CBD isolate vs CBD distillate crystals
Dec 28

CBD Isolate vs. CBD Distillate – What’s the Difference?


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In the ever expanding world of cannabidiol (CBD) products, consumers will ultimately have to make the choice to use CBD isolate-based products or CBD distillate-based products. In order to assist in the decision making process, it’s best to break down what is CBD isolate and what is CBD distillate.

cGMP Certification

Before we open the discussion of the difference between the two products, it is important to note not all products are made the same. We always encourage anyone interested in using any of these products to make sure they are buying from certified facilities such as ours with a cGMP certification.

What is CBD Distillate?

Distillate is a highly refined extract that has undergone the distillation process. CBD distillate is a golden, viscous oil that typically contains around 70-80% CBD including minor cannabinoids. Distillation is the process of purifying a liquid by evaporation and condensation. From the perspective of our laboratory, after removing the ethanol solvent used to extract the CBD from the hemp plant, we use wipe-film distillation to separate CBD from other compounds in the crude oil by differences in boiling point. We collect the CBD condensate and the terpenes in different condensers and the remaining material is the compounds with high boiling points that never evaporated.

What is CBD Isolate?

Isolate is a chemical term used to specify that the only component is solely the specified material. In this case, we’re referring to cannabidiol, or CBD. Thus, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD that does not contain any other cannabinoids, terpenes, fats, lipids or other compounds found in the hemp plant. Isolate CBD is a white, powdery solid that is 99+% CBD. Hemp processors receive the hemp plant and use chemistry and biochemistry techniques to extract the cannabinoids from the plant material then take further steps to isolate CBD in its pure form. In fact, distillate is an intermediate product during the production of isolate CBD.

How do you Make CBD Isolate from Distillate?

After purifying the distillate, the oil undergoes a process called recrystallization. In chemistry, recrystallization is a technique used to purify chemicals. The desired compound can be isolated and impurities can be removed from the solution. To perform recrystallization, a solvent (a chemical able to dissolve other substances) is added to a mixture, in our case CBD distillate, and heated until all of the distillate dissolves in solution. After the CBD distillate dissolves the temperature of the mixture is lowered significantly, this is sometimes referred to as “crashing”.

As the mixture is allowed to cool, the CBD molecules within the mixture reassemble into a crystalline structure, separating themselves from the rest of the mixture. This manipulation of temperature called recrystallization is a well-known technique used in the organic chemistry laboratory. Isolate is tested using advanced chemistry instrumentation to determine and certify the composition is purely CBD with non-detectable (ND) amounts of other cannabinoids, such as THC. Thus, there is no THC in isolate CBD extracts or finished products.

Not only does the physical appearance of isolate and distillate differ, so does the composition of each hemp extract. As mentioned before, isolate is cannabidiol in its purest form. On the contrary distillate is an extract that not only contains around 75% cannabidiol, but also other cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), (cannabinol) CBN and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Terpenes are also present in distillate, which is what gives the hemp plant a distinguished taste and smell depending on the strain of Cannabis sativa used to begin the extraction process.

Which is Better: CBD Isolate or CBD Distillate?

Consumers seeking all the benefits of CBD, whether it be treating anxiety or inflammation, without also consuming other cannabinoids should seek out CBD isolate infused products.

THC Levels in CBD Isolate vs Distillate

Some consumers are sensitive to THC, have adverse effects or need to avoid consumption of THC in any amount due to work-mandated drug testing. For those that do not have negative effects or concerns of consuming very small amounts of THC, full-spectrum distillates might provide more relief that isolate CBD. Full-spectrum distillate has the greatest effectiveness of these products due to the different cannabinoids working together synergistically. This is often referred to as the “entourage effect.” Users reap the benefits of CBD as well as all other cannabinoids naturally present in the Cannabis sativa plant, including a very small amount of THC. THC has been shown to have pain-reducing and sleep-inducing effects but can also increase anxiety for some users. Although it is very small in concentration, it’s important to be mindful when choosing your extract. Research is relatively sparse regarding the therapeutic benefits of CBG, when compared to the apparent wealth of information available on THC and CBD but there are early studies linking the compound to a whole host of potential therapeutic uses, such as treating glaucoma, decreasing inflammation and killing drug-resistant bacteria. CBN reduces intraocular pressure in the eye, so it can be used in the treatment of glaucoma. CBN also fights free radicals in the bloodstream, and it performs similarly to THC in pain reduction treatments.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate for Anxiety or Pain

You may find that CBD isolate is exactly what you’re looking for, or that you need the assistance of other cannabinoids to alleviate symptoms such as joint pain or anxiety.

Some users find that CBD isolate fits the bill for treatment, perhaps for treating anxiety or enhancing cognitive ability. Although CBD isolate does not offer the benefits of the entourage effect, there is no risk of psychoactive effects, no taste or smell, or risk of failing a urinalysis test. CBD isolate is recommended for those seeking the most concentrated form of CBD or needing a bigger dose for desired effect. If you are new to cannabinoids, CBD isolate derived products is the best place to start.

Isolate and Distillate Topicals, Edibles, and Pet Treats

Tinctures, gummies, cookies, salves, balms and even pet treats can be produced using either isolate or distillate. Retailers should specify the extract used to create the product and include a certificate of analysis to show the user the composition percentages of each cannabinoid present in the extract. Be sure to check out our online store for retail products and bulk extracts. We also work to produce custom products and blended materials to client specification for your very own white label offering.