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Understanding CBD Extracts: From Whole Plant to Full Spectrum to Isolate

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Understanding CBD Extracts: From Whole Plant to Full Spectrum to Isolate

Hemp Flower

When cultivating hemp for CBD production, it is all about genetics. Typically, industrial hemp that contains below .3% THC does not produce high-resin flower which means there is little room for cannabinoid and terpene development.

Cannabinoids = diverse chemical compounds that occur naturally in the cannabis plant and respond directly with our Endocannabinoid System and its receptors. Most common cannabinoids include THC, CBD, CBG, CBN and CBC.

Terpenes = aromatic compounds produced in the plant that work together with cannabinoids to further the plants' therapeutic effects.

"Hemp-Cannabis" genetics have been developed to solve this problem and create industrial hemp varieties that grow big flowering buds that are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes - not as diverse a profile as traditional cannabis, but much more than the traditional industrial hemp. Hemp-cannabis produces high levels of CBD, a broad spectrum of terpenes, a moderate level of minor cannabinoids and a very very low amount of THC (below .3%).

cbd-hemp-extracts difference between whole-plant full-spectrum broad-spectrum

Whole Flower Extract

The primary extraction process, whether it is ethanol or CO2, produces what is called a crude extract.

Whole flower extract is produced by taking that crude extract and putting it through a process called winterization.

Winterizing involves introducing ethanol (that's right, even your CO2 extracts use ethanol) to the crude extract, freezing the mixture which allows for the separation of compounds by differences in their melting and precipitation points. This step removes lipids, waxes and plant matter to produce a cleaner, more refined oil also known as whole whole flower (or whole plant) extract. This extract will have a darker amber or greenish color and more distinct cannabis taste.


Distillate is produced by distilling the whole plant extract that is produced after the winterization process. 

A process called short path distillation is used to heat, vaporize, cool and collect the cannabinoids, leaving behind any plant matter or compounds that do not contribute to overall active cannabinoid content. This produces a much purer, more refined oil which has a golden color.

Broad Spectrum Distillate

Taking the full spectrum distillate produced after the short path distillation and refinement process, it is possible to then remove the THC. 

There will likely be a drop off of other compounds when taking the steps to remove THC, but terpenes can be reintroduced to varying levels and there can still be minor cannabinoids present.


This is CBD in its purest form. There are no terpenes or cannabinoids present other than CBD. It is a crystalized powder form rather than an oil.