CBD oil is the most popular way to take CBD, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most effective.
Because while CBD oil is a very versatile product, water-soluble CBD may be able to deliver more benefits at the same dosage.
- Water-soluble CBD is, per its name, water-soluble, meaning it can dissolve in water. CBD oil, on the other hand, is fat-soluble, so it requires fat in order to be dissolved and transported throughout the body.
- Water-soluble CBD is roughly 4.5 times more bioavailable than CBD oil. The bioavailability of water-soluble CBD is roughly 45-90%, whereas CBD oil’s bioavailability is 10-20%.
- Neither water-soluble CBD or CBD oil is necessarily better; it all depends on your lifestyle and preferences.
What is Water-Soluble CBD?
Water-soluble CBD is a liquid CBD product that can dissolve into water. Usually, CBD is fat-soluble, meaning that it needs fat in order to be absorbed by your body.
But water-soluble CBD is engineered such that it can combine with water and spread throughout your body.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is CBD-dominant hemp extract paired with a carrier oil, such as MCT oil, hempseed oil, or coconut oil.
The carrier oil provides fat, which your body needs in order to distribute the CBD throughout your bloodstream.
Water Soluble CBD vs. CBD Oil: How They’re Made
In order to understand the differences in how water-soluble CBD and CBD oil interact with your body, it’s necessary to know how each product is made and what each is comprised of.
How is Water-Soluble CBD Made?
Water-soluble CBD consists of nanoparticles (particles less than 100 mm wide) of CBD oil enclosed in “shells,” suspended in water.
The process used to make water-soluble CBD is called emulsification. In emulsification, two immiscible liquids (meaning they normally can’t be mixed — in this case, CBD oil and water) are combined to form a nano emulsion.
To create a CBD oil-in-water emulsion, emulsifiers are used. An emulsifier is a molecule that is simultaneously fat-soluble and water-soluble. The fat-soluble part of the emulsifier attaches to the CBD oil, while the water-soluble part attaches to the water.
In this way, little “shells” can be built around nano-sized particles of CBD oil, allowing them to stay suspended in the water, rather than separating, as oil and water typically do:
How is CBD Oil Made?
The process by which CBD oil is made is much more straightforward.
After the CBD is extracted from the hemp plant and distilled, it’s simply combined with a carrier oil and any other additives, such as terpenes or flavoring, to make the final product.
Water Soluble CBD or CBD Oil: Which is Better?
In order for CBD to begin delivering benefits, it has to get into your bloodstream so it can be circulated throughout the body.
Then, the CBD has to be converted into a water-soluble form by your body so it can be fully digested.
And herein lies the issue: the process your body uses to turn fat-soluble CBD into an emulsion is associated with low bioavailability and delayed onset.
Water-soluble CBD, by virtue of already being in the form of an emulsion, saves your body this step and thereby has a higher bioavailability than CBD oil.
Bioavailability is the amount of a substance that your body is able to use.
High bioavailability means that most of the CBD acts on your body, whereas low bioavailability means that only a small portion of the CBD takes effect.
But why exactly do your body’s natural processes reduce CBD oil’s bioavailability?
This can be explained, in part, by the first-pass metabolism effect, a phenomenon in which most of a drug is metabolized instantly at a certain “point of entry” in the body, leaving only a small percentage of the drug to take effect.
One of CBD’s main entry points in the body is the liver — this is one of the many steps it goes through to be turned into a water-soluble substance so it can be digested. This is also where much of the CBD oil can be lost.
Since water-soluble CBD skips this step, more of it is able to take action.
So in summary, from a potency standpoint, water-soluble CBD is more effective than CBD oil.
Here are the specifics:
Water-Soluble CBD vs. CBD Oil: Bioavailability
Research comparing the efficacy of water-soluble CBD and CBD oil found that water-soluble CBD is roughly 4.5 times more bioavailable.
The average bioavailability of CBD oil is 10-20% when digested, and 20-30% when taken sublingually (under the tongue).
Since the study looked at the digestive consumption of CBD oil, this puts the bioavailability of water-soluble CBD at 45-90% — quite a bit higher.
Water-Soluble CBD vs. CBD Oil: Onset Time
In spite of the differences between water-soluble CBD and CBD oil, their onset of action is nearly the same.
You’ll feel the effects of water-soluble in roughly 10-15 minutes, and you’ll feel CBD oil in 15-20 minutes (if taken sublingually).
When is CBD Oil the Better Option?
Purely in terms of effectiveness, water-soluble CBD is better than CBD oil. However, there are still a few advantages to using CBD oil over water-soluble:
- It’s more portable — water-soluble CBD (ideally) needs to be added to a drink to be used — hard to do if you’re in a car or out and about. CBD oil, on the other hand, is portable and easy to use, no matter where you are.
- It’s easier to dose precisely — the main downside of water-soluble CBD is that it’s hard to know how many milligrams you’ve taken. Though products can contain a certain amount of CBD, it’s hard to judge how many pumps are in a bottle or how big of a pump to use. Contrast this with CBD oil, which can be dosed down to the drop.
How to Use Water-Soluble CBD: 3 Ideas
Unlike CBD oil, water-soluble shouldn’t be taken by itself. Rather, it needs to be mixed into a beverage for optimal absorption.
Water Soluble CBD & Tea
CBD is the perfect companion to tea.
It promotes mental clarity, making it the perfect addition to your morning cup of tea, and it promotes mental calming, making it a great complement to your nighttime tea.
Try adding water-soluble CBD to chamomile or valerian root tea for sleep, or green tea or yerba mate for energy.
Water Soluble CBD & Coffee
Since CBD boosts mental clarity, it pairs well with a morning cup of coffee — and water-soluble CBD is nearly tasteless, so it won’t interfere with the flavor.
Water Soluble CBD & Juice or Soda
Adding CBD water-soluble to juice or soda can make taking CBD fun and delicious!
What to Look for In Water-Soluble CBD Products
When shopping for water-soluble CBD, the most important thing to look for is if a product has been 3rd-party lab-tested.
Lab testing verifies the potency of a product and ensures it doesn’t contain anything dangerous.
Since the CBD industry isn’t heavily regulated, poor manufacturing practices are common — especially with higher-tech processes such as emulsification with nanotechnology.
Conclusion: Is Water-Soluble CBD Better?
While water-soluble CBD has a higher bioavailability than CBD oil and is more effective at the same dose, it also has some limitations: it can’t be precisely dosed, and it isn’t easy to use while out and about.
Therefore, the product you use depends on what’s important to you and what’s most relevant to your lifestyle. Neither product is all-around “better;” CBD oil is still a very effective option, even if it’s not as strong as water-soluble CBD.
Still weighing your options? Check out our other product comparison guides:
Water Soluble CBD vs. Oil: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we commonly get asked about the differences between water-soluble CBD and CBD oil.
Is water-soluble CBD better than CBD oil?
In terms of efficacy, water-soluble CBD is better than CBD oil. Since it’s composed of nanoparticles, it has a higher bioavailability. Your body can use 45-90% of the CBD in water-soluble products, whereas your body is only able to use 10-30% of the CBD in CBD oil.
How long does it take for water-soluble CBD to kick in?
You’ll begin to feel effects within 10-20 minutes of taking water-soluble CBD.
What is water-soluble CBD good for?
Water-soluble CBD is a great option if you’re looking to add CBD to drinks, such as tea, coffee, soda, and juice.
How much water-soluble CBD per day?
Start with one serving of water-soluble CBD each day. Water-soluble CBD is hard to dose precisely, however, one full pump of most products is equivalent to one serving.
How many drops of water-soluble CBD?
It’s best to measure water-soluble CBD dosage by pumps, rather than drops, as drops are hard to calculate. Start with one pump of water-soluble CBD daily.