Water Soluble CBD vs CBD Oil: Which is Better?
Water-soluble CBD is a hot term across the industry that’s been met with both excitement and skepticism. These products, created using the same technologies employed in the supplement and pharmaceutical industries, are designed to battle the effectiveness issues of oil-based CBD products.
Keep reading as we take a look at traditional oil-based CBD products, water-soluble formulations, and compare the two to help you choose which is right for your needs.
What is CBD Oil?
When a CBD-rich extract is produced from hemp, the result is a thick, oily substance containing a wide range of cannabis compounds. The cannabinoids inside, like CBD, are hydrophobic substances meaning they don’t dissolve into water. Even when the CBD molecule is isolated from this extract and becomes a white crystalline substance it is still hydrophobic.
The term “CBD oil” is used to describe oil-based tinctures specifically but it is also used to describe the CBD inside any product created using these extracts. Tinctures and other products like capsules, topicals, and edibles commonly contain a CBD extract mixed carrier oils like MCT.
In this article, we prefer to use oil-based CBD as it describes any product containing a hydrophobic extract or isolate.
What is Water-Soluble CBD?
Water-soluble is used to describe a CBD extract which has undergone a process to break the oil into tiny particles. These small droplets are then mixed with a surfactant which serves to emulsify the particles, allowing them to remain stable and not regroup.
Despite the name, the emulsified CBD-rich oils do not actually dissolve in water. The small particle size simply allows them to disperse throughout liquids. This process increases the surface area of the oil, helping to assist in the absorption of CBD into the body.
These ‘water-friendly’ extracts can come in both liquid and powder forms. They are then used to produce consumable CBD products like tinctures, capsules, edibles, and drinks. There are a few prominent technologies used in the creation of water-soluble CBD products:
- Nanoemulsions use a mechanical process to create 10-100 nanometer particles. The tiny particle size allows for low amounts of all-natural surfactants to be used, reducing the need for high-volume, synthetic surfactant use with other water-soluble methods.
- Liposomes are spherical structures ranging in size from 50-5000 nanometers. They are made of an internal water-friendly (hydrophilic) compartment surrounded by a water-insoluble (hydrophobic) bilayer. CBD extract can be stored in the bilayer membrane. Products using this technology are common in the hemp industry. The downside to this method is it uses highly complex manufacturing procedures and requires high surfactant levels.
- Microemulsions create 100-5000 nanometer droplets formed by solubilizing CBD oil in water. These emulsions are created using a chemical process that has the downside of requiring high amounts of surfactants which results in some undesirable side effects for the user. This size emulsion is not commonly found in the CBD industry.
Oil-Based CBD vs Water-Soluble CBD: It’s All About Bioavailability
When CBD is swallowed, it undergoes a first-pass effect. The compounds must pass through the body and into the liver before reaching general circulation. During this process, much of the CBD is destroyed by the liver, and only a fraction of the originally consumed.
Bioavailability is defined as: “the amount of a substance that enters the bloodstream when introduced into the body and so is able to have an active effect.”
For example, when oil-based CBD is swallowed, studies show that it can be as low as 4% bioavailable. This means that the other 96% of the CBD ends up being flushed from the body as waste. This is obviously a significant issue as this inefficiency is extremely wasteful and costly.
Seeking alternative delivery methods that bypass the first-pass metabolism is one way to work around this problem. Tinctures, when held under the tongue, allow the CBD to be absorbed sublingually by the mucous membranes. Vaping or smoking allows the same compounds to be absorbed through the lungs.
These alternative products don’t address the issue of swallowed CBD however, and consumable products like capsules and edibles are very popular in the industry. Water-soluble technologies aim to confront the problem head-on. The increased surface area of the tiny oil particles helps to significantly increase the amount of CBD absorbed by the body:
Comparing the Effects of Oil-based CBD vs Water Soluble
Of this entire article, this is perhaps the most important section, and one of the most commonly overlooked points of water-soluble.
Oil-based CBD comes on slower, last longer, but are absorbed less completely. For example, sublingual tinctures take 20 -60 minutes to come on, come on more gradually, and may last for up to 8 hours. Swallowing an oil-based product, though not recommended due to it’s low bioavailability, takes 60-90 minutes to come on gradually and can last for as long as 8 hours.
Water-soluble CBD comes on faster, is absorbed more readily, but have a shorter duration. For example, swallowing water-soluble softgels make only take 20 minutes to become active in the body, have a more pronounced come on, but only last for up to 5 hours.
Which to Choose: Water-Soluble CBD or Oil-Based CBD?
Many tout one solution as superior, putting down the other. Here at Big Sky Botanicals, we take a balanced approach. Water-soluble and oil-based CBD are not uniquely good or bad, they each have their own specific properties, and if used consciously can both provide positive outcomes.
Our guidance is simple:
- If you’re going to swallow your CBD, choose a water-soluble product. The severe bioavailability issues of swallowing an oil-based product make them inefficient and costly. Since water-soluble products are up to 5x more effective, you only need to take a fraction of the dose for the same benefits.
- If you’re open to alternative methods of consuming CBD, then weigh your options. Consider how long it takes for the effects to come on and how long the effects last against your personal needs. You may also find that it’s good to use a number of different types of products in different situations!
Here at Big Sky Botanicals, we offer both water-soluble softgels and tinctures designed to be swallowed. We also offer an oil-based sublingual tincture. All these products contain our same great broad-spectrum extract and we have clients who enjoy both products equally. Let us know in the comments which type of product you prefer and why.
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14 comments on “ Water Soluble CBD vs CBD Oil: Which is Better? ”
I would like to try cbd, but can’t get clarity on whether or not it will cause someone to fail a drug test. My employer randomly tests us and I don’t want to throw away a 30 year career.
Hello, so I have a question I’m not sure if you would know it’s kind of just a technicality. I am aware now from the information you provided that water soluble is the best choice for bioavailability so that the CBD is not wasted. But my question is, if I were to take the normal oil form even tho it wouldn’t be as affective would it last longer since it stored in my fast cells or does it need to be in my blood to do anything?
Hi Tia – generally speaking a standard oil product compared to a water-soluble one will have a slower onset, but an increased duration. That said you’ll still have to take an increased amount in order to match the effectiveness as you mention. You can read more on the topic in this article about methods of ingestion: https://bigskybotanicals.com/blog/cbd-methods-of-ingestion-bioavailability-effectiveness/
There are many natural surfactants. witch one do you use. thank you charles
Hey Charles – we use Quillaja Extract as the surfactant in our nano emulsified water-soluble products.
What surfactants are used in your nanoemulsions, microemulsions and liposmes? Interesting information but I need to know a bit more before purchasing. Thank you.
Hello Cristal – Our products are nanoemulsified – we do not use micro or liposomes. Because of this, we are able to use a minimal amount of natural surfactant in our products.
Thank you for your very informative article on water-soluble CBD. I’m trying to figure out which form of CBD is the best for me. After learning more about water-soluble CBD and all of its benefits, I will definitely consider using it.
Have you done any studies (animal or human) that demonstrate the improvement in bioavailability ?
Hello Volker – Thank you for your message. There are studies available to demonstrate an improvement in bioavailability, yes. Please see the now updated section in this article under “Nanoemulsions” titled: Reference Studies Providing Evidence for Nanoemulsions Increasing the Bioavailability of Cannabinoids
I also feel that adding “Water Soluble” to any description is overkill. Nano CBD is 100% bioavailable because of its size, whether is dissolves completely in water or is “Water Soluble” by definition won’t make it any more bioavailable than Nano sized particles.
These process you mention are not water soluble but only a method of delivery that manipulates natural metabolic functions. These oils don not disappear and need further processing, enzyme production to further distribute nutrients to the blood stream as energy. A true water soluble technology is available for use by the body within minutes and is predictable. Know the difference! All of these technologies are acceptable technologies, Nano technology, emulsification have been introduced to the food supply for over a decade. Basically, the main difference is how the body metabolizes and processes these nutrients.
Hey Rod, we are aware and agree that ‘water soluble’ is not an accurate term from a scientific perspective. We mention in the article that this term has caught on via its use as a marketing term. Thanks for your feedback and the information you provide!
Discover how water-soluble compares to traditional CBD oil and how to choose between the two based on your needs.
Is Water-Soluble CBD Better Than CBD Oil?
One of the most popular groups of products on the market – and one that’s gaining traction like crazy – are those that contain CBD. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of over 100 chemical compounds (referred to as cannabinoids) that comes from cannabis plants.
They can be used for many different purposes, they come in many forms, and they’re completely safe for use.
But, as consumers decide how and when to incorporate CBD products into their daily routines, one aspect to consider is the two most popular forms that CBD can come in. Here, we’ll be focusing specifically on water-soluble CBD in comparison to CBD oil, the characteristics and uses of each, and how to determine which might be a better fit for your lifestyle needs.
What Is CBD Oil?
First, let’s talk about CBD oil. Without a doubt, it’s one of the more common CBD products you will see on the shelves these days, but equally as common are some of the misperceptions that surround it. Essentially, CBD oil is simply any product where its CBD component has been extracted from a cannabis plant, then added to an oil (such as coconut or hemp seed oil, for example) to be diluted.
What Are the Characteristics of CBD Oil?
Because CBD oil is an oil, just like any other, its characteristics are similar to those of other oil types. Though it contains CBD (which, you’ll recall, is a cannabinoid), CBD oil does not contain another well-known cannabinoid called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the chemical compound responsible for the psychoactive effects of “getting high” that users often experience when using marijuana and other cannabis products. Because CBD oil does not contain THC, a key characteristic of CBD oil is its ability to transfer some of the benefits of cannabis, but without the psychoactive “high” sensation.
As an oil, consumers can use CBD oil in a variety of ways. Users can ingest CBD oil, apply it topically, or inhale it. But, given the physiological constraints that oil undergoes while being digested in our digestive systems, researchers have concluded that rubbing CBD oil directly onto the skin, dropping some under the tongue, or even vaping the oil can bypass these digestive blockages and allow all of the CBD and its benefits to enter the body’s circulation. If CBD oil is ingested normally, it’s estimated that only about 10 to 20 percent will actually reach the bloodstream.
What Is Water-Soluble CBD?
Like CBD oil, water-soluble CBD does not contain THC which, you’ll recall, is what produces the psychoactive “high” effects. But, unlike CBD oil, water-soluble CBD is a CBD extract that has been scientifically converted to a water-soluble form, making it much easier for the body to absorb.
What Are the Characteristics of Water-Soluble CBD?
CBD, a naturally oil-soluble substance, is converted into a water-soluble one by way of breaking down the oil into small particles then coating the particles with a bio-encapsulation that ensures the CBD is stabilized. In essence, what we are left with is a light, water-soluble, powdery CBD extract that can be fully digested and absorbed by the body.
What Are the Common Uses of Water-Soluble CBD?
Once CBD oil has been encapsulated to be made water-soluble, its uses can be expanded to nearly any product in which consumers want to include it. Because of its amazing potential to be fully absorbed in the body, water-soluble CBD gets more bang for its buck when added to drinks, foods, or other means of consumption. When water-soluble CBD is used in this capacity, there’s no fear of low CBD absorption levels, nor is there fear of psychoactive effects (since, again, water-soluble CBD does not contain THC).
When Is It Better to Use Water-Soluble CBD?
Though choosing between water-soluble CBD products and CBD oil products is obviously each individual’s choice, the key to deciding which could be right for you is by evaluating your priorities.
Do you like the taste of CBD oil? Do you like applying it topically to your skin as part of your care regimen? And how about vaping CBD oil – do you enjoy it? If so, continuing to use CBD oil as a means to glean its benefits, while also enjoying the product itself, is perfectly fine and recommended.
If you’re not a strong fan of CBD oil’s taste, if you’re not interested in using it as a skin enhancer, or if you’re not interested in vaping the oil, water-soluble CBD is the better option to choose.
If you’re simply interested in getting the maximal results of CBD, without the psychoactive effects of THC, consider incorporating water-soluble CBD products into your diet.
In conclusion, is water-soluble CBD better than CBD oil? Though each individual’s CBD priorities will affect the answer to this question, there’s no denying that water-soluble CBD is more easily absorbed by the body through a wider variety of consumption methods.
But, the choice is yours.
Interested in Learning More about Which CBD Product Is Right for You?
If you’re interested in learning more about what you can expect from CBD oil and water-soluble CBD, look no further than The Hemp Doctor.
At The Hemp Doctor, our goal is to give customers accurate information on CBD and hemp products and to provide only the best, safest, and purest hemp and CBD products available on the market. If you’re interested in learning more about CBD products, how water-soluble CBD differs from CBD oil, and how you can use both in a variety of ways, contact us online today.
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