What’s the Difference Between Full-Spectrum and Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil?

When you shop for CBD oil online, you’re going to find that major retailers these days are offering a wider selection than ever of CBD oils from WonderbudsBluebird CBD and other major brands such as flawless vaporizers that also sell everything from CBD pens to portable vaporizers. The incredible selection can make it difficult to choose just one CBD oil because many of them can seem very similar on the surface. 

In this article, we’re going to make your buying decision a little easier.

“Full-spectrum” and “broad-spectrum” are two of the most common terms that you’ll see when you shop for CBD, and they’re two very important terms to understand because they have a strong bearing on the type of CBD oil extract used to create the product. Most importantly, one type may include trace amounts of a particular cannabinoid, and the other generally does not. So, what’s the difference between full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil? You’re about to find out.

Getting Started: What Is CBD Hemp Extract?

Let’s begin with a primer on what CBD hemp extract is and how it’s made. The process of making CBD hemp extract is a bit like that of extracting an essential oil for perfumery or medicine. A hemp processor begins with a large quantity of hemp flowers, which are the primary parts of the hemp plant in which the cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds reside. 

The hemp flowers are ground to an even consistency and placed inside an extraction machine. The machine shoots pressurized carbon dioxide through the hemp flowers, which causes them to release their oils. The substance that comes out the other end is a very thick oil containing all of the active ingredients that were present in the original hemp biomass. That’s a full-spectrum hemp extract – everything that was present in the hemp is present in the extract.

How CBD Hemp Oil Is Processed After Extraction

To understand what broad-spectrum CBD oil is, let’s learn a bit about what happens after the initial full-spectrum hemp extract is created.

Almost all hemp extract goes through a process of filtering and winterization before it’s made into commercial products. Filtering the oil removes things like dust, stem particles, trichomes and other coarse plant material. Winterization involves mixing the oil with ethanol and freezing it. That process causes plant-based materials such as wax and chlorophyll to form clumps that are easily skimmed from the surface of the mixture. The ethanol is then allowed to evaporate away.

None of the plant materials removed during filtering and winterization are active ingredients; they’re removed because they affect the taste and mouth feel of the finished product. At this point, it’s still a full-spectrum extract. The extract can be diluted with a carrier oil and bottled, and the product will be a full-spectrum CBD oil just like the full spectrum hemp UltraCell oil.

Why Does Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil Exist?

CBD is always the primary active ingredient of any CBD hemp extract – but it isn’t the only active ingredient. Hemp extract also has terpenes such as limonene and linalool, which may provide benefits of their own. In addition, hemp extract has minor cannabinoids such as CBG and CBN – and research into the potential benefits of those cannabinoids is only just beginning. 

Some people are believers in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. The idea here is that you’ll get the maximum benefit of a particular plant compound if it’s consumed in a form that also includes the other compounds naturally present in that plant. In other words, proponents of the entourage effect believe that CBD, CBG, CBN and all of the other cannabinoids and terpenes worth together synergistically to reinforce one another. 

The one potential problem with a full-spectrum hemp extract, though, is that all hemp – even industrial hemp that’s completely legal to grow in all 50 states – can contain the cannabinoid THC in trace amounts. THC is the psychoactive component of hemp. Although you won’t experience a high from consuming CBD oil even in large amounts, there is a possibility that the trace THC could build up in your body to a level that’s detectable in a drug test. 

Broad-spectrum CBD oil contains virtually all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the original hemp plant, but most or all of the THC is selectively removed. For that reason, a broad-spectrum CBD product may be perfect for you if you have to undergo drug screenings – as a condition of employment, for instance – but still want to experience the entourage effect to the fullest possible extent when using CBD oil.

How Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract Becomes Broad-Spectrum Extract

To create broad-spectrum CBD extracts, hemp processors use a technique called fractional distillation. Each cannabinoid turns to vapor within a specific temperature range – and as it happens, THC vaporizes at a slightly lower temperature than CBD. In the process of fractional distillation, a mixture is heated to the temperature at which a specific compound vaporizes. That compound is removed in vapor form and collected separately. Fractional distillation makes it possible to remove the THC from hemp extract, leaving behind a mixture that’s still virtually the same as it was before the removal. That’s a broad-spectrum hemp extract, and that’s what companies use to make broad-spectrum CBD oil.

Fractional distillation also makes it possible to remove every compound from hemp extract except CBD. The CBD is then mixed with a solvent that causes crystallization. The resulting crystals are virtually pure CBD, and that compound is called CBD isolate. In addition to full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil, you can also find CBD oil that’s made from CBD isolate and contains no cannabinoids but CBD.

Full-Spectrum vs. Broad-Spectrum CBD Oil: Which One Should You Buy?

So, if you’re considering full-spectrum vs. broad-spectrum CBD oil, which one should you buy? At this point, we’d like to stress again that while full-spectrum CBD oil may contain THC in trace amounts, it’s not enough to have any psychoactive effect – so don’t let that influence your buying decision.

The reason why some people buy full-spectrum CBD oil is because they’re firm believers in the entourage effect and want to consume the hemp plant in a form that’s as close to its natural state as possible. They either aren’t concerned about the possibility of a false positive result in a drug screening, or they don’t have to take drug tests at all.

If you do have to take drug tests, though, broad-spectrum CBD oil might be a good alternative for you. Although most or all of the THC is removed, broad-spectrum CBD oil does retain the other minor cannabinoids and terpenes and therefore allows you to experience the entourage effect to a fuller extent than would be possible with CBD isolate.

Krysta Jakson

Krysta is an experienced blogger, writing blogs on lifestyle, fashion, beauty and travel. She wonderfully describes the latest trends on these topics, making the articles interesting for all the readers.