CBD oil and Hemp seed oil on a table next to hemp plant.

Hemp oil and CBD oil: What’s the difference?

CBD oil and hemp oil are phrases often used interchangeably. There are even times people refer to them as ‘CBD hemp oil’. However, these two oils are significantly different, as this article will explain. Read on to learn more about the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil.

What is hemp oil?

Hemp oil or, more accurately, hemp seed oil is distinguished by the fact that it contains next to no cannabinoids such as CBD or THC. Instead, hemp seed oil is very much what it says on the tin: an oily residue extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. 

This extraction is much simpler than the process for CBD oil, and just involves cold-pressing the seeds, before filtering the sediment from the resultant liquid. Hemp seeds have a high percentage of oil (around 35% on average) whilst the remaining solid byproduct is useful for protein supplements and animal feed. The filtered oil is a deep green in colour, whereas CBD oil is a golden brown.

Hemp oil benefits

Hemp seed oil has been sold in health retailers for many years because of the number of unsaturated fats they contain, such as Omega 3 and Omega 6. However, since they only contain trace amounts of cannabinoids, they are used for wholly different reasons than CBD oils. 

CBD hemp oil bottles

What is CBD oil?

CBD is extracted from the flowers of the hemp plant, specifically the tiny, hair-like trichomes which contain all the essential compounds. CBD itself isn't oily, and is combined with a carrier oil to create the finished product. 

Whereas hemp seed oil is simply extracted from seeds, the process for CBD oil differs and can yield different kinds of CBD. Whole plant products contain the full array of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, waxes and oils found in the hemp plant, while CBD isolate is literally CBD isolated by itself. We have a full guide on the different kinds of CBD; check it out to find out which may be best for you.

The distinction can be further muddied by the fact that CBD oil is blended with a carrier oil rather than the finished product being oily in itself, and one of these carriers is actually hemp seed oil. That means you might end up with a product that is technically both CBD oil and hemp seed oil. However, the products have wholly different purposes. 

What is hemp oil used for?

People take hemp seed oil primarily for its nutritional value. It’s rich in the two essential fatty acids mentioned above, but it also contains a high level of protein, vitamin E, and several other minerals.

So, what is hemp oil good for? People mainly use organic hemp oil as a diet supplement, but you can get hemp cosmetics and toiletries; you can even get hemp oil for hair. Remember, hemp oil won’t get you high because it contains no psychotropic THC.

What is CBD used for?

CBD oil interacts with our body differently than hemp seed oil. Our body actually produces its own cannabinoids that are like CBD internally, in a network known as the endocannabinoid system. This means that CBD can be safely integrated into the human body via products such as CBD oil, CBD e liquids and CBD cosmetics. 

CBD hemp plant flower

Hemp vs. Marijuana

CBD oil and hemp seed oil are both extracted from hemp, which is part of why they’re often equated with one another. In fact, industrial hemp is used throughout much of the world in creating paper, textiles, and rope, which begs the question: isn’t cannabis illegal?

The answer, confusingly, is both yes and no. Cannabis itself is the name for the entire genus, and is split further into two main categories - Cannabis sativa and Cannabis indica, which make up the two overarching species.

The more useful terms for understanding legality are hemp and marijuana. Rather than species, these are broad designations that refer to the use and purpose of the plant. The major difference comes down to THC (the cannabinoid that gets you high) and CBD (the cannabinoid that we extract for CBD oil).

Hemp is a subset of Cannabis sativa, and has been bred to have low THC and high CBD. As mentioned previously, it’s primarily used for industrial purposes and biofuels, though its low THC content makes it perfect for both CBD oil and hemp seed oil. 

Marijuana, on the other hand, refers to any plants grown for recreational purposes, and can either be a sativa or an indica. It generally has high THC and low CBD, due to its primary purpose being its psychoactive effects. 

Accordingly, hemp being legal is typically to do with its low THC content, whilst the inverse is true of marijuana. By recognising this key difference between the two, you can understand better why CBD oils and hemp seed oils aren’t being seized from the shelves. You can learn more about growing hemp in our handy guide.

Hemp oil and CBD

The key takeaway from this is that CBD and hemp oil are not the same thing. Hemp seed oil is used similarly to other vitamin rich oils, such as Argan oil. CBD oil contains CBD and is used as a tincture taken sublingually in order to introduce CBD to the body. Both serve specific purposes but are completely different products.