Full Spectrum vs Isolate: A Look at the Different Types of CBD

Stuck choosing between the different types of CBD? It can be difficult to sort through all of the information available and decide the perfect type of CBD for you. 

Keep in mind that CBD works differently for everybody. Your friend may have great results with one type, while you don’t feel noticeable effects. On the other hand, what works for you may not work for someone else. That’s because there are so many different types of CBD available for different needs. 

Once you’ve decided between full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate, there are still more considerations to make. You may have to experiment with different methods of consumption and work to optimize bioavailability

There’s a lot of information to take in. But don’t worry. We’ll break down the various types of CBD so you can choose the perfect type for your needs without any confusion. 

What are the different types of CBD? 

When you shop for CBD, you’ll notice there are multiple types of CBD. Some products are labeled “full spectrum,” some are labeled “broad spectrum,” and others are called “CBD isolate.” These are the main types of CBD you’ll run into. 

What is full spectrum CBD? 

Full spectrum CBD comes from hemp. CBD is just one compound present in hemp, though. There are many other cannabinoids in the hemp plant besides CBD, including THC. Full spectrum CBD includes all of the cannabinoids present in the plant. This means there is some THC in full spectrum products. 

Now, you may be worried that full spectrum CBD will get you high. The answer is no. CBD is legal in the United States so long as the THC percentage is below 0.3%. This is not enough to be intoxicating. 

The benefit of using full spectrum CBD is that you may experience stronger effects. Along with cannabinoids, hemp has a lot of terpenes. Terpenes are compounds that carry unique aromas and flavors. Various terpenes provide different effects. 

With full spectrum CBD, you may experience a phenomenon coined the “entourage effect.” The entourage effect was coined by scientists who found that all of the plant parts can work together to create stronger therapeutic effects. Basically, full spectrum CBD may be more effective because all of the plant parts can work together to create a symbiosis. 

What is broad spectrum CBD? 

Broad spectrum CBD is very similar to full spectrum. It contains cannabinoids and terpenes and can provide the “entourage effect” used to describe full spectrum CBD. 

However, broad spectrum CBD contains no THC. It’s removed from the final product but the other cannabinoids and compounds remain. 

For someone who wants the benefits of the full plant effects without any trace of THC, broad spectrum is a good choice. It’s a middle ground between full spectrum and CBD isolate, which we’ll get to next. 

What is CBD isolate?

CBD isolate is exactly what it sounds like: isolated CBD. There are no other compounds present in CBD isolate. Which means there will be no “entourage effect” when you use it.  

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, in that there are no other compounds present. For users who want to completely avoid THC and other compounds, CBD isolate is a great choice. 

What is the best type of CBD? 

Now that we’ve broken down the different types of CBD, you may have a better understanding of the products on the market. Still, you may be wondering what the best type of CBD is for your personal needs. 

There is no concrete answer. It comes down to lifestyle and personal preferences. 

You see, many people opt for CBD isolate. Sometimes it’s because they’re specifically avoiding THC, and sometimes because they believe that the highest concentration of CBD will deliver the best results. And for some people, it may. But it’s important to keep in mind that CBD is not the only therapeutic compound in hemp. And for some, the synergy between all of the plant compounds makes a big difference. 

That’s why full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD are both so popular. Many people choose to use these products because they find the effects to be more therapeutic. On the other hand, users who are strictly avoiding THC may opt to avoid using full spectrum because, even though the legal THC level is low and non-intoxicating, they don’t want any in their system. 

Finding the right CBD for you may be a game of trial and error. You may need to try a few products before you find the right one. And even then, you’ll need to play around with the dosage before you find your optimal amount. 

More tips for choosing the best types of CBD

Beyond figuring out the type of CBD you want to use, there are some other considerations. 

First is the method of consumption. Do you plan to vaporize CBD or do you plan to take a tincture under your tongue? Or maybe you’d rather eat a CBD gummy or edible. 

Vaporizing or taking a tincture under the tongue will take effect quicker than if you eat CBD. Plus, you’ll get more of the product because your digestive system will not break any of it down. It will also wear off quicker. 

On the other hand, eating CBD will take longer for effects. And less CBD may reach the bloodstream because the digestive system will break it down. However, the effects will be longer lasting when you eat CBD than if you vaporize or take it sublingually. 

Purity and potency 

Perhaps the most important factor is the quality of CBD. It’s an unregulated market that is subject to a lot of inconsistencies. 

It is crucial to shop for CBD that has been tested for purity and potency. This ensures that the amount of CBD listed is accurate and confirms that there aren’t other contaminants present. Heavy metals, solvents, and other impurities can end up in CBD products and be harmful to humans and animals. 

To ensure you are purchasing pure, potent CBD, look for a product that has been tested in an ISO-accredited laboratory. Accredited laboratories have proven that they can meet industry standards for accurate testing. 

And if you’re not sure how to read the lab results, don’t worry. Check out our guide for how to read a COA so there is no confusion. 

What is a COA for CBD and How Do I Read It?

Wondering, “what is a COA?” Or don’t know the best way to approach reading one? We’ve got you covered. 

Firstly, Certificates of Analysis, or COAs, are a big topic here at Premium CBD. We emphasize the importance of checking the COA on every CBD product. That’s how you can confirm the product has met the specifications on its label. 

However, encouraging our readers to look at the COA on their product isn’t enough to ensure safety. COAs can be confusing to look at and it’s not always clear what the words on the page mean. Plus, what is a COA going to help with if you don’t know how to read it? 

We’ll break how to read a COA for CBD so you can get straight to the facts. 

Where to find the COA on CBD products

First of all, you can find the COA on a CBD product in a few different ways. It varies depending on the brand and state you’re in. 

In some states, CBD products are only legal to sell if they have a QR code. You can scan the codes to pull up the COA from a third-party laboratory. Therefore, this means consumers can scan the code and have all of the information at their fingertips. 

While QR codes may be a requirement in additional states in the future, they’re not currently the norm. Instead, consumers have to look at the product’s website or request a copy from the manufacturer. 

Before you buy CBD, you should always check the COA. If you can’t find one, or the manufacturer is not responsive to a request, choose a different product. 

Terms you’ll find on a COA  

Once you’ve located the COA, it’s time to read what it says. Now, don’t worry if you don’t know how to read a COA for CBD yet. COAs have a lot of information in one spot and it can be overwhelming at first. 

First, let’s look at the terms you’ll see on a COA:


First of all, get used to the word “cannabinoids.” You’ll be seeing it a lot. CBD is a cannabinoid. There may be many or few cannabinoids present in your product. This depends on if it’s full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. 

Small amounts of THC can be present in CBD products. However, the COA will confirm that there is no more than the legal amount of 0.3% THC present. It will also confirm that the amount of CBD in the product is accurate. 

Additionally, you may notice other cannabinoids listed on your COA such as CBN and CBG. These occur naturally in the plant and are non-intoxicating. 


Pesticides are sometimes used to keep plants free of pests. However, they don’t just rinse off of the plants after they’ve taken care of the problem. Hemp tends to absorb pesticides. 

Along with that, pesticides directly applied to the surface will absorb into the plant. If there are pesticides in the soil, they will absorb through the plants’ roots. Then they will make their way into the final product. Even if farmers don’t directly add them, they may still unintentionally absorb into the plant.

Because of their high concentrations, pesticides in CBD oil can be dangerous to human and pet health. 

Heavy metals 

Although not intentional, many hemp-derived CBD products contain heavy metals. This can include lead, methyl mercury, and arsenic. Since hemp is so absorbent, if the soil it’s grown in is not safe, neither is the product. 

Residual solvents 

Solvents like butane, ethanol, and CO2 are popular choices for extraction. Laboratories can test to make sure these solvents are not in the final product. Leaving impurities like residual solvents in CBD can be harmful to users’ health.


Microbial tests look for microbes and bacteria found in plants. These can include salmonella, yeast, and molds. Your COA may or may not have a microbial analysis. 

Terpene profile 

Terpenes are nothing to worry about. They are compounds in cannabis and hemp that are responsible for its unique taste and aroma. Cannabis and hemp plants have many terpenes. Different terpene profiles lead to different effects, flavors, and smells. 

How to read a COA for CBD 

Now that we’ve answered “what is a coa?”, we’ll walk you through the process of reading it. 

Step-by-step instructions for reading a CBD COA 

  1. Verify the test is credible. 

If the CBD company in question also performed their tests, it’s not reliable. It’s important to make sure the test was conducted at a third-party, ISO-accredited laboratory. Otherwise, there may be bias in the reported results. 

You can usually find this information on the top left of the page. First, check the name of the laboratory that conducted the test. Make sure it doesn’t match the name of your product. Then, confirm that the sample and batch number and check the date. 

  1.  Check the cannabinoid content.

 This verifies the amount of CBD is accurately labeled. Look for D-9 THC and ensure the concentration is below 0.3%. It’s crucial to verify that this test includes all components based on the product type. If it’s full-spectrum of broad-spectrum CBD, it should have a full analysis of all of the other cannabinoids present. 

  1. Read the pesticide report. 

Units will be listed as ‘ppb’ which stands for parts per billion. You’ll see ‘LLD’ in one column, indicating the “lower limit of detection” for each listed pesticide. Under ‘Limits’ you’ll see the maximum allowance based on individual state guidelines. Match these up to ensure the product falls within limits. 

  1. Check the heavy metals analysis. 

This should show all of the metals tested and their chemical names and symbols. Scan through the concentrations. MDL is the lower limit of detection that lab tools can reach.

 ‘Use Limits’ and ‘Ingestion’ refer to the determined allowance by the state Department of Public Health and Pharmacopeia. If the number falls below the set limits, it’s determined to be safe for regular ingestion. 

  1. Read through the terpene profile analysis.

 You can look at the exact terpene profile of your product on the COA. Results will show the detected amount of terpenes by weight percent. 

  1. Check through any other results listed.

 Look over the microbial analysis and residual solvent tests to ensure purity. You’ll find an “ND” listed for each. This means “none detected.”

  1. See what’s missing from the report. 

Empowered consumers can decide exactly what they will and will not accept from their test results. But if they overlook major areas, such as pesticides, it’s a good idea to reach for a different product. 

Final thoughts for those wondering “what is a COA?”

Unfortunately, the CBD industry is susceptible to fraud. In fact, it’s an unregulated market. This makes it easy for some manufacturers to lie about their products for better financial gain. 

Additionally, it’s also an industry that is susceptible to unintentional misreporting. If a lab tries to test their own products for better transparency, they may have good intentions. But those good intentions may result in improper testing procedures or faulty equipment. 

The end result is the same: Improperly labeled CBD that is potentially dangerous to humans and their pets. 

The solution is to only purchase tested CBD products. Make sure the testing happens at ISO-accredited laboratories. Laboratories with ISO accreditation have proven they can conduct tests in accordance with industry standards. This eliminates room for error or fraud within the industry. 

Remember to always check the COA on your CBD products. Consumers must hold companies accountable to provide safe, quality products. If you can’t access a COA, move on to a more transparent CBD product. 

Pure CBD products have no detected levels of pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, or microbial contaminants.
Products must contain between 0-0.3% THC under the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
Products should contain high concentrations of CBD and less than 0.3% THC.
CBD is not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration.