These are the main ways that CBD is extracted:
Ethanol or ethyl alcohol extraction is another method that can be used but has lost its popularity in favor of a more efficient and effective method. Ethanol is considered safe by the FDA, and it is in a range of products, from paint to personal care items that you probably have in your house right now. This method works similarly to other solvent methods, but better for a few reasons. Most notably, ethanol is safe for consumption and doesn’t create the same residues or contaminants as other solvents might, so you get a more pure CBD. Ethanol also is a polar solvent, which allows it to pull more water-soluble molecules. This can also pose problems though because it can pull more chlorophyll from the plant matter. In this method, plant matter is decarboxylated and then packed tightly into a container.
The Rick Simpson Method
Ethanol is then dripped through that container, stripping the cannabinoids with it as it drips through into the collection reservoir. This can be done in hot or cold conditions. Another way to use ethanol is to soak the plant matter in the liquid until the CBD, and other cannabinoids have been drawn out of the hemp, and then ethanol is boiled away. But, due to the way the ethanol pulls out plant waxes and other components, as well as its high boiling temperature, there is a lengthy purification process, and certain CBD products can’t be made this way.
The majority of CBD is extracted from industrial hemp, which is a term used to describe strains of the cannabis plant that contains .3% or less of THC. THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid in the plant, which causes the high or euphoria associated with other methods of consumption.
In the simplest possible terms, CO2 acts as a solvent when used at the proper temperature and pressure. However, it poses none of the dangers that come with using other solvents. That makes this method incredibly safe and effective for CBD extraction. Specialized equipment is used to convert the CO2 into a liquid that is at supercritical cold temperatures. When the CO2 is in this state, it is perfect for extracting the cannabinoids because it isn’t going to cause any damage to the plant matter or compounds therein. The supercritical carbon dioxide is passed through the plant matter and pulls all of the good stuff out so that it can be further filtered and used. The resulting solution passes through a separator that draws out at all of the cannabinoids and terpenes and the best part of this method for companies, is that the CO2 can be reused for this method. The ability to reuse it makes this a very economically sound extraction method for companies who create CBD products on a large scale.
Solvent extraction is a rudimentary and risky practice, but it has fans. Essentially, it involves running a liquid solvent through decarboxylated hemp to remove cannabinoids and terpenes. The usual solvents include butane, ethanol, and hexane, so you need to safely evaporate any residual solvent post-extraction to ensure usable CBD extract.
Below, you will find a breakdown of some of the most common extraction techniques used, including their main pros and cons.
Although there are many ways to extract CBD from hemp, some methods are much more efficient and safer than others. It’s essential to know the difference, since how you extract CBD affects the purity and efficacy of the final product.
Basic solvent CBD extraction
How does one make CBD extracts without using a solvent? Simply enough, you just have to apply heat, pressure, or a bit of friction to hemp flowers and leaves. How do you do that, you wonder? Well, if you freeze hemp flowers, you can shake the small trichomes loose and gather them together. These trichomes, as you might know, contain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant.
To produce CBD oils, cosmetics or supplements, you must first extract the cannabinoid from raw plant material. Fortunately, the most abundant source of CBD is hemp, a selectively bred crop used extensively in dozens of commercial industries.
• Can be performed easily at home
• Relatively safe, with no previous extraction experience needed
• Greater degree of purity compared to solventless extraction
At Vitality CBD we use two different techniques specifically (typically in conjunction) but we’ll discuss all the options available, and how they affect the end result. As always, if you have any further questions drop us an email on our contact page.
Whilst the yield is smaller than with supercritical, it also allows for lighter oils and other sensitive compounds that might otherwise be dismantled in the process to be extracted. However, the trade off is that heavier, more resinous material will typically get left behind.
CO2 extractions of cannabidiol
When prioritising the best CBD products, it’s important that each step of the process is carried out with care and precision. You can grow high-quality hemp, with a large percentage of cannabidiol (CBD), but all of that goes to waste without the proper extraction techniques. So, that raises the question: which method is best?
After the initial heating, you then heat the hemp matter further in the olive oil, a process by which the compounds are extracted to the oil. Whilst this is perfect for home users, it results in a low yield and a highly perishable product that isn’t practical on a mass scale.
The process involves flash-freezing the loosely chopped hemp extract, and then sieving the frozen trichomes through a mesh bag. These in turn can then be used as the basis for your cannabidiol oil—it’s really that simple.