Full Spectrum CBD Oil

When you buy CBD oil online, “full spectrum” is one of the terms you’re going to see most often. The phrases “full spectrum,” “broad spectrum” and “CBD isolate” are terms that CBD manufacturers use to explain the level of processing that goes into their hemp extracts.

You can think of the three terms as existing along a continuum. Full-spectrum CBD is as close to unprocessed as possible. Broad-spectrum CBD oil is minimally processed. CBD isolate, on the other hand, is heavily processed. Those quick definitions, however, only begin to scratch the surface as to how full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum CBD oil differ from the standpoint of what it’s actually like to use the products. In this article, we’re going to dig a little deeper by answering the question “What is full-spectrum CBD oil?” in greater detail and explaining how the different levels of hemp extract processing compare.

What Is Full-Spectrum CBD Oil?

As we explained above, full-spectrum CBD is generally the least processed of the different types of CBD oil. It works like this: to create a hemp extract, a hemp processor generally uses a process called supercritical extraction. The processor grinds the hemp flowers – those are the parts of the hemp plant with the highest concentration of cannabinoids – and puts them into the chamber of an extraction machine. The machine then floods the chamber with heated pressurized carbon dioxide, which dissolves the cell walls of the hemp flowers and causes them to release their essential oils. The hemp extract is collected, and the CO2 is allowed to dissipate harmlessly.

The product that comes out of an extraction machine is a full-spectrum CBD extract. It contains all of the active ingredients – all of the cannabinoids and terpenes – that were present in the original plant, except the small percentage of compounds that are destroyed due to the heat and pressure of the extraction process. No extraction method is 100-percent efficient.

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum CBD

A CBD company can apply gentle processing to a hemp extract without changing the fact that it’s a full-spectrum extract. When it initially comes out of the extraction machine, a hemp extract contains bitter-tasting compounds like plant waxes and chlorophyll. Those compounds can be removed by filtering the extract and by employing a purification process called winterization.

In the winterization process, hemp extract is mixed with alcohol and frozen. The undesirable compounds clump together and freeze. The clumps are scooped out of the mixture, and the alcohol is evaporated out. After winterization, full-spectrum CBD has a much smoother taste and mouth feel.

A Note About “Pure CBD Oil”

In our discussion of full-spectrum CBD, we should also mention the term “pure CBD oil.” It’s a term that you may sometimes see in place of “full-spectrum CBD” when you shop for CBD products. If it’s important to you to know whether you’re buying full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum CBD, we recommend exploring a little deeper to determine exactly what type of hemp extract a given CBD oil uses. Don’t forget that a reliable CBD brand will always send products to a third-party lab for testing. You’ll be able to know exactly what cannabinoids are in a given CBD oil by reading the test results. “Pure CBD oil” is really a marketing term with no specific meaning.

The Pros and Cons of Full-Spectrum CBD

The reason why many people choose full-spectrum CBD is because it’s a complete expression of all the compounds that occur naturally in the original hemp plant. In other words, it’s as close as possible to consuming the plant itself. Many of the people who use CBD believe in a phenomenon called the entourage effect, which is the belief that you’ll get the best results from CBD if you consume it in combination with the other cannabinoids and terpenes that occur naturally in the plant.

Full-spectrum CBD does have a potential drawback, though, in that it may contain a small amount of THC. Delta-9 THC is a federally controlled substance. CBD oil is a legal product because it comes from hemp containing no more than 0.3 percent Delta-9 THC after drying. In other words, CBD oil will not get you high – no matter how much of it you use. There is a chance, though, that the THC could potentially show up in a drug test if you’re a frequent CBD user. For that reason, full-spectrum CBD may not be the ideal choice if your employer requires you to undergo drug screenings.

What Is Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil?

One of the most incredible advances in the modern herbal supplement industry is that it’s possible to remove unwanted compounds from a full-spectrum extract through a process called fractional distillation.

Cannabis has a multitude of different cannabinoids. CBD and THC are the best-known ones, but there are also plenty of other minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN. Each cannabinoid evaporates within a different temperature range, so it’s possible to remove an unwanted cannabinoid from a full-spectrum hemp extract by heating the extract to that cannabinoid’s vaporization temperature.

Broad-spectrum CBD oil uses a hemp extract that’s been heated to the point at which THC boils. The THC vapor is collected separately. After fractional distillation, the hemp extract is as close to its original state as possible while having the THC selectively removed. That’s the type of hemp extract from which broad-spectrum CBD oil is made.

The Pros and Cons of Broad-Spectrum CBD

As you’ve already surmised from reading the above, the benefit of broad-spectrum CBD oil is that it contains “no” THC in the sense that any trace THC remaining in the hemp extract after fractional distillation is at levels too low for detection when product samples are sent to a third-party lab for testing. Broad-spectrum CBD allows you to get as close as possible to the full entourage effect while still using a product that contains no THC according to a third-party lab analysis.

Even after fractional distillation, it is still theoretically possible for broad-spectrum CBD to contain THC in extremely minute amounts. If the presence of even the tiniest trace amount of THC is a problem for you, you need a CBD oil that’s made in a different way – by separating CBD out of the hemp extract. That’s called CBD isolate, and that’s what we’ll discuss next.

What Is CBD Isolate?

What Is CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is a white crystalline powder consisting almost entirely of pure CBD. It’s over 99 percent pure. In other words, 1,000 mg of CBD isolate contains very close to 1,000 mg of CBD. The process of making CBD isolate begins with fractional distillation, much as described above. The difference here, though, is that the hemp extract isn’t heated with the goal of removing the THC to create a broad-spectrum extract. Instead, it’s heated to the vaporization point of CBD so that the CBD can be collected separately. The unwanted portion of the original hemp extract is then either discarded or used for another purpose.

After boiling the CBD out of the hemp extract, the resulting condensate consists primarily of CBD but still has some impurities. Hemp processors isolate the CBD from the unwanted materials by combining the distillate with a solvent that triggers crystallization. The mixture is stirred until crystals begin to form, and the crystals are then removed and washed to remove any remaining impurities. That’s CBD isolate.

CBD isolate is a fat-soluble powder. The amount of CBD contained in the powder is also very predictable since it is over 99 percent pure. Those two features make CBD isolate ideal to use as a base for a wide variety of different CBD products. If you combine it with a food-grade oil like hemp oil or MCT oil, you’ve got CBD oil. You can make CBD topicals by combining CBD isolate with a lotion base. You can make CBD gummies by combining CBD isolate with a candy base. The list is almost endless; CBD isolate is truly one of the most versatile ingredients in the world of CBD.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Isolate

The biggest benefit of CBD isolate is that it is virtually THC free. As we mentioned above, CBD isolate consists almost entirely of CBD with a purity higher than 99 percent. Any THC in the remaining fraction of a percent would be so minute that it should be undetectable in a drug test even if you use CBD isolate in extremely high doses.

CBD isolate does have a potential drawback, though, in that it’s missing the terpenes and minor cannabinoids that contribute to the entourage effect. Some CBD brands do add terpenes to their CBD oils that use CBD isolate as a base, but that’s not the same thing as consuming a full-spectrum extract that has all of the same cannabinoids and terpenes – and in all of the same ratios – as the original plant. Whether that will change the experience you have with CBD, though, is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

If consuming trace amounts of THC isn’t a problem for you, we encourage you to try different types of CBD oil to determine what works best for your needs. As you’ve learned from reading this article, one type of CBD oil isn’t necessarily better than the others. That’s why full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate are all on the market simultaneously – because different people have different needs.

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