What is the difference between CBD isolate and CBD distillate?

difference between cbd isolate and cbd distillate

Written by Zaneta Pacific and reviewed by our qualified expert, Moyra Cosgrove, Head of Nutrition at Naturecan, SENR Registered Nutritionist and DProf candidate at LJMU


  • CBD isolate is CBD (Cannabidiol) in its purest form.
  • Making CBD isolate requires a multitude of steps and is highly technical.
  • CBD isolate can be used in a variety of products, including vapes, oils, balms and edibles and pet CBD products
  • CBD distillate is a purified CBD extract that can be used to make CBD isolate.

CBD, short for Cannabidiol, is one of many cannabinoids found in the Cannabis sativa plant.

Even though CBD comes from a plant, it cannot simply be harvested. So instead, we need to harvest hemp – a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant known for its high CBD and low THC content. We then use that hemp to extract various various components, including the beneficial one we are talking about here, CBD, but ensuring there is non-detectable THC, the controlled cannabinoid.

But the road from hemp to CBD is long, with multiple stops and potential roadblocks along the way. Interestingly, both CBD isolate and CBD distillate can be the final destination of this long journey.

So how do you make sure you always arrive at where you want to be? By learning how these two differ from each other.

Let us be your guide, and let the journey begin!

What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form, with 99% (or higher) CBD content.

An important thing to know about the process used to produce CBD isolate is that it removes all the ingredients responsible for hemp’s flavour and fragrance. This means that CBD isolate will have no taste or smell.

While we’ll talk a bit more about the process later, what you should know now is that CBD isolate can come in two forms. In its original form, CBD isolate is a crystalline solid and looks like beautiful, milky crystals straight out of a winter fairytale. While very pretty, CBD isolate in this form is not easy to use. Fortunately, it can easily be turned into a white powder through a simple process of grading the crystals.

difference between cbd isolate and cbd distillate

Does CBD isolate contain THC?

No, CBD isolate does not contain THC. Actually, a true CBD isolate does not contain any cannabinoids (besides CBD) or other compounds naturally found in hemp (including terpenes).

Impurities, such as wax, oil, pesticides, and mildew, can often sneak into a CBD product during the farming or extraction process. However, CBD isolate will always be free of any impurities.

This also means CBD isolate will not contain any residual solvents –– a by-product of the production process.

The potential benefits of CBD isolate

Now that we know what CBD isolate is (and what it is not), it’s time to talk about why you might consider using it.

It is true that a scientific consensus on CBD still needs to be reached.

So what do we know as of yet? The results from early studies suggest that there might be a connection between CBD and certain processes that take place in our bodies.

The processes that we are referring to here are ones associated with the endocannabinoid system. In some studies CBD has been shown to contribute to improved sleep quality, better management of certain types of pain, and the ability to relax more easily.

These are just a few of the many potential benefits of CBD and, as a result, the reasons as to why people reach out for CBD isolate products every day.

How to use CBD isolate?

Reading about all the potential benefits of CBD isolate might tempt you into getting some yourself. But before you go ahead and buy some, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Most users will be better off buying CBD isolate products which include other ingredients such as a carrier oil, rather than pure CBD isolate in its crystalline or powdered form. The science behind the efficient use of CBD is complicated. The rule of “the stronger, the better” does not apply to this cannabinoid, and some people might benefit from lower doses. Additionally, your body will be able to utilise CBD better when it’s included in products that are able to increase its bioavailability.

For example, CBD isolate can be combined with an MCT carrier oil (such as coconut oil or hemp oil) in order to create CBD oil isolate. It can also be used in various topicals, such as moisturising creams, relaxing gels, and nourishing balms. Even food can be enriched by CBD isolate, creating edibles that are both fun and delicious. 

Last but not least, CBD isolate can also be used as a core ingredient in Vape Juice. This is our favourite way of utilising CBD isolates, as vaping is the most efficient way to use CBD.

The way it works is pretty simple. A special pen or a vaporiser is used to heat up the Vape Juice (an e-liquid containing CBD). In response to heat exposure, CBD-rich vapour is released, which can then be inhaled by the user.

While CBD affects everyone differently, most people will feel the effects of vaping much faster than they would after using any other type of CBD product. This is because the inhaled vapour moves quickly and directly to the lungs, allowing the CBD to reach the bloodstream almost immediately.

While vape products are seen as a reduced risk alternative for smokers, we would not encourage non-smokers to take up vaping. To learn more, visit our subpage devoted to vaping CBD.

difference between cbd isolate and cbd distillate

How is CBD isolate made?

Making CBD isolate requires a set of multiple highly technical steps.

Everything starts with the collecting of plant material. In the case of Naturecan, we use high quality, American hemp which is grown under highly controlled conditions.

The hemp will then undergo multiple processes to separate various components (including cannabinoids) from the plant material itself. While there are several ways of extracting CBD, the two most commonly used in the industry are CO2 and ethanol-based extraction.

The CO2 extraction method uses CO2 in its supercritical state, meaning it can express the qualities of both a gas and a liquid by adjusting the temperature and pressure. To take advantage of this unique property, hemp gets exposed to CO2 in this state, allowing for various compounds to be separated from the plant material.

The ethanol-based extraction method is a little simpler. By soaking the plant in ethanol, various compounds lose their chemical binding and are then able to be extracted from the plant material. What is left is the ethanol solution containing the extracted ingredients, such as CBD.

Regardless of which method is used, producers need to separate CBD isolate from all other compounds through various highly technical processes. These other compounds can be things like cannabinoids, heavy metals, terpenes or solvent residues.

And that’s how CBD isolate comes to life.

What is broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD?

This article is full of information about CBD isolate. Yet, to fully understand CBD isolate, we need to know how it differs from broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD.

What is the difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD?

Both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD will contain Cannabidiol and other chemical compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant.

These other compounds will include terpenes and minor cannabinoids like CBG, CBN and CBC. In the case of full-spectrum CBD, THC can also be found, but only in very small amounts.

THC is illegal in the UK and many other countries due to its intoxicating properties. For this reason, we only sell broad-spectrum CBD with no detectable THC.

difference between cbd isolate and cbd distillate

How is CBD isolate different from full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD?

The difference between CBD isolate and these two other types of CBD is significant.

What all three do have in common is the main ingredient – CBD, but that’s where the similarities end. What differentiates CBD isolate from broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD is that it contains CBD, and CBD only. Therefore, no additional cannabinoids or terpenes will be found in an isolate.

On the other hand, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD will include many of the other compounds found in the cannabis plant.

What is CBD distillate?

Now that you have a good understanding of what CBD isolate is, how to use it and how it differs from broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD, it’s time to move on to the second term we promised to explain – CBD distillate.

CBD distillate is a thick liquid containing a plethora of components found in the cannabis plant. The consistency resembles that of honey or maple syrup. It can be brown, yellow or orange, depending on various factors, such as the temperature of the room it’s in.

The distillate is what you will have left from the hemp plant after the extraction process is done, and all the harmful ingredients are removed. A CBD distillate will not contain any lipids, impurities, fertilisers, pesticides, or solvent residues. It will, however, contain CBD and all the other cannabinoids which can be found in hemp.

CBD distillate is also used to make CBD isolate. Yes, you heard it right. After putting CBD distillate through further processing, individual compounds (such as CBD) can be isolated, creating CBD isolate – Cannabidiol in its purest form.

difference between cbd isolate and cbd distillate

CBD isolate vs CBD distillate. What's the difference?

CBD isolate and distillate are two very different things. For example, broad and full-spectrum CBD distillates can be used to extract CBD isolate, but a CBD distillate can never become a CBD isolate without further processing.

CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form. It does not contain any other chemical compounds (such as terpenes or other cannabinoids) which can also be extracted from the cannabis plant.

CBD distillate, on the other hand, contains CBD as well as other cannabis-derived ingredients. Nevertheless, it won’t have any unnecessary or harmful components, such as solvents, heavy metals, or mildew.

Is CBD isolate or broad-spectrum CBD better?

The answer to this interesting question will be different depending on who is using the product.

CBD isolates are perfect for people who are perhaps intimidated by the idea of using hemp-derived products, or for those who undergo rigorous drug testing at work (such as professional athletes), as both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD might cause a false positive.

So, what are the benefits of broad-spectrum products? Well, have you heard of the “entourage effect”? It is a phenomenon (explained well in a study from 2020) where CBD, when consumed with other compounds found in the cannabis plant, will work better and yield better results. This is due to CBD possibly being able to work in harmony with these other compounds, amplifying the beneficial effects. This supports the theory that broad-spectrum CBD might be more beneficial than CBD isolate.

CBD side effects

Although CBD is generally well-tolerated, it might still cause some side effects, including nausea, dry mouth, drowsiness or lowered blood pressure.

To reduce the risk of experiencing any side effects, make sure to only use high quality products with non-detectable THC. Additionally, always use dosage that is appropriate for your needs and under the FSA’s recommended maximum daily dose of 70mg.

CBD should never be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women.

CBD might interact with other medications and for this reason, and many others, you should always speak to your GP before using it.


  • There are many different types of CBD products, with CBD isolate and CBD distillates being just two of them.
  • Both CBD distillate and isolate can be extracted from hemp. However, the process is highly technical and requires many steps.
  • CBD isolate is produced from CBD distillate.
  • CBD isolate is CBD in its purest form. It does not contain any other cannabinoids, terpenes or other compounds found in hemp. The same can not be said about broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD, both of which include many other hemp-derived compounds.
  • The main difference between broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD is that the former will not contain any detectable THC.

Disclaimer: There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of CBD in the condition(s) mentioned above and this text by no means reflects recommended uses. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional if you are taking prescribed medication or are thinking of using CBD for your condition.


  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324885/
  • https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12954-020-00440-w
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31202198/
  • https://www.med.upenn.edu/cbti/assets/user-content/documents/Chagas_et_al-2014-Journal_of_Clinical_Pharmacy_and_Therapeutics.pdf