CBD oils can be made with MCT, hemp seed, avocado, olive oil, and more. What’s the difference? Does the carrier oil matter? We explore this topic in-depth. At this point you should’ve made it through our ultimate beginner's guide to CBD (if not, that’s a great starting point) and be well on your way to becoming a bona fide CBD expert. The next step? Learning about CBD carrier oils. During your CBD journey, whether just by doing some amateur detective work when reading, or
What’s in Your CBD Oil? Why Carrier Oil Matters
CBD oils can be made with MCT, hemp seed, avocado, olive oil, and more. What’s the difference? Does the carrier oil matter? We explore this topic in-depth.
If you look at the label of your CBD oil, you’ll see that it contains more than just hemp extract.
As the name suggests, CBD oils also include an oil — which is usually some form of vegetable oil or vegetable glycerine.
These oils serve an important purpose — to help deliver the active component — in our case, CBD — to the body.
There are many different carrier oils used in CBD products — coconut, MCT, palm, olive, avocado, hemp seed, sesame, and grape seed oil — each with their own set of positives and negatives.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about carrier oil selection. We cover MCT, olive, hemp seed, grape seed, and glycerine — including the pros and cons of each.
So let’s get started.
Table of Contents
- 1. Medium-Chain Triglyceride (MCT) Oil
- Pros & Cons of Hemp Seed Oil
- Pros & Cons of Grape Seed Oil
What is a Carrier Oil?
As the name implies, a “carrier oil” carries the CBD and other phytochemicals. It’s a simple solution. The carrier oil acts as a solvent to dissolve the compounds of the hemp plant to make them easier to use.
This concept isn’t unique to CBD products. The same concept applies when making Kool-aid by dissolving the flavored powder into water, or when making soapy water to wash the dishes.
The only difference here is that a fat is used instead of water. This is because cannabinoids are soluble in oils and fats instead of water.
What Are the Benefits of Adding Carrier Oils to CBD?
There are three main reasons carrier oils are used. Let’s cover each one in more detail.
1. Carrier Oils Enhance CBD Absorption
One of the main reasons CBD oil manufacturers dilute hemp extracts like CBD in a carrier oil is to improve absorption in the gut. This works because CBD is a fat-soluble substance.
This is important because the body has two separate pathways for absorbing compounds into the body — a water-soluble pathway and a fat-soluble pathway. This all happens at the working unit of the intestinal tract known as the microvilli (pictured below).
Water-soluble compounds like most amino acids, sugars, and minerals can travel directly through the gut lining into the water-based blood. From here, they’re transported around the body. In the diagram above, water-soluble substances enter the red portion under the surface (the blood).
Fat-soluble substances on the other hand — like CBD — can’t go directly into the bloodstream. They first need to get packaged up into tiny droplets called micelles. These micelles then enter the fatty lymph tissue — a network of fat-based compounds and immune cells. They then travel up the body through the lymph, eventually entering the bloodstream directly above the heart. In the diagram above, the lymph is the green tubes (called lacteals). These lacteals carry the CBD (and other cannabinoids) to the lymphatic system.
Absorbing fats in this way requires a series of enzymes in the digestive tract to prepare the fat molecules for absorption by breaking them down and turning them into micelles. When we eat fats, taste receptors in our mouth send signals to the digestive tract to get these enzymes ready.
When we take CBD alongside other fats, it helps prime the body for this effect — signaling the rest of the body to prepare for fat absorption — which effectively increases the amount of CBD the body can absorb.
2. Carrier Oils Make Measuring Doses Easier
The difference between 5 mg and 50 mg of pure CBD crystals is minuscule — 50 mg of this highly-refined source of CBD is about the size of a match head.
Getting precise doses like 7.5 mg requires a precision scale and can’t be done accurately with the naked eye. We need special equipment for this, which simply isn’t realistic for most CBD users.
The solution is to first dilute the CBD crystals into a carrier oil at a predictable amount — such as 100 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg, or 1000 mg CBD per bottle like you’ll find listed on most CBD oils.
From here, the larger volume of the oil with CBD dissolved is much easier to measure. The same 50 mg dose can be measured by counting the drops of oil or measuring the fluid in a measuring spoon. It makes dosing CBD significantly more accurate and consistent.
Which CBD carrier oil is the best?
At this point you should’ve made it through our ultimate beginner’s guide to CBD (if not, that’s a great starting point) and be well on your way to becoming a bona fide CBD expert. The next step? Learning about CBD carrier oils.
During your CBD journey, whether just by doing some amateur detective work when reading, or just by taking CBD products yourself, you’ve realised that what you get isn’t just pure CBD in most cases.
Some CBD oils or CBD sprays contain added flavours to make them more palatable. But these additives don’t even explain the one staring us in the face — CBD oil .
However, most CBD oils, including our CBD oils, consist of an additional carrier oil that makes it easier for you to consume your daily dose of CBD. Time to dive in and learn more about this essential CBD oil ingredient!
What is a carrier oil?
Carrier oils dilute another natural oil or substance to make the latter easier for your body to ingest. But, we don’t just use carrier oils to make CBD comfortably digestible. For example, many essential oils require a carrier for safe application to the skin. Otherwise, they can cause epidermal irritation.
No matter what the use, most carrier oils share common properties. They have a light scent or flavour. More importantly, though, they don’t interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the substance that’s been mixed into your carrier oil—if anything, they make it easier!
Why does CBD need a carrier oil?
Hemp plants go through one of several extraction processes to separate out CBD for our intake. The resulting CBD will come in a variety of colors. CBD isolate is a white powdery substance. Meanwhile, broad spectrum CBD appears brown or dark green.
There are, of course, differences between CBD isolate and broad-spectrum CBD . But either base will require you to use a carrier oil for three main reasons.
1. It makes dosage a breeze
Whether you choose our CBD drops or a CBD spray , you’ll always want to keep track of how much cannabidiol you’re taking each day. A carrier oil makes it easier for you to ingest just the right amount.
When we extract CBD from hemp plants, it has a very high concentration of CBD. You don’t want to take this much at once, so a carrier oil helps to dilute it. Once it’s diluted, it’s easier for you to measure how much you take daily.
2. Carrier oils boost bioavailability
Your body has an easier time processing CBD if it comes mixed in a carrier oil. The hemp-derived compounds bind with the oil’s fat molecules, and we have natural internal processes that know how to break down that fat.
With the right carrier oil, hemp has a higher bioavailability. This term just means your body can process more CBD when it’s attached to fat molecules.
3. It’s easier to take
The last CBD benefit is a pretty direct one for you. There’s a reason why no one sells plain old CBD powder — it doesn’t taste good.
Mixing your CBD with a carrier oil, and perhaps a few natural flavourings, makes taking it that much more of an enjoyable experience. Since we recommend taking CBD oils sublingually—where you let the CBD oil sit under your tongue for 90 seconds—you’ll want them to taste good!
Which carrier oil should I choose for my CBD?
Carriers make CBD intake easier on your body and on you. But not all CBD oils are created equal — and you want to know which carrier oil is the best partner for your hemp-based products.
Let’s start by pointing out that there’s no single right answer to this question. In most cases, it’s up to the manufacturer and the customer to decide which carrier oil works best for them. But we want to break down what we know about each option — and let you make the final decision yourself.
Option 1: Coconut oil
Coconut oil contains long and medium-chain triglycerides (MCT), which makes it an excellent carrier option. Before you can use it, though, it has to go through fractionating. This process skims the large fat molecules from the oil.
What’s left behind are the MCTs, which the body can easily break down, unlike long-chain versions. Clearly, the ease with which we process coconut oil makes it an ideal carrier for CBD.
On top of that, coconut oil has a sweet flavour, one that masks the earthy tang of CBD.
Coconut oil in its liquid form has the perfect thin consistency, too. It’s easy to dose with precision. We believe in the power of MCTs and coconut oil, and that’s why you’ll find it as the carrier oil of choice in our CBD o il .
Option 2: Hemp seed oil
Another popular option is hemp seed oil, and you’re probably thinking, “hemp seed oil makes a lot of sense for a hemp-based product!” And while hemp seed oil doesn’t contain any additional CBD, it does make for a great natural partner.
The major hemp seed oil benefit comes from what’s called the entourage effect. This theory posits that CBD’s effects get amplified when delivered alongside other hemp compounds.
This natural synergy works for us — and that’s why we use hemp seed oil as the carrier in our 600mg CBD drops .
Option 3: Olive oil
Olive oil is delicious, and it has so many body-bettering benefits . Splash it over a salad or use it to roast tonight’s veggies. Either way, you won’t be disappointed in the way it tastes. But flavour and ability as a carrier are two separate categories. Olive oil contains a high amount of monounsaturated fats, which the body takes a while to process.
Plus, olive oil can be quite viscous, which makes it tough to dose. In the end, it’s not as efficient as coconut oil for these reasons and so we decided against using it in our CBD oils. However, if you’re whipping up a batch of CBD oil at home, olive oil can work — and many people use it as their carrier of choice. Plus, it tastes nice and goes well with the natural flavour of CBD.
Option 4: Palm oil
Palm oil functions very similarly to coconut oil, when it comes to carrying CBD into your body. It has MCT, which makes it easy for your body to break it down.
However, palm oil contributes significantly to global deforestation . Acres of rainforest disappear in order to harvest it, and the loss of this habitat has a slew of devastating side effects. Not only do animals lose their homes, but losing trees contributes to global warming, too.
So, using CBD from an eco-conscious standpoint, we avoid palm oil as a carrier. However, if you have a bottle that you want to get rid of, you can use it as a temporary carrier before moving onto something better for the planet.
Learn more about CBD oil
At BeYou, we take our place in the CBD industry seriously. As such, we’ve helmed research into carrier oils and how they interact with our bodies — and our CBD, too. Whether you’re buying CBD in the form of CBD drops , or CBD spray , you can always trust our quality standards.
We want you to feel as confident in our choices as we do. That’s why we have a CBD blog filled with CBD-centric tips and insight. For first-time users, this information can help you choose the right CBD products for you. Of course, our team is always here to answer your questions.