Why Hemp Seed Oil is a Perfect Carrier Oil for Cannabis Extracts
As their name implies, carrier oils, 'carry' the contents of active compounds like CBD to the body. They can be used topically or ingested and are commonly used for skincare, cosmetics, aromatherapy, essential oils, and pharmaceuticals. In this article, we will explore carrier oils as they pertain to the cannabis sector, the benefits they offer when compared to other oils and why hemp seed oil may just be the best oil when considering all of the factors that matter to consumers and to Licensed Producers alike.
And, full disclosure, we hope to demonstrate how hemp seed oil - and specifically Blue Sky’s purified hemp seed oil stacks up as the perfect carrier oil for cannabis extracts.
What is a carrier oil and what is it used for?
Carrier oils are important to CBD because they help dissolve the cannabinoid’s molecules so they can be absorbed by the body. They help to dilute the compounds for easier dosing and many carrier oils provide additional therapeutic benefits in their own rights. MCT oil, avocado oil, olive oil, and hemp seed oil are the common carrier oils in today's market. While each has its strengths and weaknesses, we will attempt to analyze each based on certain important criteria: sensory profile, absorption, health risks and benefits, shelf life, sustainability, and availability.
*** Side Note - did you know that Blue Sky offers a range of services including custom formulations to the exact specifications of our partners. Customizations include cannabinoid ratios (CBD/THC/CBN/CBD), potency, purity, carrier oils, and flavourings; we also offer a variety of white and private label products including tinctures, vapes, capsules, and more. It's true. We do.
MCT oil is the most common carrier oil for CBD products. This oil can be extracted from coconut or palm kernel oils, but coconut is the most popular.
Sensory Profile of MCT Oil *****
MCT oil gets top marks for its profile in terms of its smell & flavour - or lack of it. It has a gentle flavour which is why it makes for a good carrier for CBD tinctures and oils. In addition, it's very thin, which is helpful for consuming it and it doesn’t require chemical processing to get there.
Absorption of MCT Oil *****
The bioavailability of CBD (in other words, how much CBD your body is actually able to absorb) changes depending on the carrier oil used in a particular product, and on how that product is administered. Medium-chain triglycerides ( the MCT in MCT oil) are a type of fatty acid that your body can quickly absorb because it doesn’t have to break it down via digestion before sending it off to the lymph system. In other words MCT oils are known to have a very high bioavailability score. MCT oil is also known to absorb easily through the skin.
Health Risks & Benefits of MCT Oil ***
MCT oil comes with a long list of risks & benefits. Preliminary research suggests that it can be good for appetite reduction, increased metabolism, and activating the immune system. However, the risks include temporary digestive side effects like nausea and diarrhea, it's not recommended for people with liver disease and may interact with cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
Sustainability of MCT Oil **
Both Palm oil and Coconut oil can lead to rainforest deforestation as farmers clear room for palm plantations. Fueled by the newfound enthusiasm for coconut products in the West, major coconut producers have turned over massive acreage to this monoculture, leading to chemically intensive farming and ruining the biodiversity of land on which the coconut palms are planted.
Shelf Life of MCT Oil ****
Very Long - 2-4 years
Price & Availability of MCT Oil ***
Like most other oils, MCT oil comes in several grades. The best option for CBD products would be fractionated coconut oil, as it contains only about 15% saturated fat and has been through chemical processing to extract pure MCT oil.
SCORE: 22/ 30
Olive oil is the carrier oil you're most familiar with. It's been used for cooking for many years because of its numerous well-established health benefits and has a long shelf-life.
Sensory Profile of Olive Oil ***
Olive oil has a density that is heavier than most other carrier oils, and also has a stronger flavor that can be a turnoff to some people.
Absorption of Olive Oil ***
Olive oil is made up of long-chain triglycerides which are slower to absorb than MCT (but may absorb more efficiently), but absorbed by the skin even faster than MCT. It also has a lower solvency than MCT, meaning it can’t hold as much CBD.
Health Risks & Benefits of Olive Oil ****
Olive oil is high in iron, vitamin K, and vitamin E, and rich in antioxidants and is known to boost immunity, reduce inflammation, increase good cholesterol and lower bad. There are no known health risks.
Sustainability of Olive Oil **
Unfortunately, olive oil production is not as sustainable as you might expect due to its high water footprint, high carbon footprint, and other problems like erosion. Plantations are deserted in dry areas and soil erosion often becomes worse, leading to desertification.
Price and Availability of Olive Oil *****
Olive oil is widely available. It’s also one of the most affordable carrier oils on average.
Shelf Life of Olive Oil *****
Most olive oils can last 18–24 months from the time they're bottled, while extra virgin olive oils may last a bit less — around 12–18 months.
There has been increased interest in avocado oil in recent years as more people have become aware of its potential health benefits. While more expensive than many alternatives - people can’t seem to get enough avocados. Today, avocado oil is used for cooking, for a range of beauty applications and as an effective carrier oil.
Sensory Profile of Avocado Oil ***
Some people may find nutty flavors to be more palatable than alternatives, however, avocado oil has a somewhat thicker viscosity than most carrier oils, which may be undesirable for ingesting, but it's great for topical applications.
Absorption of Avocado Oil ***
Considered one of the quickest-acting fats on the market, avocado oil quickly and easily becomes a part of your skin and digestive tract; however, as a monounsaturated fat, it can leave your skin feeling sticky or waxy when used alone, so most brands add in some sort of polyunsaturated or monounsaturated oils for a more enjoyable texture.
Health Risks and Benefits of Avocado Oil ****
Avocado oil has an exceptionally high nutritional content, including vitamins A, B1, B2, D, E and beta carotene. As a result, it is very nourishing for the skin and hair. When taken orally, Avocado oil also contains monounsaturated fats which play an important role in lowering cholesterol levels in your body. One potential downside to Avocado oil is that it can be an allergen to some people.
Sustainability of Avocado Oil **
Recently, avocados have become incredibly popular with consumers, which has led to avocados being increasingly unsustainable for farmers. Some of the major environmental problems with avocados are deforestation, poor working conditions and water consumption in drought prone areas where avocados grow best. In part, because of this, avocado oil can be costly to the planet and to buyers.
Cost and Availability of Avocado Oil **
Avocado oil, being one of the more expensive oils on this list, is an ingredient you might find in a more expensive CBD-infused skincare product over a sublingual oil as its additional benefits for the skin make it a better investment.
Shelf life of Avocado Oil ***
The shelf life of avocado oil is generally between 1 to 2 years. If it has been opened, it will retain quality for up to 6 months unrefined and 7 months for refined.
Purified Hemp Seed Oil
Although both hemp seed oil and CBD oil come from hemp, they have completely different properties and jobs. While hemp seed oil is derived from cold-pressing hemp seeds, CBD is extracted from the flowers and leaves. What makes hemp seed oil an excellent partner for CBD is what's called the “entourage effect”. This quality makes hemp seed oil a popular choice for “full-spectrum” products, which contain all of the component chemicals of the hemp plant rather than just CBD.
Sensory Profile of Purified Hemp Seed Oil *****
While cold-pressed hemp seed oil is green in colour and has a nutty taste profile, our cold-pressed purified hemp seed oil is a light, golden colour and completely neutral in smell and taste. Refined hemp seed oil has a lower viscosity level than the cold-pressed oil - making it especially attractive as a sublingual carrier for tinctures.
Absorption of Hemp Seed Oil ***
In addition to its outstanding composition, hemp seed oil's unique texture imparts an excellent skin feel. It is non-greasy, has high fluidity and lubricity and is absorbed quickly and efficiently in the skin. In fact, hemp seed oil is considered the “driest” vegetable oil. Taken orally, hemp seed oil has a relatively high bioavailability score, meaning it can carry and deliver a high percentage of CBD, although it is not as high as MTC oil.
Health Risks & Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil *****
Hemp seed oil is one of the healthiest oils on the market and contains large amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, nine essential amino acids, and various minerals and nutrients. It is a moisturizer, anti-inflammatory, and protector of the brain. Research shows that it may lead to improved skin and heart health, in addition to the ability to help lower inflammation.
In general, hemp seed oil is safe to ingest or use topically.
Sustainability of Hemp Seed Oil *****
This is where hemp seed oil comes in with a clear advantage. Hemp is basically nature's purifier. The plant captures carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and cleans the air we breath. In fact, for every tonne of hemp produced, 1.63 tonnes of carbon is removed from the air, making hemp a much more effective sequester of carbon dioxide than trees. Hemp requires little water, little or no pesticides or fertilizer, it cleans the soil and grows "like a weed" across the Canadian prairies. Not a rainforest in sight to deforest. What makes it even more sustainable is the fact that Hemp can be a multi-use crop. Here at Blue Sky Hemp Ventures, we grow hemp for CBD extraction, the hemp seeds for food and oils and the stalk for a range of industrial uses - making it a carbon-neutral and even a carbon negative crop.
Cost & availability of Hemp Seed Oil *****
Hemp Seed oil is widely available, and if you are an LP in the market for a carrier oil to carry your CBD, Blue Sky is able to grow, process, formulate and package tinctures, capsules, edibles, vapes using both the CBD extract and hemp seed oil carriers for very competitive prices.
Shelf life of Hemp Seed Oil ***
Our purified Hemp Seed oil has a shelf life of 24 months.
SCORE: 27/30 WINNER!!!
*Bonus for the entourage effect
The Bottom Line on Carrier Oils
Taking into account all of the factors that make or break a good carrier oil we believe on the balance of performance, sensory profile, cost to our customers, and cost to our planet, one carrier oil comes out as a clear winner. Hemp Seed oil - and more specifically - refined hemp seed oil - delivers.