Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil: The Need For Clarity

Over the last years, hemp has been re-discovered as a super plant with multiple applications. The fibers can be used for construction materials, the seeds boast with many health benefits and Cannabinoids are the new go-to wellness ingredients. But with all these hemp-derived products on the market, it´s sometimes hard to tell which component of the plant was actually used to achieve the benefits. And to make things worse, some companies seem to be intentionally misleading customers just to cash in on the trend.

So let’s look at the differences between hemp (seed) oil, CBD oil, and CBD e-liquid to be able to navigate the hemp product landscape better in the future.

Hemp Seed Oil

Hemp seed oil is the product derived from the seeds of industrial hemp varieties. There are different types of it, depending on the production method, like cold-pressed or refined, as well as the treatment of the seeds (hulled or not, roasted, etc.). 

Although the taste is influenced by the production method, most hemp seed oils have a characteristic nutty aroma, a colour spectrum reaching from golden to green and all are rich in essential fatty acids. This makes them a wonderful addition to healthy, balanced nutrition. Hemp seed oil is best used cold on salads or on other foods after they have been cooked to preserve all the beneficial properties. 

Hemp seed oil is also a wonderful ingredient in skincare and other cosmetic products with multiple benefits including moisturization, anti-inflammatory, and even anti-aging properties. In the ingredient list, you will find it as “Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil”. 

The most important thing to keep in mind is that while hemp seed oil is definitely healthy and beneficial, it does not contain cannabinoids. 


What we call CBD oil is most times a mixture of a hemp extract and carrier oil. The extract can either be full or broad-spectrum, containing mainly CBD but also other cannabinoids and residual terpenes, or a pure CBD isolate

As hemp extracts are either solid or really thick and pasty, they need to be diluted to make them a true oil that is easy to dose and apply. Most times, vegetable oils such as hemp seed oil, MCT coconut oil, or olive oil are used. Some pet products also use fish oil to make the products more attractive to cats and dogs. 


The aroma of CBD oil highly depends on the carrier oils used and the additional ingredients that are added, if any. The available aromas range from very neutral, natural hemp varieties to fruity ones like lemon and orange and even super-sweet options like mint chocolate or strawberry candy. Pet products often have meaty flavors like chicken, beef, or fish. 

Contrary to hemp seed oil, CBD oils are high in cannabinoids, with levels typically ranging from less than 1% to 10% and more. While the nutritional values of these products depend on the carrier oils used, the wellness effects are originating from the cannabinoid content.

CBD E-liquid

E-liquids (or “e-juices”) are products optimized for the use in electronic cigarettes, which means they are fully vaporizable and don´t leave a residue that might clog or burn the coil of your device. That´s why they are made with a mixture of PG, VG, e-liquid suitable flavouring and CBD isolate

These e-liquids are not interchangeable with CBD oil, last but not least because the vegetable oils that are used as carriers shouldn´t be inhaled. Worst case a CBD oil could contain other additives, like for example Vitamin E, that could be outright dangerous if they get into your lungs.

The main difference in composition between CBD E-liquid and CBD oil, while both contain cannabinoids, is that there is absolutely no oil (vegetable or other) present in the e-liquid and it should not be ingested. 


When navigating the landscape of hemp products, it is important to keep the differences between hemp seed oil, CBD oil, and CBD e-liquids in mind. You should always carefully check the label to make sure that what you are buying will give you the desired effect. 

Only buy from sources you trust, as there are companies that will try to sell you hemp seed oil for the price of CBD oil. If you want to buy products with cannabinoids in them, always look for the COAs that responsible companies will provide on their websites. 

Last but not least, only use products as instructed on the label, and if you’re not sure about something, reach out to customer service.

Portrait of Anna Falk

written by

anna falk - head of product

Anna Falk is Head of Product at Harmony. Anna obtained her PhD degree in Organic Chemistry with highest honours and has a combined 9 years of experience in R&D, project, and product management across the fields of natural product synthesis, catalysis, and cosmetics. She has produced award-winning, internationally published research at the Universities of Berkeley, Edinburgh, and Cologne.

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