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CBD Isolate vs. CBD Distillate: Why You Should Know the Difference

Kolas Hemp CBD Blog. CBD Isolate vs. CBD Distillate: Why You Should Know the Difference. Click to read more.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the major non-psychoactive cannabinoid present in the hemp and cannabis plants. It is responsible for a long list of benefits you experience while using cannabis, but it also has several medicinal properties.

What are CBD concentrates?

There are many ways to use hemp, and there are several different forms that it can come in. For example, the CBD in hemp can be made into a highly concentrated form, with content that can reach anywhere between 90 and 99 percent. This differs from the amount of CBD found in the whole hemp plant, which typically reaches a maximum of 30 percent, although it is usually less.

Two examples of highly concentrated forms are CBD isolate and CBD distillate. Although they are similar, there are some critical differences in how the two concentrates are produced, their purity, and their content. It is essential to consider these differences because they can impact the overall experience that you have with using the concentrate, as well as altering the effects that they have on your mind and body.

What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is a highly potent form of hemp. It is produced by isolating CBD from all other components in the hemp plant. The CBD content can range from 91 to 99 percent, making it the purest form of hemp available.

Following production, CBD isolate will be odorless and flavorless. This is because the terpenes and flavonoids responsible for creating these properties of the plant are taken out.

CBD isolate comes in the form of crystals or a powder, which are white in color. This is because, in the process of making the isolate, the components in the hemp plant that are responsible for giving it its color are removed.

What is CBD distillate?

CBD distillate is another highly potent and pure form of hemp due to its very high concentrations of CBD. Unlike CBD isolate, CBD distillate can be distinguished by its appearance as a thick, viscous oil. Generally, its color appears translucent or golden-- another important difference to be aware of when comparing CBD isolate to CBD distillate.

CBD distillate will generally be odorless and flavorless due to the removal of terpenes and flavonoids in the distillation process.

Differences in the production of CBD isolate and CBD distillate

CBD isolate is produced similarly to CBD distillate, and some refer to CBD isolate as a sub-type of distillate. The process of creating CBD isolate happens after distillation has been completed and ultimately ensures the cannabinoids are separated so that only CBD remains.

How CBD distillate is produced

The distillation process separates other plant matter and hemp plant components from CBD. This begins with obtaining and extracting the crude oil from the hemp plant using CO2 or ethanol. This oil still contains other cannabinoids and components, such as terpenes. Once the crude oil has been collected, some byproducts such as chlorophyll, lipids, and plant waxes are removed.

The next step involves decarboxylation, which is when the CBD or THC undergoes a chemical shift that activates it and gives it its intoxicating and psychoactive effects. At this stage, the CBD needs to be removed from the other components in the hemp plant, like terpenes, cannabinoids, and flavonoids. This involves the process of fractional distillation, in which all these components vaporize and can be separated based on their boiling points. When CBD evaporates, it can be re-condensed in a distillation cooling system.

Sometimes the distillation process may not be perfect, which means some unintended components could still be left behind in the CBD distillate. In this case, it won’t be as pure as CBD isolate.

How CBD isolate is produced

To create CBD isolate, a few extra processing steps are required after distillation. The distillate oil is combined with a solvent such as a pentane. Then it is slowly heated and stirred until it reaches a precise, desired temperature. The temperature is then reduced, and this allows the CBD to crystallize. If there are still any unwanted residues at this point, they can be removed by rinsing them with a cold solvent.

These crystals can now be used, but if powdered CBD isolate is desired, the crystals can be broken down into a white powder. One important difference to keep in mind is that by further processing the CBD distillate to make CBD isolate, you will reduce your isolate's output and final volume. Additionally, it can make it a more expensive process.

Other components included in CBD concentrates

You may notice that distilled CBD sometimes has a light taste or aroma. This is because producers sometimes add terpenes back into the CBD distillate after the distillation process has been completed. On the other hand, CBD isolate always contains purely CBD.

This is an important difference to take into consideration because it means that there is the potential for the entourage effect to occur in CBD distillate. This is the mechanism through which CBD synergizes with other components, like terpenes, to enhance its medicinal properties, alter your high, and change your overall experience with using the distillate.

Best ways to consume CBD isolate and distillate?

Both CBD isolate, and CBD distillate have similar applications and can be used in several ways.


It is useful to be aware that CBD distillates can be placed directly into a vape cartridge and smoked because they are in an oil form. Alternatively, this distillate oil can also be smoked by dropping it into a pipe or a joint.

Both CBD distillate and crystallized CBD isolate can be dabbed using a rig.

Sublingual administration

A common way to use powdered CBD isolate or CBD distillate is to place it under your tongue to be rapidly absorbed.


Both concentrates can be added to a variety of foods and beverages to be consumed orally.


You can use the powdered CBD isolate or CBD distillate as an ingredient in lotions and creams and then rub it onto your skin.


CBD isolate, and CBD distillate can also be added into pills which you can consume orally.

Are there differences in the effects of CBD isolate and CBD distillate?

Since both CBD distillate and CBD isolate have very high concentrations of CBD, they both have similar medicinal properties and effects on the body and mind.

Both CBD isolate, and CBD distillate will give you a rapid (depending on the method of ingestion) and strong rush, so they are often recommended for high tolerance hemp users rather than beginners.

Remember, if the CBD or THC distillate has had terpenes added back into it, the high that you experience can be impacted. For example, it might make you more relaxed or more energized.

Precise measurements

One of the key benefits of using a highly concentrated and pure form of hemp, CBD isolate in particular, is having the reassurance that you can measure precise amounts of CBD when using it. Since CBD isolate only contains CBD, the amount of isolate that you measure out will be very close to the amount of CBD that you will ingest.

This can also be the case with CBD distillate if you are certain that it is very pure. However, remember that terpenes and other compounds may be added back into the distillate oil, so it may not always be as pure as possible. In these instances, in a given amount of distillate, there would be less CBD than the amount you measure out.

The bottom line

CBD isolate, and CBD distillate are both highly potent forms of hemp that have the potential to exert strong effects on the body. You should be aware of the key differences, however, as these can have an impact on the overall effect that CBD has on you.

The two concentrates can be distinguished based on their physical appearance–the distillate is a golden/translucent oil, while the isolate is formed into white crystals or a powder. Differences in their production and the possible recombining of terpenes into the distillate can affect your experience. Finally, the almost absolute purity of the isolate can help you obtain much more precise measurements.

This article is brought to you by KOLAS University. Elevate your career with KOLAS University. Click to learn more

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