There are three main types of CBD oil. Learn about the differences between Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum and CBD Isolate. Read now. Learn how to identify high-grade CBD hemp oil and explore some of the top brands on the market. Here are a few tricks that you must know!
The Different Types of CBD Oil Explained
The term CBD oil is misleading and often misused. In this article, you’ll learn common CBD oil-related terminology, the three main types of CBD products and the difference between an oil and a tincture.
- There are three main types of CBD product: Isolates, Full Spectrum and Broad Spectrum CBD.
- Concentrate is an umbrella term for any product that has a high concentration of cannabinoids.
- Oils and tinctures differ in the cannabinoid carrier. In tinctures, the carrier is an alcohol. In oils, the carrier is oil.
In Australia, we have over 150 cannabis products that a doctor can prescribe. Most of the products are considered CBD oils. And, as of Feb 2021, low dose CBD oils will be legal over the counter in pharmacies.
With a rise in the popularity of CBD oil across the globe, the terminology used to describe products has become increasingly confusing. Companies have created multiple types of CBD oil and numerous forms of CBD products to differentiate themselves from competitors. We’ve created this guide to CBD to help clear up any confusion about what CBD is and how it may benefit you.
In the last article, how CBD oil works on the body, we discussed how we define health in relation to CBD and the endocannabinoid system, how the endocannabinoid system regulates your homeostasis, and how CBD oil can help improve your health. In this article, you’ll learn about the different types of CBD oil, their ingredients and how they differ from a health standpoint. Here are the topics we’ll cover so you can jump ahead if you’re looking for something specific.
Frequently used CBD oil terms
Before we talk about the different types of CBD oil, you must understand some of the terms you’ll read when researching CBD oil. These terms can often be confusing and may make it more difficult to find what you’re looking for on your CBD quest. Three popular terms that often confuse people are ‘CBD concentrates’, ‘raw CBD oil’ and ‘PCR Hemp oil or PCR CBD oil’.
CBD concentrates are any CBD extracts that contain a very high concentration of cannabidiol. So, when looking for a CBD product, you’re likely going to be looking for a concentrate. Concentrates come in many forms and include:
- crystals and isolate
- extract (CBD oil)
These high potency products usually contain anywhere from 45% to 99.9% cannabidiol. The idea is that these products will give you a high dosage of CBD via a smaller dose in a shorter period of time. It’s also important to know that all CBD extracts are concentrates but not all concentrates are extracts.
Raw CBD oil
Raw CBD oil is created without using solvents or heat during the extraction process. Typically Raw CBD oil is made via a CO2 extraction process. Because most of the original plant stays intact during and after the process, the resulting product contains the full spectrum of the plant’s cannabinoids including CBD and CBDa. In addition to all of the cannabinoids, the resulting product contains the terpenes and pigments.
PCR Hemp oil (or PCR CBD oil)
You’ll often hear the term cannabinoids when referring to CBD and THC. Cannabinoids are a class of chemical compounds produced by several biological species. PCR stands for phytocannabinoid rich. Phytocannabinoids are simply cannabinoids produced by plants.
The terms PCR (phytocannabinoid rich) hemp oil and PCR CBD oil are simply saying that the oil has a large range of cannabinoids. The terms PCR hemp or PCR CBD are more accurate than the term ‘CBD oil’ for compounds that have CBD and other cannabinoids.
Often PCR Hemp oil and PCR CBD oil are interchangeable with the term ‘full spectrum CBD or full spectrum hemp oil’.
Now we’ll cover the three main types of CBD oils.
CBD Isolate vs Full Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD
Most people use the term CBD oil interchangeably for multiple products. The term CBD oil, however, is not necessarily accurate because many CBD oil products contain several cannabinoids. A majority of the CBD oil that you can get for medical and wellness purposes come from the hemp plant (vs marijuana). We differentiate CBD oils by their cannabinoid content.
There are three main types of CBD oil that you’ll hear about:
- Isolate (CBD)
- Full Spectrum CBD oil
- Broad Spectrum CBD oil
What is the difference between broad spectrum, full spectrum and isolate in CBD oil?
The difference between broad spectrum, full spectrum and CBD isolate is simply the chemical compound content found in each of the products.
Full spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids and other plant compounds. Broad spectrum CBD contains all cannabinoids and plant compounds other than THC.
CBD isolate only contains CBD and is often found in crystal or powder form.
What is CBD isolate?
CBD isolate is a true ‘CBD or CBD oil’ because an isolate only contains CBD (cannabidiol) and does not contain any other cannabinoids, terpenes, or healthy fatty acids from the plant. Most companies sell isolate as a crystal or a powder, however, some sell it as an oil.
It is made through the same extraction process as other CBD oils. The difference is that once the cannabinoids are extracted, the CBD is filtered out. It then goes through a chilling process called winterisation, which removes all other chemical compounds.
Isolate is often used for vaping, and when in crystal or powder form is generally administered by putting it under the tongue. The benefits of isolate over other types of CBD are that it’s generally cheaper and it has no THC. The downside is that you miss out on the potential entourage effect which exists when a full spectrum of the cannabinoids is present in the oil.
What is Full Spectrum CBD Oil?
Full spectrum CBD oil is very different from CBD isolate. We say this because full spectrum CBD oil has CBD and all of the other cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes and fatty acids that naturally occur in the cannabis plant. Full spectrum CBD is often called a full or whole plant extract.
In a full spectrum extract, the oil goes through the cannabinoid extraction process and filtration, however, none of the cannabinoids or other compounds are removed. While full spectrum CBD does have THC, it does not contain enough THC to get you high. It will however likely show up on a roadside mouth swab test.
The benefits of a full spectrum CBD oil is that many of the other chemical compounds and cannabinoids in a full-plant extract have healing properties. For example, the terpenes in the cannabis plant are known to have anti-inflammatory properties. Other cannabinoids found in a whole plant extract are thought to enhance the overall benefits of taking CBD.
In 2005 a study concluded that a CBD oil with a full-plant extract had greater medicinal properties than only CBD. Because the oil has all of the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds, you will get the positive effects of the chemical synergies called the entourage effect.
What is Broad Spectrum CBD Oil?
Broad spectrum CBD oil is a middle ground between CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD oils. It has all of the cannabinoids and other chemical compounds except for THC. It has all the beneficial chemical compounds except for THC, so you’re likely to gain some of the beneficial effects of the entourage effect.
Broad spectrum CBD oil is not as easy to find as the other types of CBD oil. Like its counterparts, broad spectrum CBD oil goes through the normal extraction process. For places where THC is illegal, the benefit of broad spectrum CBD oil is that in the final stages of processing, the THC is removed from the extract. Therefore, broad spectrum CBD oil will not show up on a drug test if the test is looking for THC.
CBD Carriers: oils vs tinctures
Now that you understand the different types of CBD and CBD oils that you can purchase, it’s important you understand the types of carrier agents for CBD. A carrier agent is the base through which can ingest the CBD and other cannabinoids. While CBD oils and tinctures may look the same to the untrained eye, they are very different.
What’s the difference between a cbd oil and cbd tincture?
The difference between a CBD oil and CBD tincture is the CBD carrier. In a CBD oil, the carrier of the CBD is the oil that’s used. In a CBD tincture, also a liquid, the carrier is an alcohol. The only similarity between the two, other than the cannabinoid content in some cases, is the fact that they are both liquids.
A CBD oil is exactly what it sounds like. The CBD and other cannabinoids are extracted from the plant and into an oil. Oil extraction is still the most popular form of extraction and is often the carrier of choice when oils are made at home. Common oil carriers are:
- Coconut oil
- Hemp seed oil
- MCT oil
- Olive oil
A CBD tincture is a CBD liquid that uses alcohol as the carrier base rather than an oil. Tinctures are created by steeping cannabis in a high-proof grain alcohol. The mixture is then put on a low heat for an extended time in order to infuse the plant compounds. Over time, the alcohol is burned off and the infusion takes place. Tinctures can usually be stored for longer periods of times than oils
Bringing it all together
While looking for CBD can feel complicated, knowing a few specific things will make it much easier. CBD concentrates come in many forms and normally contain 45% to 99.9% cannabidiol. Raw CBD oil hasn’t been decarboxylated (heated and activated) and therefore has different cannabinoids than other CBD oil. PCR (Phyto-cannabinoid rich) hemp oil means that the oil has a full spectrum of the cannabinoids in the final oil product.
There are three main types of CBD products:
- CBD Isolate which contains only CBD and usually comes in a powder or crystal form.
- Full Spectrum CBD Oil which means it contains all of the cannabinoids and other chemicals that naturally occur in the plant before extraction.
- Broad Spectrum CBD oil has everything that full spectrum contains except for the THC. Note: In Australia, some doctors are prescribing what they are calling Broad Spectrum oil, but it contains THC.
When you purchase a CBD product you will want to decide between a CBD isolate, an oil or a tincture. CBD oils use an oil as a carrier for the cannabinoids whereas a CBD tincture uses alcohol. No CBD oil will get you high, but those with THC in them may show up on a drug test. When speaking with your doctor or researching CBD products, you’ll need to do your research on which type of product will work best for you.
In the next article, you’ll learn about the benefits and side effects of taking CBD as a medication or nutritional supplement. If you found this article helpful, please feel free to share or send us a message. If you have a question about CBD that you can’t find an answer to, you can always ask us a question on our contact us page.
7 Ways to Recognize High-Grade CBD Oil
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In 2018, the Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp throughout the US. Because of this, the CBD market has exploded in the last few years and will likely continue to grow.
For reference, in 2015, the CBD market earned $202 million, and in 2016 it grew to $688 million. By 2025, some financial estimations surmise that the market could grow by another 20-23%.
While this is unquestionably exciting news, it is still worth recognizing that the cannabis industry is a relatively unregulated market. Some brands, trying to make a quick sale, may pass off low-quality and unsafe products to unsuspecting customers. Therefore, it’s wise to do thorough research to find the best products on the market because CBD oil isn’t cheap!
In this article, we provide you with seven excellent ways to spot high-grade CBD oil to ensure you have an impactful and positive CBD experience.
How to Identify High-Grade CBD Oil
With so many CBD oils on the market, it’s never been more important to scrutinize quality. Often this centers around the specific brand and how they implement quality control throughout the growing, extracting, and manufacturing process.
Fortunately, there are various ways to identify superior CBD oils. Most, importantly, you should check if the company:
- Sources organic and ethically-grown hemp
- Uses CO2 extraction
- Publishes 3rd party lab reports
Additionally, you can learn more about an oil by looking at its color and cannabinoid content (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, isolate).
For new CBD users or those who want more information on products, we’ve listed 7 top ways to identify high-grade CBD oil.
1 – Check the Color of CBD Hemp Oil
A surprising number of people are blissfully unaware that CBD hemp oil comes in varying degrees of strength and quality. The oil must be extracted via the supercritical and/or subcritical CO2 extraction method, but that still doesn’t necessarily mean the oil will be pure.
Generally speaking, there are three types of CBD oil:
Raw: This type of oil is almost black in appearance (or dark green) because once it has been extracted from the raw hemp material, no further purification processes have been implemented. Therefore, your oil will contain terpenes and chlorophyll along with other parts of the plant.
Decarboxylated: Decarboxylated CBD oils are similar to raw CBD oils except the active compounds have undergone the ‘decarboxylation’ process. In the raw plant material, both THC and CBD exist as acidic molecules (THC-A and CBD-A, respectively). Still, the chemical process of decarboxylation “drops” the acid, which (some claim) improves bioavailability. Appearance-wise these are also unfiltered oils and have a dark green or black color similar to the raw tinctures.
Filtered: This is the CBD oil that most manufacturers make and that most people consume. It comes in a lovely light golden color and has undergone both decarboxylation and filtering processes. These processes remove the parts of the plant that were leftover from the initial extraction process. If you want to look at things in a more ‘translatable’ way, high-grade CBD hemp oil is like a fine brandy or vodka insofar as it has been triple distilled for purity!
2 – Where Is the Hemp Sourced?
You will notice that most high-grade CBD hemp oil comes from Colorado or Denmark. However, other locations grow extremely high-quality hemp (including Kentucky, Germany, the Netherlands, and other Scandinavian countries). The most important factors include where the plant was grown, how it was grown, and the species of cannabis (whether it’s a Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa, or Cannabis ruderalis variety). The soil, climate, and even the plants growing in neighboring farms all affect the quality of the product.
If you choose CBD sourced from hemp grown under “non-food” conditions, you could be consuming toxic substances.
Also, it is crucial to remember that cannabis is a ‘hyperaccumulator.’ This means it absorbs contaminants from the soil (and the air) that it grows in with ease. If you choose CBD sourced from hemp grown under “non-food” conditions, you could be consuming toxic substances.
European hemp farms (particularly German-certified farms) are notorious for having some of the strictest agricultural regulations in the world. You might say that they represent the “gold standard” in terms of the purest, highest quality raw CBD material. Also, remember that all organic hemp grown in Europe adheres to European Union standards, which are far stricter than in the United States.
3 – How Is CBD Oil Manufactured?
There are many ways to extract CBD from hemp. However, the main purpose is always to isolate the desired phytocompounds (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids) and filter out any unwanted plant material.
Extraction methods include:
- CO2 extraction (typically supercritical carbon dioxide)
- Alcohol extraction (ethanol, butane, etc.)
Generally, CO2 supercritical extraction is considered the best method, despite its high cost. Not only does it gently extract hemp’s compounds, ensuring they aren’t damaged, but it is solventless, which means little risk of contamination.
On the other hand, alcohol extraction is inexpensive and often a more straightforward process. However, companies may run the risk of extracts containing residue, especially if little filtering has been conducted.
When it comes to extraction, safety is paramount, which is why CO2 extraction is often recommended.
4 – Is It Extracted Using Supercritical CO2?
Supercritical CO2 extraction is expensive; despite this, most reputable brands choose this method because it produces high-quality extracts.
Companies either use supercritical, mid-critical, or subcritical. Generally, these methods are very similar and follow the below step-by-step process.
- The hemp material is placed inside an extraction chamber that is slowly filled with carbon dioxide.
- The pressure inside the chamber is slowly increased, turning the CO2 gas into a liquid. During this stage, the liquid becomes infused with hemp’s compounds, including CBD.
- The liquid is transferred to another chamber, where the CO2 is once again turned into a gas, isolating the CO2 from the hemp extract.
- Once the extract is infused, the manufacturers can then purify it until they are satisfied with its purity.
For a greater understanding of the different types of CO2 extraction, please take a look at our overview below.
5 – Is the CBD Hemp Oil Tested by an Independent Third Party?
Since cannabis is not an FDA-approved food or drug, independent third-party testing is NOT a mandatory requirement in the CBD oil industry. As such, some companies avoid it altogether to avoid paying more costs. On the other hand, reputable companies routinely pay thousands of dollars to use independent third-party labs. Lab testing verifies the contents of their products in terms of both purity and potency.
For some of the larger CBD companies out there, the overall cost of third-party testing easily runs into six figures. Only a company with high-grade CBD hemp oil will pay such a large sum to prove the validity of its marketing pitch. Most organizations that pay for the tests post their Certificate of Verification on their website. So be on the lookout for this when you’re shopping around (or if you don’t see one, feel free to call the company directly to ask them where you can view their lab reports).
Do your research and ensure that the third-party lab is genuine and not some fictitious operation made up to fool customers. A simple online search for the analytics lab should take you directly to their website.
Finally, it’s essential to understand that third-party labs test the cannabinoid profile of the oil, along with any potential contaminants. Quality certificates will tell you the percentage of CBD, terpenes, and other phytocannabinoids in the oil and any pesticides, heavy metals, or other microbiological contaminants. In simple terms, independent third-party lab testing means there is nowhere to hide for low-quality CBD oil producers
6 – Beware of the THC Content
CBD hemp oil must contain less than 0.3% THC to be legal to sell and ship across the United States as a food supplement. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana, but industrial hemp naturally contains very low levels of it. On the other hand, CBD is non-intoxicating and helps relieve pain and deal with a host of other medical issues without being intoxicating.
The trouble is, some manufacturers are less than open about the full ingredients of their CBD hemp oil. As a rule of thumb, it is best not to risk purchasing any oil which doesn’t provide you with the complete list of ingredients, especially the THC and CBD content. It’s imperative if you are worried about drug testing.
Even at 0.3% THC, there is a possibility of failing a company drug test if you consume a large amount of CBD oil. As such, you should be looking for products with THC content as close to zero as possible. A handful of brands sell CBD oils with practically no THC.
7 – Is It Whole Plant Extract?
There are oils made from whole-plant hemp and oils made from isolated hemp. Whole plant hemp is extracted from the seeds, stems, and stalks. Not only does the oil contain CBD, but it also has a full range of other natural cannabis compounds such as terpenes, flavonoids, and “secondary” cannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBG-A.
In contrast, isolate CBD oils means that an oil contains at least 70% of pure CBD, with few additional phytocannabinoids. The creators of these products remove all the fatty acids, terpenes, and other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant’s trichomes. The CBD ‘crystals’ are the only remaining component, and the end product resembles a white powder, CBD in its purest form.
Some research shows that CBD oil containing the full cannabis spectrum is more effective than its isolated hemp counterpart.
Isolates are more time-consuming and expensive for companies to produce, as they have to undergo extensive filtering. Therefore, these products will be costly for consumers. Additionally, some research shows that CBD oil containing the full cannabis spectrum is more effective than its isolated hemp counterpart because it produces the entourage effect.
However, opinion is still split, and customers can purchase high-grade CBD isolate and full-spectrum oil.
How to Know if CBD Is Good Quality
Want to know if CBD is good quality? Thinking about the above topics can help you make an informed decision.
Once you have identified a brand that sources premium hemp plant material, conducts thorough manufacturing checks, and offers third-party lab reports, you’ll have to decide which product is right for you.
Important considerations are:
- Product type (oils, topicals, capsules, etc.)
- Strength (what mg of CBD it contains)
- Additional ingredients
Choosing a product that fits your lifestyle and daily routine is an excellent way to ensure you consistently use a product.
Final Thoughts on How to Identify High-Grade CBD Hemp Oil
Research shows the efficacy of CBD in the treatment of a wide range of medical conditions. This versatile cannabis compound is a potential game-changer in the medical field as it produces no high. But to receive its true therapeutic potential, you will need to distinguish the high-grade CBD oils from the host of low-quality ones on the market.
Although the FDA is cracking down on companies that sell low-quality oil, never assume that a company with a professional-looking website and a valid marketing campaign is the real deal. Instead, play detective and make sure it is golden filtered oil that’s grown in the right location and tested by an independent third party (with an exceptionally low level of THC). Nothing else is worth your money.
Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you. Take a look below for some of the best quality CBD oils on the market now.