Originally Posted on 20th April 2020
At New Phase Blends HQ, we received a question from one of our new Wholesale Accounts about crystallized or cloudy cannabidiol (CBD) oil that they received from another supplier. I’d like to take the time to address exactly what this is
Then, we’ll discuss how it happened and what a user can do to fix their crystallized or cloudy CBD oil.
This article on cloudy CBD oil is going to be a little heavy on the science side. I will try my best to explain what’s going on with your cloudy CBD oil in an easy-to-understand way.
Why CBD Gets Cloudy
While rare, CBD oil can appear like a “cloudy” substance. It almost resembles nano-emulsified (water-soluble) CBD, even though it isn’t. But why exactly does this happen?
CBD oil and/or hemp oil can take on some strange forms when stored incorrectly. For instance, when exposed to hot or cold temperatures, your CBD can appear cloudy.
Related Post: The Importance of Storing Your CBD Properly
First, we need to keep a couple of things in mind:
- Your CBD oil is essentially a heavily concentrated CBD extract mixed with a lipid (i.e., fat) carrier. At New Phase Blends, we use medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil as a carrier oil.
- When this mixture is exposed to sub-optimal temperatures, it can take on a solid form that resembles crystallization. This “cloudy” appearance is what you see — tiny crystals in oil.
What Are the Crystals Made Of?
These crystals are pure CBD in solid form. The lipid carrier (whether it’s MCT oil, grape seed oil, or hemp seed oil) has separated from the CBD extract, resulting in the latter taking on a solid form. This is similar to the crystallized appearance of THC that can sometimes form on the exterior of cannabis flowers and leaves.
Lattice Formation Explained
From a chemical point of view, both THC and CBD have closely related molecular characteristics, and they both take on the form of a crystalline lattice. A lattice is a crossed structure and can result in diamond or square-shaped spaces in between the compounds.
Figure 1.0 — Example of a complex lattice formation
These crystals are the purest form of concentrate that exists. But while that may sound like a good thing, it’s not. The crystallized mixture often results in varying dosage levels if you were to use a dropper to extract the liquid.
For example, under normal circumstances, 1 mL of your oil would have 32 mg of CBD. Keep in mind though, when this mixture crystallizes, parts of that same liquid may hold higher concentrations of CBD.
You could extract anywhere from 0 to 200+ mg of CBD, depending on the number of crystals that made it into the dropper.
At New Phase Blends, we mix our CBD extract with a carrier oil to provide an even and accurate amount of CBD per mL of oil. When the CBD has separated and crystallized, you lose that ability to dose accurately.
The Role of Carrier Oils in CBD Products
MCT oil is a popular carrier oil due to its potential health benefits, ranging from better brain function to increased endurance. Other types of carrier oils include:
- Hemp seed oil
- Grape seed oil
- Avocado oil
These all serve the purpose of helping to evenly distribute and carry the CBD extract. The choice of carrier oil ultimately boils down to preference, and one oil is not necessarily better than the other — except for hemp seed oil.
Interesting fact: Did you know that hemp seed oil has no CBD in it?
Related Post: Differences Between Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp seed oil has a high volume of essential fats, but it has no therapeutic value like CBD oil. Some companies take advantage of unsuspecting consumers by selling hemp seed oil under the guise of CBD oil.
This is why certificates of analysis are so important — they show exactly which cannabinoids are in your product.
Why Did the CBD Crystallize?
As mentioned earlier, we combine CBD-rich extract with organic MCT oil to make our products. During this process, the CBD extract becomes suspended in the MCT oil, resulting in an even and constant amount of CBD throughout the entire bottle.
Depending on how much CBD is in the oil, the mixture will generally remain stable. According to the National Library of Medicine, “The stability of this formulation [oil suspended compounds] was assessed considering particle size distribution, settling volume ratio, redispersibility, thermal stability, and drug content.”
This process is called — you guessed it — “suspension.”
CBD Suspension Explained
During suspension, we make sure that there’s an even ratio of CBD to carrier oil throughout the entire mixture. For context, if a New Phase Blends product has 1,000 mg of broad-spectrum CBD, I want to be POSITIVE that for every 1 mL of fluid, there is 33.2 mg of CBD extract in it.
Suspending the correct amount of CBD extract in our carrier oil ensures this outcome. In a good mixture, no cloudy effect from the CBD oil can be noticed.
Take a look at this incredible picture from Kush showing a large scale of phytocannabinoid crystallization. These crystals are obviously large enough to be held with your hands, but what happens in a bottle of CBD is essentially the same — tiny CBD crystals suspended in oil.
Figure 2.0 — Crystalline structure (from Kush)
What you see here are hexagonal (six-sided) crystals, which is also the form CBD takes when it crystallizes. If you placed a drop of cloudy CBD oil under a microscope, you would see several six-sided crystals, just like the ones in the image.
Figure 3.0 — Example of cloudy CBD oil
Coming Out of Suspension
When exposed to extreme conditions, the CBD oil can come out of suspension and crystallize. I would say that 99 times out of 100, this problem happens because of poor shipping procedures. The product likely sat in a very hot or cold environment during the shipping process.
This normally wouldn’t matter in a situation where you would use CBD gummies for pain, because the gummies are single servings.
It does matter in a product like CBD oil drops, where the entire tincture can become compromised.
Is Cloudy CBD Oil Safe to Use?
Yes. The product isn’t toxic or poisonous in nature — it’s just no longer suspended properly. We need to heat the oil back up to promote the chemical binding of the CBD extract and the oil carrier. As a general rule of thumb, poor quality CBD oils will turn cloudy easier than premium quality stuff will. There are always exceptions, but this is generally true.
The CBD can also come out of suspension because it was never properly suspended to begin with. For example, if you combine a little MCT oil with a dash of CBD isolate powder, you’re technically creating CBD oil. You can shake it around vigorously, and it would look OK.
However, over time, you will notice some of the CBD isolate powder settling at the bottom and maybe even some crystallized CBD floating around the oil. This is because it wasn’t suspended properly.
How Is CBD Oil Suspended?
- The ultrasonic mixer uses sound waves to help break down and mix different substances.
- The homogenizer mixer is a very high-speed blender (20,000+ RPM).
If you have further questions on how these machines work, please feel free to reach out to us. We can walk you through how New Phase Blends CBD is suspended.
What Should I Do to Remove the Cloudy CBD Oil Appearance?
If you order a CBD oil or tincture and it arrives looking cloudy, I strongly recommend immediately contacting your provider and asking for a refund. It’s not your fault that the product was shipped under conditions that affected its quality.
But what if you accidentally kept your CBD in the fridge or left it in an area exposed to sunlight? The good news is that you can easily restore your CBD into a suspended state.
Methods for Correcting Your Cloudy CBD at Home
While this method is by no means a guarantee, you can, in a pinch, help the crystallized CBD to bind back to its lipid carrier oil (oil base) on any household stove.
- Boil a pot of water and gently place the CBD oil (sealed tightly) in the water using a pair of tongs. Use oven mitts and be careful when working over an open flame or hot surface.
- Gently shake the bottle around with the tongs, being careful not to burn yourself. See if the crystals slowly go away. If they do, that means the CBD extract is now suspended properly in the carrier oil.
- You can also try microwaving the CBD oil for no more than 5–10 seconds at a time to see if you can get a similar result. It should turn clear and resemble the CBD oil in the picture below. This should only be a last resort, as microwaving can lead to unpredictable results.
So, cloudy CBD oil is just crystallized phytocannabinoids. This crystallization process is harmless, but it does affect your ability to take accurate doses of CBD. As a general rule of thumb, premium CBD oils will not become cloudy, while poor quality products may.
Your CBD can get cloudy due to the following reasons:
- Exposure to extreme temperatures
- Poor product quality
- Incorrect manufacturing techniques
- Improper storage of CBD
While it’s not perfect, you can restore cloudy CBD oil into a suspended state with some simple steps. But even if you can fix it, I would still recommend letting your CBD vendor know that their product arrived in a cloudy form.
Perhaps they can adjust their manufacturing processes to make it harder for their products to come out of suspension.
At New Phase Blends, our products are manufactured under strict protocols to guarantee consistent product quality. All CBD oils, gummies, and topicals are reviewed by a third-party laboratory to verify their CBD content.
We also work with reliable couriers to ensure that all orders arrive in our customers’ hands in perfect condition. Explore our product line today to learn more.