What is CBD Isolate? Breakdown on how it's made and ways to use it
What is CBD Isolate? Breakdown on How it’s Made and Ways to Use It
By now, you may understand CBD basics of what it is and what it can do for you.
As you dive deeper, you may have come across the word isolate. Some CBD oils and products list this as their key ingredient instead of CBD extract.
To be clear, CBD isolate is a form of CBD extract but as we look closer it’s not your typical oil-based CBD extract.
So, what exactly is CBD isolate?
CBD isolate a pure, crystallized form of cannabidiol derived from cannabis plants. It is made through extensive purification and crystallization of standard CBD extracts.
It is CBD at its purest form with percentages reaching 99%. This means that for every 100 grams of extract by weight you are getting 99 grams of CBD. That’s really, really good.
You won’t find other cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids in the isolate. Just the CBD is isolated from the extract, keeping to its namesake.
In this article, we’ll be covering exactly how CBD isolate is made, its implications and usages as well as the difference between this and other forms of CBD extracts.
How is CBD isolate made?
CBD isolate is made similar to how traditional CBD extracts are made with the exception of a few extra steps.
First, hemp plants need to be harvested, trimmed and dried out. This drying out process is called decarboxylation.
Photo: Decarboxylation in standard oven
Decarboxylation is the process of heating plant material at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 1-2 hours.
Following the drying process, the plant material goes through an extraction process.
There are several types of extraction processes available.
Some extraction examples are:
- CO2 Extraction (subcritical and supercritical)
- Ethanol Extraction
- Hydrocarbon Extract (butane or propane)
Each extraction process has its own pros and cons but we’ll save that for another article.
After the extraction process, you are left with a raw CBD oil extract.
Photo: Results after extraction
The next step in the process is called winterization.
Winterization is a process that removes plant waxes and fats.
Often, ethanol is added to the raw mixture and placed in a freezer for 24 hours. After cooling, it placed in a vacuum to remove the plant waxes leaving behind a cleaner, purer extract.
At this point, you have an extract free of contaminants and unwanted plant material plus some ethanol. This next step removes removing the ethanol by heating the alcohol and evaporating it away. This is called distillation.
This process involves using heating, evaporation and condensation to remove more unwanted material and solvent leaving you with an even more refined extract.
Photo: Rotary Vacuum Evaporator for Distillation
After distillation, it is a clear, viscous oil that can be used to make CBD oils and vaping products
Now this is where most CBD extracts stop, to further concentrate the extract it needs to goes through a process called chromatography.
Chromatography is a process to further purify and separate different parts of the extract.
Yes, yet another step of extraction and purification. Hey, nobody said making pure CBD was a simple process.
Solvents like pentane or CO2 are commonly used in this process.
Chromatography is an important step in removing and isolating CBD from other materials in the extract.
Ultimately, you end up with a pure, isolated product that is free of other compounds.
This process isn’t just for CBD. It can also be used to isolate other cannabinoids and terpenes.
Here is a crude schematic using silica as the mode of filtration to remove specific compounds. Different compounds will go down the columns at different speeds depending on their weight leaving you with your desired product.
Finally, we move on to the last phase of the process, which is the crystallization process.
We’re getting close now!!!
Here the extract, once again, uses a solvent to remove any remaining THC and liquids to leave you with only pure CBD crystals or powder.
Photo: pure CBD isolate crystals
There it is, in all its glory.
Pure, crystallized CBD isolate ready to be used for all kinds of applications. It is an all-natural product made directly from the hemp plant — not an artificial product.
You’ve now gone through what was seemingly an endless process to arrive at the final destination. This leads us to the next logical question.
How is CBD isolate used?
Essentially, CBD isolate crystals can be used to make most any type of product.
For example, it can be dissolved in a carrier oil to form CBD oil. This oil is what you will find when buying your typical CBD oil online or in stores.
Just those two ingredients will produce oil that doesn’t have any impurities or THC. Common carrier oils are hemp seed oil, MCT oil, or coconut oil.
Go here to find out the difference between CBD oil and basic hemp oil.
You can use it to make vape liquids, creams, edibles or most anything else you can imagine.
Dissolve the crystals or powder in your favorite beverage for a customized CBD concoction.
You can even place some CBD crystals underneath your tongue to be dissolved and swallowed like CBD oil but taking it with oil or a fatty meal would yield better results.
CBD is lipophilic meaning that it likes to bind to fats. This is why it is primarily added to oils. By binding to some type of fat, it will be distributed into your system more readily.
Now armed with some ways isolate can be used, you can move on to our next question.
How much CBD isolate should I use?
This is one of the hardest questions to answer regarding CBD use and there is no single answer.
Everyone’s body is different and will react differently.
I recommend that you start low and go slow. Always start low because you can always add more if necessary but you can’t remove it once you’ve taken it.
It’s going to take some trial and error but you’ll eventually hit your “sweet spot”.
Watch for any adverse effects and adjust as needed.
My recommendation, if it is your first time, is to take 1-2 mg of CBD per 10 lbs of body weight.
So, if you are 150 lbs then you can take 15-30 mg of CBD to start. Remember to give it time to take effect. This time will vary depending on how you use the isolate.
So, now that we know how CBD isolate is made and used, let’s take a look at its importance.
Why is having an isolate important?
Up to this point, you may have noticed the main reason why CBD isolates are made in the first place.
Yep, you guessed it. It’s the THC content.
The main reason why CBD isolate is created is that it is devoid of any THC.
If you are intolerant to THC or have work-related drug tests then this is a major selling point.
Some people don’t care about the other cannabinoids or terpenes and are only interested in the CBD.
It is important to note that the quality of the isolate will determine how much contaminant or other cannabinoids there is in a given sample.
This is heavily dependent on the process mentioned above on how isolate is made. Imperfect or sloppy extraction/purification can leave you with undesirable plant compounds.
With the THC removed, you can have peace of mind that there won’t be any THC in your system with no chance of psychoactive effects.
The next most important reason for having CBD isolates is in its versatility. You can add it to pretty much anything.
It’s easily dissolved in liquids and oils. You can use it in cooking recipes.
You’re only limited by your imagination in the ways that CBD isolate can be used.
Another benefit of using CBD isolate is cost.
You may have noticed that CBD isolate oils can reach into the thousands of milligrams of CBD at the same cost as much lower concentrations of full spectrum CBD oil.
You get much more bang for you buck with CBD isolate products.
Pure CBD isolate is colorless and tasteless. Many of you can’t stand the earthy, bitter taste of full spectrum CBD products.
With no taste, manufacturers can add flavorings that actually make taking CBD enjoyable as opposed to a distasteful chore that is merely tolerable.
This all sounds great right? Well, there are a few drawbacks to CBD isolate products when you compare these to full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products. That will be our next topic of discussion.
CBD Isolate vs Full-spectrum
The difference between CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD is a significant one.
Isolate is pure CBD and nothing else. This strength is also its major flaw.
Full-spectrum extracts have a complete list of cannabinoids beyond CBD.
It also has up to 0.3% THC. This amount of THC won’t create any high-like effects but there will be some THC in your system, which for some can be a major concern.
You’ll find terpenes, flavonoids, proteins, fatty acids, and more.
All these compounds combine to create what is known as the “entourage effect”.
This entourage effect is the accumulation of all parts of the hemp plant working synchronously together to produce an effect greater than the sum of its parts.
Analogous to cooking, it’s like all the ingredients of a recipe coming together to make an orgasmic chocolate cake. The ingredients, by themselves, don’t mean much but when put together in the right way form beautiful slices of heaven.
There is a general consensus amongst the public that full-spectrum products produce more therapeutic effects than basic isolate products. There is no research backing this claim but it is commonly agreed.
Isolate vs broad-spectrum
Broad-spectrum extracts are like full-spectrum extracts with the exception of having no THC.
You get all the benefits of all the other cannabinoids, terpenes and the like but without the THC.
The entourage effect is still in effect plus you don’t have to worry about having THC in your system.
To make broad-spectrum extracts, additional levels of extraction are completed to remove the THC.
To some people, this is having the best of both worlds. You get the safety of having a zero-THC product plus the added entourage effect with all the other plant compounds.
There it is. That’s everything you need to know about what CBD isolate. It’s a very versatile product and can be used in all sorts of ways. If you like to cook or enjoy DIY projects, then isolates will give you lots of flexibility. Best of all, there is zero THC. Remember to always buy from trustworthy companies to guarantee that you’ll get a clean, contaminant-free isolate.