CBD Isolate vs Distillate: Which One Is Right for You?

CBD Isolate vs Distillate

Posted on October 21st, 2021

How the world views cannabis is rapidly changing. Each day, more and more cannabis products are entering the market. That makes it harder to choose your best form of CBD. Especially since terms such as CBD isolate or isolate on product labels can make it even more confusing. It’s essential to understand what these names actually mean and how each product affects you.

Before we dive in, let’s clear up a few terms. First, CBD is short for ‘cannabidiol.’ It’s one of the many compounds found in the hemp plant. But unlike the THC cannabinoid, it has no psychoactive effects. Products that contain CBD take many forms, including CBD edibles, CBD oil, CBD enhanced entrees, and CBD topical creams. That’s because CBD may help manage insomnia, anxiety, chronic nausea, depression, and more. Plus, CBD works with no risk of severe side effects or overdoses.

Now we’ve got the basics out of the way, it’s time to get to know two common names in the CBD marketplace: CBD distillate and CBD isolate. By the end of this post, you’ll understand precisely what each means. Then, we’ll explore,  their differences, to help you decide which one is right for you.

A Quick Note on Full Spectrum CBD and Broad-Spectrum CBD

Before we get into the CBD isolate vs distillate discussion, let’s discuss full-spectrum CBD.

Full-spectrum CBD contains a higher amount of other natural organic compounds. Those include cannabinoids, aromatic terpenes, and other hemp compounds. Full-spectrum CBD products may also hold up to 0.3% of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is the cannabinoid in the cannabis plant with psychoactive properties. However, such low content isn’t enough to give you a “high” feeling.

Broad-spectrum CBD is simply a more refined version of full-spectrum CBD. It’s designed to have zero THC content. But it can contain other non-psychoactive cannabinoids, as well as terpenes, vitamins, and flavonoids. Broad-spectrum CBD could be a great option if you want the entourage effect but have to take frequent drug tests.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate: Definitions

What is CBD Isolate?

CBD Isolate vs Distillate white crystal isolate

As the name suggests, CBD isolate is an isolated form of CBD, which essentially creates pure CBD. The isolation process entails removing all other natural hemp compounds. After, you’re left with CBD as a pure crystalline powder or solid; it won’t have any distinct smell or taste. CBD isolates should also be free from any harmful additives, heavy metals, and contaminants.

Many CBD products end up having an organic, earthy aroma or taste because of other hemp compounds. And while this flavor is typically not extreme, some people just don’t like it. For them, CBD isolates are a better choice for adding to different edible, drinkable, or smokable products.

You can also find CBD isolates in a great variety of products. For instance, many CBD gummies and oils incorporate CBD isolate, which should be 99% pure or higher. If you purchase from a good supplier, the isolate shouldn’t contain any form of contaminants or additives.

For those worried about an upcoming drug test, CBD isolates may be an excellent choice for you. Since CBD is isolated from all the other cannabinoids, there’s usually zero THC content in the product. So long as the CBD in the product is pure, then it should not get you high nor show up in a drug test.

What Is CBD Distillate?

CBD distillate contains all of the hemp plant’s benefits without THC. It’s actually a type of broad-spectrum oil. CBD distillate is generally a combination of cannabinoids, vitamins, terpenes, and fatty acids. (These all offer their own unique benefits.) It still contains trace amounts of THC. But, since CBD distillate goes through specific refining processes to remove most of THC, it can’t get you high. And the product is entirely legal.

CBD distillate is very popular among users due to the ‘entourage effect.’ The effect points out that compounds within the cannabis plant act synergistically with one another. Meaning, different compounds amplify the therapeutic effect that a single cannabinoid gives out. In other words, the more compounds in your hemp extract, the more you’ll feel its therapeutic effects. All without getting ‘high.’

CBD distillate is also relatively pure, with many cannabidiol distillate oils being over 80% CBD. However, it also contains other natural organic compounds. It does have a pleasant flavor that’s ideal for use in vaporizable oils, CBD capsules, and tinctures. There are many different cannabinoids present in CBD distillate. The most common include:

CBD Isolate vs Distillate oil

Cannabigerol (CBG)

CBG, like CBD, is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which is also technically a precursor to CBD, THC, and CBD. Studies show that CBG has the potential to provide specific health benefits to help ease anxiety, pain, muscle cramps, and depression.

Cannabinol (CBN)

While CBN is still under study, its potential health benefits look promising. For instance, it seems to work well as a sleep aid because of its sedative effects. CBN appears to be the compound responsible for the feelings of relaxation and calmness that cannabis is known for.

Cannabichromene (CBC)

CBC has not received much attention or praise. However, it exhibits antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving properties. It also appears to have potential when addressing anxiety, depression, and migraines.

CBD distillate also contains terpenes that may be helpful in inducing certain sensations. For instance, linalool may be useful for regulating sleep patterns. It’s also the most prevalent terpene found in lavender. Lavender, by the way, is a staple in aromatherapy and may induce feelings of sleepiness.

What to Choose: CBD Isolate vs Distillate

There’s no simple answer to this question.

When to Choose CBD Isolate

When looking for the right product for you, you will want to consider the differences between CBD distillate and CBD isolate. As pointed out in the definitions, the main difference is that an isolate only contains CBD. At the same time, distillates contain a variety of organic compounds that help generate the entourage effect.

Until very recently, the only form of CBD distillate you could buy came from the whole plant. Unfortunately, the FDA has responded rather harshly to such products. For instance, if cola buds contain higher than 0.3% THC, they’re considered illegal, per FDA guidelines. Luckily, this has slowly started changing. We can now remove THC from full-spectrum oil, which enables manufacturers to create broad-spectrum oil instead.

CBD is legal in all of the 50 U.S. states. Yet, people working in law enforcement, construction and airports have drug testing policies in place. They should opt to avoid distillate or full-spectrum products. The trace levels of THC contained in these products could potentially cause you to fail a drug test and even lose your job. For these people, CBD isolates are the way to go.

Similarly, if you’re trying to avoid that plant-like, musky flavor of unrefined CBD, you may want to try something a bit purer. Again, a CBD isolate will be more refined and may taste better.

When to Choose CBD Distillate

Keep in mind that while having only CBD is not harmful to your health, it’s simply not the way nature intended cannabis to work. Hemp plants have evolved for thousands of years to work in a certain way. It’s a known fact that the many compounds contained in hemp work together to create an entourage effect.

If you’re trying to get the most benefits out of your CBD product or are trying to alleviate some severe conditions such as insomnia or inflammation, you may want to use the most potent products you can find. These would most likely be CBD distillate due to their enhanced entourage effect.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate – The Takeaway

The only way you can know which is the best CBD for you is weighing out your health goals. Match your expectations against the pros and cons of CBD isolate and distillate. One of the benefits of both isolate and distillate forms of CBD is that you don’t need to use many products to get substantial potential benefits. This is great for those who are so far required to use a lot of CBD daily for it.

The best way to find what works best for you is to try out a product you’re interested in. Read some reviews left by previous users to help you decide. Start with small doses, and then gradually work up your dosage while evaluating their effects until you find the right dose. Only by doing research and trying out different products that you can find the best product for you.


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