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Distilled vs Full Spectrum Oil

Updated: Jan 5

The difference between distilled and full spectrum 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 Full Spectrum Oil?

Full Spectrum oils are less refined than their Distillate counterparts. Full spectrum oils produce a thicker creamier smoke, and are more comparable to smoking a joint. Distillate is a thinner smoke that produces what some have called a more "functional high".

From a process perspective, Full Spectrum oil is winterized but never distilled. Winterized oils and distilled oils are both winterized (a process by which waxes and lipids are removed from crude CO2 extract). Distilled oil then goes to a further distillation stage while full spectrum oil is ready for formulation after winterization.

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 beneficial components, in the case of vape oils these can include the heavy long-chain sesquiterpenes that contribute to the proposed "entourage effect".

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.

Full Spectrum Oils require higher quality starting product

The major difference between Full Spectrum oils and Distillate is that former 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 full spectrum 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. The price is often similar as one requires a higher quality input material and the other requires more refining.

The reason we make both is that some people prefer the effects of distillate, while others prefer full spectrum oil. Both have their time and place. If you're on Instagram let us know which one you like better.

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