Extracting CBD oil from hemp

Knowledge about extracting CBD oil from the hemp plant and using efficient machinery is key for a high-quality end product. It’s not easy to extract CBD from the hemp plant, and its therapeutic benefits may be tampered with during extraction, especially if the wrong machinery is applied.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural extract present in the hemp plant. According to Teitelbaum (2019), it has shown potential health and wellness benefits such as alleviating pain and anxiety and anti-inflammatory benefits. A major advantage of CBD is that it doesn’t contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which causes a euphoric feeling and makes one feel high. The human body generates cannabinoids that carry a great structural and functional similarity to CBD, and it’s one of the reasons for the surge in CBD’s popularity. Klumpers & Thacker (2019) gave background information on CBD. When CBD is introduced to the body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to influence major body functions such as appetite, sleep, mood, anxiety disorders, etc. Here are steps on how CBD oil is made.

CBD Extraction

The main reason for CBD extraction is the creation of pure and highly concentrated cannabinoids suitable for human consumption. CBD can be derived from hemp and cannabis plants, but it’s mostly derived from the stalks, flowers, and stems of industrial hemp plants. That’s because industrial hemp contains minute levels of THC, and thus, CBD extracted from industrial hemp contains less than 0.3% THC levels.

According to federal regulations, CBD derived from industrial hemp is as long as it is grown by licensed companies. Therefore, the extraction process and equipment type are major contributing factors to the end quality of a CBD product. CBD is produced in the hemp plant alongside other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. The need to create CBD oils that retain CBD and other cannabinoids while removing the THC is why extraction techniques are critical.

Any commercial CBD extraction method requires the utilization of solvents. Solvents are essential since they’re highly efficient in separating CBD molecules from other compounds present in the cannabis plant and purification of the solution. Subsequently, the solvents evaporate, leaving behind only pure CBD oil residue.


CO2 CBD Extraction

CO2 extraction or supercritical carbon dioxide (the CO2 has properties of both gas and liquid) is the main method of CBD extraction. In this process, CO2 acts as a solvent when applied to the hemp plant without interfering with any compounds. According to Rochfort et al. (2020), CO2 extractions use expensive equipment to maintain the correct pressure and temperature, resulting in the best CBD.

This method involves filtering plants through a series of chambers that regulate temperature and pressure. CO2 extraction isolates cannabinoids at a 90% efficiency by applying different temperatures and units to the hemp or cannabis plants. The hemp is placed in a chamber filled with carbon dioxide, then turned into liquid by applying pressure to the chamber. The liquid then absorbs the hemp’s oils and flavors. Afterward, the liquid is pumped into a final chamber, where the carbon dioxide is turned into gas.

Although this extraction technique is considered safe, efficient, and with a potent result, this process isn’t always alcohol-free. Substances extracted with CO2 need to be refined with alcohol solvent to create CBD isolate or distillate. The application of CO2 extractions goes far beyond just hemp products. CO2 extractions extract nicotine from loose-leaf tobacco, decaffeinate coffee beans, and particularly extract spices and flavors.


Ethanol Extraction

Fairbairn & Liebmann (1973) gave a brief overview of this extraction method from the Cannabis plant. This method involves introducing the solvent ethanol to the hemp plant to extract the cannabinoids. It’s one of the simplest extraction methods. According to experts, since ethanol is a plant-based solvent, it maintains the hemp’s natural chemical properties during extraction. Consequently, some tests indicate that the solvent residue isn’t always fully eliminated during evaporation. Also, the chlorophyll may be extracted during the process resulting in an unpleasant taste of the CBD oil. However, ethanol extraction can produce cannabis oil with up to 99% purity and thus a higher quality end product.


Vegetable Oil Extraction

CBD oil can be extracted at home using vegetable cooking oils. The oils act as solvents, and the process follows similar rules as all other extraction methods. Use any common cooking oil such as hemp seed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc. If you intend to extract CBD for homemade edibles, use a product with the highest amount of saturated fats since they notably enhance the bioavailability of cannabinoids. Most people choose butter or coconut oil to cook with CBD, while for salves and creams, most prefer argan or sweet almond oil.

Decarboxylate the dried CBD in the oven, heat at around 250 F, and bake the flowers for 40-50 minutes, depending on their dryness level. Afterward, combine the decarbed herb with the oil in a saucepan or slow cooker and gently heat the mixture. Maintain low heat and keep the CBD infusion for around 2hrs. Then strain the liquid from the plant matter and place it in a glass jar. Store it in a fridge for up to 6 weeks.


Other Ways;

  • Hydrocarbon Extraction- Involves the use of compounds like butane, propane, and hexane. The solvents are quite inexpensive but complex to separate from the end product and can thus leave toxic residue at the bottom of the extract.
  • Dry Ice Extraction- Dry ice strips CBD and other compounds from the plant material. It’s quite a cheap method of making high-quality CBD minus using aggressive solvents. Note that solvent-less extraction creates purer extracts than solvent-based procedures.

Conclusion

Knowledge of CBD extraction allows one to assess the efficiency of different products based on the solvents utilized in the process. The rising popularity of CBD has led to most people extracting cannabinoids from cannabis plants to use them for various therapeutic purposes. When it comes to broad-spectrum, some extraction processes are superior to others. CO2 extraction is lately the golden standard since it yields the purest products without including compounds such as chlorophyll. However, it requires higher costs of equipment and lab tests, which is why some manufacturers turn to ethanol. CBD extraction at home can be done with either a solvent-based method using cooking oils or a solvent-less approach using drying ice to arrest the desired compounds as DIY CBD.


References

Fairbairn, J. W., & Liebmann, J. A. (1973). The Extraction And Estimation Of The Cannabinoids In Cannabis Sativa L. And Its Products. Journal Of Pharmacy And Pharmacology, 25(2), 150-155.

Klumpers, L. E., & Thacker, D. L. (2019). A Brief Background On Cannabis: From Plant To Medical Indications. Journal Of AOAC International, 102(2), 412-420.

Rochfort, S., Isbel, A., Ezernieks, V., Elkins, A., Vincent, D., Deseo, M. A., & Spangenberg, G. C. (2020). Utilization Of Design Of Experiments Approaches To Optimise Supercritical Fluid Extraction Of Medicinal Cannabis. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 1-7.

Teitelbaum, J. (2019). A Hemp Oil, CBD, And Marijuana Primer: Powerful Pain, Insomnia, And Anxiety-Relieving Tools. Altern. Ther. Health Med, 25, 21-23.

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