Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid compound that occurs naturally in Cannabis. When premium CBD products are ingested or used at the right amounts, they can have immense therapeutic value as well as beneficial health effects. To get the full beneficial effects of CBD, it is better to first extract the compound as an oil from hemp flowers instead of smoking it while it is still in plant form.
What Does CBD Extraction Mean?
This refers to the process of removing the CBD compound from a Cannabis hemp flower and turning it into oil while getting rid of the impurities.
In order to get premium high-quality CBD oil, a lot of care has to be taken during processing. It is important to note that even well-grown plants that have a high CBD percentage can fail to yield potent high-quality oil if the wrong extraction method is used. Simply put, the extraction method used usually impacts the quality, potency, purity, and effectiveness of the CBD oil that is produced.
Which Is the Best CBD Extraction Method?
There is no simple answer to this question. For starters, CBD can be extracted from the hemp flower using several different methods. Additionally, with each passing day, there are new methods of extraction that are being developed as the popularity of CBD products continues to grow.
There are a lot of factors that come into play when deciding which is the best extraction method. Each method of cannabidiol extraction has its benefits and drawbacks. To try and find an answer to the question above, we have to understand the different types of methods used in extracting CBD from hemp flowers.
A Detailed Analysis of The Methods Used in Extracting CBD Oil
Before we look at some of the techniques used in the extraction process, it is important to note that most processors of CBD oil usually select an extraction technique based on the goal of extracting the oil as well as the final use of the extracted cannabidiol.
As stated earlier, there are several methods used to process CBD oil:
Use of Solvents
CBD can be stripped from hemp flowers using solvents such as alcohol, butane, and ethanol. Ethanol is the most commonly used solvent for this method because of its effectiveness.
In this extraction process, the hemp flowers are mixed with a solvent to dissolve and isolate the CBD. Once the cannabinoid compounds have been removed from the hemp flowers, the solvent is then evaporated to leave behind crude CBD oil which can then be processed further to provide CBD isolate.
- The solvent extraction method usually produces a higher yield of CBD oil compared to other extraction methods.
- It is more cost-effective since the processing does not require a lot of sophisticated machinery, as is the case with other extraction methods.
- Due to the high yields of pure cannabidiol concentrate produced when this method is used, it is ideal for producing oil to be processed into CBD isolate.
- Like the olive oil extraction method that is described later in the article one can do ethanol extraction at home as long as great care is exercised when evaporating the ethanol to yield a concentrated oil.
- This extraction method can be dangerous since the solvents used in the process are highly flammable.
- Depending on the solvent used and its concentration, there is a risk of the cannabinoids getting damaged which can lower the potency and effectiveness of the final extract.
- Trace amounts of chlorophyll and the solvent used may be left in the extract reducing the purity of the extracted oil.
Though it requires the use of expensive machines, extraction using carbon dioxide (CO2) gas is considered a great way of processing CBD from hemp. It is important to note that though CO2 is a gas, once it is heated and pressurized, which turns it into a liquid, it acts as a natural solvent.
Under this method, machines usually freeze CO2 gas and then pressurize it before it is heated to a supercritical state so that it adopts a liquid state. When in this liquid state, the CO2 is then passed over hemp flowers, which have been placed in an extracting machine. Now acting as a natural solvent, the CO2 extracts the cannabinoids which then flow into a collection container while the CO2 is condensed and re-used.
Depending on the temperature of the heated CO2 used in the extraction process, this method of extracting CBD oil can be sub-divided into three categories;
- Supercritical – With CO2 heated to this level, the extraction process usually yields a higher concentration of CBD but the risk of damaging cannabinoid compounds is increased.
- Subcritical – With CO2 heated to this level, there is less CBD yield but less risk of damage to the cannabinoids.
- Mid-critical – With CO2 heated to this level, there is a much lower CBD yield and the extract is usually less pure.
- This extraction method usually yields extremely pure concentrations of CBD.
- This method of extraction is very safe since CO2 does not have any toxic properties.
- This method of extraction has been used for other products in other industries meaning it has been perfected and proven to be effective.
- To undertake CBD oil extraction using this method, you need expensive and sophisticated equipment that requires intensive maintenance.
- This extraction method also produces lower yields of CBD compared to extraction using solvents.
CBD Extraction Using Olive Oil
This is one of the oldest and most popular methods of extracting CBD oil. The popularity of this method can be attributed to the fact that it can be done commercially at a small scale or even at home and the extraction process does not require a lot of expertise.
Under this method, the first step is usually to activate the chemical compounds in the hemp flowers by heating them in a process known as ‘decarboxylation’. Once this process is completed, olive oil is then usually added to the mixture which is heated to 215 degrees Fahrenheit for about two hours. This is when CBD oil extraction occurs. On completion, you have to ensure that the solvent is stored in a dark and cool place since CBD infused with olive oil is highly perishable.
- This extraction method is extremely safe.
- It can be done on a small scale from the comfort of one’s home.
- The extraction process is relatively simple and uncomplicated.
- There is no expensive equipment required for the extraction process.
- This extraction method cannot be used on a large scale it is slow and rigorous.
- The CBD oil extracted through this method is impure and cannot be put to many uses.
- To avoid destroying the CBD extract and olive oil, you have to employ very rigorous storage measures.
So, how do you choose the best CBD extraction method?
As you can see from the discussion above, each extraction technique has its benefits and drawbacks. When it comes to selecting the most ideal method of extracting cannabidiol from hemp, there are certain factors to consider as discussed below.
Factors to Consider When Selecting an Extraction Method
Different extraction methods usually produce varying CBD yields. If you are looking to get the most CBD concentration from your hemp, you should consider using the solvent extraction method.
Desired Purity Levels
CBD oil extracts can be put to different uses as we will discuss later in this article. Different cannabidiol-based products require different levels of purity. For example, if you are hoping to create CBD isolate, you will need CBD that has the highest levels of purity. To achieve the high levels of purity you need to create a powder or crystalline isolate, you should use the CO2 extraction process.
The Available Hemp Biomass
The method of extraction to be used will also be dictated by the amount of hemp flowers available. If you are looking to extract CBD from a lot of flowers for commercial use, it is best to rely on effective and fast extraction processes such as solvent-based or CO2 extraction. However, if you are only extracting CBD from a small bundle of hemp flowers, you can use the olive oil extraction process.
Some techniques such as the CO2 extraction method rely on the use of expensive machines thus, they are best suited for use when the CBD oil is being extracted for commercial use or when one has the capital to purchase the requisite equipment.
What Happens to the Extracted CBD?
Once CBD is extracted from hemp flowers, it can be further processed and turned into CBD isolate. To become CBD isolate, all impurities as well as D9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have to be removed from the oil. Alternatively, the extracted oil can remain as it is and be used as a full spectrum CBD extract.
Whether it remains as a full spectrum CBD extract or it is turned into a CBD isolate, the CBD can be turned into other products. For example:
- The oil can be mixed with corn syrup, juice, and flavoring to create CBD gummies.
- The oil can be mixed with other ingredients and baked to form edibles such as cakes, cookies, or chocolate.
- The oil can be mixed with other oils such as coconut or hemp seed oil to create tinctures.
- The oil can also be mixed with glycerin and flavoring to form vaping liquids.
- The oil can be mixed with essential oils such as wax, butter, and aloe vera to create CBD skin salves, creams, and topicals.