what is cbd distillate

CBD Distillate: What is it and why is it popular?

Distillation is an ancient art of concentrating molecules by using their boiling points to create concentrated compounds.

This methodology has been employed successfully in multiple industries, but it’s most commonly associated with the manufacture of alcoholic spirits, but it’s also how water can be purified.

Still, it’s a method which can be applied universally to any form of chemical separation. In the cannabis industry, distillates are widely used and loved by many.

Their pros of distillates have led to cannabis concentrates such as THC and CBD distillate being spoken about as the future of cannabis.

If you’re here for a quick definition of what CBD distillate is, in short: It’s a type of pure hemp extract. Derived from processing CBD biomass into individual cannabinoids by vaporising the compounds via their boiling points and later adding them together as desired to produce a final product.

As a result, distillate is often referred to as ‘the pure’ due to its high potency and lack of other plant constituents.

More generally, cannabis distillates are increasing in popularity due to their near-infinite applications and lack of impurities.

Let’s jump in to learn more about distillate CBD and the associated products:

CBD Distillation Is A Borrowed Methodology

Distillation can be very roughly defined as follows:

  • The heating of a base substance to the boiling point of the chemical(s) being separated.
  • The collection of pure (often single molecule) vapour at the boiling point of the chemical being extracted.

How Do You Make CBD Distillate?

The starting material for creating CBD distillate is hemp biomass which is processed via a solvent such as ethanol or high pressure (CO2 acts as a solvent under high pressure).

This separates the hemp trichomes (where the cannabinoids are concentrated) from the plant material.

This leaves a raw hemp extract known as CBD crude, with a similar look and consistency as traditional crude oil.

The solvent used in extraction also picks up other undesirable compounds such as chlorophyll and plant waxes in the process, which then need to be removed for the highest-quality CBD distillate.

The CBD crude is passed through a process known as winterisation. This is a (semi-optional but highly recommended) alcohol wash followed by an overnight freeze of the hemp extract.

The CBD crude oil is placed in ethanol to remove lipids and waxes from the other plant matter and frozen for 24 hours.

This winterised CBD crude is then filtered to remove the plant waxes which have now separated from the cannabis compounds — followed by heating (decarboxylation) to activate cannabinoid acids into cannabinoids.

From the remaining solution, compounds are Isolated using a method called (fractional) short path distillation.

This is where crude CBD is passed through a heated flask Isolating the compounds at a molecular level in the solution and passing each compound into a beaker given a specific boiling point while collecting the other impurities in another flask.

The distillation process usually occurs on multiple occasions with different temperatures, using the secondary flask as the input material to separate the variety of remaining compounds and to isolate each one individually given their varying boiling points via vaporisation.

Is CBD Distillate Full Spectrum?

As noted earlier, distillation allows for the separation of compounds at a molecular level. As a result, CBD distillate is initially similar to a CBD Isolate when extracted in that its a single cannabinoid molecule with very high purity.

But that doesn’t mean it cannot be combined with other minor cannabinoids and flavourful terpenes to generate a product which mirrors the plant profile from which it was extracted (albeit minus the unwanted chlorophyll).

Unfortunately, distillation often exceeds the boiling point for terpenes in the process of extracting the cannabinoids from the CBD crude. This is because terpenes are naturally more volatile in higher temperatures and often have lower boiling points when compared to say CBD.

Instead, terpenes are extracted prior to distillation and re-introduced or added to the final product from other plant-derived sources instead.

Consequently, distillates can be seen as parallels to any other forms of different hemp extracts in terms of their chemical profile.

The profile of the final product depends on what type of distillate the manufacturer wants to develop and the quality of their equipment.

Main Types of Hemp Distillate

The three main types of CBD distillate include:

Full-spectrum CBD distillate. This contains a variety of cannabinoids including THC (any THC is theoretically illegal in the UK/ 0.2% EU / 0.3% USA / 1% CH) and re-introduced terpenes. Mirroring a full spectrum CBD profile, taking advantage of the entourage effect.

Broad-spectrum CBD distillate. Similar to full-spectrum but THC has been removed through selective distillation, resulting in a THC free but cannabinoid-rich product.

Other distillate(s) : Specially formulated distillate concentrates also exist, usually as a tranche of broad-spectrum. Additional cannabinoids are removed for legal reasons or market preferences. This approach is becoming more common for countries where CBD is permitted, but multiple other cannabinoids are not, including the UK where THC and CBN are removed.

For example, the cannabinoids CBN and THC are controlled substances in the UK, and the 0.2% THC rule you might have heard about doesn’t apply to the CBD products you can buy on the high street. Consequently, CBD distillate manufactured for the UK market often falls into the ‘other’ category.

It’s important to note many broad spectrum CBD oils based on CBD distillate are not genuine broad spectrum CBD products.

Because they don’t contain reintroduced terpenes! As we discussed earlier, the process of distillation destroys terpenes in most cases, as a result if your distillate based CBD oil doesn’t contain added terpenes it probably isn’t broad spectrum technically speaking.

CBD distillate is one of the most premium types of CBD conncentrate. We walk through what it is, why its in high demand and why you should try it!

What is cbd distillate

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

Still, there are many specialised words and phrases attached to various CBD products that leave us unsure about which oils would best suit our needs. And because quality ingredients usually dictate the positive health benefits, the most important questions that need an answer here are: what is CBD isolate and CBD distillate, what’s the difference, and, crucially, how much does it matter?


What is CBD isolate? In short, as the word suggests, 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 ‘isolate’, all of the plant’s natural compounds — except for CBD — are thoroughly removed, leaving CBD as a pure crystalline solid or powder, devoid of any distinct smell or taste.

Depending on the intensity and type of extraction process, quality cannabinol isolates are over 99% pure , which are then blended with hemp oil or other oil-based alternatives for ingestion or topical use. This is the clear benefit of CBD isolate – offering an unmatchable purity that maintains its potency even when added to other substances (cookies, creams and everything in-between), and with this the removal of any earthy tastes associated with cannabis. This makes CBD isolate ideal for use in balms and edibles for people who prefer more appealing or popular tastes and flavour.

However, incredibly, there are at least 100 known cannabinoids in the plant we know and love, and a further 300 or so non-cannabinoid compounds. These chemicals aren’t found in any other plants on earth, making them unique to cannabis, and, as a result, unique in how they communicate with our own chemistry. These are removed during the isolation process.

Considering the complex and intricate relationship many compounds have within any given plant, researchers have been increasingly interested in the interplay of one cannabinoid to another. Naturally, a mixture of distinct cannabinoids that join to the cannabinoid receptors in both our body and brain will affect us differently when compared to isolated forms of any one chemical. And that’s why CBD distillate is causing quite a stir for all the right reasons.


So. What is CBD distillate? CBD distillate is high CBD 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.

While distillation can effectively be utilised to add and subtract cannabinoids at will, 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 0.03% THC, though this is nowhere near enough for psychoactive effects to take place.1.

What is CBD? As we know, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, which, unlike THC, can benefit us greatly without any unwanted ‘high’, making it an attractive supplement for those who need to remain focused throughout the day. However, it’s important you search out a brand that can share its Certificate of Analysis with you, guaranteeing their level of THC is completely safe and virtually undetectable. Many inferior CBD products don’t offer the adequate level of testing or proper filtration, which may lead to a failed urine test.

Some notable cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana are:
– Flavonoids/Terpenes.

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 interplay of different cannabinoids when used together have been studied to enhance their individual qualities when they jointly interact with our endocannabinoid system in a process known as the ‘entourage effect ’.

The ‘entourage effect’ details 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 treatment of many ailments.2

CBD oil benefits
From pain and inflammation to neurological disorders and the quality of our sleep, CBD has been revered in many studies for its promising use in a world which pines for natural yet effective medicine.

Indeed, one such study explains how cannabidiol enhances endogenous adenosine signalling, a response to stress which is critical in tissue protection and the reduction of inflammation.3 It’s of no surprise, then, that some of the most successful sports persons (also some of the most susceptible to inflammation) are turning to CBD.

As we all know too well, where inflammation is found in the body, pain soon follows. So it’s exciting to find that cannabinoid compounds CBD and CBC have been noted for their joint analgesia [inability to feel pain] effect.4


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 aid and enhance what would otherwise be a restriction on potential health benefits.

Clearly, the distinction between the two forms of extraction matters . If we are to reap the full range of benefits on offer from CBD, then it makes sense that it must interact with our body in an interplay with other compounds, just as nature intended.

One of the most common questions around CBD, is trying to understand the different types. Read about the difference between isolate and distillate.