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A guide to CBD strength ratings – what do the numbers actually mean?

Have you ever bought a CBD product and even after a few weeks of use didn’t get any benefit from it? Maybe it wasn’t as strong as the label implied!

Users of CBD products, especially new users, sometimes find themselves struggling to figure out how strong a CBD product really is from the information on the label. Sometimes it’s not just as straight forward as reading the number of milligrams.

This guide helps provide some insight into what the numbers on the label actually mean.

  • If you just want the short and quick version, then please watch the video explainer with our co-founder Julian a little further below.

  • If you’re just looking to convert the milligrams of your CBD oil to the percentage strength rating then use our calculator widget below, or see the conversion table further down the article.

  • If you want a more in depth explanation of what the numbers actually mean then please read on below!

CBD Stength Calculator – convert milligrams to percent

500mg, 1000mg, 2.5%, 8% – these are all examples of the kind of figures that are given on the labels of CBD products. But what do they mean when you’re trying to determine the strength of a product?

Well the number of mg typically refers to the total absolute amount of cannabinoids in the product (note this isn’t necessarily the same as the total amount of CBD, but we’ll come back to that later).

Milligrams of CBD alone doesn’t actually equal the CBD oil strength

What often confuses people with this milligram figure is they assume that this alone is the strength of the product, but it really isn’t, especially if you measure your doses by number of drops. In our experience most people measure doses in drops (or droppers) so understanding what the true strength of the CBD product you use is really important.

This is because there’s something else that must be taken into account – the volume of the product container. No-one really thinks about this but there are a range of typical bottle sizes that CBD oil is sold in – 10ml, 30ml, 60ml, even 100ml. (As an aisde, many of you reading this are from the US where fluid ounces are common – to convert fluid ounces to ml, just multiply by 30)

So knowing the volume of the bottle is crucial too

For example if you have a 10ml bottle of CBD Oil which has 1000mg stated on the label, and a 20ml bottle that is also stated as 1000mg, then these two bottles actually have different strengths despite containing the same amount of CBD.

Drop for drop the 20ml bottle is only half as strong as the 10ml bottle. Yes they both contain the same overall amount of cannabinoids, but if you measure your dose in drops like most of us, then you’re only getting half the amount of CBD when using say 5 drops of the 20ml product versus 5 drops of the 10ml size product.

In other words, the same amount of CBD has been diluted into a much larger volume of carrier oil, so each drop contains less.

Confusing? It certainly is! So how can we get a true measure of CBD oil strength? This is why another metric is also very important and is given by some suppliers (including CBDology) on the label – a percentage.

Percentage strength figure is the best measure of strength

The percentage given on the label represents the concentration, i.e. the true measure of the drop-for-drop strength of a product.

To continue the example above, and trying to avoid any overly heavy maths, 1000mg of cannabinoids/CBD in a 10ml bottle is a concentration of 10%.

Therefore, 1000mg in a 20ml bottle is a 5% concentration – therefore drop for drop it’s only half as strong as the 10% oil despite containing the same 1000mg amount of CBD.

Another example would be CBDology’s entry level strength CBD oil – on the label we give the figures “2.75%” and “275mg CBD per 10ml”. So the entire 10ml bottle contains 275mg CBD and therefore the concentration of CBD within the carrier oil is 2.75%.

So the percentage concentration is actually more important than the total overall milligrams in assessing the strength of a CBD product. 2000mg sounds like a very strong CBD product right? Well yes it is if it’s in a 10ml bottle, but not so much if it’s in a 100ml bottle! The former is 20% strength and the latter is just 2% strength.

Here is our handy conversion table to calculate the percent from the mg of CBD on the label and the bottle size. Using this table you can find and compare the percentage concentration of two different bottles that just give the strength as a milligram value. All you need to know is the milligram total and bottle volume from the labels.

As an aside, in our opinion, anything less than 2.5% isn’t strong enough for most people, unless you’re buying it for your pets to use.

CBD Oil Strength Conversion Table
Volume 10ml 20ml 30ml 50ml 60ml 100ml
mg on label
250 2.5% 1.25% 0.83% 0.5% 0.42% 0.25%
400 4% 2% 1.33% 0.8% 0.67% 0.4%
500 5% 2.5% 1.67% 1% 0.83% 0.5%
750 7.5% 3.75% 2.5% 1.5% 1.25% 0.75%
1000 10% 5% 3.33% 2% 1.67% 1%
1500 15% 7.5% 5% 3% 2.5% 1.5%
2000 20% 10% 6.67% 4% 3.33% 2%
2500 25% 12.5% 8.33% 5% 4.17% 2.5%
3000 30% 15% 10% 6% 5% 3%
6000 60%* 30% 20% 12% 10% 6%

(*You’re unlikely to find any oil that is 60% strength, it’s very hard to dissolve that amount of CBD in the given volume of carrier oil.)

So in summary, if you already measure your doses by calculating the exact milligrams of CBD that you’re taking then you don’t have to worry about percentages because you’ll already be adjusting your dose with stronger or weaker CBD products by taking a lesser or greater volume of the product respectively.

But most people measure their doses in drops, droppers, or millilitres and if you do that then the percentage concentration is crucial to be aware of, otherwise you might be taking a larger or smaller dose of CBD in milligrams than you intended.

Now earlier in the article I mentioned that the milligram rating of a product is typically the total overall amount of cannabinoids in the product.

In particular, suppliers of full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD products may well be referring to the overall amount of cannabinoids.

So a 1000mg / 10% CBD oil might in fact contain 600mg CBD and 400mg CBDa, rather than 1000mg CBD. This is important to know because some cannabinoids like CBDa have far fewer proven benefits than CBD itself.

Therefore the product in this example may not be giving the benefits someone anticipates if they’re used to a different product that did actually contain 1000mg CBD, such as CBDology’s 10% product.

CBDology always list the total amount of CBD itself to avoid any confusion, and so that customers always know how much CBD they’re using – 1,000mg is always 1,000mg CBD with our products.

Hopefully this guide has helped clear up some of the confusion surrounding the strength of CBD products and proves useful to readers going forward.

Thanks for visiting our blog and if you made it this far, congratulations – here’s a 15% discount code that can be used when ordering any products – STRENGTHBLOG15

The video below is a review of our 10% CBD Oil by an independent blogger, SatOnMyButt Reviews, and is worth a watch.

Have you ever bought a CBD product and even after a few weeks of use didn't get any benefit from it? Maybe it wasn't as strong as the label implied! Read more here…

Reading a CBD Label: How to Find a Quality Product

Maybe you’ve been considering taking cannabidiol (CBD), to see if it eases symptoms of chronic pain, anxiety, or another condition. But reading and understanding CBD product labels can be overwhelming, especially if you’re new to CBD.

Understanding CBD labels is made even more complicated by the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved any nonprescription CBD products.

Instead, it’s up to you, the consumer, to do your research or rely on third-party testing to determine if a CBD product is legit and what’s in it.

So, here’s a 101 guide to CBD labeling to help you understand what you’re getting.

First, you need a rundown on cannabis vocabulary.

CBD vs. THC

CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. The more well-known cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is also found in the cannabis plant.

These two cannabinoids — CBD and THC — are very different. THC is psychoactive and is associated with the “high” from marijuana use, but CBD doesn’t cause that sensation.

Hemp vs. marijuana

Both hemp and marijuana are cannabis plants. The difference is that hemp plants have no more than 0.3 percent THC, and marijuana plants have higher levels of THC.

CBD is either hemp-derived or marijuana-derived.

Depending on where you live and the laws in your state or country, you may be able to buy both marijuana-derived and hemp-derived CBD products. Or you may have access to hemp-derived CBD products only — or no access to CBD products at all.

Knowing the difference between marijuana and hemp is important because marijuana-derived CBD products may cause some psychoactive effects, and the THC included in these products will show up on a drug test.

Hemp-derived CBD contains only trace amounts of THC — generally not enough to cause a high or register on a drug test, though it’s possible.

It’s important to keep in mind that CBD and THC are known to work better together than they do alone. This is known as the entourage effect.

Your choice of CBD isolate, full-spectrum CBD, or broad-spectrum CBD will determine what you get in your product along with the actual CBD.

  • Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally available compounds of the cannabis plant, including THC. However, in hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, the THC will be no more than 0.3 percent.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD has all of the naturally occurring compounds, except THC.
  • CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, isolated from the other compounds of the cannabis plant. CBD isolate should have no THC.

So, which should you choose? Some people prefer full-spectrum because they want the whole kit-and-caboodle of the cannabis plant’s benefits — with all the cannabinoids and other compounds working in synergy.

Others choose broad-spectrum because they want all the terpenes and flavonoids but no THC. Some people prefer CBD isolate because it’s tasteless and odorless, and they don’t want any other compounds included.

Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids

Now, about those compounds. What are they exactly? In addition to CBD and THC, the cannabis plant contains more than 100 cannabinoids, plus a whole bunch of other compounds called terpenes and flavonoids.

Cannabinoids go to work on your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system helps keep the nervous system and immune function on an even keel.

Like cannabinoids, terpenes are another plant compound reported to have therapeutic and health-boosting benefits. And flavonoids, compounds also found in green tea and certain fruits, have been shown to protect against disease.

Want to try CBD, but not sure how to tell a real product from a fake? We break down terminology, labeling, and how to vet a product’s legitimacy and quality before you buy. ]]>