CBD products are made from cannabis – and most of us already know this. But how does the CBD cannabinoid get extracted? And why should you even bother to learn? Fortunately, understanding the hemp extraction process and methods isn’t hard.
When buying CBD products, it is essential to know what kind of quality to invest in. Because processes differ, not all CBD products are equal. As public interest continues to encourage the burgeoning CBD industry, many new CBD companies have been spurred on as well. Some companies, as with most industries selling commercial products, take production shortcuts in order to shave off production costs. However, they compromise the overall end-product quality. Here’s how you can tell the difference between quality and quantity.
How Are CBD Products Made?
Most, but not all, CBD products come from the hemp plant. The oil is extracted from the plant material and used as an ingredient in many high-demand products such as CBD oils, topicals, edibles, and even bath bombs.
So, we know that CBD comes from cannabis. But what happens in between harvesting the hemp plant and a bottle of CBD oil on the shelf?
Hemp Extraction Process: CBD Oil
There are various methods that aid in CBD oil extraction. All work with varying degrees of efficiency and quality. The following are some of the most common extraction methods:
- Carbon Dioxide Extraction
Uses supercritical CO2, pumps, and pressure chambers to separate the oil from the plant matter.
- Steam Distillation
Steam separates the cannabinoids from the plant matter.
- Solvent Extraction
Hydrocarbon and natural solvent extraction are both solvent extraction techniques. Manufacturers apply solvents to separate the oil from the plant material. The result? A mixture of residual solvent and extracted oil. However, while some solvent may evaporate, some residual may remain, making it less efficient than CO2 extraction. This creates a resulting mixture of the CBD oil with the solvent. The solvent then evaporates, leaving pure CBD oil behind. Solvent extraction uses either hydrocarbons or natural solvents.
What is the Best Extraction Method for CBD Oil?
CO2 extraction is one of the most common techniques for commercial products. The natural oils separate from the hemp plant matter, aided by supercritical carbon dioxide.
What happens during the CO2 extraction?
CO2 is exposed to high pressure and low temperatures. This occurs through a series of pumps and pressurized chambers to extract oil containing high levels of CBD.
You’ll commonly see a chamber for the hemp plant matter and one for the CO2. By means of a pump, the CO2 transfers to the chamber containing the plant matter. Then, the supercritical CO2 breaks down the plant matter, resulting in separation of the oil from the hemp. After this, the oil and the CO2 move via a pump into a third chamber, yielding pure CBD oil after the gas has evaporated – free from harmful solvents.
The CO2 extraction method is the preferred method for consistent quality CBD oil. The one drawback? It can be expensive to invest in such specialized machinery needed for CO2 extraction. Despite this, it remains an industry-standard extraction technique.