Distilled vs Winterized Oil
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The difference between distilled and winterized oil is a hot topic in the cannabis community. For years distillate has been the golden standard for edibles and vape pen production. It is a commodity in its truest form. Pretty much anybody with a CO2 extractor and distillation line can produce a pure distillate that is almost indistinguishable from what another manufacturer is producing. Differences are mainly in efficiency, which is why we have seen the price of bulk distillate nosedive as producers increase output and efficiency.
What Is Winterized Oil
To clear up any confusion right off the bat, both winterized oils and distilled oils are winterized (a process by which waxes and lipids are removed from crude CO2 extract). Distilled oil then goes to a further distillation stage while winterized oil is ready for formulation at this stage. Both products are named based on the final step in their extraction process.
Distilled Oil is more “Pure” - but that may not always be better
In simple terms distilling is the process of separating compounds based on their boiling and condensation points. The advantage of this is that you can remove unwanted products from the oil. The disadvantage is that sometimes you remove important products, in the case of vape oils these include the heavy long-chain sesquiterpenes that contribute to the effect of full spectrum extracts.
Visually you will notice, as in the picture above, that distilled oils are typically more clear, and have a light yellow honey like consistency. Winterized oils on the other hand can be more opaque and have a wider range of colours due to the wider fraction range.
Winterized Oil requires quality starting product
The major difference between winterized oil and distillate is that winterized oil cannot be commoditized the same way. Because distillation involves an extra purification step (the distilling stage) the end product is almost indistinguishable and is treated like a commodity. With winterized oils you are doing less refining, so you need to use a higher quality starting material. The fraction range of compounds found in a winterized oil is much wider, and there is no standardization in place to commoditize these wide fraction “winterized” oils.