law to test their products.
While, at HERBLIZ, we test our products through an independent lab, many companies don't.
Lab tests let producers keep a very close eye on the quality of their products before they ever leave the production facilities to be shipped to distributors or directly to customers. For example, lab tests will be able to tell whether the hemp used for CBD extraction was contaminated. They will also show if the tested product contains any heavy metals, pathogens or anything else you wouldn't want to end up in your body. But such extensive tests are expensive.
Because lab tests cost a pretty penny and there are no legal requirements for companies to conduct such tests, many producers end up testing their products in their internal laboratories, or (worse yet) not at all.
While internal testing is still better than no testing whatsoever, the products are still not being independently tested by a third party, meaning the results might not be 100% objective and should, therefore, be taken with a pinch of salt.
On top of that, when internal testing takes place, there is always a risk of producers screwing the results to make their products come across better than they are.
For these reasons, testing in independent labs is the only secure and honest way to ensure that the end product is safe to use and contains the promised amount of CBD. While such tests are expensive, we at HERBLIZ believe they are very much worth it.
Does CBD content influence the price?
CBD oils are usually produced in different strengths, corresponding to the amount of CBD present in the product. For example, 5% CBD oil will have less CBD than 15% CBD oil, even if the bottle is the same size.
As CBD production is such an expensive process, the higher the CBD content in the end product, the higher the price will be.
Additionally, a 10 ml bottle of 10% CBD will cost less than a 20 ml bottle of 10% CBD. So if you buy twice as much of the same product, it will cost you more.
There are a few more reasons why some CBD oils might be more expensive than others.
If you buy CBD products from a small, sustainable, local brand that only works with certified organic farmers, you will usually pay more than when purchasing CBD from a mass producer. That is because such brands, even though they often provide high-quality products, do not have the same brand awareness or financial backing as some of the big players in the CBD market.
Price differences might also arise due to better packaging. For example, amber glass containers are much more expensive than plastic bottles, but they are the only packaging solution able to protect the potency of your CBD oil.
Fortunately, if you are a patient person who doesn't mind doing a little research, you should be able to purchase high-quality CBD for a reasonable price if you keep an eye out for various offers or discounts.
How to check for high quality?
Unfortunately, because the industry is so new and not highly monitored, you have to do a lot of the work yourself in figuring out whether the product you are about to buy is of high quality.
Here are a few tips on how you can tell whether a CBD oil you are about to buy is high quality or not:
Look out for internationally recognised certifications, such as Ecocert & NATRUE
Make sure the hemp used for extraction was obtained through GMP-certified farming
Only buy products with organic ingredients
Check if the independent lab tests available on the producer's website
Basic CBD pricing
A standard 10 ml bottle with 10% CBD concentration contains 1000 mg of CBD. To produce 1000 mg of CBD, it is necessary to use as much as 700-900 grams of hemp.
Therefore, companies need many kilograms of hemp to produce CBD oil. With the minimum price of €0.04 for 1 mg of CBD, a 10 ml bottle with 10% CBD content should not cost less than €40. If the original price of the product of that size you are about to buy has a price lower than that - consider it alarming - unless you got lucky and are buying your product at a discounted price. And even then - always double-check that all the conditions we've discussed have been met.