Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

If you’re unsure of the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil, you’re not alone. Cannabis nomenclature is anything but easy for both customers and commercial cannabis operations. And when the introduction of politically charged laws labeling cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug came into play, the terminology and definitions surrounding cannabis became even more convoluted.

It’s important to know precisely which product you want to manufacture, as it determines what equipment you’ll need for processing. To properly explain the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil, let’s take a close look at the popular terms surrounding these products.

An Overview of Hemp Oil Terminology

Hemp and marijuana are functional words that allow you to easily communicate the THC content of your cannabis plant. Hemp and marijuana are both the same species – cannabis sativa L. When the strain you are cultivating produces 0.3% THC or less by dry weight, it can be identified as hemp. And as we discuss hemp oil, we will be referring to oils manufactured from low-THC cannabis, or hemp.

Whether through breeding, variations in nutrition and light, or just stubborn genetics, hemp can “go hot” when its THC levels rise above the legal 0.3%. When this happens, your hemp is then considered marijuana and it will likely need to be destroyed — we’ll dive deeper into this topic in a future article. For now, let’s talk hemp oil.

What Is Hemp Oil, Exactly?

The term “hemp oil” is used to market a range of products from topicals, anti-inflammatory lotions, CBD tinctures, and cooking additives. The definition of “hemp oil” differs depending on who you ask and how it’s being used on a product label. It’s best to consider hemp oil as an umbrella term that could refer to hemp seed oil or CBD oil. And it’s important to be specific because the two types of oil are very different from each other.

Here are the four common terms that fall under hemp oil:

  1. Hemp seed Oil
  2. CBD Oil
  3. Cannabis Oil
  4. Full Spectrum Hemp Oil

The four terms above breakdown into two categories, hemp seed oil and cbd oil, with “cannabis oil” and “full spectrum hemp oil” being variations of CBD oil. These hemp products offer a multitude of health benefits and interact with our bodies naturally. For customers seeking organic remedies for inflammation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and healthy substitutes to refined oils, hemp products are a great alternative. To fully appreciate the characteristics of each, let’s break down the oils that hemp has to offer.

What Is Hemp Seed Oil?

When someone is looking for hemp oil, they are typically looking for hemp seed oil. Hemp seeds can be eaten on their own or chopped into a salad. Although hemp seeds normally contain no more than trace amounts of THC, they frequently come in contact with the plant’s trichomes during processing. This is why it’s important to use hemp seeds rather than marijuana seeds, because any cannabinoids present in the plant can tag-along and get processed into the hemp seed oil.

Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds range from brown in color to lighter hews depending on the strain, whether they’ve been shelled, and how the seeds are prepared. Moreover, hemp seeds can compete head-to-head with other nutritious seeds and nuts.

Hemp seed oil is becoming increasingly popular among the health-conscious. Now that we’ve discussed what type of cannabis seeds are used to make the oil, next let’s take a look at how it’s made.

How Hemp Seed Oil Is Manufactured

There are a couple ways to process hemp seeds into hemp seed oil. However, the most practiced method is to use oilseed press equipment. The more technical name for this type of oil press is the expeller screw press. These machines leverage the physics of a steel screw-like shaft to create the pressure needed to extract the oils from seeds and nuts.

Oilseed presses are designed to maintain low operating temperatures and are frequently referred to as cold-pressed seed oil. Cold-pressed hemp seed oil maintains all the nutrition offered by the seed, without compromising the molecular integrity of its compounds.

When the smoke point is breached for too long, the oil begins to break down and burn. Nutrients are lost and free radicals are formed – atoms that cause cellular damage. This can occur with any oil that’s pushed past its smoke point for extended periods of time.

Culinary and Nutritional Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil

Science is catching up with what legacy cannabis users already know; the compounds found in cannabis naturally support mammalian physiology. Not just humans, but most warm-blooded life on earth. There is increasing support for feeding industrial hemp to livestock. The only opposition to doing so falls squarely on the political resistance against cannabinoids on the federal level. Industrial hemp increases healthy omega-3 fatty acids in the meat and provides the animals with a great source of protein and fiber.

Hempseed Oil
Hemp seed oil is usually cold-pressed from hemp seeds. It contains the perfect ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it a healthy ingredient for cooking and salad dressings.

In the meantime, hemp seed oil’s popularity is on the rise. The seeds of cannabis plants contain the perfect ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. This is important as nutritionists have linked obesity and other health issues to the disproportional consumption of omega acids. In other words, we’re eating too much omega-6 and not getting enough omega-3 – and the balance is critical for our bodies to fight systemic inflammation and problematic weight gain.

Hemp seed oil has a nutty aroma and flavor and can be used in place of or alongside olive oil when cooking. If you’re operating a cannabis kitchen or even cooking at home, you’ll still want to keep the smoke points of your oils in mind. Exceeding an oil’s smoke point for longer than 30 minutes can ruin the flavors, generate free radicals, and create a mess that will require more work to clean up afterward.

Commercial Applications of Hemp seed Oil

It’s worth noting, that like other types of seed oils, hemp seed oil is also used to make many commercial and retail products. Hemp seed oil makes for a great skin moisturizer. And it’s added to many commercial lubricants and hair products. Hemp oil is even used to make a type of biodiesel fuel for diesel engines.

What Is CBD Oil?

If you’re reading this, chances are you already know what CBD oil is, but let’s touch on it anyway. The trichomes found on all cannabis plants produce hundreds of compounds including many types of cannabinoids. The most popular cannabinoids are THC and CBD, both of which interact with the endocannabinoid system of mammals.

CBD oil is a highly popular cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. It’s known for having positive, therapeutic effects, while not intoxicating the user like THC. CBD oil is also used for inflammation and treating skin conditions.

Industrial hemp is cultivated for its seeds and plant fibers. However, it can also be grown to generously biosynthesize the cannabinoid, cannabidiol (CBD). Like its cannabinoid-counterpart, THC, CBD comes in many forms depending on how it’s processed:

  • CBD Isolate – CBD only, resulting in a powder or crystals
  • Broad Spectrum CBD Oil – contains some additional cannabinoids and compounds from the hemp plant
  • CBD Full Spectrum Oil (sometimes referred to as full spectrum hemp oil) – contains all the available cannabinoids and compounds from the hemp plant

CBD isolate allows an industrial hemp processor to dodge the legalities surrounding THC as it contains 100% CBD. Broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC. The type of CBD extract you manufacture will largely depend on the laws within your state, as well as the end-product you have in mind. Next, let’s take a look at how CBD oil is made.

How CBD Oil Is Manufactured

Cannabis processors are well aware of the many methods used to manufacture the wide variety of cannabis products available for medicinal and recreational users. While we’d love to jump into the nitty-gritty of how each method works, we’ll swing back to the details in a future article. That said, the most popular methods for removing cannabinoids (including CBD) from your plant materials are:

  1. Solventless extraction using a press
  2. Supercritical CO2 extraction
  3. Hydrocarbon solvent extraction

Each method uses specialized equipment that come at varying investment costs. CO2 extraction is clean and does not require the use of highly volatile hydrocarbons or flammable alcohols. Solvent extraction is great at dissolving the wide range of hemp compounds – a technique excellent for full-spectrum CBD oil. And if you’re a health junkie, CBD-rich hemp can be ground up, juiced, and added to your favorite green drink.

Note on Decarbing CBDA: Just as it’s necessary to decarboxylate THCA to THC, CBDA should be decarboxylated to CBD to experience the full effects of the hemp-derived cannabinoid.

Medicinal and Nutritional Benefits of CBD Oil

Once CBD has been processed into an isolate powder or oil, it can be consumed in a multitude of ways. Edibles, tinctures, beverages, and tablets are just a few methods used to consume CBD.

Once your body begins to digest and process the CBD oil, the cannabinoid can get to work interacting with your body’s multiple receptors. For example, at higher doses, CBD interacts with and activates serotonin receptors, which reduces anxiety. Scientists are still investigating the optimal therapeutic dose, and the research is increasingly optimistic. And in its pre-decarbed form (CBDA) interacts with the body to help reduce nausea.

CBD Oil can be added to just about anything from baked goods and sweets, to soups and sauces. Just be sure to cook at lower temperatures to prevent damaging the CBD molecule, reducing its benefits.

Commercial Applications of CBD Oil

Unlike hemp seed oil, CBD is primarily consumed for its benefits. Still, it makes a great additive for lotions and shampoos. Like most of the compounds generated by cannabis sativa L., they provide a host of benefits when used topically. Hemp seed and CBD oil are great for mitigating skin conditions such as eczema.

Always Verify the Contents of Your Hemp Oil

The best thing you can do when trying to determine the difference between a hemp oil product and a CBD oil product is to look at the ingredients and supplemental nutritional information. If it contains omega fatty acids, then it’s likely a hemp seed oil. If it lists the benefits of pain and anxiety relief, it’s probably a CBD oil product.

To be fair, most CBD oil products list “CBD” on the packaging. So most of the confusion surrounding hemp oil is when it’s marketed as such without additional details. As a rule of thumb, hemp oil is usually hemp seed oil and is great for cooking and can be supplemented for other seed oils. And CBD oil is usually sold as a tablet, tincture, or listed clearly as an ingredient in baked goods.

Industrial Hemp Derived OilsHemp seed OilCBD Oil
Extraction sourceHemp seedsHemp or cannabis buds and leaves
Intoxicating effectsNoNo
Commercial usesFace and hair products, lubricants, biodiesel manufacturingTopical moisturizers, shampoos
Medicinal / Nutritional BenefitsContains both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, helps reduce cholesterol, assists in the absorption of fat-soluble nutrientsAnti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, reduces nausea

Industrial hemp is making a comeback, and there is much to be gained by integrating the hemp plant back into society. By using its seeds to produce hemp seed oil and its flowers and leaves to make CBD oil, the opportunity is ripe for the taking if you’re considering manufacturing a THC-free line of products.

One thought on “Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s the Difference?

  • November 30, 2023 at 6:37 am

    I appreciate it when you talked about how it is a good skin moisturizer to try hemp seed oil. I wonder if I can find a medicinal full-spectrum hemp oil tincture to be used as a moisturizer for my skin if it is recommended by an expert. It is something that I really need to fix the issues I have, especially in my back because I have acne there and some scars.


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