CBD is the second most common cannabinoid found in nature, after its flashier brother THC. It's also become the second most popular. CBD use is exploding as more people come to appreciate its beneficial effects. However, many are confused about how to ingest it. Look up CBD and you'll find a staggering variety of products—everything from CBD oil to wax to shatter and isolates. What does it all mean? If you’re looking to better understand the different kinds of CBD concentrates, you’re in the right place.


CBD was first isolated in the 1940s, though at the time it was not considered pharmacologically active. This was a major oversight, though unsurprising—unlike THC, CBD doesn’t get you high. It is, however, largely responsible for many of the miraculous health benefits of cannabis. Here are a few:

  • Seizures: Multiple clinical trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of CBD at treating seizures, even at low doses.
  • Chronic pain: A study[1] published in Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management demonstrated that CBD showed great promise in treating those suffering from chronic pain—with few side effects.
  • Inflammation: Another study[2] highlighted CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties, which could be downstream of many of CBD’s health benefits; inflammation has been linked to many diseases of civilisation.
  • Schizophrenia: A recent study suggested[3] that CBD might be useful in treating schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis.
  • Cancer: The British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology recently published a study[4] showing that CBD can prevent cancer from spreading to new parts of the body, suggesting that it might kill or slow the growth of cancer cells.

CBD can be beneficial even for those not suffering from chronic illness, as many people find it alleviates stress, helps promote better sleep, and can make it easier to access “flow states”. Furthermore, it’s got preventative benefits: CBD is potentiated to help prevent bone disease and various cancers, and helps promote the growth of new neurons in the brain.

CBD acts on the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS calms down over-excited cells, and is made up of major two branches. One in the brain, composed mainly of CB1 receptors, and one in the immune system, composed mainly of CB2 receptors. Like THC, CBD acts on these receptors, but unlike THC, it antagonises them. It’s also believed to increase the body’s natural endocannabinoid release, among other pharmacological effects.

CBD and Pain


So you're sold on the incredible benefits of CBD. How do you get started?

The market is flooded with a dizzying variety of CBD products. This diversity has its advantages—everyone likes options—but can be baffling for beginners.

Many newcomers to CBD start with supplements. That’s not surprising—after all, everyone knows how to take a pill. Supplements aren’t always ideal though. The supplement industry is unregulated, and the products don’t always contain the amounts of CBD listed.

Let’s take a closer look at the different kinds of CBD concentrates.


Concentrates are what you get when you remove CBD from a high-CBD, low-THC hemp plant. The extraction method determines the type of concentrate. Here are a few:


The simplest extraction method is to rub CBD crystals off of hemp buds, resulting in a CBD kief. This can be smoked. You can also compress this kief, resulting in CBD hash. This won’t produce the strongest concentrate, and it won’t be the most pure as it’ll contain terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds. Most of these are healthy, but this does introduce a lot of unknowns. The hash can be smoked. It can also be eaten, but must be decarboxylated first (heated to 110–116°C for an hour) to convert any remaining CBDA into CBD.

CBD Kief


The simplest form of CBD concentrate is CBD oil. You can make CBD oil at home by boiling ground hemp plants in oil, and then straining out the plant matter. That being said, professionally produced CBD oil will tend to be of higher quality, concentration, and purity.

One method of professional extraction is to use a solvent—often butane or ethanol. The plant is run through the solvent, which collects the CBD. The plant matter is strained out and the resulting liquid is boiled to remove the solvent, leaving CBD oil behind. The boiling process continues in order to decarboxylate the oil. When butane is used, this results in the highly bioavailable “butane hash oil” or BHO. BHO is commonly used for dabbing products, as described below.

The most common method of producing CBD oil is CO₂ extraction, because it’s super safe and produces a very pure oil.

CO₂ extraction begins in a chamber where the CO₂ is held in a liquid state. From there, it moves into a chamber called the extractor, where pressure and temperature are increased such that the CO₂ moves into what’s called a “supercritical state”, where it possesses properties of both a gas and a liquid: it expands to fill all enclosed space like a gas, but maintains its density like a liquid.

In this state, the hemp is exposed to the CO₂, which acts as a solvent. The person carrying out the extraction can adjust the pressure and temperature, as this will determine which compounds from the hemp plant get extracted, as well as the texture and consistency of the resulting concentrate. With the right metrics, this method can produce very pure CBD oil. However, this method requires expensive equipment and expertise, so you likely won’t be trying it at home.

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If orally ingested CBD isn’t doing the trick, you might want to try dabbing. This may be necessary if you’re using CBD to help treat a chronic medical problem. Dabbing involves superheating a substance and inhaling the resulting vapour. It allows you to take in large quantities of CBD quickly through the lungs without inhaling large amounts of harmful smoke and tar.

In order to dab CBD, it must be in the right form—either as budder, shatter, wax, or the like. These concentrates correspond to different preparation methods. They're analogous to the differences between fudge, toffee, and hard candy (same ingredients, different consistencies). They can all be produced from BHO or from CO₂ extraction with the right parameters.

Pure CBD Crystals


The purest and most concentrated form of CBD is an isolate—white crystals that contain nothing but CBD. These can also be produced with the CO₂ extraction method. Isolates might be needed for those who have to take very high amounts of CBD regularly. However, they lack a more complex and potentially beneficial selection of natural chemicals, which can be found in CBD oil and hash.

External Resources:
  1. Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  2. Cannabinoids suppress inflammatory and neuropathic pain by targeting α3 glycine receptors https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  3. A Critical Review of the Antipsychotic Effects of Cannabidiol: 30 Years of a Translational Investigation - PubMed https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  4. Cannabidiol as potential anticancer drug https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
This content is for educational purposes only. The information provided is derived from research gathered from external sources.

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