CBD Oil vs. Hemp-Seed Oil: What’s the Difference?

cbd hemp oil

You step into your local health food store and… wait, what? Hemp products are all over. So, what’s the big hype and all that legal fuss?

And, yes, these “hempy” products have been gazing at you from these shelves for many years, whether it be cooking products, skincare products and much more.

This confusion is quite prevalent so let’s make some sense out of these products.

What is CBD Oil and Where Can You Find it Within the Hemp Plant?

The hemp plant is a strain of Cannabis sativa L. which contains 0.3% or less THC. It will start its life as a seed from which a stem will grow and split into many sub-stems and grow leaves and flowers. All these parts that are above ground and root system are called “aerial parts.”

As the hemp seed grows, the process of cannabinoid creation begins. Cannabinoid creation is a complex process that occurs within the cannabis plant. There are over 100 known cannabinoids, including THC and CBD.

CBD is present only in the aerial parts of the plant, with the greatest concentration of CBD in the plant’s flowers. Although the highest concentration of CBD is present within those flowers (these are the aromatic wonders that we visually associate with the plant and that get us so excited), CBD oil is most often produced from all aerial parts (i.e., the leaves, stems, and flowers).


So, What is Hemp Seed Oil and How is it Made?

We’ve covered the aerial parts of the hemp plant so now we will discuss the seed. As its name indicates, hemp-seed oil is made from hemp seeds.

A major difference between hemp-seed and CBD oil is that hemp seed oil contains no CBD.

There are two types of hemp seed oil, unrefined and refined, and are used for both cooking and in skincare products.

Unrefined hemp-seed oil

tea tree oil

Unrefined, cold-pressed hemp-seed oil is made by cold-pressing hemp seeds together to extract the oils.

This oil contains all of the nutritious benefits of the seeds, including antioxidants, high amounts of fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, high amounts of protein, vitamin E, and minerals such as phosphorus, potassium, iron, and zinc. It can be added to your daily diet for a delicious nutritional boost.

If that’s not enough, thanks to its well-balanced profile of fatty acids, unrefined hemp-seed oil can greatly nourish and moisturize the skin. You can use the oil itself or find skincare products containing this unrefined oil. However, it is important to note that it has a shorter shelf life than refined hemp-seed oil (which we will discuss momentarily).

Unrefined hemp-seed oil is a dark to clear light green color, with a nutty flavor. The darker the color, the grassier the flavor. Some would define this flavor as earthy.

Refined hemp-seed oil

Refined hemp-seed oil is extracted from the seeds at a higher temperature, killing most of the nutrients and vitamins in the oil. This process also causes the oil to appear clear and colorless, with little flavor. It is primarily used in body care products by manufacturers that don’t want to invest in its unrefined counterpart, ensuring they have a longer shelf life.

Industrial hemp-seed oil is used in lubricants, paints, inks, fuel, and eco-plastics.

How Can you Distinguish Between Hemp-Seed Oil and CBD Oil?

Because of the close connection between CBD oil and hemp seed oil, some manufacturers will deliberately create confusing labels to make you think you are buying a product with CBD oil when in fact you are buying a product with hemp-seed oil.

Why is that? CBD oil-based products are generally more expensive because it’s cheaper to produce unrefined hemp-seed oil than to produce CBD oil. Additionally, utilizing unrefined hemp-seed oil will give the product a longer shelf life. Companies looking to make a quick buck might intentionally mislabel these products to bring in higher profits.

Products with hemp-seed oil should be marked simply as such and its ingredients should indicate whether it’s refined or unrefined. And as discussed, since unrefined hemp-oil is rich with essential fatty acids, it will usually also indicate the presence of omega-3 and omega-6 in its ‘nutritional values’ section on the label.

CBD oil vs. Hemp oil infographic

Distinguishing High-Quality, CBD Oil

CBD oil should also be clearly marked as such, and should state on the label that it is derived from hemp.

To ensure you are purchasing a high-quality, hemp-derived CBD product, make sure the manufacturer adheres to the following guidelines:

  • All products should be manufactured in a federally audited facility.
  • The manufacturer should use third-party testing to ensure quality and consistency.
  • All authentic CBD products will come in sealed opaque packaging. Exposure to daylight, air and moisture can cause damage to this sensitive plant extract.
  • A manufacturer should have industry experience creating high-quality, professional products.
  • A CBD company should conduct batch testing and provide a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to ensure transparency, as well as indicate the specific amount of CBD in their product.

CBD oil can be consumed orally or applied topically to the skin for its skin-nourishing benefits.

Know Your Products

As hemp-based products grow in popularity, it’s important to understand what distinguishes one from the other. Both hemp-seed oil and CBD oil can provide multiple benefits, but consumers have to be aware of the differences between them and how to choose a quality product.

By doing your research and reading product labels, you can ensure that the product you choose to buy is high-quality. To learn more about CBD, be sure to read our previous article, “What is CBD? Everything You Wanted to Know.”

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