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The 3 Different Types Of CBD Oil Explained

full spectrum cbd oil vs broad spectrum cbd oil vs cbd isolate
Written by Melanie Jackson
Updated On July 30, 2021

CBD oil is a term that gets thrown around to describe a bunch of CBD products. It gets used so loosely that people don't even know what they're buying anymore.

In this post, you'll find out the three main types of CBD oil, the differences, and which one you should get. This is the ultimate blueprint to buying CBD oil and knowing what the effects are. Let's dive in.

Difference Between Hemp & Marijuana

a cannabis plant is whole spectrum cbd oil by default and contain all the cannabinoids

Okay so let's get this out the way first. Hemp and marijuana are just names to describe the cannabinoid profile of a cannabis plant.

Any strain that has less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is described as Hemp derived. This same hemp plant is also known as industrial hemp because it's used to create things like paper, biodegradable plastics, fuel, and much more.

The Law

full spectrum cbd oil laws and cannabinoids

Any cannabis product that has more than 0.3% THC is described as marijuana even if it contains CBD. This is commonly seen in dispensaries for both medical and recreational purposes.

THC is the only cannabinoid that produces a "high". And for that reason, it's seen as a drug and to this day it's still federally illegal but it can be bought from a legal market.

Hemp is federally legal because of its cannabinoids. It only contains trace amounts of THC. This complies with the Farm Bill that was signed in 2018 by President Trump. As it's legal everywhere, you can purchase three types of CBD oils online without any issues. That's as long as it doesn't have more than the trace amounts of THC that it's supposed to. It's supposed to have less than 0.3% THC.

Forms Of CBD Oils

When it comes to CBD, everything gets described as CBD oil. Even CBD e-liquids that are used for vaping are called CBD oils.

CBD oil is a CBD product that is taken sublingually. Which means you put it under your tongue and let it absorb to feel the effects.

The other methods of taking CBD products such as vaping, edibles, or topicals are CBD oil-infused. That's where the confusion lies. Because it's CBD oil-infused, lots of CBD products get called CBD oils.

The Terms

If you look at companies that sell CBD oils, they have different terms to describe how their CBD oils were extracted. Extraction is the process of extracting cannabinoids from the plant and leaving the plant matter behind. From there they can decide how the final form will contain this extract.

CBD Concentrate

cbd concentrates - contain full spectrum cbd

What is a cannabis concentrate? It's an extract that contains a high concentration of cannabinoids. If it's a CBD concentrate, a hemp strain will be used to get a concentrated amount of CBD.

Keep in mind that the term 'hemp oil' is often confused with 'CBD oil'. Hemp oil (also known as hemp seed oil) goes through different types of extraction compared to CBD oil. Many people make the mistake of buying the wrong thing so read this article to understand the differences.

The three main types of CBD products that are created with the extract are:

  • Extracts (oil)
  • Shatter, wax, or crumble
  • CBD crystals (isolate)

Why is CBD concentrated in general? Well, it's a great way to get a potent extract where you won't need as much to get the same effect. It also saves you money and time in the long run.

Concentrations can contain anywhere from 40% to 99.9% active cannabinoids. It's important to also understand that all extracts are concentrated but not all concentrates are extracts. It all depends on how the extract is diluted with other ingredients.

Raw CBD Oil

Raw CBD oil is the highest quality extract you can get. Why? Because it's created without solvents or heat. So that means a lot of those beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds are kept.

See, when it comes to the other forms of extraction, cannabinoids are bound to be lost. It's hard to tell how much is lost. But if your final extract contains more cannabinoids overall then it's a higher quality product.

Raw CBD oil is created by using a Co2 machine. This involves using highly pressurized carbon dioxide to separate cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. This results in a full-spectrum CBD oil extract.

Phytocannabinoid Rich (PCR) CBD Oil

I've mentioned cannabinoids quite a few times so far. What are they exactly? They are a class of chemical compounds (cannabinoids) produced by cannabis. The two most abundant ones are THC and CBD. The rest are found in smaller amounts compared to the others.

What's the difference between phytocannabinoid and cannabinoids? Nothing. They are two words to describe the same thing. Phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids) are produced by plants and endocannabinoids are produced by mammals.

The term PCR is just used to describe the oil that has a lot of cannabinoids present.

CBD Oil Infused

full/broad spectrum cbd forms and cbd isolate

CBD oil-infused describes most other CBD products that aren't taken sublingually. So classic examples are edibles, vaping products, and topicals. They are all CBD-infused that are usually created by heating up cannabinoids and infusing them with something else.

Full Spectrum CBD vs Broad Spectrum CBD vs CBD Isolate

full spectrum cbd vs broad spectrum oil vs isolate cbd

Here's where you get to the good stuff. The bit where you actually learn about the three main types of CBD oils that are taken sublingually. You've probably seen different types of CBD oils with all kinds of names.

There are three main different types of CBD oil:

  • Full-spectrum CBD
  • Broad-spectrum CBD
  • CBD isolate

These are referred to as concentrates that were made during the extraction process. The difference between them all is the cannabinoids present after this process.

A full-spectrum extract differs from broad-spectrum CBD and isolate. The most common extract is broad-spectrum CBD.

Even though they will all look the same when the final product is complete, they will have different effects. Why? Because cannabinoids engage with our endocannabinoid system.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

full spectrum cbd oil contain all compounds which help the body

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes that naturally occur in the plant. It's also known as a whole-plant hemp extract.

This type of extract involves extracting all those cannabinoids and terpenes without removing anything at all. This creates something called the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect offers full herbal synergy which makes it more potent.

A full-spectrum product contains not only CBD but also trace amounts of THC. This is the only extract out of the three main types that have tetrahydrocannabinol. If you're worried about an upcoming drug test then you may look at the other main types of CBD oil. Or pick a company that actually shows you their lab reports (COA) to show you how much tetrahydrocannabinol is in it.

Health Benefits

The well-known health benefits of a full-spectrum CBD extract are that all those cannabinoids and terpenes that work together create healing properties. It also maximizes engagement with your endocannabinoid system which gives you relief from your conditions. For example, if you suffer from anxiety, it can help reduce it because it brings the body back to balance.

A study in 2005 concluded that whole-plant extracts had far greater medicinal properties compared to CBD alone. It's said that the plant has an anti-inflammatory effect, analgesic (pain), and may help with things like anxiety and sleep. The compounds in cannabis that contain mostly high amounts of CBD are what give off this effect. 

Broad Spectrum CBD Oil

broad spectrum cbd oil has no side effects

Broad-spectrum CBD oil is the same as full-spectrum except the THC content is completely removed. So in other words broad-spectrum CBD contains CBD and all the beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes except the trace of THC. You will still experience benefits but that trace of THC is what many people need when dealing with conditions such as pain.

The only real reason why someone may prefer no THC is because of the perceived dangers of THC. They also might be worried about failing a drug test. Broad-spectrum CBD is ideal for people who are sensitive to the adverse reactions of THC.

CBD Isolate

broad spectrum cbd gets isolated removing cannabinoids including thc. Isolate has everything removed

CBD isolate is, you guessed it, isolated CBD. That means all those other beneficial compounds (cannabinoids) are completely removed from the cannabis extract and it only contains CBD in the final oil. Many companies will sell this in a form of crystals or powder but some will also sell it as CBD oil.

If you look at the ingredients you will be able to tell that it's just pure CBD. Or if you look at lab reports you will see high amounts of CBD but everything else will be 0%.

Isolate is created by a process called winterization. This involves filtering the CBD after the whole plant is extracted and then gets chilled while removing all the other plant chemicals.

The main benefit of taking CBD isolate is that it's a lot cheaper. But you don't experience the full benefits of the hemp plant that has all those medical properties. I recommend you to take isolate if you're taking other forms of cannabis that have other cannabinoids including CBD and terpenes. This will work in synergy with the products you're already taking.

CBD Carriers: Tinctures vs Oils

a cbd tincture has an alcohol base
cbd tincture vs cbd oil - cbd oil extract

The terms CBD oil and tinctures also get used interchangeably. As they both come in dropper bottles and are taken sublingually, this creates confusion. I made a whole post about CBD oils and tinctures.

They are both extracted the exact same way. But the only difference between the two is the carrier oil. A carrier is a base that is used to help you absorb CBD extracts so that they can reach your bloodstream.


In CBD oil, the carrier of CBD is an oil base. When the compounds (cannabinoids) get extracted from cannabis, it gets put into oil. The type of extract used is solventless, meaning there's no alcohol involved.

The most common oil carriers are:

  • Coconut oil
  • MCT oil
  • Hemp seed oil

In the ingredients, you will usually see what carrier is used as the second ingredient. MCT oil is the best carrier because it offers the highest bioavailability of CBD.

CBD Tincture

In a CBD tincture, the carrier of CBD is an alcohol base. The extraction process used to create tinctures involves soaking the plant into high-proof grain alcohol. This is known as solvent extraction.

A CBD tincture product contains other ingredients such as flavorings which is why most people buy it. CBD oil usually has a bitter taste so some people prefer tinctures as a way to mask it. A CBD tincture is also generally cheaper compared to CBD oil due to the extraction.

When it comes to oils and tinctures, it's down to the individual what they buy. A CBD tincture will taste better and are generally cheaper whereas CBD oil usually has higher quality and high potency.

What Type Of CBD Oil Should You Buy?

The three main types of CBD oil you buy depend on your situation. It depends on these couple factors:

  • Your experience with cannabis
  • What cannabis products you're currently using
  • What type of occupation you have

If you are someone who is extremely sensitive to THC, regardless of the amount then choose a broad-spectrum oil.

Are you currently using cannabis?

cannabis users don't need whole spectrum cbd oil, only broad cbd oil

If you are currently using other cannabis products that contain THC then take CBD isolate. There's no need for a full-spectrum product. Isolates will create an entourage effect with your other cannabis products by boosting the CBD profile of what you're currently using.

For example, if you're consuming marijuana edibles you can take a CBD isolate-oil during the come-up or peak of your high. THC is known to induce anxiety when you're on a come-up. This is usually a result of taking too much by accident as edibles are difficult to dose.

If this happens to you, you can take some CBD isolate-oil and it can scale that anxiety back. This happens fast because the onset action of sublingual oil application occurs within minutes. It also lasts for up to 4 hours so this is a great oil to use for that purpose.

Want The Full Benefits Of CBD Oil?

If you want the full therapeutic effect of CBD oil and you don't have a job that requires drug testing then buy full-spectrum CBD oil. It will help the best with any condition you may have.

Whether you have anxiety, sleep problems, pain, and many more, a full-spectrum hemp extract offers the highest medicinal value. You can find out more health information in our benefits of CBD oil post.

Afraid Of THC Drug Testing?

If you're someone who is scared of being drug tested, whether you're on probation or have a strict job, then don't risk it. Buy a broad-spectrum CBD oil to avoid any problems. But also make sure that your CBD oil is 3rd party lab-tested.

CBD oil is sold as a supplement and not a medicine. So this means that companies can come in and essentially trick you into buying a CBD product that may be psychoactive.

There have been many cases of consumers testing positive for marijuana because of buying CBD oil. So always make sure that your CBD product is tested and certified organic.


I hope you now understand the different types of CBD oil extractions and the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

To summarise this post, there are three different types of CBD oil. There's full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates. They are all terms to describe how the CBD oil was extracted.

The more cannabinoids and terpenes are present, the better the effect will be. All of them have their own pros and uses. It comes down to this:

  • Full-spectrum CBD Oil - Use if you want the full medicinal effect and you are new to cannabis. If you already use cannabis products with THC this might be overkill because a full-spectrum CBD oil is usually more expensive.
  • Broad-spectrum - Use if you are someone who already uses cannabis products or if you're worried about drug testing.
  • CBD isolate - Use if you're already using other marijuana products.

Remember to only buy products that have been third-party tested because CBD oil is not evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Lab reports are the only thing that makes using CBD oil safe and avoids possible side effects. Also, speak to a doctor if you're currently taking any prescription medications because there can be some interactions

If you have any questions, be sure to leave them down below in the comments section.

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