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CBD | Science

What Is Water Soluble CBD & Why’s It So 2023?

CBD Hemp oil. Some claim it’s a green mirage, covered in ambiguity and questionable quality standards. But, on the flip side, others talk about it like it’s something holy and life-changing.

Dr Abraham Benavides


Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

Water-soluble CBD falls pretty much under the same radar, maybe ill-conceived but maybe not. 

So, what’s the difference between the two, and is the latter really a consequence of grand old marketing, or is there something genuinely innovative with a water-soluble CBD product?

Keep reading to learn what is water-soluble CBD and the science behind this marvel.

CBD Oil Recap

Before diving in, here’s a summary of the status quo when it comes to CBD:

There are different methods used to extract cannabinoids like CBD and THC, whether from high-THC cannabis plants or high-CBD hemp. 

Regardless of all these extraction methods, the most popular form of cannabidiol (CBD) is in the form of CBD oil, primarily consumed sublingually.

Made by combining a CBD concentrate with an oil-based diluent, the end product can be used in many ways outside of its primary usage.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Creating CBD-infused edibles
  • For use sublingually
  • For adding to creams for topical use
  • For filling gel caps consumed orally 
  • Specially prepared CBD oil intended for inhalation may be vaped

Is Pure CBD Water Soluble?

 Let’s keep things short and sweet: No, it isn’t

The molecules of pure CBD, like all cannabinoids, are hydrophobic (does not mix with water) and are also too large to dissolve in water in the way water-soluble CBD does.

This leads us to our next section…

 What Is Water Soluble CBD Oil & How’s It Made?

Water-soluble CBD products contain a form of cannabidiol that has been scientifically altered.


Like regular CBD, the base is either a hemp-derived CBD extract or CBD isolate. 

But, instead of just using this as is or dilute it for sublingual use, the CBD is pulverized and packaged into much smaller molecules by a process called nanoemulsion.

This is where the tiny CBD molecules are placed into another molecule that is water-soluble.  

To turn CBD oil into a water-soluble format, it goes through a process of nano-emulsification. This process is newly common in the pharmaceutical and FMCG industry.

Note that the very term “water-soluble” is not completely accurate. 

The truth is, CBD molecules will never fully dissolve in water. Instead, they are transformed in a way that makes them more water-compatible.

Through technologically advanced techniques, CBD oil particles are separated and packaged into tiny droplet molecules.

Experts use ultrasound to create vacuum bubbles in the CBD molecules. This makes the CBD molecules implode, hitting surrounding bubbles. Ultimately, they break into smaller droplets.

Next, the molecules are coated with a carrier or surfactant. This helps to stabilize them. Moreover, it helps to keep them suspended in water. As a comparison, CBD oil will sit on the water without fully combining. 

This way, the body can absorb much more of the active compound, resulting in the need for lower dosages for the same effect. 

The Major Drawback With Regular CBD Oil Products 

In short, any type of traditional cannabis oil, whether THC oil or CBD oil, doesn’t dissolve in water. Instead, if you add water to the oil, it creates a layer similar to how a gasoline spill floats on the ocean. CBD similarly demonstrates such properties of a hydrophobic substance (oil) in water.

This issue?

The human body consists of about 60% water. Given that cannabinoids do not traditionally mix in water, downstream the absorption rate of these compounds is very low – otherwise known as bioavailability.

Bioavailability refers to how much of a substance will enter your bloodstream based on how much you’ve consumed.

Due to the poor absorption rate of regular CBD, the majority of what you consume in CBD oil is excreted by the body as it cannot be absorbed.

While this doesn’t mean these CBD products are a dud, it just means there’s wastage occurring. As a result, you’re spending money on something you mostly will not absorb nor feel. 

Here is where the premise of water-soluble cannabinoids sounds like a gift from the gods. So what are the benefits exactly? 

What Are The Benefits Of Water Soluble CBD?

Although still limited, researchers estimate the bioavailability of oral CBD to be as low as 13% – 19%.

A 2020 research paper further provides valuable information on the bioavailability of the different forms of CBD.

While there is little clinical science available to date, there’s a small study of 10 adults suggesting that the bioavailability of water-soluble CBD is 4.5x more bioavailable than CBD suspended in fat.

The major benefits of water-soluble CBD? It boils down to better delivery.

 1 – Suspected Higher Bioavailability

As discussed above, the main benefit of water-soluble CBD is higher absorption rates. Hence, the effects are felt faster, and dosages can be lower for the same effect (everything else being equal).

A 2019 pre-clinical study brings forth some more data. The study involved rats to investigate the efficacy of a CBD nanoemulsion.

Researchers concluded this form of CBD production improved bioavailability by about 65%. In addition, the onset action of CBD was also accelerated. 

This also chimes in with another systematic review of CBD, which suggested that when the compound is combined with piperine (found in black pepper), it resulted in a four fold increase in absorption in 1 hour.

 2 – Ability To Control Flavor In Beverages

CBD oil-based products often taste somewhat herby. After all, that’s the natural taste of hemp or sometimes the fat the cannabinoid is suspended in.

While some users enjoy this, others simply dislike it.

You can pretty much add water-soluble CBD to any product, be it foods or drinks. It is tasteless and does not alter the flavor of the products you add it to.

3 – Potential For More Consistent Results

 Water-soluble CBD has the potential to make it easier to control the exact dosage of CBD you take. However, keep in mind that it may deliver about 4x higher concentrations of CBD, which may also increase the risk of side effects.

Ultimately, it’s thought to pack more bang for your buck.

 Do You Need A Lower Dose If Using Water Soluble CBD?

One study suggests that 96% of CBD oil consumed is flushed out of the body. 

Based on the data and studies outlined above, it’s possible and probable that you’ll need less to find your sweet spot using water-soluble CBD.

But, as always – start low, go slow and talk to your healthcare professional for advice. Always talk to your provider for any personal health concerns and before starting CBD for any reason. 

Water Soluble Buyers Beware

What should potential buyers of water-soluble CBD keep in mind? 

This type of CBD is not the most natural way to experience CBD products.

Above all, research on CBD nanoemulsion is still in the very early stages of development.

But nano emulsification itself, being common practice in pharma, has been much better studied. The truth is, it does come with potential risks.

Note that research shows “nanoparticles are generally more toxic than larger particles of the same composition”. Furthermore, they are associated with the risk of DNA damage and potentially other yet unknown long-term health effects.

Furthermore, as with anything related to the ‘green rush,’ you can expect bad actors to flood the market and attempt to profit from poor-quality CBD products.

As a result, always look for CBD, which is third-party tested, and for brands where you can see the most recent certificate of analysis.

So, should you use water-soluble CBD? Or should you opt for an oil form of CBD?

That’s something strictly personal. Nevertheless, itfour-fold may be a good option for some users, especially those who look to harness a more potent effect.

We cannot afford to turn a back around to the burgeoning science of cannabis and hemp.

Wrapping Up Water Soluble CBD 

The growing knowledge of hemp and marijuana is accompanied by a quest for increased potency and effectiveness.

Now that we’ve answered the basic question: what is water-soluble CBD, here’s another:

Is this form of CBD a good choice? 

Ultimately, it’s all up to your personal needs and approach to consuming hemp-derived CBD.