A guide to CBD distillate

by Tom Russell October 13, 2020

A guide to CBD distillate

With a consistency similar to that of runny honey, distillate is a great way to buy extra potent CBD. It’s the strongest form available and can be taken in several different ways depending on your preference.

With such a high-strength product, it’s vital that you know what to expect before considering a purchase.

What is CBD distillate?

hemp plant

CBD distillate is a thick, golden amber liquid that is produced when hemp extract is winterised in ethanol and then distilled. By precisely heating and cooling the resulting vapour the distillation process removes many of the impurities.

The result is a potent blend of cannabinoids and terpenes. Distillate should be crystal clear with no visible cloudiness or floating particles. A high-quality CBD distillate can contain up to 90% cannabinoids.

Because of its purity and potency, it’s often diluted with carrier oils like MCT to produce less concentrated products. But some retailers sell it in its pure form. Because it contains such a high concentration of cannabinoids, the thick liquid can sometimes crystallise. However, it will return to its liquid form with any slight temperature increase.

Unlike most CBD products, distillate is most likely to be odourless and tasteless. Although, those that have retained a small amount of terpenes are likely to have a mild, hemp-like smell and flavour if vaporised.

Is CBD distillate safe?


So far, little research has been done to study CBD distillate specifically, but the World Health Organization states that even pure forms of CBD have an excellent safety profile: “To date there is no evidence of […] any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD.”

Still, because it is of much greater potency than most products, it’s important that you follow the directions of use on the label. Also, the Food Standards Agency’s general CBD guidance recommends that: “healthy adults do not take more than 70mg a day unless a doctor agrees more”.

Is CBD distillate the same as isolate?

Both distillate and isolate are refined from hemp extract, but the end product is not the same. Most distillates contain a range of cannabinoids and some other substances like terpenes. CBD isolate contains only CBD and is processed and refined for longer until a higher level of purity is reached.

Both isolate and distillate can form crystals, but you can tell them apart by the difference in colour. Distillate crystals are usually a shade of gold or amber and those made from isolate are typically white or colourless.

What are the benefits of CBD distillate?

Terpenes colors

Distillate is a unique way to take CBD and comes with its own benefits:

  • It can be full-spectrum or broad-spectrum – Most distillates are made from full-spectrum extract and the cannabinoids are still present in the final product. Some manufacturers opt to continue processing it to remove the THC, while others combine isolated cannabinoids of their choice to produce a broad-spectrum distillate.
  • It’s usually tasteless and odourless – Because there’s no strong hempy bitterness, distillate is ideal for people who don’t usually like the taste of CBD products.
  • It’s incredibly potent – Distillate is exceptionally high strength so it can be used to deliver single powerful servings or can be diluted to make it go further.
  • You’re only paying for the cannabinoids – Distillate isn’t diluted by any carrier oils or additives, so every penny goes on the active ingredient.
  • It can be added to food or drink – Most distillate preparations are easy to add straight into food or hot drinks. Some come in small syringes, so it’s easy to measure a precise amount.

What are the drawbacks of distillate?

Despite being a great way to buy CBD, distillate isn’t for everyone and has its drawbacks:

  • It can be expensive - Because of its potency and the complicated processes involved in its production, distillate can be one of the most expensive ways to buy CBD. Broad-spectrum distillate where further processing has been used to remove the THC is particularly costly.
  • There is no additional plant matter – CBD distillate only contains cannabinoids and some terpenes so you won’t benefit from the other plant nutrients and fatty acids that can be found in most whole-plant CBD oils.

How to take CBD distillate

CBD distillate is most often vaped, eaten or absorbed under the tongue. How you use it can also depend on the type that you buy. Some of the common types available are:

1. Pre-loaded into a syringe

Because distillate is a thick, sticky liquid, a syringe makes it easier to measure out precise amounts. When you receive it, it’s likely that at room temperature it will have solidified to form crystals. If you place the sealed syringe into some warm water, it should quickly turn back into a liquid.

Now, you can either dispense it into a vape tank, place a small amount under your tongue or add it to food or drink.

2. As liquid or crystals in a jar

When distillate comes in a jar, it’s a lot harder to use. If you want to be able to take it in precise measures, you’ll need to load it into a syringe or vape tank. Start by placing the container in a bowl of warm water, but make sure none gets into the distillate. This will dissolve any crystals that have formed and make the liquid easier to pour.

If you want to use it directly from the jar, you can use your fingernail or the end of a teaspoon handle to remove a small amount. This can then be smeared under your tongue, added to food or stirred into a drink.

3. Pre-loaded into a disposable vape pen or vape cartridge

Pre-loaded vape pens and cartridges are by far the simplest way to take distillate. You don’t need to handle the sticky liquid at all just attach the vape battery, let it reach temperature and inhale the vapour.

Also, when CBD is inhaled, up to 56% of each puff will reach your bloodstream for use in your body. This makes vaping one of the most effective ways to take distillate.

How much should I take?

CBD Ultra Collection

Distillate is significantly stronger than other forms of CBD, so make sure you don’t exceed the recommended daily amount. Start by using the smallest measure possible on the first day and wait until the following day to gauge its effect.

CBD products made with distillate have been blended to produce different concentrates so, when you get one of these, you can just follow the recommendations on the label, just like you would with any other CBD oil.


Concentrated CBD products like distillate used to be hard to get but are becoming increasingly common. Although the thick sticky liquid can be difficult to measure precisely, it’s an excellent way to buy exceptionally pure, high-strength CBD. Because it has virtually no smell or flavour, it’s also a welcome change for people who dislike the intense grassy bitterness of many whole-plant hemp oils.

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Tom Russell
Tom Russell


Tom Russell writes extensively about CBD oil and other groundbreaking food supplements. He and his wife share their home with two daughters and a lifetime’s collection of books.

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