Consumers who are interested in purchasing CBD products and have done their own research on them, will have likely encountered a number of blog posts, reviews or articles depicting how other customers’ CBD oil or vape pens have crystallized and turned into an unusable product that they now perceive to be ‘poor quality, garbage, and a waste of money’. Consumers who have not done their research, take their vape pen home, and then might have product crystallize on them, leaving them to feel disappointed, lose trust in the product, your retail store or budtender, and feel they have wasted their money. This should not be the case.
The common misconception that consumers have is that crystallizing CBD products reflects a poor quality or defective product. However, science and the molecular composition of CBD give us a different story. Pens with a high percentage of CBD that crystallizes actually represent a sign of purity and quality.
How Does CBD Become Crystallized?
Crystallization is the scientific process when the CBD will start to granulate and separate from the concentrate, creating what appears to harden into a diamond-like, slushy consistency. When a CBD vape cartridge or the oil itself begins to crystallize, it is an indication that the product is higher in concentration, purity, and quality. To put it simply, the more pure the CBD, the more likely it will crystallize.
In general, the scientific rule-of-thumb is that the purity of CBD distillate must be at least 80-85% in order to crystallize by itself. Then, if a customer’s pen crystallizes on its own accord, it is an indication that the product has a purity rating of 80% or higher.
The common analogy used to relate crystallization to other household products is high-grade, natural honey and how it tends to crystallize on the shelf. The consumer believes that their product is spoiled or adulterated, when in fact, it is not.
To put it scientifically, pure honey consists of sugar water (glucose and fructose). In some cases, there is an oversaturation of that sugar water in honey creating an unstable molecular environment. This forces the sugar to granulate and crystallize. The same can be said of maple syrup, the purer the honey or maple syrup, the more likely it will crystallize. CBD in a vape cartridge solution is the sugar water, and when there is an oversaturation, it creates an unstable molecular environment and crystallizes.
Pens that are not crystallizing are either loading their cartridges with a substandard product or adding crystallization inhibitors, which alters the product quality. Consumers are left unaware of the specific chemicals and additives used to inhibit crystallization. Inhaling these types of chemicals and additives may pose a serious health risk.
What Are Producers Doing for Consumers About This Problem?
Licensed producers are working on mitigating consumers’ concerns by providing educational materials and working with retailers and budtenders to explain and educate consumers about this phenomenon and provide solutions to fix the crystallized pens.
Here are three effective ways to return the crystallized CBD cartridge to its liquid state:
1. Run a hair dryer on the warm setting and point it directly at the cartridge for five minutes.
2. Roll the cartridge between your hands.
3. Place the cartridge in a tightly sealed bag and run it under hot water to dissolve the crystals.
What’s Next for CBD in Canada?
The potential of the CBD market is remarkable. The Canadian Health Food Association put out a press release saying that if there was a regulatory change to allow CBD products to be sold like any other health product you can purchase in a department store, the market for CBD health products could grow in size to a whopping $2.5 billion dollar market in the next five years. This potential needs to be matched with remarkable, high-quality, stable products that consumers feel confident in purchasing. Licensed producers are working tirelessly to perfect product formulations and bring the highest quality CBD products to market. One of the first hurdles in doing that is educating the consumer on what high-quality looks and feels like in order for the market to reach its full potential.
Photo courtesy of The Supreme Cannabis Company