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Types of CBD Oils – Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum & CBD Isolate

In nature, cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid found in the Cannabis sativa plant. It is second only to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) within the plant’s chemical makeup. A phytocannabinoid, CBD, unlike THC, has no psychoactive components. CBD has gained respect in the medical community for its ability to aid in a variety of health conditions. Many opt to use CBD oil to help relieve anxiety, as an anti-inflammatory or for insomnia. In 2018, GW Pharmaceutical released Epidiolex, the first prescription cannabidiol oral solution derived directly from the cannabis plant for the treatment of Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut (LGS) childhood epilepsy. 

hemp plant image

Is CBD Oil Derived from Marijuana or Hemp?

CBD is found in varying levels in marijuana and hemp which are both members of the Cannabis herbaceous flowering plant group. However, depending on where you live, CBD extracted from marijuana might not be legal. Within the United States, the Farm Bill  of 2018 signed by President Trump, made CBD obtained from hemp with a THC percentage of less than 0.3 percent. Hemp holds an appeal not just for its ability to produce abundant CBD with low THC but also for its industrial uses such as hempcrete (a form of insulation), rope, textiles, bioplastic, biofuel, and as a food source. 

Understanding the Various Forms of CBD Oils

CBD oil is obtained through an extraction process. The oil extracted from the cannabis plant fiber is then mixed with a carrier oil. CBD oils are not typically mixed with anything but a carrier oil and perhaps flavoring when taken orally. There are three types of CBD oils: Full spectrum, Broad spectrum and isolate.   

What is Full Spectrum CBD Oil

Think of Full Spectrum CBD as oil that contains the ‘whole plant’. It is brimming with all of the potent plant natural cannabinoids such as levels of CBN (Cannabinol), CBG (Cannabigerol), and THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin), terpenes, and flavonoids. CBD derived from hemp contains less than 3 percent THC, but when extracted from marijuana it can contain higher percentages. Many believe that all components of the plant work together to create what is referred to as the ‘entourage effect’ within the body.  Full-spectrum is typically dark or gold. 

What Is Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

Broad Spectrum CBD contains all the cannabis plant’s terpenes, flavonoids, and lesser-known cannabinoids but has absolutely no discernable THC. The many cannabinoids found in Broad Spectrum are ideal to promote the body’s entourage effect.  Broad Spectrum oil tends to be dark to gold in color. 

What CBD Isolate Oil

CBD isolate is pure CBD with no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Usually, very pale gold in color. CBD isolate that has gone through further processing may appear as crystals or white powder. 

CBD Extraction Processes  

The extraction process used to pull CBD from either the marijuana or hemp plant varies. Learning about the various extraction methods matters because it belies the final purity of the product. When purchasing CBD isolate, the oil has gone through further processing using chromatography equipment to produce crystals or powders of pure CBD which are then mixed with a carrier oil.  

Common extraction methods:


A liquid solvent such as isopropyl, butane, ethanol, or alcohol is used to pull the CBD from the plant. This is the least expensive extraction method. It is fast and easy but not without dangers. The extraction solvents such as butane are highly flammable. In addition, the solvents destroy high beneficial plant waxes. Also, the method pulls the CBD from the plant but also removes the chlorophyll which many believe boasts its own health benefits. Although the solvent evaporates, there is still some residue remaining. Many in the medical community turn their nose up to solvent extractions because they frequently contain the residue of butane or ethanol.

Olive Oil

The use of olive oil is perhaps one of the oldest extraction methods, it is safe, efficient, and simple. However, it is perishable. Storage is required in a cool dark place. Such factors make it less than ideal for commercial producers. The olive oil method entails having the plant material go through decarboxylation. It will then be further heated to activate the chemicals within the plant’s fibers. This effectively extracts the cannabinoids. The olive oil does not evaporate with this process as it does when extracting with alcohol. You simply have a mixture of CBD oil and olive oil.  However, olive oil is perfectly safe to ingest if you are using the oil to form an edible. 


Top-shelf, premium CBD undergoes CO2 extraction to guarantee the utmost purity. CO2 extraction is safe and creates a potent product that is favored by those brands marketing high-quality products. There is no solvent or contaminant residue left behind. During the entire process, a highly-skilled extraction artist monitors the temperature and pressure. This allows specific cannabinoids like CBD to be isolated for utmost potency and purity. CO2 extraction requires a closed-loop extractor with three chambers. The first chamber holds CO2, the second chamber houses the plant material, and the third chamber is the finished process. The CO2 is pumped out of the first chamber into the second chamber. It takes on the form of supercritical CO2 which is the middle ground between liquid and gas. The supercritical CO2 passes through the cannabis plant material extracting the cannabinoids. It then flows into the third chamber where the CO2 rises to the top and the cannabinoids remain on the bottom. The CO2 can then be reused making it an eco-friendly extraction process. 

Dry Ice Extraction

CBD can be extracted using dry ice, but this is more of a DIY process and not used by manufacturers. The process involves placing hemp within mesh bags and covering the bags filled with plant material in dry ice for several minutes. This freezes the plant’s cannabinoid filled trichomes. Remove the bags from the dry ice and shake the frozen plant material within the bags. The CBD trichomes break away from the plant fibers and fall through the mesh. The trichomes must then be heated to form an oil. 

How to Separate CBD and THC

CBD, cannabidiolum, (−)-cannabidiol[3]
The structure of cannabidiol, also know as CBD
THC- (6aR,10aR)-delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, (−)-trans-Δ⁹-tetrahydrocannabinol
The structure of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC

Manufacturers take the removal of all THC from Broad Spectrum and Isolate seriously. The CBD oil undergoes further processing to filter out virtually all traces of the THC. CBD is further isolated by the use of lower temperatures and pressure using a CO2 closed loop extractor. The technical machinery required and the skill required to further refine the CBD is why Broad Spectrum and Isolate are expensive. Broad Spectrum remains rich in other cannabinoids (no THC) flavors and terpenes. Isolate is 99+ percent pure CBD with no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Both Broad Spectrum and Isolate are ideal choices for anyone who cannot have any THC in their system. 


Pros and Cons of the Various CBD Extraction Methods

Extraction Type  Pros  Cons 
Solvents  Inexpensive




Some solvents such as butane are combustible.

Often leaves a residue.

Olive Oil  Good for edibles  Perishable

Requires dark, cool storage

CO2 Extraction  Creates a pure product that is residue free


CO2 is recyclable 


Requires specialized training 


Best Carrier Oil for CBD 

A carrier oil (base oil) carries the CBD oil. Pure CBD is very strong so requires a carrier oil. In addition, a carrier oil helps the body readily absorb the CBD. Typically, carrier oils are fatty vegetable oils that also offer health benefits

The best carrier oils for CBD:

Type of Oil  Pros  Cons 
MCT Oil/Unrefined Coconut Oil  Antibacterial properties

Contains essential fatty acids 

No significant cons
Hemp Seed Oil  Contains essential fatty acids In most cases, it should be mixed with other carrier oils such as MCT oil, because it is an insufficient carrier oil when using alone.
Sunflower Oil  Inexpensive 

Filled with vitamins and minerals 

High in polyunsaturated oils so not the best carrier for oral CBD oil. 

Increases blood sugar levels in diabetics.

Can cause an allergic reaction, 

Olive Oil  Provides a more palatable, almost fruity flavor. 

 Contains healthy  Monounsaturated fats

Overly thick which makes measuring difficult.

Requires additional processing which lowers the amount of CBD the body can absorb.  

Grapeseed Oil  Lightweight

 Blends well in CBD lotions, creams, and liniments

Comprised of polyunsaturated fats which makes it less than ideal for oral CBD oil.
Pomegranate Oil  Binds well with CBD isolate.

Popular carrier oil for CBD skincare products


Avocado Oil  Increases viscosity

Has a palatable fruity flavor 

Excessively thick which makes measuring difficult. 


Pros and Cons of Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and Isolate

Everyone has their own personal preference for the types of CBD oil they use. However, new users might be confused between the three types.

CBD Oil Type          Pros  Cons 
Full Spectrum Oil Contains varying levels of all the cannabis plant’s natural cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

The human body’s endocannabinoid system readily binds with all aspects of the oil to create a beneficial entourage effect. 

May cause the user to fail a sensitive THC drug test even at THC levels of less than 0.3 percent
Broad Spectrum Oil Contains all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant but has zero THC so successfully creates an entourage effect in the body.  Hemp-derived Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil is often considered inferior because it lacks any THC which is needed for a full-body entourage effect. 
CBD Isolate Oil                                                           Pure CBD with no other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. 

The body is believed to rapidly absorb the isolate. 

Creates no entourage effect. 

Lacks all of the natural and beneficial cannabinoids found naturally in the cannabis plant.

Things to Consider When Purchasing CBD Oil

Here is a list of several factors to consider when purchasing CBD oil:

CBD Oil Flavors

Many consider the taste of CBD to be ‘earthy’ or ‘green.’  Often infusing the oil with a flavor makes it more palatable. Mint, citrus, and strawberry are three popular flavors of CBD oil. The flavors in no way lessen the effectiveness of the CBD. Depending on the brand, some oils are derived from natural sources and others are chemical compounds produced in labs. 

Where was the hemp/marijuana grown and how was it farmed?

Cannabis is a bio-accumulator. It cleanses the soil by absorbing both good and bad elements. In fact, cannabis has been used to clean the oil of chemical spills and radiation from the soil. All hemp grown for CBD extraction should be free of herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals. Ideally, only organic farming cultivation practices should be employed.

How much THC is in the CBD oil?

CBD extracted from hemp should have less than 0.3 percent THC if it is full-spectrum, but CBD extracted from marijuana may have higher levels.

What is the concentration of CBD?

Not all brands of CBD oil are as potent as others with high concentration levels. The user should familiarize themselves with the level that best brings them relief.

What extraction method was used?

Premium CBD has usually been extracted using CO2. However, some brands rely on solvents such as butane, or hexane. CO2 extraction is ideal because it leaves no solvent residue so the CBD obtained is always pure. In addition, CO2 extraction is eco-friendly.

Are there third-party laboratory results?

Most reputable brands of CBD oil have undergone third-party laboratory testing to guarantee purity. Manufactures will proudly display the lab results on their websites or distribute paper flyers with the product at the time of purchase. Many companies also put a QR code on the package.

The Different Forms of CBD

CBD comes in many forms, not just oil. Ideally, you should learn about each type of CBD to determine which one best meets your needs.

  • Oral CBD oils
  • Tinctures – alcohol-based oral CBD product.
  • Lotions or creams filled with CBD oil
  • Edibles such as gummies infused with CBD oil
  • Vape CBD oil (pre-filled cartridges for a vaporizer filled with CBD oil)
  • Dab (resin or wax form of CBD)
  • Capsules or pills filled with CBD oil

Final Words

CBD oils are rising to the top of the health list as valued supplements. Medical researchers are also taking notice and launching studies around the globe to learn the possible health benefits of CBD for a wide array of conditions. If you opt to try CBD then take it slowly. Use a low dose and see how you feel. You can always increase the dosage to achieve your own unique desired results. Ideally, you should educate yourself about CBD and listen to your body while you use the product. 


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