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Water Soluble vs Oil Soluble: What’s The Difference?

March 2nd, 2022 by Brandy Palmer

Water Soluble vs Oil Soluble : What’s the Difference?

Hemp is a sticky subject for a lot of reasons. The fact that it’s an oil is simply the most obvious one. (Not what you were thinking? “Stick” with me anyway…) We’ll cover everything you need to know about water soluble hemp oil. 

Solubility, by definition, is the ability to be dissolved, especially in water. It’s easy to understand water and oil solubility through the lens of everyday multivitamins. Many of us take multiple vitamins every day – vitamins C and E are two that are included in my daily routine. Vitamin C is water soluble while E is fat soluble. The difference is important because it determines how the vitamins are going to act in your body.

Vitamin C, or any water soluble supplement, is absorbed quickly and easily into your body. Because our bodies are approximately 60% water, we can take in those nutrients and use them fully.

Vitamin E, or anything fat soluble, will travel through the lymphatic system and be processed by the small intestine. They are stored in your body for a longer period of time, but may not be fully absorbed and quickly processed.

Traditional hemp oil supplements are just that – an oil. That makes them fat soluble. Slower to get to work, but will bind and hold in our systems. That’s a good thing, but sometimes we need a result more quickly. 

Scientists have also been able to modify hemp compounds to make them water soluble. There are now two different categories of CBD products to choose from: oil soluble and water soluble. You may have heard the two terms thrown around or you may have seen the terms while shopping for CBD. We refer to water soluble hemp oil as a “booster.” It will get to work quickly as fast acting CBD, but then dissipate more quickly as well. It’s a quick “boost” of CBD to get you through. 

Understanding Bioavailability 

To understand the primary difference between water soluble and oil soluble CBD, you need to first understand the concept of bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the portion of a substance that is able to be absorbed by the body into the bloodstream. In other words, bioavailability is the amount of a substance that is able to have an active effect in your body. Bioavailability is important, because you will see a higher effect when your body is able to absorb more of a compound into the bloodstream. Increasing the bioavailability of CBD gives you more bang for your buck – greater benefits with less CBD. 

Bioavailability applies to compounds found in cannabis, but this effect isn’t exclusive to cannabis. Reduction in bioavailability is a common problem for many plant-based compounds, including morphine, lidocaine, curcumin, and nitroglycerin. So, now that you understand bioavailability, how does that all tie in to the difference between water soluble CBD vs oil? 

What Is Oil Soluble CBD? 

Traditionally, hemp oil supplements were all oil soluble. Cannabidiol is an oil by nature (as the name implies). As you likely already know, oil and water do not mix well. For oil to dissolve into water, it would have to break some of the hydrogen bonds in water, which doesn’t happen. Therefore, getting the body to absorb oil soluble CBD poses a challenge. CBD oil naturally resists absorption into the bloodstream to a degree. 

Bioavailability is typically the lowest when CBD is consumed orally. Certain studies have found that consumption of certain oil soluble CBD capsules result in absorption rates of only 20-30% in some cases. Of course, there are formulations that improve bioavailability. 

CBD tinctures allow individuals to place drops under the tongue for absorption (this method is believed to provide the fastest absorption). CBD lotions and creams can also be directly rubbed into the skin to directly enter systemic circulation. These oil soluble CBD products have much higher absorption rates. Nevertheless, scientists have been pushing to find ways to make CBD more water soluble, which is where water soluble CBD comes into play. 

What Is Water Soluble CBD?

The term “water soluble CBD” is technically a misnomer. Water soluble CBD doesn’t actually dissolve in water. Instead, the process of creating water soluble CBD involves breaking CBD molecules into nanoparticles and emulsifying them with a hydrophilic (water-friendly) carrier to remain stable in tiny form. As nanoparticles, the CBD molecules are then tiny enough to allow for better absorption. The tiny particles can disperse throughout water, which increases the surface area of the compound. 

So, water soluble CBD is really more water compatible CBD rather than water soluble. There are several different methods for making CBD more water friendly. The most common methods include: 

  • Nanoemulsion: Considered to be the best method for creating water soluble CBD, this process involves breaking up cannabis extract to 10-100 nanometer droplets. 
  • Microemulsion: Microemulsion involves dissolving CBD oil in water to create 100-5,000 nanometer droplets. This process requires a large amount of additives to be successful, which can create undesirable side effects. For this reason, microemulsion is not commonly utilized in the CBD industry. 
  • Liposomes: Liposomes are structures with a (water friendly) core and outer shell. CBD extract is then stored in the membrane between the core and outer shell. 

Water soluble CBD oil is more rapidly absorbed by the body and takes less time to become active when compared to oil-based counterparts. Water soluble CBD is produced in both liquid and powder forms. It can be used in capsules, topicals, edibles, tinctures, and drinks. 

Which Should You Take? 

You’ve got options when determining the best way for you to get the calming and balancing effects of hemp oil into your daily supplement regimen. If a product contains water soluble CBD, it will normally say so somewhere on the product label, like our Hemplucid Water Soluble tinctures

How you get your CBD is entirely a matter of personal preference. Traditional oil-based hemp will take longer to get to work, but will bind to your lipids and keep working for you. Water soluble options will likely allow for a much quicker effect, but that benefit will be a shorter time frame. Many people find best results when combining the two – a consistent daily oil supplement and and a water soluble CBD oil for an as needed “booster.” 

If you’re looking to try or buy CBD, you can browse our wide selection of CBD products in our shop. If you’re unsure what kind of CBD product may be best for you, our CBD 101 Beginner’s Guide is a great place to start. If you’d rather chat with a real live person, reach out. That’s what we are here for! You can reach us at support@greenwellnesslife.com or by phone at 888-772-7875. 

As always, our goal at Green Wellness Life is first to educate. We encourage you to do your own research into hemp and how it can help you live a healthier, happier life. Thanks for reading!






About Brandy Palmer

Brandy PalmerAfter years in banking and manufacturing management, Brandy went to work for a hemp manufacturer in West Michigan. What was intended to be a fun summer gig turned into a passion for hemp. Brandy founded GWL in 2015 and is still excited every day to share that passion. Brandy has Bachelor's Degree in Public Relations and a Master's Degree in Management from Grand Valley State University. Go Lakers! Her journey as an entrepreneur has been featured in Revue magazine and on investcourier.com, among others. When she's not talking hemp, you can find her playing chauffer to her two kids or cuddling at home with her husband, Jim, and their 4 (yes, 4) cats.

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