Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum Vape Products

Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum Vape Products

What is Broad Spectrum or Full Spectrum CBD Vape?

CBD vaping is hitting the world so fast that hemp laws, knowledge and terminology are changing and forming as we speak.

Two of the terms that are being used a lot are full spectrum and broad spectrum. 

Frequently, you will see these words on CBD vape juice labels, packaging and product descriptions.

But what do they mean?

What’s the difference?

Is one better than the other?

Do they have established, agreed upon definitions?

Well, to understand, let’s step back a sec and ask a seemingly simple question.

What is CBD?

CBD is such a buzz word that it is causing a bit of confusion.  People are slapping those three letters on just about everything. But what is it?

Well, CBD is short for cannabidiol. It is in a special class of plant-based substances called cannabinoids.

It is a specific molecule, a specific phytochemical that is isolated and extracted from plants – overwhelmingly from industrial hemp.

Anyway, here it is:

CBD molecule

To get CBD, they take hemp plants, grind them up, boil them in a solution, draw out the CBD and throw everything else away. That’s it  – more or less


Here’s what it looks like:

CBD Isolate powder


That’s the stuff that they add to bath bombs and gummies and CBD vape juice and body lotion and dog treats … you get the idea.

CBD is what all the fuss is about.  And CBD isolate is clean, easy to work with and THC-free.

But it is just one chemical compound out of nearly 200 that are found in hemp.

CBD vs Hemp Extract

Unfortunately, everything that has a bit of CBD in it is called CBD this or that for marketing reasons – even though the product may have a lot more good stuff in it.

The hemp plant produces a ton of other crazy chemicals – cannabinoids, terpenes (essential oils), flavinoids etc.  But when CBD isolate is extracted from hemp, the remainder of the plant matter gets sold as hog feed.

However, if hemp is processed slightly differently and refined less, most of the other good phytochemicals are still there in a thick,  gooey soup. This is called crude oil.

The fats and waxes are removed by a process called winterization.

What you have left is called hemp distillate or hemp extract.  This goop hardens into a solid or semi-solid.

CBD Hemp Distillate full spectrum vape
Hemp Distillate

So while CBD is technically a “hemp extract”, when that term is used it usually means this amber, whole-plant substance.  Even though some of the compounds are lost in the processing, you can call this stuff full-spectrum.  It’s as close as you can get.

Companies can now take the distillate and dissolve it in certain carrier liquids and sell it as vape juice or tinctures etc.  You can even vape it as it is – uncut.

This is the sh*t – the most beneficial mix.  So why don’t all manufacturers use this?

Well, there’s a little problem – it’s called THC.

Full Spectrum CBD Vape Usually Has THC

As you probably know, hemp must have less than .3% THC to be legal in the U.S..  Anything over that makes it a controlled substance.  So manufacturers are dancing a razor’s edge with THC.

Hemp is a natural, organic plant and it is impossible to grow it with the exact chemical profile each time.  Each individual plant will have slightly different amounts of everything. Perfect consistency is not attainable with hemp extract.

Additionally, the ratios change during processing.  You might have .2% THC when you started but .29% after processing.  And they face a lot of civil and legal liabilities just over that mark.

Plus, some vape products are zero-THC for people who are concerned about drug tests.

Hemp Distillation

You can see the problems from a producer’s point of view.  They can’t achieve a perfectly consistent product – and that applies to the THC levels.

So they break it all down, separate it and then add stuff back –  instead of using the whole plant extract.

It is much easier and cheaper to produce a consistent product by extracting the CBD isolate and then adding exact amounts of other chemicals back into the mix.  The resulting product is generally called broad spectrum CBD vape.  It’s got some other phytochemicals besides CBD.  However, the added-back stuff may come from other plants.  As long as a product has CBD and one or two other extracts in it, then they call it broad spectrum.

Consequently, “broad spectrum” is the least defined and most over-used marketing term used right now.

CBD Isolate vs Broad Spectrum vs Full Spectrum Vape

So basically you have CBD isolate products on one end, full spectrum on the other end, and everything in between could be called broad spectrum.

  • CBD = CBD isolate only
  • Broad Spectrum = CBD isolate + some other chemicals added back
  • Full Spectrum = Hemp extract with most of the phyto-goodies still intact


There are no FDA guidelines right now addressing marketing or packaging language for CBD vape products. So the terms are nebulous at best, and there’s nothing stopping a producer from making up there own definitions. This will eventually change, but we now we have to trust the generally accepted meanings of full vs broad spectrum vape.

Unfortunately, this is the best we can do right now.

However, I highly suggest that you check out manufacturers’ web sites, read the lab reports and email them and ask about how they make their products. If the products are described as full spectrum or broad spectrum, ask what they mean by that.

If you’re not concerned about THC, a true, full spectrum vape juice is the best. 

Remember – with hemp, we are taking charge of our own wellness. It’s our responsibility. Do your research and know what you are vaping.


Breath in the goodness of CBD


John Astrab


Neither Hemp nor its byproducts are considered medicine. They are not intended to treat any specific ailment. We can make no claims as such.

All information, content, and material of this blog post is for informational purposes only and not intended to serve as a substitute for the consultation, diagnosis, and/or medical treatment of a qualified physician or healthcare provider.

All healthcare decisions are yours.

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