What are the Main Differences Between Hemp Oil and CBD Oil

CBD (cannabidiol) is on a meteoric rise. This wondrous compound, extracted from the marijuana plant, can be found in everything from energy drinks to gummies to edibles and even in e-liquid for vaping.

The proponents of CBD tout numerous health benefits, including anti-anxiety, sleep-inducing, and anti-inflammatory properties. CBD has turned into a multi-million dollar business very rapidly, and as such a lot of research is being conducted. The good news is that science seems to support many of the claims that marketers make with regard to the effectiveness of CBD.

With so much marketing material, hype, and jargon out there, it can be very easy to get confused.

As with all things, it pays to stay informed when it comes to CBD. And unfortunately, there remains a bit of confusion with regards to the similarities and differences between CBD oil and hemp oil. Both substances are derived from the hemp plant, but they are very distinct substances with particular uses.

The confusion between hemp oil and CBD oil opens the door for unscrupulous marketers to make misleading or spurious claims. If you want to protect yourself from some of the sharks out there and save time (and money), read on.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil

Both CBD and its more popular cousin, THC are types of chemicals known as cannabidiol. However, whereas recreational consumers of cannabis are often more concerned with seeking out higher and higher (see what we did there) levels of THC for its pleasant psychotropic effects, CBD is sought after for its medicinal effects.

The confusion between hemp oil and CBD oil stems from the fact that both oils do come from the same plant, namely hemp. Hemp is proportionally very high in CBD and low in THC. Hemp is used as most laws governing cannabis relate to the concentration of THC it contains.

Production of Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil

Hemp oil should more properly be called hemp seed oil. To manufacture hemp oil, large quantities of the seed of the hemp plant are squashed and milled under very high pressure to separate the lipids from the tough seed casings.

By contrast, CBD oil is manufactured by processing fully matured hemp plants – leaves, stems, buds, and all, to extract the CBD. Rather than using a mechanical press to force the oil out, CBD extraction requires the use of a solvent or CO2. Extracting CBD is a much more complex and laborious process than making hemp seed oil and usually requires some fairly fancy equipment.

Pure CBD is a powder rather than an oil, so to be made into a usable product it is normally combined with a carrier oil, such as MCT oil.

CBD Concentration in hemp oil vs CBD oil

With all-new health fads, including CBD, it doesn’t take long before a horde of businesses starts to jump on the bandwagon. It seems a day doesn’t go past without 10 new CBD infused products hitting the market, and with this much business going on it’s unsurprising that marketers with more moral flexibility have started to muscle in.

As mentioned earlier, CBD has many positive health effects. The bad news is that hemp oil contains only trace amounts of CBD. You would have to consume astronomical amounts of hemp oil to imbibe anything close to a therapeutic dose of CBD, and would probably experience some pretty severe gastrointestinal side effects first.

To capitalize on the positive feelings many people, particularly those with a keen interest in wellness, fitness, and nutrition have towards CBD, marketers may list their product as “hemp oil-infused”. Don’t be fooled! If it’s CBD you are after, any genuine product will list the amount of CBD it contains per unit or serving.

If you want to be certain you are getting the right amount of CBD from your product, opt to purchase from a company that has published third-party laboratory testing of its goods. These often cost a little bit more, but they are the gold standard when it comes to ensuring the amount and purity of CBD you put inside your body.

Cost of manufacture

Another key difference between CBD extracts and hemp oil can be found in how expensive they are to manufacture.

Making hemp oil is a very straightforward procedure. All that is technically required to produce it is hemp seeds and a means of applying enough pressure onto the seeds to separate out the plant oils. On the lower end of the spectrum, this can be done from the comfort of your own home with many different consumer-level devices. You can even buy attachments for many popular juicers that will do the trick.

The production of CBD extract is a far less straightforward affair, and is only recommended for professionals with access to the right equipment! 

Fully grown hemp plants are harvested, dried, and processed into a fine powder before the extraction occurs. Extraction can happen in several ways, including:

Solvent extraction

A basic and occasionally risky method, solvent extraction involves passing a liquid through your prepared plant matter to imbue it with the desired cannabinoids. After this, the solvent collects and must then be evaporated (safely!), leaving behind the desired substances.

Supercritical CO2 extraction

“Supercritical” might itself sound like the name of a high-powered cannabis strain, but is a term from physics. If a chemical is “supercritical”, it means that it possesses the properties of both a gas and a liquid at the same time. In this form of extraction, CO2 is forced into a supercritical state, where it is then passed over the plant matter in much the same way as if you were doing a solvent extraction.

Olive oil extraction

The only kind of CBD extraction you should try yourself, olive oil extraction is easy enough that anyone should be able to do it. For olive oil extraction to work, your choice of herb must first be decarboxylated. Decarboxylation is just a fancy way of saying you have to heat the hemp/cannabis to a certain temperature before the compounds become liberated from it and extractable.

After you have de-carbed some finely ground herb, cover it with the desired amount of olive oil and leave covered on a low heat. A slow cooker or crockpot can be ideal for these applications.

Uses and applications of CBD oil vs Hemp oil

Hemp oil and CBD oil, despite having similar origins, are two entirely separate substances. It should be no surprise then, that the range of uses and applications for each product is also very different.

By and large, hemp oil’s usefulness is limited to food, cooking, hair, and beauty products. Hemp oil is a fantastic source of proteins, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids, and has a medium smoke-point, so can be used in some cooking.

CBD oil is far too expensive to be consumed as a food product and is instead almost exclusively used for its therapeutic properties. There are a huge number of different products and methods of application when it comes to CBD. You can get tinctures for oral use, gummies, skin care ointments, patches, energy drinks, and more. Some of the conditions people take CBD for include anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.

An important distinction is CBD oil, which is a suspension of CBD in a carrier such as MCT oil, and CBD e-liquid, which is made to be vaped in an electronic cigarette. These two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but you should only ever put CBD products specifically designed to be vaped into your electronic cigarette. Vaping anything else, including other CBD oils, can cause serious illnesses such as lipid pneumonia.


Asides from effects, cost, and procedure of manufacture, another difference between hemp oil and CBD oil that is highly relevant is how easy they are to procure.

Hemp oil is a widely available food product and you can buy it from any number of organic, health, and whole-food shops internationally.

Depending on where you are in the world, CBD can prove a bit more difficult, or even impossible to (legally) buy. Fortunately, there aren’t many places in the world where CBD is criminalized, but some countries, such as Bolivia, Denmark, and Albania, have yet to catch up. If in doubt, always check the local and national laws for where you live. Even in the USA, a country leading the worldwide shift towards legalization, you can still be prosecuted for possessing CBD in Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

In places where CBD is legal, it is generally easy to get your hands on. Most of the top brands sell directly from their website, and this is our recommendation for ensuring that the products you get are genuine and of the highest quality.


 Despite the marketing hype, the only genuine similarity between hemp oil and CBD oil is that they both come from the same plant species. Asides from that, their manufacture, appearance, use, and effects could not be more different.

If CBD is what you want, make sure you thoroughly check the labeling of any products you buy. Vigilance is the only way to ensure that your purchases contain the active ingredients you seek.

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