Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?

by William Goodall February 15, 2021

Cannabis oil bottle and pipette next to marijuana leaves.

The terms hemp oil and CBD oil can be a bit confusing. The two terms are often used synonymously but they don’t always refer to the same thing. In some cases, the term “hemp oil” could refer to hemp seed oil, which is different from CBD oil. In this article, we will explain the key differences between hemp and CBD oils, how they are made, their varying types, and what benefits they may provide. Having a better idea of what these two are will enable you to utilize the one that best suits your needs. So let’s get it. 

Their Origin

CBD oil and hemp oil both come from the hemp plant. This is what may cause some confusion between the two terms. Hemp is a plant that is used to make products like clothing, ropes, shoes, paper, food, among other things. Both hemp and marijuana plants come from the cannabis genus. Industrial hemp plants have been propagated to produce low amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and high amounts of cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the cannabinoid that gets you high, while CBD has more beneficial properties for your health. Hemp is distinguished from marijuana in that it contains 0.3% THC or less and is derived exclusively from theCannabis sativaplant variety. The low concentration of THC allows the benefits of CBD oil to come through without psychoactive effects. Hemp oil comes from hemp seed while cannabidiol is typically extracted from thehemp flower.

The Difference in Properties and Production

Hemp oil has trace amounts of cannabinoids if at all, including cannabidiol. Hemp oil is produced from the residue extracted from hemp seeds. For this reason, hemp oil is often coined hemp seed oil. Hemp oil products are commonly found in health food stores.

Hemp seeds contain about 35% oil. The remaining 65% are often used for animal feed or health supplements because they are rich in omega fatty acids. Hemp oil is made specifically by cold-pressing hemp seeds. The resulting unrefined oil is dark to clear light green and has a nutty flavor. The darker the oil it is, the more grassy the taste. Additionally, there is refined hemp oil that is clear and odorless that has been bleached and deodorized. It is commonly used for beauty products, fuel, lubricants, and plastics.

CBD oil, on the other hand, has a golden brown color. While hemp oil comes from hemp seeds, CBD is extracted from the trichomes of hemp flowers due to their high CBD content. Trichomes are resin glands with minuscule fine hairs and bulbous heads. Since CBD oil is not already naturally occurring as hemp oil is, it must be produced. The making of CBD oil is much more involved than the production of hemp oil. First, the extraction of cannabidiol must occur through either CO2 extraction or solvent extraction methods. Then the oil is made.

The carbon dioxide extraction method for producing CBD oil employs the use of CO2 gas. Using a closed-loop extractor which is a pressurized chamber, CO2 gas is compressed into a liquid, after which it is combined with cannabis. The CO2 liquid strips away the plant’s cannabinoids, including CBD. Then the solution is returned to normal temperature and pressure, at which the CO2 returns to gas form and evaporates. The cannabidiol is left behind, separate from the remaining plant material. This method can also be used to extract other cannabinoids and terpenes. This method is used for the large scale production of CBD oil.

The solvent extraction method for producing cannabidiol oil occurs through a similar process, though it is cheaper and faster. This method can be performed with the use of butane, ethanol, or propane. One of these solvents is washed over the cannabis and the CBD, other cannabinoids, or terpenes are released. Next, the solvent is slowly and methodically heated or cooled to cause a separation from the extractions without damaging them. One downside of this method is that the solvents may extract impurities from the plant, which can leave an unpleasant taste in the resulting product.

Both CO2 and solvent extraction methodology are dangerous due to their highly combustible properties. These methods should only be performed in a lab with the proper equipment, by trained professionals.

Cannabidiol can then be mixed with carrier oils to form CBD oil, or combined with alcohol to form tinctures. Common carrier oils are MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil), olive oil, and avocado oil. And just to confuse the matter, another such carrier oil that it can be mixed with is hemp oil. Therefore, classifying a mixture of CBD and hemp oil as hemp oil is not entirely inaccurate. Let’s untangle some other frequently used terms of CBD oils to get a little bit more clarity.

Bottle of CBD oil and cannabis leaves on a piece of wood.

Frequently Used Terms of CBD Oil

  • Raw CBD oil:This plant extract is the raw form of cannabidiol product first produced by CO2 extraction. Because most of the original plant may stay intact during the process, there may be a full spectrum of cannabinoids including CBD and CBDa. They may also be terpenes and pigments.
  • CBD distillate or CBD concentrate:From the raw form, it is then filtered and distilled to eliminate any impurities or unnecessary properties such as wax or chlorophyll. Once refined, this substance is known as CBD concentrate or CBD distillate. This could be in the form of a crumble, crystals and isolate, distillate, extract, shatter, or wax. Though this extract contains some cannabinoids, it doesn’t have terpenes and other properties of a full-spectrum oil. It does, however, have a high amount of cannabidiol, containing anywhere from 45% to 99.9%.

  • CBD-rich oil or Phytocannabinoid-rich(PCR): Phytocannabinoids are cannabinoids that have been produced by plants. PCR cannabidiol oil is an oil with a large range of cannabinoids. PCR cannabidiol has been through some filtration and distillation processes. Be aware that other cannabinoids are present, not just cannabidiol. This may be either full-spectrum, broad-spectrum oil, or CBD oil infused with CBD concentrate.

Types of CBD Oils

While hemp oil comes either in refined or unrefined varieties, CBD oil has 3 different manifestations:


  • Full-spectrum CBD oil: This CBD oil has a balance of cannabidiol, THC, terpenes, and common cannabinoids found naturally in hemp. This promotes the entourage effect which means that all the effects are heightened when working in combination with other natural substances in the plant. 

  • Broad-spectrum CBD oil: Similar to a full-spectrum oil, broad-spectrum oil utilizes the entourage effect with its cannabinoids and terpenes. However, broad-spectrum cannabidiol oil has no THC. This is ideal for those who want to experience the positive effects without any THC present.

  • CBD isolate: After the extraction process, the cannabidiol can be filtered out to form an isolate. This oil has been purified and isolated through a process called winterization that removes all the other chemical compounds. It has no color and has no odor. This is the purest form of cannabidiol. When left at room temperature, cannabidiol isolate forms a solid crystal. This compound does not have any terpenes or other cannabinoids, so you miss out on the entourage effect. It is cheaper than broad-spectrum and full-spectrum oils. Commonly people consume the isolate directly on their tongue through crystal or powder form or sometimes combining it with food and beverages. It is popular forvaping

    Hemp seeds and oil on a table.


    Now that we know of the types of both hemp oil and CBD oil, what are the benefits of each? Both have potential health benefits and may contribute to overall wellness. Let’s explore the benefits of hemp seed oil first:

    Hemp seed oil benefits:

    • Skincare:Has multiple skincare benefits. Hemp oil can moisturize, soothe inflammation, and moderate oil production on your face. Can be used as a topical agent or ingested.
    • Heart health:Contains sterols or steroid alcohols that may help manage cholesterol. Hemp oil also contains aliphatic alcohols that may help lower cholesterol and reduce platelet aggregation. They contain an antioxidant known as phytol which also may have benefits. Hemp oil also contains essential fatty acids (EFAs). Omega 3 and omega 6 support heart health.
    • Anti-inflammatory:Consists of linolenic acids such as omega-3 fatty acids that may haveanti-inflammatory benefits. 
    • Neuroprotective properties:Contains antioxidants such as tocopherol.
    • Nutritional benefits:Contains vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene and is a great source of protein. It also contains minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, calcium.
    • Non-psychoactive: Contains no THC which is desired by some users.

    CBD oil benefits:

    • Potentially Relieves stress and anxiety: It is said that cannabidiol may help manage stress. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has seen reduced stress in rat behavior, noting their anxiety and increased heart rate also improved.

    • May help with depression: Research indicates that cannabidiol may have a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. 
    • May support restful sleep: Not only can it help with stress and anxiety, but sleep can also be positively affected. 

    • Potential pain relief: A study involving the European Journal of Pain showed that cannabidiol applied topically on the skin of an animal model could potentially have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on arthritis. 

    • Potential neuroprotective properties: Recent studies have shown that CBD may help reduce the impact of inflammation, oxygen buildup, and brain cell decline. 

    • Heart health: A study conducted in England in 2017 suggested that cannabidiol may help support blood pressure.

    Both CBD oil and hemp oil are unregulated supplements, for now. There is, however, one form of cannabidiol that has been approved by the FDA to treat a rare form ofepilepsy, but there have been no set dosage standards as of yet.

    Although CBD oil contains a small amount of THC, it is not enough to produce a high. However, if taken in a large amount, cannabidiol can cause drowsiness due to its bi-phasic properties. This means that side effects can change depending on how much is consumed. People experience the effects differently. Some people experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other problems with the digestive system. Others may experience a loss of appetite or dry mouth.

    Even though CBD oil doesn’t produce a high in the way THC-rich marijuana does, it affects the endocannabinoid system in other ways. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a biological system within our bodies that is still not completely understood to this day. We do know, however, that the ECS influences appetite, sleep, mood, and memory through the mingling of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids. THC affects the system by attaching to the CB1 and CB2 receptors which then produces its bodily effects. CB1 receptors involve the central nervous system and things like coordination, movement, pain, appetite, etc. CB2 receptors involve the peripheral nervous system and have to do with pain and inflammation.

    In contrast to THC, cannabidiol does not directly bind to receptors but somehow influences them. The activation of these receptors then causes the health benefits we have mentioned. The cannabinoid can also influence non-cannabinoid receptors, like the TRPV1 receptor which influences pain and inflammation, and the 5ht serotonin receptor which influences psychotic disorders.

    The Bottom Line

    As you can see, the worlds of hemp oil and CBD oil can be very different and complex. They are produced differently and have different qualities and benefits. At the same time, they do share some health benefits such as providing important macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals to our bodies. However, CBD oil has more potential benefits.

    Be sure to talk to your doctor about what may be best for you. Pay attention to the labeling of any CBD oil products you buy. And always be aware of the laws in your area and thelegality of any cannabis products you consume.

    This is not intended as medical advice. Bay Smokes products are not approved to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.