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How We Get From a Cannabis Plant to CBD Isolate, and Everything In-Between


Last month we tried to explain the differences among cannabinoids. This month, we are discussing how a cannabis plant goes from crude to distillate to isolate, and what the terms broad and full-spectrum mean. We know this can be a lot to process, especially when we are talking about things like distilling and boiling off extracts and micro-nutrients and what not. However, it’s not that complicated when you get familiar with it. If you like coffee, think about how your tastes have probably evolved over the years. You may have started with a simple cup of coffee or a latte, and then kept refining that order over time, and before you knew it, you were ordering a triple shot, skinny, no-whip vanilla mocha with a heavy foam cap. So, let’s talk about refining CBD oils so that we can spice up your plain coffee and get you drinking a fancy latte.

Crude:

-Crude is a general term to define oils that are raw or minimally processed. CBD crude is the raw, thick, dark oil that extracted from the full cannabis plant. It contains approximately 65% CBD along with other cannabinoids and terpenes, vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients. Because it is the extract from the full plant, crude contains a broad variety of health and wellness benefits and produces a well-rounded entourage effect (see here for questions on the entourage effect). Crude can be found in CBD skin-care products and sometimes in tinctures.

Full-spectrum Distillate:

-The cannabinoids in crude are then boiled and re-condensed (distilled), and we are left with Full-Spectrum CBD distillate. This is similar to crude but contains upwards of 80% CBD along with other naturally occurring cannabinoids, including THC (while remaining under the legal limit of 0.3%). Full-spectrum does not contain vitamins and micro-nutrients unless they are added in later. Distillate has more CBD potency than crude and still produces an entourage effect, but the higher percentage means CBD will be the driver of the experience while the other cannabinoids are along for the ride in the back seat.

Broad-Spectrum Distillate:

-Broad-Spectrum is basically full-spectrum with THC filtered out. It contains 70-80% CBD, so you still get some of the entourage effect while getting a more potent dosage of CBD. Broad-spectrum products are great for people that want to completely avoid THC or are worried about drug tests. Broad-Spectrum is also an evolving term and concept that has meant different things over the last few years. Today, companies mainly use it to describe their THC-free products, but originally it was used to describe full-spectrum crude or distillate. If you are confused by something labeled as Broad Spectrum, just ask for details and clarification!

Isolate:

-CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD. There are various ways to isolate this cannabinoid, and the result has a crystalline form that contains as much as 98% CBD. This crystal is ground into a powder and can be used in a wide variety of products. Isolate products do not produce an entourage effect and are great for users that want to avoid anything including THC or someone that desires a very pure CBD-only experience.

We hope this helps clarify some things for you. Remember, we start with extracted crude, which is about 65% CBD, and then keep distilling, refining, and filtering until we end up at isolate, which is about 95-98% CBD. No matter what you choose, CBD is the star of the show in all of these options, and they each have their benefits. It is just about finding what works for you and deciding if you want black coffee or a fancy latte. As always, feel free to stop in our store, give us a call, or send us an email if you have questions before buying.