What Is CBD Distillate And Is It Better Than CBD Isolate?

If you’re already familiar with CBD isolate then you may be thinking, what is CBD distillate? Or, what is the difference between CBD isolate and distillate exactly?

These are good questions – there are many similarities between the two, but also some crucial differences to be aware of.

Both these forms of CBD come from the Cannabis sativa plant – read our blog to learn more about what CBD is and how it works – and they go through a very complex extraction and refining process to purify them.

As with other types of high-quality CBD that have less than 1 mg of THC per pack, both the distillate and isolate varieties are considered legal CBD oil under UK law.

So, what is CBD distillate exactly? And what is the difference between CBD isolate and distillate? Read on for answers to these questions and many more.

What is CBD distillate?

CBD distillate is very pure cannabidiol, with many impurities removed via a distillation process. 

With any kind of distillation, you’re aiming to extract the most important elements from a mixture.

In short, distilling involves heating liquids – boiling and condensing them to separate a specific substance or component. 

One of the most popular examples of distilling is to extract drinking water from the sea – humans have been doing that for thousands of years.

Another example is alcoholic spirits – these are extracted from raw materials such as fruits or grains.

How do you make distillate?

The starting point for distillate is raw hemp. Anyone growing this in the UK needs an industrial hemp licence from the Home Office

The seed types must be approved by the Home Office and have a THC content not exceeding 0.2% in order to be cultivated. The CBD flower is not legal in the UK to possess or sell and must be destroyed.

There are four key parts to a CBD distillation process:

1. Extraction

This involves either carbon dioxide (CO2) or ethanol. If using CO2, then it is called a supercritical extraction process.

Ethanol is already a liquid, while CO2 first needs to be converted from a gas into a different state, acting as both a liquid and a gas at the same time.

The purpose of the extraction phase is to remove unneeded compounds from the hemp, such as plant waxes.

2. Winterisation

Extraction leaves behind crude CBD. To further remove impurities, you can ‘winterise’ it – this is an alcohol wash followed by a period of freezing, often for 24-48 hours.

This serves the purpose of solidifying remaining impurities, for ease of separation from the pure CBD.

3. Decarboxylation

Moving now from freezing to heating, at this stage you have CBDA or cannabidiolic acid. For CBDA to become CBD, a carboxyl group will be removed.

Decarboxylation is a chemical reaction which helps achieve this by removing the carboxyl group and releasing CO2

By heating the extract to high temperatures for an extended period of time, decarboxylation will occur.

4. Distillation

Using different flasks to remove the final impurities, the distillate is heated in a vacuum.

The vapour is condensed and collected – the result is CBD distillate!

How to use distillate

What is it used for? In this purer form, there are four main use cases that CBD distillate is well suited to:

  • Oils: Not every CBD oil is a distillate, but distillates are purer alternatives to standard oils – you may find that they have a very natural, faint flavour
  • Edibles: Similarly, CBD distillate often has little discernible taste – so by using it in CBD edibles, you can receive CBD without altering the flavour of the food you consume
  • Vapes: A vape cartridge using CBD distillate will be as additive-free as possible 
  • Cosmetics: CBD distillate in topically-applied creams is less likely to have an earthy colour or smell

What is CBD distillate broad-spectrum?

There are two types of CBD distillate worth knowing the difference between – full-spectrum and broad-spectrum: 

  1. Full-spectrum CBD distillate includes more compounds beyond pure CBD – notably, there will usually be very slight trace elements of THC present
  2. Broad-spectrum CBD distillate should have no detectable THC, while it can still include other great cannabinoids and natural terpenes from the hemp plant

For example, our CBD broad-spectrum distillate includes some other cannabinoids – CBG, CBC and CBDA – which may work together to potentially provide the ‘full entourage effect’.

The full entourage effect is seen as a good way to maximise any possible benefits from CBD – different cannabinoids may complement each other to produce stronger effects.

What is the difference between isolate and distillate?

We’ve previously written an in-depth guide about CBD isolate. It is the purest form possible of natural CBD, usually more than 99% pure, taking the form of a powder or crystalline solid.

Like CBD distillate, in isolate form it’s very versatile – you can take it in oil form, add it to food and drink, use it in cosmetics, and so on.

CBD isolate is made in a similar way to CBD distillate, via a complex extraction process to remove other compounds and impurities. 

The difference is that the extraction process goes even further until essentially only pure CBD molecules remain.

Is distillate better than isolate?

In short, whereas CBD isolate is over 99% pure, broad-spectrum CBD distillate is around 80-90% pure.

If that’s the case, then why would you choose CBD distillate over an isolate alternative? Well, it comes back to the full entourage effect again.

Some people prefer to have the purest CBD possible, with absolutely nothing else included – they are more likely to buy it in isolate form. 

Others prefer to enjoy the potential full entourage effect of multiple cannabinoids combining to produce stronger effects, in addition to CBD – in this scenario, distillate is the best choice.

Is CBD distillate better than CBD isolate? The answer is subjective – it completely depends on your preferences.

Summary: What is CBD distillate?

CBD distillate is very pure cannabidiol, with many impurities removed via a long distillation procedure.

It goes through a complex process of extraction, winterisation, decarbonisation and distillation to reach this state.

In contrast to CBD isolate, which is the purest form available, CBD distillate also includes some other minor cannabinoids. 

Many believe these work together in combination with CBD to produce the full euphoric experience, with perhaps stronger benefits. For more information about CBD distillate, or any of our other products, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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