How To Read CBD Product Labels

The CBD industry is self-regulating. By that we really mean that it’s currently unregulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. As a result, the information on CBD product labels can vary from brand to brand. This lack of consistency can make it hard for users who want to compare the CBD products of different brands.

But in most cases, the product label can still provide some very useful information. The purpose of this article is to help you understand the key elements of CBD product labels so you can make the buying and usage decisions that are right for you.

What Will CBD Product Labels Tell You?

The label of your CBD product will normally give you the following pieces of information:

  • Amount of total CBD in the product
  • Potency of the product
  • Product type (full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate)
  • Serving size
  • List of ingredients
  • Batch number

Let’s discuss each of these key elements in more detail.

How Much CBD is in the Product?

In most cases, the CBD product label will tell you the total amount of CBD in the product. This is commonly expressed as the amount of CBD in milligrams. Usually, you will see this as the big number right on the front label. This is the amount of CBD in the entire bottle. Most CBD oil tinctures range in amount from 250 milligrams to 3000 milligrams.

It’s important to know that the total amount of CBD in the bottle is not a measure of the product’s strength, or potency, on its own. Potency is also based on the size of the bottle as explained in the next section.

cbdMD Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Drops Tincture

What is the Potency of the Product?

The size of the bottle is also usually listed on the front label of a CBD product. In the case of tinctures, this is a measure of the amount of liquid in the bottle in ounces or milliliters. Most CBD tinctures come in 0.5 ounce (15 milliliters), 1 ounce (30ml), or 3.3 ounce (100ml) sizes.

The amount of liquid in the bottle is needed to calculate the potency of the product. To calculate potency, divide the total amount of CBD in the bottle by the size of the bottle in milliliters. For example, a 30 milliliter bottle with 750 milligrams of CBD has a potency of 25 milligrams per milliliter (mg/ml).

A common misconception is that a bottle with more milligrams of CBD is always “stronger” or “more potent” than a bottle with fewer milligrams. This is not always true. For example, a 30ml bottle with 1000mg of CBD has the same potency as a 15ml bottle with 500mg of CBD. In both cases, there are 33.3 milligrams of CBD per milliliter. 

The front labels of some major brands show the potency instead of the number of milligrams in the entire bottle. If the number shown on the front of your bottle is less than 100, then this is probably the case for your product. You can calculate the total amount of CBD in the bottle by multiplying the amount of CBD per milliliter by the number of milliliters in the bottle. 

For example, the CBDistillery bottle label below shows that it has 33 milligrams of CBD per milliliter. There are 30 milliliters in the bottle so there are approximately 1000 millligrams of total CBD (33mg/ml x 30 milliliters) in the bottle.

CBDistillery Product Label

The bottle size can also help you determine if the product actually contains any CBD. If your bottle size is more than 100 milliliters, then there’s a good chance that it’s hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil can be a good salad dressing, but it contains no CBD.

Is it Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum or Isolate?

The CBD product label may or may not tell you whether it is full spectrum, broad spectrum or isolate. The product type is an important consideration for many users, especially those with concerns about the levels of THC in the product. Some want the detectable levels of THC in full spectrum products to get benefits from the entourage effect. Others want to make sure that the product is THC free.

If the product type isn’t listed on your label, it will usually be listed on the product page of the company’s website. You can also look at the product’s third-party lab reports to get this information. Full spectrum products will show detectable levels of multiple cannabinoids and terpenes including CBD and THC. The lab results of broad spectrum and isolate products will reflect undetectable levels of THC.

Recommended Serving Size

The “Supplement Facts” box on the back of the CBD product label will tell you the recommended serving size and number of servings in the bottle. The recommended serving size can vary by brand and product but is typically based on the size of the dropper. Most droppers contain either 1 milliliter or 0.5 milliliters of liquid in a dropperful.

You shouldn’t rely entirely on the recommended serving size when deciding how much to take, especially if you’re just getting started with CBD. It’s usually best to start with much less and slowly increase over time as needed. Our CBD dosage guide can help you understand the process of finding your optimal dose.

Some CBD tinctures come with calibrated droppers that have measurement marketings on it. They can help you easily measure your desired serving size of CBD in milliliters. If your dropper doesn’t have these markings, you can buy a 1 milliliter calibrated oral syringe from your local drug store. Knowing exactly how much you are taking is important for precise and accurate dosing.

Ingredients List

The CBD product label will also tell you what other ingredients are in the product. For CBD tinctures, it will tell you which carrier oil was used. The most common carrier oils used in CBD oil drops are coconut MCT oil, hemp seed oil and olive oil. This can be important information to know, especially if you have a coconut allergy. 

The product label will also list other ingredients, including any other beneficial herbs and artificial colors, sweeteners or flavors. The ingredients list for tinctures is normally quite simple. The list of ingredients in other CBD products such as gummies, topicals and vape liquids can be much longer. So be sure to check the ingredients before purchasing a product if you have any dietary preferences or allergies.

QR Codes and Batch Numbers on CBD Product Labels

The label of most CBD products have a QR code and/or batch number printed on them. They tie your specific bottle of CBD oil or other CBD product to the results of third-party lab testing. Manufacturer lab testing of every batch helps to ensure product quality and consistency. Third-party lab reports are the best way to know what is really in your product and that it is safe. 

If your product label has a QR code, you can usually scan it with your smartphone and be taken directly to its third-party lab report. If the label has a batch number, you can normally input that number on a page of the company’s website to get access to your product’s lab results.

The Bottom Line on CBD Product Labels

While the industry is currently unregulated, most major CBD brands adhere to similar labeling standards. The product labels of CBD products can give you some valuable information about your product. Key features of CBD product labels typically include the amount of CBD, potency, type of product, serving size and list of ingredients.

We hope that our guide to reading CBD product labels has been helpful for you. If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to leave a comment below.

Sarah Jorczyk

Sarah Jorczyk is an advocate for CBD products and one of the Administrators of the CBD Oil Users Group on Facebook. She strives to educate the public, and promotes the use of safe products while helping others throughout their CBD journey. You can also find a variety of her content, including reviews and educational videos, on the group's youtube page.

1 Comment
  1. I just read it and as a label industry person I can see a great value to also the manufacturers and suppliers to the manufacturers as well. Thanks

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