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how do they remove thc from cbd oil

Andrew Leising, VP of Strategic Sourcing for Balanced Health Botanicals, elaborated on the process: “CO2 is a scalable and highly versatile form of extraction. There are CO2 extraction units built to process anywhere from 1 to 1,200 pounds of biomass in a single run. With CO2 extraction, you can not only extract cannabinoids on a large scale efficiently, you can extract specific compounds like terpenes.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction method: Carbon dioxide is a versatile gas with a variety of commercial uses, including extracting compounds from plant matter. The CO2 method uses the gas in its normal state as well as in supercritical liquid form. Through the use of a pressurized chamber, called a closed-loop extractor, CO2 gas is compressed until it becomes a liquid. The liquid is forced over the cannabis material where it strips away cannabinoids like CBD. The entire solution is brought back to temperatures and pressures at which the CO2 reverts to gas and evaporates, leaving behind the CBD extracted out of the cannabis plant material.

How to extract CBD from cannabis

What you don’t want to do is attempt to make a CBD extract using inedible solvents or CO2. Leising explained, “You cannot perform CO2 extractions at home. The equipment is cost prohibitive, and if you don’t know how to operate the equipment, it could be extremely dangerous. The equipment runs at extremely high pressures between 2500-4000 PSI and could be very dangerous if the operator is not properly trained.”

You can safely make CBD oil at home via a simple infusion and consume a high concentration of cannabinoids without risking life or limb. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

The process of CBD extraction is fairly expedient and can take place in a single afternoon. According to Leising, it takes about three to four hours to process up to 1,200 pounds of cannabis.

In order to produce broad-spectrum oils (i.e. those that feature other essential hemp components with the exception of THC) manufacturers use chromatography. Chromatography equipment is loaded with hemp extract and solvent. As it runs, it separates the ingredients from each other. The THC faction is then removed. The downside of this process is that it breaks down some CBD molecules as well as other valuable ingredients. Chromatography equipment is also very expensive — sometimes, the price tag can go as high as millions of dollars.

When CBD is produced on an industrial scale, more often than not, it’s extracted with CO2. Some manufacturers utilize solvents, but they appear to be less popular. With CO2, the extraction process results in a clear substance with no residue. However, it’s not yet pure enough to be ready to use. The step that follows the extraction is called winterization.

After this stage, you can obtain CBD-rich oil but it still won’t be pure CBD. To further remove compounds naturally occurring in hemp, you’ll need to distill the extract. The essence of the short-path distillation is in heating the extract until it reaches specific temperatures, which equal to the boiling points of the individual compounds. One by one, you can separate and isolate these compounds. You will eventually obtain CBD isolate, which is pure cannabidiol. This is how to remove THC from CBD oil in large batches.

Other Ways to Remove THC from CBD

To crystallize CBD, you’ll need a jacketed vessel, heating and cooking baths, pentane, and CBD oil. Add two parts of CBD oil to one part of pentane and heat the mixture till it reaches 45 °C (approx 115°F). When you see that the oil is fully dissolved, it’s time for a cooling bath. Its initial temperature should be around 5°C (40 °F). As you stir the solution and gradually lower the temperature, you’ll notice crystal forming — these are crystallized CBD. If the initial CBD oil contains around 70% of CBD, the crystallized substance will feature approximately 90% of CBD. All other components, including THC, will remain in the mother liquor. You can make CBD oil even purer by repeating the whole process a few times.

CBD oil promises great benefits for health. However, not everyone is ready to take it due to the possible trace amounts of the psychoactive compound called THC. Because the legally allowed content of THC is extremely low (below 0.3%), hemp-derived CBD won’t get you high. On the other hand, if you’re an athlete or your job requires you to take drug tests, you don’t want to consume any THC at all. The good news is that you can remove THC from CBD oil at home if you have enough time and some equipment.

The goal here is to remove unwanted substances and compounds from CBD oil. For this, the extract is mixed with alcohol, thoroughly stirred, and put in a freezer for 12-16 hours. After this, the mixture thaws and runs through filters until it becomes clear again. The next step is to remove alcohol through heating. CBD oil and alcohol have different boiling points: alcohol will evaporate at lower temperatures. You can try to capture alcohol evaporation and use it for the following winterizations.

You can extract CBD oil in various ways with varying degrees of purity. If you need THC-free CBD oil but you don’t wish to invest your time and money in distillation experiments, your best option is CBD isolate. A CBD oil manufacturer will remove it for you and if they’re trustworthy, they can provide the lab test results to verify the purity and safety of their products.