Different carrier oils can serve different purposes, so choose the carrier oil that works best for you. What is the best carrier oil for CBD? What is a carrier oil anyways? Everything you need to know about the best carrier oil for CBD. Learn exactly what makes a great carrier oil and how it affects your CBD bioavailability. Plus, why Olive Oil and Palm Oil are poor choices for your CBD selection.
What is the Best Carrier Oil for CBD?
Reading the labels on CBD oil products, you will see the name of the oil in addition to the CBD oil. The other oil is called carrier oil, and it has an important role in helping you enjoy the full benefits of CBD. A CBD carrier oil is a vegetable oil that is extracted from the fatty plant parts, and its job is to help you absorb the CBD oil.
Benefits of CBD Carrier Oils
CBD is lipophilic, which means it dissolves in fats rather than water. The body will resist absorption of CBD oil without a carrier oil which means most of the CBD will simply pass through the digestive system.
The carrier oils that are combined with CBD oil are plant-derived fatty oils for this reason. The carrier oil acts like a solvent, dissolving the hemp plant compounds so your body can absorb them easier. Fat-soluble compounds like CBD need assistance in order to reach the bloodstream.
The benefits of CBD carrier oils include:
- Improves CBD bioavailability
- Natural scent
- Mild taste that offsets strong CBD oil taste
- Not volatile
- Improves stability of CBD and other cannabinoids
- Unsaturated fats from plants have proven health benefits
- Makes accurate dosing easier because a predictable amount of CBD is added to the CBD oil and measuring the dosage is easier with the combined oils
Common Carrier Oils
1. MCT Oil
MCT is the acronym for medium-chain triglyceride. MCT is found in high concentrations in coconut, palm kernels and some other seeds. For this reason, MCT oil is commonly derived from coconuts and palm kernels and is one of the most common carrier oils combined with CBD oil. MCTs are good with CBD oils because the shorter structure, compared to long-chain fatty acids, is more easily absorbed in the digestive tract.
CBD coconut oil is the most common carrier oil mixture. It may be called fractionated coconut oil on CBD oil product labels. Fractionated coconut oil is oil in which longer fat molecules are removed to leave only the MCTs.
- Improves bioavailability of the CBD because it is quickly broken down in the liver, making the excess easily absorbed by the intestine
- Nearly flavorless
- Colorless and odorless
- Medium-chain triglycerides are fatty acids (saturated fats) that are easier to digest compared to other oils and are easily absorbed into the skin
- Thinner oil
- Long shelf life
- May lead to digestive side effects in some people
- Highly processed because it is first fractionated and then further processed which removes some of the healthy phytonutrients
- Low content of omega-3 fatty acids which research has shown provide many health benefits
2. Hemp Seed Oil
There are plenty of carrier oil options when you want CBD without coconut oil to avoid saturated fats. Hemp seed oil is one of them. It is made from hemp seeds, while CBD is extracted from the hemp flower and other plant parts.
- Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- High concentration of plant-based protein
- Combining hemp oil with CBD oil may produce the entourage effect because all hemp plant parts are used
- Contains some minerals like iron and magnesium
- Has a grassy smell and taste which some people do not like
- Hemp seeds contain fewer cannabinoids and terpenes compared to flowers
- Compared to MCT oil, it has a lower solvency
3. Palm Oil
Palm oil is similar to MCT oil. In fact, palm kernel oil is used to make MCT oil. It is extracted from African oil palm fruit.
- Smaller fat molecules of MCT oil from palm oil is easily absorbed by the body
- Rich in the saturated fat palmitic acid
- High in monounsaturated fat (40 percent), a healthy kind of fat
- Contains vitamins A and E
- Excessive harvesting of palm kernel plants is harming the environment, so buy products with sustainability sourced palm oil
- Highly processed
- Contains 50 percent saturated fat which is unhealthy fat
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil is made by crushing olives into a pulp. The natural oil is then separated from the pulp.
- Rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- High in oleic acid
- Rich in antioxidants
- Faster skin absorption compared to MCT oil
- Not as easy to digest as some other oils
- Has a distinctive strong flavor that some people find disagreeable
- Thicker consistency than other carrier oils
5. Avocado Oil
Avocado oil is extracted from the avocado fruit, so you get the nutritional benefits of the fruit itself. Avocadoes contain minerals, vitamins, fiber and healthy fats.
- High in oleic acid which is a monounsaturated fatty acid that may help relieve dry skin
- Pleasant nutty aroma
- Subtle avocado taste
- Easily absorbed by digestive tract and skin
- Very thick, heavy oil so not good for some skin types, like oily skin
- May reduce the efficacy of some medications, like warfarin
- Some people are allergic to avocadoes
- Usually more expensive than many other CBD carrier oils
6. Grapeseed Oil
Just like the name implies, grapeseed oil is pressed from grape seeds. Grape seeds contain high amounts of flavonoids and antioxidants.
- Light or thin texture
- Not greasy
- Neutral, mild taste with no bitterness
- High content of omega-6 fatty acid and vitamin E of flavonoids, phenolic acids, carotenoids and tannins
- May contain traces of chemical solvents used during processing
- Lower solvency compared to MCT oil
- Slower absorption compared to MCT oil
What Makes an Oil the Best Carrier Oil?
The best carrier oil for CBD has certain features that include the following.
- Promotes the best CBD bioavailability
- Easily digested
- Free of preservatives and harmful chemicals
- Cold-pressed because fatty acids subjected to heat denatures them (destroys the natural properties)
The CBD MCT oil benefits make this combination one of the preferred consumer choices. Because MCT oil is thinner, it makes a good CBD MCT oil tincture.
However, different carrier oils can serve different purposes. For example, olive oil may be used in CBD oil topically because it is thicker and more easily absorbed by the skin. Some people prefer CBD without MCT oil because MCT oil is highly processed. Each person is unique, and it is important to choose the carrier oil that works best for you. Fortunately, you have many choices in carrier oils today!
- Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and skin barrier repair effects of topical application of some plant oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
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About the Author
Alex Malkin is a CBD enthusiast, researcher, and the editor-in-chief at CBD.market. He’s also the author of the book “CBD: A Door to Better Health” and a certified nutrition-and-wellness specialist.
What is the Best Carrier Oil for CBD? The 7 Best CBD Carrier Oils
A carrier oil, also known as a base oil, is a plant-derived oil which is used to carry essential oils and plant supplements. Base oils are necessary since essential oils tend to be very strong and would otherwise cause an irritation without a base oil. Supplements such as CBD, absorb better with the help of carrier oil. Base oils are also used to infuse plants and plant compounds with food. Carrier oils are fatty vegetable oils which are derived from various parts of the plant. These oils are often very mild in terms of both flavor and essence. Base oils work to aid the absorption of the plant extracts that they are mixed with while providing therapeutic benefits of their own.
Similar to essential oils, each carrier oil has it’s own unique properties and benefits. Some base oils also provide great bioavailability and absorb better than others. For example, coconut MCT oil is the perfect base oil for making your own tincture. Arnica oi, on the other hand, is better used to treat localized aches and pains.
What are the best carrier oils for CBD
1. MCT Oil (Unrefined)
Unrefined coconut MCT oil is widely considered one of the best carrier oils around. This is because MCT oil absorbs better than most while providing greater CBD bioavailability. MCT Oil seems to come with a few remarkable benefits of its own.
- Anti-Bacterial Properties
- Cognitive Enhancer
- Packed with essential fatty acids
- Skin Health
The difference between refined and unrefined coconut oil is stark, so be sure to look for unrefined coconut MCT oil. Unrefined coconut MCT oil comes from the meat of fresh coconuts and doesn’t undergo chemical processing.
2. Hemp Seed Oil
Like Hemp Seeds, hemp seed oil is considered a superfood in part because it is packed with essential fatty acids. This hemp-based oil is linked to a variety of health benefits such as
- Reduced inflammation
- Brain protectant
- Reduced risk of heart disease
Hemp seed oil is packed with benefits and works well as a carrier oil. You might consider using hemp seed oil for projects involving balms and pastes.
3. Sunflower Oil
Organic sunflower oil is loaded with healthy vitamins and minerals. Sunflower oil is inexpensive and worthy of consideration for any DIY CBD project. Similar to coconut MCT oil, sunflower oil provides benefits of its own:
- Skin Health
- Anti-Oxidant Booster
- Promotes the regeneration of new skin
- Soothes skin irritation
Sunflower oil is a healthy alternative to traditional cooking oils and is eco-friendly too! This oil works as a great carrier oil for CBD but also works effectively with most essential oils.
4. Avocado Oil
Avocado lovers rejoice! Your favorite food makes a great carrier oil as well. As a base oil, Avocado oil isn’t as effective as MCT oil, but it is packed benefits. If you love healthy fats you probably have some level of avocado addiction – for good reason too. Avocado oil provides:
- High Vitamin A, B, D, and E content
- Skin Nourishment
- Rich in Oleic acid – a healthy fat
- High in Lutein
Organic avocado oil promotes the absorption of nutrients into the skin and is the perfect carrier oil when making your own CBD skin products. Avocado oil, which is loaded with healthy fats, continually works to keep your body running optimally.
5. Grapeseed Oil
Grapes are well-known for their anti-oxidant properties. Not surprisingly, grapeseed oil is loaded with these same anti-oxidants. Unlike Avocado oil, Grapeseed oil is very light and feels smoother on the skin. Grapeseed oil works great when used as the base for massage oil.
- May reduce Wrinkles
- Great for dry or irritated skin
- High in Vitamin E
Make a CBD massage oil? Consider using grapeseed oil as your base and adding additional essential oils for fragrance and effect.
6. Pomegranate Seed Oil
Pomegranate seed oil is one of the most therapeutic carrier oils available. Loaded with vitamins and essential fats, pomegranate seed oil is packed with remarkable benefits.
- Immune Boost
- Heart Health Benefits
- Punicic acid found in pomegranate seed oil is linked to preventing cancer
- Healthy Hormone Optimizer
- Promotes digestive health
- May improve cognitive functions
- And More!
The list of benefits associated with pomegranate oil is endless. Pomegranate oil is a favorite carrier oil for skin care products. With all its other benefits, pomegranate seed oil is an ideal choice for a base oil. Consider adding CBD to the mix and take your skin care routine to the next level.
7. Arnica Oil
Arnica is linked by research to anti-inflammatory properties and is a popular alternative for treating sprains, muscle soreness, and bruises. This powerful flower is attributed to aiding with:
- Aches and Pains
- Sprains and Muscle Soreness
- Heals insect Bites
This potent base oil requires you pay a bit more attention. In high, concentrated dosages Arnica can be toxic. If used correctly, however, when combined with CBD arnica can act as a phenomenal pain-aid that provides powerful natural relief.
More With CBD
With a better understanding of carrier oils under your belt, you are now ready to tackle your own CBD projects. Below we’ve included three posts that highlight our favorite DIY CBD projects.
- Interested in making your own CBD oil tincture? Check out our DIY CBD projects post with a complete breakdown.
- Check out our post on how to Infuse CBD Isolate. This is great for anyone who wants to cook with CBD.
- Here we explain how to use CBD oil in our complete guide to CBD oil.
Instead of overpaying for CBD infused products, make your own CBD infused treats with our CBD isolate and your choice of carrier oil. Pure CBD isolate powder is the most versatile CBD product available. Any CBD product you can imagine is made by infusing pure CBD isolate powder with the carrier oil of your choice. From CBD vape juice to CBD guacamole the possibilities are endless. Not every brand is willing to sell CBD isolate, this is because you can make so many CBD infused creations out of CBD isolate. While other brands may be wary, at Bloom, we always have CBD isolate for sale online.
Finally, are you looking for more information about Hemp and CBD? Be sure to follow us on social media @bloomhemp or check out our CBD 101 Guide!
CBD & Carrier Oils: Which to choose?
Knowing what goes into the blend is a pretty good start when deciding on your preferred CBD oil. Not only are there many sub-par CBD oils on the market, the way your body processes CBD has a lot to do with the ingredients. So what is a carrier oil, and how does it influence your CBD usage? Read on to find out.
What is a CBD Carrier Oil?
Carrier oils or “Base oils” have been around for a long time. You may have heard of them from aromatherapy or massage botanicals (where the oil “carries” the essential oil to your skin). The method with CBD is relatively similar – the choice of carrier oil delivers the compound to your body. Only here, it applies to topical creams and the other absorption methods (buccal, sublingual, and digestion – more on those here).
Why do we need CBD carrier oils?
After extraction from the cannabis plant, the CBD compound is distilled into isolate, broad, or full-spectrum (depending on the level of filtration). In both instances, this compound needs to be diluted by a carrier oil for five main reasons.
1. Ease of Delivery
A carrier oil assists the body in processing the CBD you take. As CBD is lipophilic (science-speak for “loves fat”), it binds easily with fat molecules, which helps strengthen the substance’s absorption by the body, and therefore increasing bioavailability (what’s that? check out our article here).
2. Maintaining Freshness
Carrier oils are needed to ensure your CBD remains stable and potent for longer. For example, some vegetable oils quickly deteriorate, and the potency of the product is lost. However, as olive oil, coconut oil, and hemp seed oil all oxidise at a slower rate, they retain the freshness of the compounds within and increase the CBD’s shelf life.
3. Diluting CBD
Following extraction, the CBD concentrate is exceptionally high. Still, your body doesn’t require large amounts of CBD to see a result (in fact, higher concentrations can lead to adverse side effects!) In addition, diluting the compound makes it much easier to create a consistent dosage, helping you adjust to find a level that’s right for you.
4. Providing taste
Once the CBD has been isolated from the plant, you’re left with a rather bland product with no distinctive taste or smell. In the same way that we use specific cooking oils in the kitchen for particular tastes, carrier oils create more exciting flavour combinations. We go one step further and add additional mouth watering flavours!
5. Carrier oil nutritional Benefits – don’t believe the hype?
Some types of oil may have nutritional health benefits; olive oil has gotten a lot of attention for its mood-improving, heart-happy health bonuses. That being said, it’s pretty questionable whether three drops of CBD oil per day is enough to see any actual benefit on your health. Plus, olive oil isn’t the best carrier for CBD, but more on this below.
What types of CBD carrier oil are there and what’s best for me?
We know it might seem like quite a granular question, but it’s one we get asked about regularly. Your decision should be down to how you use the product and your personal preferences. The essential thing is making informed choices about what you put in and on your body.
MCT Coconut oil: a great all-rounder.
Coconut oil is made by pressing the copra, or the kernel of coconuts. This oil is then processed in a method known as “fractionating”, where larger fat molecules are removed, leaving smaller ones known as MCTs (or medium-chain triglycerides). These molecules are processed and absorbed by your body more quickly than larger fats, which boosts bioavailability.
Furthermore, the environmental impact of coconut oil is pretty low. Growing coconuts doesn’t require pesticides or herbicides, and coconuts are harvested by hand instead of machines.
Hemp seed oil: not so bioavailable.
Hemp seed oil is often confused with CBD oil made from hemp leaves or flowers. However, there are no terpenes or cannabinoids in hemp seed oils.
Now, you might expect hemp seed oil to be the perfect carrier oil for CBD – it’s found on the same plant, after all. Again, however, it comes back to the question of bioavailability. Because MCT oil has more saturated fat than hemp seed oil, it can carry more CBD molecules, thus delivering more cannabidiol to our body’s cells for absorption.
Olive oil: Great for health, bad for bioavailability.
Olive oil is one of the earliest human cultivated fruits, and the health benefits of this “liquid gold” have been widely celebrated since the Romans. But, we’re sad to say, olive oil isn’t a great carrier for CBD.
Olive oil contains a high number of large monounsaturated fats and additional molecules. These are great for nutrition, but they slow the process of absorption and reduce the CBD’s bioavailability. While olive oil is noted for its antioxidants, the viscous liquid can make it difficult to dose correctly.
Palm oil: Good for CBD, bad for the Environment.
Palm Oil is a vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. Two types of oil can be produced; crude palm oil is made by pressing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil comes from mashing the stone in the middle of the fruit. Just like coconut oil, palm oil can be fractionated to create an MCT oil.
You’ve probably heard of the bad reputation palm oil has for its environmental effects – namely, that acres of rainforest are being cut down to keep up with the massive demand for palm oil (palm oil is used in everything from pizza to toothpicks!). This contributes to the loss of habitats for vulnerable animals and accelerates climate change due to palm trees’ valuable role in absorbing carbon dioxide.
In conclusion: what is the best carrier oil for CBD?
The best carrier oil for CBD will feature a high rate of bioavailability. For this reason, MCT oil is your best bet. It has higher fat-soluble compounds that ensure a greater absorption rate and ensure you receive the greatest benefit from the cannabinoids.