For new CBD users, the wealth of new terms can be positively intimidating. Among the most important are the various forms of CBD extract. Today we’ll be going in-depth on one in particular: CBD isolate.
We’ll cover everything you need to get up-to-speed on CBD isolate. From basic definitions to how it’s made and used, this article will make you a CBD isolate expert in no time!
What is CBD Isolate?
CBD isolate is a crystalline or powdered extract that contains pure CBD. Like all forms of CBD, CBD isolate is extracted from cannabis — most often hemp plants. It is one of the three types of CBD extract (the others being “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum”). Unlike other extracts, CBD isolate contains none of hemp’s cannabinoids, terpenes, or other natural compounds; it is CBD in its most pure and, well, isolated form.
Why Choose CBD Isolate? Is it as Effective as Other Extracts?
But there is a crucial difference: unlike broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD products, isolate contains no cannabis compounds except for CBD. That means that, when using products made with CBD isolate powder, you will not benefit from the entourage effect.
Both anecdotal reports and formal research suggest that the entourage effect increases CBD’s therapeutic potential.
- Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, 2010: A human pain study compared CBD isolate, THC isolate, and a mixture of both cannabinoids. The combination was found significantly more effective.
- Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 2015: An animal study on CBD for pain relief found that full spectrum extracts allowed for effectiveness at all dosage sizes, while CBD isolate’s effectiveness was diminished with increased doses.
- Scientific Reports, 2018: A mice study on treating epilepsy found significant improvements in treatment outcome with other hemp cannabinoids in combination with CBD isolate.
So why choose CBD isolate? Some users find that the entourage effect does not make much difference for them. Others prefer a 100% THC-free CBD experience, either because they worry about drug tests or are particularly THC sensitive. Still others enjoy the versatility of raw CBD powder and use it to make their own custom CBD-infused products.
Common CBD Isolate Products and How to Use Them
Now that we know the basic definition, there’s one other important thing to keep in mind. The industry uses the term “CBD isolate” in two distinct ways: to refer to raw isolate with no additives and to products made with CBD isolate as an ingredient.
Raw CBD Isolate
In its pure state, CBD isolate is a white, crystalline, powdered extract. Many manufacturers offer raw CBD isolate for sale, and it offers a number of applications.
These CBD crystals are perhaps the most versatile form of CBD. They can be:
- Used to create DIY CBD tinctures, topicals, edibles, and beverages
- Used to increase the potency of existing CBD tinctures
- Smoked or vaporized, either on their own or with another smokable product
- Added to traditional food or beverage to spice up your favorite dish
Products Made With CBD Isolate
Manufacturers sometimes use CBD isolate powder as an ingredient in their traditional CBD products. Virtually any product can be made with CBD isolate, including tinctures, topicals, and edibles.
The only difference between these products and those made with broad and full spectrum extracts is that CBD isolate will not contribute to the entourage effect. But for many users, CBD isolate tinctures and topicals offer more than adequate relief and find that other CBD extracts are unnecessary.
How is CBD Isolate Produced?
Extracting CBD isolate is a complex process that requires specialized equipment and expertise. Although the process is complicated, the basics are as follows:
- Plants are Grown and Harvested
Farms plant industrial hemp, which grows best outdoors in mild climates. Once harvested, the plants’ aerial parts are separated and taken to an extraction facility.
- Compounds are Extracted from Hemp
Extraction facilities use a variety of methods to extract the CBD and other compounds from the hemp plants, producing an oil extract. The most common extraction method is Supercritical CO2 Extraction, which involves passing CO2 through a series of chambers filled with hemp biomass. Ethanol-based extraction is another common method.
- Winterization and Decarboxylation
Winterization cools the oil extract using extremely cold temperatures. This separates the unwanted waxes and fats from the oil, improving the oil’s purity and potency. Decarboxylation then activates the CBD-A molecule, transforming it into CBD via the use of high temperatures.
- Distillation and Isolation
Distillation is a process used to separate the hemp oil into component parts: cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids, and unwanted material such as chlorophyll. The final step then involves separating CBD from the other cannabinoids, resulting in a pure CBD isolate.
For more on the CBD manufacturing process, including details on how other CBD extracts are produced, check out our in-depth article on CBD manufacturing.