The reason for CBD extraction is really quite simple, it’s to make the cannabinoid CBD (as well as others) in a very concentrated form so it’s acceptable to be consumed by humans (and sometimes your pets). You start by using a plant material that is rich in CBD such as certain cannabis strains but more specifically hemp.
To extract CBD-rich oil, you have to start with a CBD-rich source material. Although CBD can be drawn from marijuana lets talk more about hemp derived CBD, since it’s the one that generally has next to no THC content. For these legal regulation purposes, most CBD products are extracted from the stems and stalks of industrial hemp that are cannabis plants with 0.3% THC or under so that they qualify as “industrial hemp”. Once harvested, these cannabis plants are brought to a facility for extraction. If it’s a GMP certified facility all the better.
There are a number of ways to get oil from cannabis and each has it’ owns pros and cons. Some are safer and others are more effective than others.
What Methods Are Used To Extract CBD?
CBD CO2 EXTRACTION
CO2 extraction is a very popular method typically used and involves filtering plants through a number of chambers that control the pressure as well as the temperature.This sophisticated system is able to isolate cannabinoids at a 90+% efficiency.
The CBD CO2 Extraction method uses supercritical carbon dioxide and pulls phytochemicals from the hemp. These supercritical materials aren’t a gas and are not quite a liquid often processing the the properties of both. This is perfect for extraction because supercritical CO2 is able to dissolve materials like a liquid and move through materials like gas.
The supercritical (or subcritical) CO2 method uses carbon dioxide under extremely low temperatures but high pressure to preserve, isolate and maintain the purity of the wanted oil. CO2 requires pricey equipment and a very steep learning curve, but when done correctly the product is free of chlorophyll, potent and most importantly it’s safe.
CO2 extraction follows this process:
1. CO2 is preped in a compression chamber. Then the CO2 gas is turned into a liquid by lowering the temperature to under -69°F and then raising the pressure to 75+ psi. From here the pressure and are both raised until the liquid goes supercritical.
2. The supercritical CO2 goes through the hemp trimmings in an extraction area where it collects extracts from the plant.
3. The solution now goes into a lower-pressure chamber. Because of the lower pressure the plant extracts and CO2 separate. CO2 then goes back into the CO2 chamber and then the cannabis oil is drained from the separator area.
CO2 EXTRACTION PROS:
• It’s safe when done by experienced pro’s.
• Yields high-quality CBD
• CO2 is effective and has been used for years by food companies. It is used when producing essential oils and to remove caffeine from coffee.
• Purity: The cannabinoids created are potent and chlorophyll free with very low risk of contaminants.
CO2 EXTRACTION CONS:
• VERY expensive
• Not for novices- leave this method to the pros.
Another method is ethanol extraction which is done by introducing the a solvent (usually ethanol) to the hemp to extract the cannabinoids. This method also removes unwanted components such as chlorophyll from hemp even at very cold temperatures.
Ethanol, Butane and lower grade alcohols are the most common substances used. Butane creates stronger oil than ethanol, but it’s also much more likely to have solvents that could irritate your lungs.
All you need to do is to add the butane, alcohol or ethanol to the plant materials. The liquid will take the flavor and cannabinoids from the material and will likely take some of the green coloring too. Once you have enough of the cannabinoids in the liquid form, just heat the liquid to evaporate it to just the CBD oil.
SOLVENT EXTRACTION PROS:
• Cheap – It doesn’t need any specialized machinery.
• Easy – The method is pretty simple and can be done at home
SOLVENT EXTRACTION CONS:
• Could Damage the CBD – Ethanol can denature the CBD if overmixed or overheated.
• Very Dangerous: Ethanol and Butane are flammable. It just isn’t worth setting fire to your home to extract CBD this way.
• Can Be Harmful: In addition to destroying the plant waxes, this may produce oil that has chlorophyll and other harmful contaminants. Oils created with neurotoxic solvents like hexane and butane might leave unhealthy residues that impede healing.
DRY ICE/ ICE WATER METHOD
Ice water extraction is another method and creates a powdery resin extract that’s referred to as “bubble hash” or “hash.”
Finely-chopped trimmings are mixed up with dry ice or ice.
Water is then poured into the mix and everything is strained through a mesh bag.
The extracts form at the bottom of the strained materials. The remaining water is drained with the extracts being left to dry.
ICE WATER EXTRACTION PROS:
• Inexpensive – Not much needed to do this!
• High Yield – When done properly, this method can produce a large amount of extract.
ICE WATER EXTRACTION CONS:
• This method can often be too time consuming and labor intensive.
• You can ruin the quality if you shake it for too long.
• It’s not always easy to get 3 lbs of dry ice.
OLIVE OIL EXTRACTION
Olive oil can also be used to extract CBD. You won’t set fire to or blow yourself up making cbd infused olive oil but, infused olive oil is perishable and needs to be stored in a dark, cool place.
The 1st step is ensuring the raw plant material is decarboxylated. This means you the plant needs to be heated at a specific temperature for a certain length of time to activate the plant’s chemicals.
Experts recommend heating at 248 Fahrenheit for about sixty minutes or at 284 Fahrenheit for thirty minutes. Then you add the plant materials to olive oil and heat it up to 212 degrees F for up to two hours (min 1 hr). This typically results in the extraction of the cannabinoids, and you should get oil with CBD content. The infused oil is then strained.
Note: This technique creates cannabis-infused oil, not pure cannabis extract.
OLIVE OIL EXTRACTION PROS:
• Simple – This is the easiest extraction method.
OLIVE OIL EXTRACTION CONS:
• Low Yields- This creates low yields of very diluted CBD.
• Perishable – It is highly perishable so you need to store it in a dark and cool place and use it up as soon as possible.
What Generally Happens After The Extraction?
After extraction, hemp goes through another step known as chromatography. CBD has a strong association with chromatography media, traveling much slower than the unwanted materials such as chlorophyll which has a weak interaction. After being divided, cannabidiol and other terpenes can be isolated and the unwanted material can be thrown out.
Many products also go though decarboxylation. When oil extraction is decarboxylated it is converted from CBDA into CBD, removing the acid form.
At this point it will likely have an unfavorable flavor. So the oil can be mixed with a carrying oil such as hemp seed oil and have flavors like peppermint added.
It’s vital to understand that the different CBD extraction methods will have a major impact on the quality of the product as well as your health. We don’t recommend the solvent method because it can be dangerous to make, and it’s also much more likely to cause health concerns. The cost of CO2 supercritical extraction makes it a no-go for most people trying to make their own but when buying from a company it is hands down the way to go. As with all things make sure to check out some reviews to help with your purchasing decision.
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