How is CBD Extracted From Hemp?

CBD products have risen in popularity throughout the last few years. The CBD market is swimming with various products, from oils to edibles and balms to bath bombs. CBD oil is one of the most popular products, and it is used for recreational as well as medicinal purposes. 

CBD oil interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system and can offer physical and mental benefits without the high that is often associated with the cannabis plant.

Before you consider purchasing a CBD product, you should know a little about what makes a quality CBD product.

But where on earth do you begin? Right here, by finding out how CBD is extracted and how it can be a critical deciding factor when searching for the best CBD oil.

What is CBD?

CBD is cannabidiol, a highly sought-after cannabinoid that comes from the cannabis sativa family. While this cannabinoid has come under some heated debates over the past few years, most industry professionals agree that it holds beneficial qualities. While the merits are still debated and tested, we can all agree on the incredible potential cannabis has.

Where THC used to dominant the cannabis news, today, we have CBD taking the spotlight. Although part of over one hundred cannabinoids, CBD is currently at the forefront of the cannabis industry.

What caused this surge of interest in the cannabinoid?

Well, the key lies in CBD’s inability to cause any psychoactive effect like THC. THC was in the news, but all for the wrong reasons due to its psychoactive nature. On the other hand, CBD is a non-intoxicating substance and has even been given the green light by the World Health Organization. 

It has only been in the past couple of years that we see a surge in clinical studies on the plant and on CBD in particular. Fortunately, this research allows an increasing number of people to distance cannabis and CBD from the propaganda-ish Hollywood stoner stereotypes. Instead of viewing CBD as a drug, more and more people realize that cannabis and CBD should be associated as a medicinal plant and substance.

How is CBD Extracted?

The ultimate goal of extraction should be to end up with highly concentrated cannabinoids that are safe for human consumption. When we talk about CBD extraction, there are three different types of CBD:

CBD Isolate

This is an extraction of CBD only, no other cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, or other substances.

Full Spectrum CBD

This is an extraction of all the inherent cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and other naturally occurring compounds that can assist with the benefits. These types of CBD products have become popular as more people realize the importance of the entourage effect. These products usually contain THC unless otherwise stated. Full-spectrum CBD products made from hemp will be THC free.

Broad Spectrum CBD

There is another type of CBD, known as Broad-spectrum CBD. This type of CBD is similar to full-spectrum but does not contain any THC (even if it is extracted from marijuana and not hemp). Broad-spectrum offers all the entourage benefits of full-spectrum, with zero THC.

Despite the above information, you should always check a brand’s third-party lab reports to ensure the results can back up the company’s claims.

There are specific cannabis strains that contain high concentrations of CBD and minuscule or trace concentrations of THC. Strains such as Charlotte’s Web has been specially bred for this very purpose.

What are Industrial Strains?

You may have heard the term ‘industrial hemp’ floating around, but what is it and what does the term ‘industrial strains’ refer to?

Several strains of industrial hemp can be used to extract CBD and other favorable compounds. Countries like China, India, and some in Western Europe have a thriving legal market for these strains.

Did you know that CBD derived from hemp is legal in all 50 US states? Well, besides being legal across the states, hemp-derived CBD is legal in most countries around the world. The past three years have seen a dramatic increase in CBD’s global market, and this financial nudge has allowed more research to uncover the intricacies of the plant.

Strains like Fedora 17 are one of these industrial hemp strains, and as such has negligible THC levels and high levels of CBD.

Now that we have those technicalities out the way, let us take a brief at the following 4 most common extraction methods for CBD products:

  • CO2 Extraction Method: Most Popular Industrial and Commercial Method

With this CO2 cannabis extraction method, 3 subcategories fall under the CO2 extraction umbrella:

  • Mid critical
  • Subcritical
  • Supercritical

The most commonly used method is the last one, the supercritical method, as it is the safest method and results in the purest product. For this article, we will focus on the supercritical extraction method and save the in-depth analysis for a separate article (so stayed tuned folks).

What is CO2 Extraction?

The power of pressured CO2 is harnessed to extract the desired phytochemicals. These compounds usually include cannabinoids and terpenes.

How does it Work?

With CO2 extraction, the pressurized CO2 becomes a solvent at specific temperatures and pressures. However, unlike traditional solvents, the pressurized CO2 does not carry any of the dangers that usually come along with the use of solvents.

CO2 extraction is considered one of the safest extraction methods, as the extractions remain pure, and the product quality is not compromised. However, this method can be more expensive as it includes the use of costly equipment to freeze the CO2 in gas form before compressing it in a supercritical state (which is a cold liquid state).

Did you know?

Decaffeinated coffee is made, well, decaffeinated, through CO2 extraction techniques.

Pros

  • CO2 is safe for product consumption- it is viewed as a food additive and is often used to produce fizzy soft drinks.
  • There are few methods as effective as the CO2 extraction technique, and as such, has been used in the food and beverage industry for decades. Supercritical CO2 extraction is used in essential oil production as well.
  • The extractions are free of chlorophyll and generally free from contaminants.

Cons

  • Although the supercritical method is one of the purest methods, it is also one of the most expensive. The equipment is costly but is a worthwhile investment for commercial extractions.
  • CO2 extraction is not suitable for kitchen DIY projects and should be left to the professionals.
  • When shopping for CBD online, look out for products made with phytochemicals extracted using supercritical CO2 extraction.
  1. Olive Oil Extraction: Most Popular DIY Method

Are you looking for a CBD extraction method to do at home?

Then you might find this method interesting…

The olive oil extraction method is one of the most popular extraction methods for DIY cannabis enthusiasts. The very first step in the olive oil method is called decarboxylation. The raw plant material needs to be decarboxylated, and despite this sounding like a complicated term, it is relatively simple.

What is decarboxylation?

The raw plant material needs to be heated to a specific temperature and for a particular length of time to activate the phytochemicals.

There are two recommended decarboxylation methods:

  • Heat the raw plant material for 60 minutes at a constant temperature of 248F
  • Heat the raw plant material for 30 minutes at a constant temperature of 284F

Once this decarboxylation is complete, you can add the olive oil and the heated plant media together and heat the mixture to 212F for at least 1 hour, but no more than 2 hours. And that is it- you have successfully performed an extraction. Of course, you may want to sift the plant material out of your oil before using it.

Pros

  • Safe home extraction method with minimal risk
  • Affordable method that will not dig into your savings

Cons

  • Olive oil extractions are highly perishable and do not have a long shelf life. They are best stored in cool, dark places
  • Olive oil extractions provide low yields in comparison to other extraction techniques
  1. Solvent Extraction

There are three solvents that are commonly used:

  • Alcohol (low grade)
  • Ethanol- allows you to get the full range of phytochemicals from the raw plant material. However, ethanol also extracts chlorophyll. Chlorophyll can cause negative side effects if left in the final product, so it is usually removed through filtration. This filtration may remove the unpleasant chlorophyll, but it can also decrease the oil’s overall potency.
  • Butane- offers a more potent extraction; however, studies show that butane as a solvent can cause irritation and even possible damage to the lungs.

The Process

Once the liquid solvent is added to the plant media, it begins to remove the Phytocannabinoids and other Phytocannabinoids from the raw plant material. After the extraction, the liquid is heated so that you are left with nothing but the plant oil (in the CBD extraction, this is usually CBD base oil).

Pros:

  • High-grade alcohol can offer a high-quality result
  • If you have the correct equipment, then solvent extraction techniques are straightforward and relatively easy to do

Cons:

  • Commonly used solvents such as butane and ethanol are flammable and are therefore dangerous to use for any home extractions
  • Solvent extraction techniques compromise the plant wax integrity as well as potentially contaminate the oil

A Final Word

Why should you understand the different extraction techniques? Well, if you want to have a positive and effective experience with your CBD product, then you must understand how the products are made and can identify snake oil from the real deal.

You may have already noticed significant discrepancies in pricing; this is because there are some companies that, to hop on the profitable CBD bandwagon, use the most inexpensive methods to produce their products. While this may seem great for your budget, many of these products will have compromised quality that you simply cannot rely on.

Products made using the solvent method should be thoroughly tested via a third-party lab, and you should always check these independent test results before making your investment.

CO2 extraction methods are usually a sign of a good quality product, but again, always check the independent lab reports before purchasing any CBD or cannabis product.

If you are a hobbyist sitting at home trying to decide which is the best DIY method, you could opt for the olive oil method. While this method may have low yields, it is safe and straightforward to do. Olive oil extractions also provide a pure extraction, and we will cover more about DIY extractions for your very own cannabis creations in the near future.

If you are ready to get your CBD oil today, take a look at these CO2 extracted CBD products– there is something for everyone!

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