A full-spectrum CO2 cartridge and a distillate are two different types of cannabis extracts that provide varying experiences depending on what you are searching for. These products are obtained through similar processes, but with different extraction methods that result in different chemical makeup and effects.
Full-spectrum CO2 Cartridge
A full-spectrum CO2 cartridge is a cannabis extract that uses CO2 to extract the active compounds from the plant, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The process of CO2 extraction is known for its ability to obtain a complete extraction of these compounds without leaving harmful residual chemicals in the final product.
When it comes to the cannabinoid profile, full-spectrum CO2 cartridges contain all of the therapeutic compounds present in the cannabis plant, including THC, CBD, CBN, CBC, and others. This type of oil is deemed full-spectrum because it is not isolated to just one major cannabinoid, but rather produces a wide array of cannabinoids that work synergistically with one another. This combination is sometimes referred to as the “entourage effect,” which suggests that the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes work together, enhancing the therapeutic benefits and balancing out the psychoactive effects.
Additionally, full-spectrum CO2 cartridges typically have a strong aroma and flavor because of the terpenes, which provide the plant’s unique characteristics. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give different plants their distinct scents and tastes. These terpenes not only add to the user experience but also offer certain therapeutic effects.
Distillates are another form of cannabis extracts that contain high levels of concentrated cannabinoids. This type of product goes through a multi-step process of distillation, which separates and concentrates the components, stripping away all impurities in the process. By selectively heating the plant material and collecting the resulting vapor, distillate producers are able to isolate and then distill cannabinoids, separating them from other cannabinoids and beneficial compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids.
The final product is a clear, viscous liquid that can have a variety of potencies, typically ranging from 60-90% THC. Unlike a Full-Spectrum CO2 cartridge, a distillate by definition is not “full-spectrum”. It primarily consists of either THC or CBD with the potential for minor concentrations of other cannabinoids depending on the starting material. This process produces a product that is tasteless and odorless, without the aromatic compounds that add to the scent and flavor. Distillates, for this reason, are often used in edibles or vaporizers, as they can be mixed with other flavorings and agents.
Full-Spectrum vs. Distillate: Which One Should Be Used?
The decision between a distillate and full-spectrum CO2 cartridge ultimately depends on what the user is looking for. Distillates are a good option for people who want an easy-to-dose product with little to no aroma or taste, or for those primarily seeking THC or CBD. The isolated nature of THC or CBD in the distillate form also makes it easier to ensure potency levels remain consistent from label to label. However, depending on starting material and extraction process, a distillate may exclude some of the other therapeutic compounds found in the starting material that could contribute further therapeutic benefits.
Full-spectrum CO2 cartridges offer a more complex experience for those who want to extract the full range of benefits from the cannabis plant. Cannabis contains around 120 different cannabinoids that have been identified so far, and each of them has unique effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system. With a full-spectrum CO2 cartridge, you are getting a more tailored and dynamic effect in comparison to sole distillates, which may not have all of the benefits of a “full plant extract”.
Another thing to consider when purchasing either product is the possibility of possible contaminants in the starting material. While manufacturers strive for the purest possible extractions, there is always the possibility of pesticides or other contaminants present in the starting material. Thus, it is best to trust brands known for high-quality extractions.
While a full-spectrum CO2 cartridge and a distillate may have similar uses, they are decidedly different in terms of potency, flavor, and aroma. A full-spectrum CO2 cartridge contains all the active compounds found in the cannabis plant, whereas a distillate has a singular concentration of either THC or CBD. Depending on the situation, both products have their own advantages and make choosing between them a matter of preference and desired outcome.