What is CBD Oil: how do full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate differ.

Curtis Swift, Ph.D., Mesa Lavender Farms
You can find our CBD products at https://mesalavenderfarms.com/product-category/cbd/.


“CBD Oil” is one of the top Google searches with thousands of searches a week. CBD Oil is, by definition, CBD which has been extracted from the Cannabis plant and blended with an oil such as coconut oil. CBD oil is not the same as hemp oil or hemp seed oil.

How is CBD Oil created? What is the difference between full spectrum and broad spectrum?

The oil is extracted from industrial hemp using various solvents such as alcohol, hydrocarbon solvents like butane and hexane, carbon dioxide, and even olive oil. Steam distillation as is used with lavender to extract its essential oils, is also used with industrial hemp. The resulting product is known as “crude CBD oil”. Think of Rick Simpson oil.

After extraction, the crude oil needs to be processed to remove bacterial cells, plant tissue and other detritus. The first step in this process is called winterization where the oil is held at a temperature close to -80oC (-128oF.) to separate fats, waxes, and other contaminants from the CBD oil. This helps refine the oil.

Winterization results in the loss of terpenes, organic compounds responsible for the aroma of the final product. These precipitate out at low temperatures and are lost from the final product. Some of these terpenes can be replaced by using lavender and other essential oils which contain some of the same terpenes as Cannabis. The resulting mixture is then processed through a series of filters to separate the fats, waxes and other detritus leaving a clean CBD oil. Note: If the CBD oil you are consuming has a green or brown color, it has not been winterized and your oil is contaminated with microbes, chlorophyll, waxes, fat, and other contaminants. One of our customers indicated a CBD oil purchased from another company tasted like “the bottom of an ash tray”, an obvious indication of contamination.

The next step is decarboxylation. This process removes carboxylic acid and CO2 from the cannabis extract.

The final step is taking the crude CBD oil and distilling it. This is another purification step resulting in a full spectrum (syn. Full-spectrum) CBD oil. Full spectrum CBD oil contains a small amount of THC, a higher concentration of CBD and other cannabinoids. A typical analysis of a full spectrum CBD oil as it is received from the extractor is higher in all cannabinoids as seen.

image certificate of analysis full spectrum CBD distillate
certificate of analysis full spectrum CBD distillate

Once CBD distillate is formulated into a tincture, the cannabinoid concentrations are much less as can be seen in the image below.

full spectrum peppermint tincture certificate of analysis
Certificate of Analysis Peppermint Full Spectrum tincture Mesa lavender Farms

Broad spectrum CBD oil differs from full spectrum as it is devoid of THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. This can be accomplished by several different processes. Fractional distillation is when the oil is heated and the different components separate based on their boiling points. This is similar to the process used with crude petroleum to separate the various components such as gasoline, lubricants, fuel oil, and propane. Another method of removing THC uses chromatography. In this process, the oil is added to a column with various materials which either capture the THC or keep it in suspension longer than the other cannabinoids allow the latter to escape the column before the THC.

The image below  is of a Certificate of Analysis of a Broad Spectrum distillate.

image of Certificate of analysis of broad spectrum distillate as received from extractor
Broad Spectrum distillate does not contain THC.

How is CBD Isolate created?

CBD isolate is a powder the consistence of confectionery sugar made by pulverizing CBD crystals. The initial steps to create this CBD-only product involves using CBD oil which has been winterized and distilled. Either full spectrum or broad spectrum distillate can be used. After being dissolved in a solvent at 113°F. in a jacketed vessel the distilled oil is allowed to cool and the CBD forms crystals. Stirring at 120+ revolutions per minute permits the crystals to form and settle out of the solution. After the crystal have stopped forming, they are removed washed and crushed. CBD Isolate can be as high as 99.8% CBD with no other cannabinoids. The CBD isolate Mesa Lavender Farms purchases for our salve, pure CBD tincture, lotions, body butters, etc. is pure white. We have been offered CBD isolate that is yellow or brown in color but refuse these offers. Discolored CBD isolate indicates the CBD base solution had not been winterized or distilled resulting in contaminants in the finished product.


isolate certificate of analysis
Certificate of Analysis of CBD isolate










To ensure purity, Mesa Lavender Farms requires a panel of tests of all of these CBD components to be free of human pathogens, pesticides, and heavy metals. We want to ensure we provide you the safest and most effective CBD products possible. Below are samples of the panels we expect.

extraction residue, heavy metal, and micro analysis
extraction residue, heavy metal, and micro analysis
Pesticide analysis
Analysis panel for pesticides











Flavored CBD Oil:
Mesa Lavender Farms CBD oils are available with and without flavoring. We add Food Grade Certified essential oils to create a Peppermint CBD oil, a Lavender CBD oil, a Lemon CBD oil, and a Lavender/Lemon CBD oil. We also have an Unflavored version. These are created using full spectrum CBD oil as well as CBD isolate (our pure CBD formulations). Add links. The Full Spectrum formulation contains a number of cannabinoids in addition to CBD with a touch of THC.
The oil we use to create Mesa Lavender Farms CBD tinctures is USDA Organic Food Grade Fractionated MCT Coconut oil. Fractionation removes most of the long-chain fatty acids which are hard to digest. We purchase this oil in 55-gallon drums. It has no fillers like palm oil which is especially concentrated with saturated fat mostly 16-carbon saturated fatty acid, palmitic acid.  Our USDA Organic MCT oil has a very long shelf life. The coconut oil is heated to a specified temperature and the CBD added. The temperature of the oil is critical as this determines if the CBD will infuse throughout the coconut oil.

Why don’t we use Hemp Oil?

Hemp oil, also known as Hemp Seed Oil, does not contain CBD, THC, or any of the other cannabinoids. Since hemp seed oil is often not clean as it has not been winterized, decarboxylated, or distilled, and because most producers won’t test for microbes, heavy metals, or pesticide contamination we must say no to its use.

Note: We also don’t use animal oils in Mesa Lavender Farms tinctures such as emu oil as these tend to go quite noticeably rancid.

Another reason why we use MCT oil in our tinctures in lieu of Hemp Seed Oil is its greater CBD bioavailability. CBD needs to be carried into and through the body on a fat molecule (a lipid). Coconut MCT oil has a higher concentration of fat molecules than Hemp Seed Oil and thus more CBD and other cannabinoids are absorbed by the body when MCT oil is used as the carrier oil. MCT oil is fully saturated with fatty acids. “MCTs are like super fuel for your cells”  Hemp seed oil is only 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids and 9-11% saturated fatty acids thus veraging  84 to 91% fat. The higher the fat concentration of the carrier oil the greater bioavailability and more effective CBD is in treating your conditions.

Some CBD oil manufacturers say they use Hemp Seed Oil as it increases the effect of the CBD. There is no scientific evidence this is correct.

Hopefully this discussion has answered some of your questions on the processes required to create high quality CBD full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate. And, why we only use high quality materials in Mesa Lavender Farms products.

One final note: Food Grade Certification is not the same as USDA Organic certification. USDA organic indicates the plants have not be treated with non-organic pesticides or fertilized with synthetic products. It does not mean however, the resulting oil is free of pesticides, heavy metals, or pathogens. Lavender is known to absorb pesticides, heavy metals and other soil contaminates. This is one reason it is used in phytoremediation projects. Earlier this year tests were run on our tinctures to ensure they were free of pesticides, heavy metals, and microbes. This test included our food grade essential oil, CBDs, and the MCT oil used in their formulations. No contaminates were discovered.

You can find our CBD products at https://mesalavenderfarms.com/product-category/cbd/.