How is CBD Extracted From Hemp?
While it may not seem important, the different methods of how CBD oil is extracted from hemp can produce highly different end products and have different impacts on your health. It’s important to ask about and understand how different companies extract their CBD oil from hemp.
The growing awareness of the benefits of CBD oil has helped it become extremely popular in the past few years. CBD is produced and manufactured into edibles, oils, and topical creams — all of which offer their specific ways of aiding people.
What is CBD Extract?
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, has become the most highly debated and sought-after component from the cannabis plant in recent years. It has become known worldwide for its many beneficial qualities which range from helping people deal with mental illness to helping cancer patients deal with nausea (a common side effect from chemotherapy treatment). It has been trusted by many for centuries and is currently in an uphill battle with some political parties who assume that CBD oil is just like its cousin THC. Luckily, research is proving them wrong.
Besides understanding the different methods of extracting CBD from hemp, you’ll want to take into consideration the differences between full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates. More on that later.
As ties between the FDA and CBD companies continue to develop, you will also want to take into consideration which CBD extracts fall in and out of legal lines. For example, CBD can be extracted from either hemp or marijuana, but only hemp-derived CBD is legal under the 2018 farm bill. Marijuana and its derivatives remain federally illegal.
Why Do We Need To Extract CBD?
The reason why you want to extract CBD is to separate the cannabinoid and make a concentrated form that is consumable for humans.
Chewing on raw cannabis is not only unpleasant, but it will not have the same desired effect as a concentrated extract. In order for the cannabinoids in cannabis to be effective, they must be decarboxylated (applying heat).
Drying cannabis will cause partial decarboxylation, and smoking/vaping it will instantaneously decarboxylate the cannabinoids, making them absorbable through inhalation.
Ingesting cannabinoids on the other hand, through oils, capsules and edibles, require decarboxylation in order for our bodies to take advantage of them through digestion.
Also, cannabis in its raw herbal form can host a wide variety of microbes which can present a health risk if not properly extracted and purified. The extraction process eliminates these and also removes undesirable compounds such as plant waxes and lipids, which might be harmful for our health.
Start with Organic USA Hemp
The entire process starts with finding a rich CBD plant source to extract from. Tessera Naturals understands that, which is why we use organically grown hemp from the USA for our process.
It is important to be mindful of where your chosen company extracts their CBD oil from as some hemp sources can be contaminated with toxic chemicals such as pesticides, or contain a bevy of undesirable chemicals or heavy metals.
Proper extractions also make sure that nearly all of the desirable components in the plant are maintained.
Three Common Methods to Extract CBD
Extraction methods vary by their end result health profiles and their impact on the environment. Most companies use the following three methods of extracting CBD.
Solvent extraction involves the use of ethanol, butane, propane, isopropyl, or alcohol to extract the CBD. It is one of the least expensive options and is also fast and easy to do. It is also one of the most dangerous due to the highly flammable contents of the liquids.
This method dissolves the plant waxes which themselves hold quite a few nutrients. It extracts not only the cannabinoids but also the chlorophyll — which gives some products a bitter taste.
To begin the liquid solvent process, flowers and plant trimmings are put into a container. Then the solvent is soaked or run through the material, stripping it of the cannabinoids. Then the evaporation process leaves the concentrated cannabinoids in an oil form.
Besides being an extremely dangerous process, the downside is that the solvent residue can be toxic if they are not completely eliminated during the evaporation step. Some studies have found traces of naphtha hydrocarbons or petroleum residue in CBD products that have been extracted using solvents.
2. Olive Oil
The olive oil extraction process is the oldest method of extracting CBD. Many CBD lovers attest to it being the best. It is the safest method, doesn’t cost a lot, and it’s simple to do.
The process begins with the raw plant materials being decarboxylated (heated) to the desired temperature for a specific amount of time so that the chemicals in the plant are activated. Olive oil and the plant material are combined and heated again. This is when the cannabinoids are extracted. The olive oil isn’t evaporated, so the resulting extract isn’t as concentrated as the other methods. The dosage the consumer takes will have to compensate for this as well.
The issue with olive oil extraction arises with its highly perishable nature. It must be kept in a cool, dark area and therefore doesn’t work well for the needs of many CBD producers and consumers.
3. CO2 Extraction
As CBD companies have begun to flourish internationally, the CO2 method of extracting CBD has become the most advanced and advised way of completing the process. It is quite an investment as it is the most expensive and complex of the methods, but if done successfully, it makes a potent, safe and chlorophyll-free extraction. (Yummy!)
The only downfall to this CO2 extraction process is that it’s a big investment for CBD producers and demands that they dig deep into their pockets. Many premium CBD producers (including Tessera Naturals) are willing to use this method because it brings a much safer and higher quality product to their consumers. It also does not remove the beneficial contents of the plan as much as other methods do. Lastly, the final product has a much lower chance of having contaminants.
Typically, the CO2 extraction process is done by using a “closed-loop extractor.” The machine contains three chambers. The first one holds pressurized, solid CO2 or dry ice; the second chamber has dried help plant material in it; the final chamber separates the resulting product.
From the first chamber, CO2 is pumped into the second chamber, which takes on the form of supercritical CO2 — between a gas and liquid state. The supercritical CO2 then runs through the materials and extracts the cannabinoids. It’s then pumped into the final chamber where the CO2 rises to the top. This leaves the extract at the bottom and isolated from the CO2.
Which CBD Extraction Method is Best?
While there are pros and cons to each extraction method, we feel that CO2 extraction is by far the most beneficial. It consistently produces the highest quality concentration of CBD and is one of the safest extraction methods, leaving behind no toxic residue.
What Happens After Extraction?
After the raw oil is extracted, the extract is further refined through a process called “winterization”. This step removes any solvents, chlorophyll, waxes or unwanted fats (lipids), resulting in a clean hemp oil with 70-90% CBD, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes.
NOTE: There is a recent increase in another type of refinement process referred to as CBD Distillate. The distillation process involves applying high heat (boiling point) to the raw extracted oil to further separate the compounds and refine the extract through a distillation chamber. While resulting in a very pure and potent form of CBD, the main drawback of CBD distillate is that it does not contains many terpenes (if any) that work in synergy with other cannabinoids, thus missing out on the entourage effect. Due to this shortcoming, we feel that CO2 extraction and liquid chromatography is superior.
As mentioned earlier, there are various types of CBD oils that can be produced with the hemp extract.
Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the cannabinoids and other natural compounds found in cannabis such as terpenes and amino acids (including trace amounts of THC).
Broad-spectrum CBD is similar to full spectrum, but removes the trace amounts of THC.
To create broad spectrum CBD, the full spectrum CBD extract goes through an additional specialized process called liquid chromatography, which selectively binds to the THC and removes it at low temperatures, while the remaining synergistic cannabinoids, terpenes and amino acids remain intact.
CBD isolate contains a pure concentration of CBD only (99%), so it’s ideal for those who need high doses of CBD, but it does not contain any other cannabinoids and terpenes, thus lacking the “entourage effect”.
To create CBD isolate, the extract is cooled and purified into a crystalline isolate form, which takes the form of a white, flavorless powder.
- CBD must be extracted from raw cannabis in order to be most effective when ingested.
- Solvent extraction can be efficient and inexpensive, but can potentially contain toxic residue.
- Olive oil extraction is safe and inexpensive, but will have low yields and will result in a highly perishable product.
- CO2 extraction, while most expensive and complex, will create the highest quality, safest CBD end product for the consumer.
- After extraction, the CBD oil must be refined and purified to create either a full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD, or a CBD isolate.
- Broad spectrum will be the most appealing to the greater amount of people due to the benefits of full spectrum CBD and the “entourage effect”, but without the chances of consuming any THC.
- In the end, the importance shouldn’t be placed on method, but more of whether it was done correctly.