Materials & Use

What Is Hemp CBD Isolate?

Gabi Antunes

Aug 14, 2019

Hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) comes in many forms and varieties, all rooting back to how the cannabinoid was extracted and purified from industrial hemp plants. Hemp CBD comes in several forms, and manufacturers need to select which form is right for them before it’s incorporated into oils, lotions, foodstuffs, vape products, and pet items for sale in states that allow hemp CBD in these products.

As one of the purest forms of hemp CBD extract, hemp CBD isolate is a common extract rich in the cannabinoid, a crystalline powder that clocks in at about 99 percent hemp CBD. How is this extract made, what makes it different from other hemp CBD extracts, and how is it used?

What is Hemp CBD Isolate?

Hemp CBD isolate is a purified, crystalline material which is almost entirely comprised of hemp CBD. This product, which comes in a fine powder, only contains cannabidiol; all other terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids, solvent remnants, acids, and other plant materials are stripped from the product. Isolate are generally odorless and tasteless, and they can be added into a wide variety of products, including hemp CBD oil, infused foods, and topical products, but only in states that allow these particular products.

Hemp CBD isolate is preferred by manufacturers who do not want to offer a product with even the slightest hint of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It’s also sought out by consumers who wish to keep their THC consumption levels at zero. (Industrial hemp, by law, cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC.)

How is Hemp CBD Isolate Made?

All hemp CBD starts out as an extract and then is further refined or modified to meet the manufacturer’s specifications.

First, industrial hemp is harvested and sent to an extraction facility. The industrial hemp is placed in a solvent, which separates the plant material from the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other compounds it contains. Manufacturers have several extraction methods to choose from, including butane-based, propane-based, alcohol-based, and CO2-based extraction. Once extraction is complete, manufacturers have a full-spectrum extract.

To draw out a specific cannabinoid and create an isolate product, manufacturers send the extract through a second purification process. Some examples of these processes include winterization and short path distillation. During the former, the extract is mixed with 200-proof alcohol, sent through a deep freeze, filtered, and heated to evaporate the alcohol. During the latter, the extract is heated to a preselected temperature, called decarboxylation, to separate out the compounds and the desired cannabinoid is vaporized and recaptured in its isolated form. Whichever method is selected, the end product is the same: the process creates a fine crystalline powder comprised of 99 percent pure hemp CBD.

Does Hemp CBD Isolate Contain THC?

No, hemp CBD isolate does not contain THC.

While the minuscule amounts of THC present in industrial hemp do not necessarily have an effect on the consumer, its presence does show up on lab reports and other types of test results. For this reason, some consumers look for products that are completely free of THC, and hemp CBD isolate is one of those products.

Hemp CBD isolate is 99 percent pure, containing no other cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, acids, or any other substance found in the industrial hemp plant. THC is removed from hemp CBD isolate during the purification process, alongside all the other unwanted materials.

Main Differences Between Full-Spectrum Hemp CBD and Hemp CBD Isolate

  • THC vs. no THC: As detailed above, hemp CBD isolate contains nothing except hemp CBD. Full spectrum hemp CBD, however, retains all the compounds contained in industrial hemp, including the tiny trace amounts of THC.
  • One purified compound vs. many compounds: Hemp CBD isolate and full spectrum hemp CBD are each sought after because of what they do — or do not — contain. Hemp CBD isolate is a pure form of a single compound, while full spectrum hemp CBD includes all materials found in industrial hemp.
  • Extensive processing vs. one-step processing: Full-spectrum hemp CBD is the result of the initial extraction from industrial hemp. Hemp CBD isolate must go through additional purification processes.

Product Types With Hemp CBD Isolate

Most hemp CBD-infused products can be made with any extract type, including broad spectrum hemp CBD, full spectrum hemp CBD and hemp CBD isolate, but the latter is widely sought after because the powder form is easy to measure, mix and blend into oils and fats. Consumers will find hemp CBD isolate in products from many categories in states that allow them, including these popular hemp CBD products:

  • Hemp CBD-infused sweeteners: The hemp CBD crystalline powder can easily be mixed into the honey, agave, and other syrups, typically after it’s been warmed in a double boiler and thoroughly stirred to ensure even distribution, but only in states that permit it.
  • Liquids: Some hemp CBD consumers prefer to mix their hemp CBD isolate into coffee, tea, juice, water, or any other refreshing drink in states that allow hemp CBD in beverages. It is important to note that hemp CBD isolate should not be confused with water-soluble hemp CBD, a different extraction type which emulsifies hemp CBD into smaller particles which are easier to mix into water.
  • Hemp CBD oil: Hemp CBD extracts are known for mixing well with oil, so isolate is a standard choice for tinctures in states that allow hemp-derived tinctures. To make tinctures, hemp CBD is blended with a carrier oil such as medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil from coconut, olive oil, or hemp seed oil.

The Growing Interest in Hemp CBD Isolate

Hemp CBD isolate is capturing the attention of curious Americans all over the U.S. This easy-to-blend extract offers high concentrations of hemp CBD without any other substances typically found in industrial hemp. Importantly, being THC-free makes it a favorite of manufacturers and consumers concerned about having any trace of the intoxicating cannabinoid, no matter how small, in their products. Easy to mix and infuse, isolate is cropping up in everything from pet treats to human sweets in states that allow them, and if the growing market is proof, the popularity of hemp CBD isolate and of products made from this extract shows no signs of slowing down.