What is CBD Distillate?

What Is CBD Distillate?

CBD distillate is used in a large portion of the products on the market today, but you wouldn’t know unless you asked.

The process of distillation to extract a pure substance from a mixture has been used in a variety of industries long before becoming a standard in the CBD industry. This includes the production of everyday products such as perfume, alcohol, water, and gasoline. 

CBD distillation is becoming a popular technique because it results in a product with a very high purity and can allow for easy cannabinoid combo customizations. To get a better understanding of what CBD distillate is, let’s start with exploring what CBD is and where it comes from.

Be sure to also check out our list of the Best CBD Oil.

What Is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid (plant-derived cannabinoid) that comes from the Cannabis sativa plant. The cannabis plant contains thousands of different plant compounds including phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and antioxidants. There are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, of which CBD and THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are the most well known.

Cannabinoids affect your body by binding to different receptors throughout your endocannabinoid system (ECS) as well as your immune system, and central and peripheral nervous systems. Researchers have uncovered that CBD’s ability to bind to primarily CB2 receptors in the ECS as well as other receptors involved in neurotransmitter modulation are a few of the ways in which CBD can enact its anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and antiemetic effects.

CBD doesn’t bind strongly to CB1 receptors, which are located in regions of the brain responsible for motor functions and cognition, like its counterpart THC. Thus, CBD won’t produce the same psychoactive effects of THC, and when the two are taken together, can actually mitigate these effects. 

CBD can be derived from either hemp or marijuana. Hemp is the federally legal version of the cannabis plant and is cultivated to contain no more than the federal limit of 0.3% THC. Marijuana is federally illegal, although legal in certain states to varying degrees. Marijuana cannabis plants contain more than 0.3% THC with some strains containing upwards of 30% THC. 

What Is CBD Distillate?

The majority of CBD distillates are made from hemp plants, although it is possible to find CBD distillate produced from marijuana, which may contain THC. CBD distillate is created through the distillation process, which starts with raw cannabis material and ends with an odorless, tasteless, and pure CBD viscous oil.

CBD distillate can contain over 80% pure CBD, depending on the type of process and plant materials used. CBD distillate can either contain only CBD or be blended together with other terpenes and phytocannabinoids for added synergistic benefits.

How Do You Make CBD Distillate?

The process of CBD distillation looks something like this:

  • Extraction
  • Winterization
  • Decarboxylation
  • Distillation


The first step in the process is to separate the CBD from the rest of the hemp plant material. You can either use solvent or non-solvent methods to extract CBD. Solvent extraction methods include utilizing hydrocarbon, ethanol, or CO2. The CO2 method is commonly used because although it’s more expensive, it yields a purer product without residual chemicals. 

Non-solvent methods include using a physical sieve, but often lead to a product with higher concentrations of impurities or other plant compounds. The final product after the first extraction method is called crude oil and will contain anywhere from 60-80% CBD.


If you thought cold was involved when you saw the term “winterization,” you’d be on the right track. Winterization, the next step in the purification process, is done by taking crude oil, mixing it with ethanol, and placing it in an extremely cold temperature for 24-48 hours. The ethanol allows the separation of fats, lipids, chlorophyll, and plant wax to collect at the bottom. The CBD crude mixture is then filtered and any remaining ethanol is removed.


Cannabinoids exist in an acidic form in nature and must be decarboxylated in order to be “activated” and create the desired effects. Decarboxylating is done by simply heating up the CBD crude oil to a certain temperature at which a carboxylic acid group is removed and you have an active final product. 


The final step in the distillation process involves boiling the crude CBD at specific boiling points that match the compounds you want to isolate. The compounds vaporize, and are collected in individual condenser flasks. Since terpenes often have lower boiling points than CBD, they are frequently extracted prior to distillation and mixed in at the end. The final product is a thick, honey-like CBD distillate that can be creatively used in creating vape concentrates, edibles, and more.

CBD Distillate vs. CBD Isolate

CBD distillate is typically a precursor to the CBD isolate. CBD distillate may contain trace amounts of THC, terpenes, and other compounds depending on the techniques and methods used. 

CBD distillate is a thick viscous oil that contains anywhere from 80-90% pure CBD. CBD isolate, on the other hand, is the most refined extract type and contains 99% pure CBD. That means no other terpenes, plant compounds, or cannabinoids are present. This is achieved by applying further layers of distillation called fractionation and short-path distillation. 

While the processes to get CBD distillate and CBD isolate are practically identical, you definitely won’t get these two final products mixed up, as CBD isolate comes out as a white, crystalline powder. 

What Is CBD Distillate Used In?

Both CBD distillates and isolates allow for a lot of versatility when it comes to product development because the end results are odorless and tasteless. CBD distillation can be used to create full-spectrum and broad-spectrum products that aim to give consumers the benefits of the “entourage effect.” Companies can use CBD distillation to customize the unique cannabinoid, terpene, and flavonoid profile of the entourage effect. 

Capsules, vape pens,  gummies, chocolates, oils, and sublingual tinctures can be made with CBD distillate to provide both purity and potency. This can be important for the edibles category, especially because the purer the CBD used, the less likely you will taste the natural earthy flavor of the cannabis plant. 

CBD topicals or transdermal patches can also be made with CBD distillate to produce products that are odorless or highlight the scents of added essential oils or natural perfumes. 

Final Thoughts

CBD distillate is an extremely versatile form of extraction that produces a thick, viscous golden oil with concentrations of CBD upwards of 80%. CBD distillate can be as pure or as blended as you want, containing various plant compounds to produce full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or even CBD isolate products. While CBD distillation may be complex and expensive, it also allows for consistency in potency, which is a huge plus for product manufacturers. 

CBD distillate will continue to grow in popularity with the cannabis market as consumers demand higher-quality products and the trend for new cannabinoid combinations is no longer a futuristic idea. Thanks to the distillation process, all types of CBD products are being curated to tend to the curiosities of the new and regular consumers. If you’re interested in purchasing a product made with CBD distillate, you should be able to get that information off the company website or through contacting them directly. 

Julia Klyus

Julia is a scientist turned freelance writer and health & wellness educator. When she’s not using the strokes of her keys to evoke a good story or compose an insightful article, you can usually find her immersing herself in nature, bouncing between being a foodie and an experimental at-home chef, and exploring ways to help bring awareness and peace into the lives of others through yoga, spirituality, and science.