A new trend in CBD oils is to have a "water soluble" CBD base for making CBD formulas and products. Let's start by being very clear that technically speaking, there is no such thing as true water soluble CBD oils (we will delve into this deeper later in the article). While these products claim to have better absorption and be more bioavailable, many people may not know what this means and why it may benefit them. This article is intended to give some general guidelines as to what types of water soluble CBD products are out there as well as how they work and interact with your body.
Given that approximately 60% of the human body is water, it makes sense that "water soluble" CBD products are the way to go when it comes to using CBD. After all, if your body is mostly water, and the CBD is an oil, how would your body be able to absorb it at all if it wasn't water soluble? We will answer this question and more in this article.
Let's talk about a little history of "water soluble" CBD, as this will help bring you up to date and give you a better appreciation for all the amazing "water soluble" CBD products now out there and available to buy today.
The Beginning (prior to 2013): While there was talk about making water soluble oil based CBD since pretty much the beginning of regular CBD oil, it was many years before the R&D finally got to a point where it was a possibility, but still no products had really hit the market. Another large driving factor was the CBD e-liquid business really picking up and the inability to mix CBD with high vegetable glycerin E-liquids. Basically people assumed that if they could get a water soluble CBD product they could easily mix it with vegetable glycerin and have a PG (propylene glycol) free vaping product. Still, to this day, even with water soluble CBD products available, this complication still plagues the PG-free CBD e-liquids market as an issue that's unresolved, mostly because none of the water soluble CBD products on the market are high enough in CBD and low enough in binders (we will explain "binders" later in the article) to make them work consistently in a vaporizing device.
2015-2016: Water soluble CBD products even 2-3 years ago were still pretty much a unicorn and while you would have companies that claimed to have it available for purchase it was either in extremely low mg's, was far to expensive or they just simply claimed they had it when in fact they didn't. Discover CBD has been involved in water soluble CBD products since pretty much the beginning, and still as of 2017 we have many companies calling us claiming to have water soluble CBD, when in fact, it is not water soluble at all and is just simply CBD isolate. A lot of this misrepresentation started a couple years back when people started to use CBD isolate and somehow the term "water soluble" was attached to it, even though CBD isolate is not in the least bit water soluble. This misconception was republished on many websites and then perpetuated even further by companies who had isolated CBD and wanted to fulfill the many requests for "water soluble" CBD.
Currently: Fast forward to 2017 and now most companies (but not all) have both isolate and "water soluble" CBD formulas. Please note that not all "water soluble" CBD products are created equally, we will speak in more detail about this later in the article.
Let's be clear: Just as we stated earlier in the article technically speaking there is no such thing as true "water soluble CBD". The reason for this is CBD is a molecule that itself is not water soluble, and in order for it to be water soluble, it would have to change the structure of the molecule to something else, which in turn would no longer make it CBD.
So what is water soluble CBD then? For this question we turned to Levi the owner of DiscoverCBD.com and an 18 year veteran of the CBD industry as well as a leading expert in CBD products and development. When we asked Levi "What is water soluble CBD?" this is what his response was:
"When people or companies use the term "water soluble CBD" what they are really talking about is a CBD based product that will homogenize with water or a water based product (ie:vegetable glycerin) without using emulsifiers such as lecithin, propylene glycol, MCT, or Polysobate 80 among others." -Levi
So now that we know that there is no such thing as pure "water soluble" CBD, what are the so-called "water soluble CBD" products that ARE out there? Well, we did some research, and this is what we found. Generally speaking, there are 3 types of "water soluble" CBD products out there, and they can come in the form of thick/viscous liquid (that looks like oil but isn't), liquid (generally clear and invisible appearing like water) and water soluble CBD powders. Now to make things even more complicated, out of these three finished "water soluble" products, you can have 3 main methods companies are using to make "water soluble CBD".
Nano CBD: The idea here is that you are breaking up the CBD into small enough particles that they will disperse throughout water and not clump up together simply because the CBD particles are so small. While there is little evidence to suggest that this is in fact making the CBD any more water soluble, since it's still the same non water soluble CBD molecule, it can appear as if the CBD has completely emulsified in water since its just simply to small to see. Generally people claiming to have nano particulated CBD its a marketing ploy and not actually nanotechnology. Another drawback to "nano" CBD is generally it is used in products such as CBD water where the CBD concentration is extremely low and the price is very high (such as $9/liter for 25mg). Because this isn't really making the CBD water soluble, you don't have any binders or additional ingredients used, so it's possible to use this method in drinks or other products that would have to be clear or need to have as few of ingredients as possible. Another drawback to this form of "water soluble" CBD is that generally speaking, it's just CBD isolate with no other cannabinoids present, making them not a "broad spectrum CBD" or "full spectrum" product (basically meaning you may not be getting all the benefits the plant has to offer). Also, it's important to note that most "nano CBD" products out there do not contain nano sized molecules of CBD even though they claim they do. The reason for this is it's very expensive to process CBD to that level of isolation, and not very many people/companies have the infrastructure or techniques to accomplish this. Generally, people in the know see nano CBD as a gimmick providing nothing all that special or unique, although the potential in the future is real.
Encapsulated CBD or sometimes referred to as liposomal CBD products: This is a way to make CBD disperse in water by where they are encapsulating small particals of CBD with something that is water soluble. When this is done correctly what they are accomplishing is encapsulating them with a barrier so the CBD molecules don't bind to one another and therefore disperse evenly throughout a water based mixture. The downside to this is you can only accomplish a water soluble CBD base that is at most around 30% CBD by volume and the rest is binders which are encapsulating the CBD. The downside to this is some recipes can not have binders for one reason or another whether it be a chemical reason, taste, or look of the finished product. Generally these binders do not vape well either because they clog wicks, taste bad, or don't vaporize.
Binding CBD: This is basically the same as encapsulated CBD or liposomal CBD in the sense that what's happening is they are just binding the CBD with something that is water soluble to in essence "drag" the CBD molecule into a water-based product and fully homogenizing. The main difference here is you will generally see "nano CBD" and "encapsulated CBD" both working together to bring things into a product that can be mixed with water where as encapsulated water soluble CBD products generally won't claim to be "nano" particle CBD. In addition, a lot of these types of "water soluble" CBD products are full spectrum and provide an assortment of other ingredients from the cannabis plant such as other cannabinoids, lipids, terpenes, vitamins, antioxidants and more. While the benefits are great, this method of making "water soluble" CBD has the same drawbacks as the encapsulated CBD when it comes to e-liquid. Generally, the binders do not work well with vape devices, and you can run into a number of issues with reliability, taste, and vapor production.
Now that we are all familiar with the different kinds of "water soluble" CBD and what "water soluble" CBD really means, the real question is "does water soluble CBD oils work better than regular CBD". The real answer is no, however the practical answer is undoubtedly YES. Let's explain this a bit more. If you were to have your body ingest and use 10mg of CBD, it doesn't matter where the CBD came from, it's going to accomplish the same thing, because it is the same thing. Now, if we, say, ingest a 100mg CBD tincture that is water soluble and one that isn't, your body will be able to use and absorb a much higher percentage of the CBD in the "water soluble" product than the non "water soluble product". So practically speaking, a "water soluble CBD" product will give you much more bang for your buck, because you will be able to absorb and use the CBD much more efficiently in the "water soluble" based product than the regular one. Once your body absorbs the CBD, however, 10mg of water soluble CBD will affect you no differently than 10mg of non water soluble CBD. The difference being, you might need a 100mg non "water soluble" tincture in order to get just 10mg of CBD, but with a water soluble CBD based product, you might be able to get away with a 15mg tincture and still have your body absorb 10mg of CBD from it.
So why buy "water soluble" CBD products? Simply put, because you get more for what you pay for. First, you need to realize almost all CBD based products charge based on the amount of milligrams, or mg, of CBD present in that product. The lower the mg, the cheaper the product, the higher the mg, the more expensive the product. If you're paying $20 for a CBD product that has 100mg of CBD and it's not "water soluble oil", then your body is likely to only receive the benefits of a fraction of those 100mg of CBD. On the other hand, if you have a 100mg CBD product using "water soluble" CBD, it might cost you $25 for the same mg of CBD, but your body will be able to absorb exponentially more of those 100mg than with the non "water soluble" product. In other words, you can pay $20 for your body to absorb 10mgs of the 100mgs in the product or you can pay slightly more for the water soluble product where your body could absorb 80mg of the 100mg total of CBD in the water soluble product. In the end, the water soluble CBD products significantly outperform the non water soluble products, both in overall absorption/performance and in price per mg of usable CBD.