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difference between cbd distillate and cbd isolate

Full-spectrum CBD are CBD products containing 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.

Before we get into the CBD isolate vs distillate discussion, let’s first start by discussing what full-spectrum CBD is.

CBD Isolate vs Distillate: Definitions

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 to help induce feelings of sleepiness.

CBD is legal in all of the 50 U.S. states. Yet, people working in law enforcement, construction, airports have drug testing policies in place. They should opt to avoid any distillate or full-spectrum products entirely. 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.

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.

CBD isolate and distillate have become increasingly popular throughout the hemp and cannabis industry. These versatile hemp extracts are the most commonly used when it comes to manufactured goods for personal consumption such as topicals, edibles and vapes. Extracts are what give a majority of products on the market their great cannabinoid profiles. While these products are similar in many ways, there are major differences between isolates, distillates and crude for both consumers and businesses. To experience these differences for myself, for research purposes, I spent an evening dabbing both isolate and then distillate to fully understand the effects of each one.

Cannabidiol isolate is the most refined form of hemp available. This compound comes from further processing CBD distillate. CBD is an amazing compound for many people, but with cannabis prohibition still in effect in many areas, people can not risk using hemp products with a full spectrum of cannabinoids due to the potential of THC being present. Even if the full spectrum hemp distillate has under .3% THC, there is a small chance this could make you test positive for THC, risking your job or benefits. This is where CBD isolate shines; even if the product contains 0% THC, people can still feel a high after consuming. With isolate, there is absolutely zero cannabinoids besides CBD and it is safe for people whose jobs drug test for THC. There is also no “high” associated with using CBD isolate which is useful for people who need to medicate throughout the day without being impaired. Other than THC, CBD is by far the most commonly sought after cannabinoid. Isolate is a perfect additive to increase the CBD content of products without increasing THC levels and keeping products compliant. It is also possible to make water soluble isolate which is monumental for manufacturing drinks and liquid based products.

CBD distillate is an amazing material to add to hemp products because it captures the entourage effect, something that CBD isolate cannot compete with. The entourage effect is the theory that all cannabinoids work together and are increasingly beneficial when they are consumed together. This means they increase the effects of CBD or THC, which are the most sought after molecules when it comes to extraction. The entourage effect is important for a complete holistic hemp product. Consumers often pay much higher prices for products that contain a full spectrum of cannabinoids instead of only CBD which has caused the price of distillate to be generally higher than isolate.

I made an experiment to test the entourage effect by first taking a dab of CBD isolate, waiting an hour, then taking a dab of distillate. The isolate gave a smooth hit with a subtle sweet taste to it. It left me feeling refreshed, almost like taking a deep breath of air when you wake up outside in nature. There was no head or body high, but it left me feeling content. The dab of distillate was an extremely different experience. I took a dab of broad spectrum distillate, meaning there was ZERO THC. The golden liquid melted and left a strong floral taste in my mouth. While it is not comparable to a THC high, the distillate left me feeling extremely relaxed and calm. A slight head high can be felt, but not strong enough to be impairing. After doing this experiment I completely support the entourage effect theory.

The most common alternative to CBD isolate when it comes to hemp products is distillate, which extracts as a yellow-amber honey like liquid. High quality distillate is often extremely viscous and has a light golden color to it with no taste or smell. This source of CBD is made by distilling crude oils that are generally extracted using solvents such as carbon dioxide or ethanol. Distillate is great for manufacturing products because it becomes liquid when heated and can be added to drinks, tinctures, and myriad of other finished goods. CBD distillate comes with either a broad spectrum or a full spectrum of cannabinoids. The difference between these terms is the THC. Broad spectrum distillates have all of the same compounds, except that the THC has been removed. This is monumental for consumers who are interested in the entourage effect without the risk of ingesting THC. Because of this, THC free distillate is generally the most expensive CBD derivative available.

While distillation can effectively be utilized to add and subtract cannabinoids, there may be trace amounts of THC present. Still, both isolate and distillate CBD contains negligible amounts of THC, so won’t get you ‘high’. In fact, CBD distillate can legally contain more than 0.03% THC, an amount that is nowhere near enough for psychoactive effects to take place.1

The ‘entourage effect’ describes the synergistic relationship which cannabinoids naturally have with one another. More and more studies delve into the phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions, resulting in synergy with respect to the support of many bodily processes.2 Discover exactly how our ennocannoid interactions with CBD here.

Some notable cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana are THC, CBD, CBG, and CBC. And while most cannabinoids don’t have the potential to make us ‘high’, it’s clear that their interaction with other such chemicals has an effect on us. The synergy of different cannabinoids when used together have been studied to enhance their individual qualities when they work together with our endocannabinoid system in a process known as the ‘entourage effect’.


As its name suggests, a CBD isolate is an isolated form of cannabinol (CBD). Before its isolation, CBD is one of many other active ingredients in full-spectrum cannabis oil. To make the ingredient an isolate, all of the plant’s naturally-occuring compounds — except for CBD — are thoroughly removed, leaving CBD as a pure crystalline solid or powder, devoid of any distinct smell or taste.

CBD distillate is a CBD-rich hemp concentrate that has gone through a distillation process to remove THC, while working to keep as much — or as little — of the other cannabinoids and terpenes in the concentrate as possible. Distillation is the purifying of a liquid by a process of heating and/or cooling, a process which can carefully be manipulated to create the perfect blend of chosen compounds for the desired effect.

In short, both CBD isolate and CBD distillate are processed to have negligible amounts of THC. The difference is that CBD isolate is at least 99% CBD with only trace amounts of other substances (resulting in a notable limitation of biological benefits), while CBD distillate averages 50-70% CBD, coupled with 30-50% more natural cannabinoid compounds which work synergistically to provide a wider away of health benefits.

Ever feel confused by a complex list of items on a seemingly straightforward product? Us too. Luckily, the many fillers, preservatives, artificial colors that find their way into many of our food items won’t be found in any quality CBD oil on the market.