Even though the majority of people are familiar with the term "CBD" and may have even tried a few products that contain CBD, it's rare that the average consumer is aware of the specifics of the production process that goes into making these products, despite the fact that CBD's popularity has skyrocketed over the past couple of years.
In particular, we are interested in the extraction processes, since the varied procedures utilized have a significant impact on the end product's quality, flavor, and potency.
As a result, let's take a more in-depth look at some of the most common extraction techniques, along with some of the benefits and drawbacks associated with each one.
A Concise Review of the Fundamentals
Before getting into the particular extraction processes, it is essential to examine a few questions that are usually asked about CBD in general. These questions are basic, but they cover crucial ground.
What exactly is it, and where did it originate from in the first place?
Cannabidiol, often known as CBD, is a chemical substance that is derived from hemp plants.
Is it legal?
Yes! However, in order for it to be lawful under the terms of the 2018 Farm Bill, it must be produced from hemp and contain 0.3% of THC or less. You have nothing to worry about if you buy a CBD product that is produced from hemp from a respectable firm that is forthright about the origin of their goods and offers test findings proving the amounts of THC (or in many instances, the entire lack of THC).
What are some of the more popular applications of CBD?
This one-of-a-kind and potent substance is very adaptable, which makes it an ideal addition to a wide variety of goods. It is common practice to combine CBD with carrier oils, such as organic olive oil or MCT oil, in order to produce fast-acting oral drops (which are placed under the tongue).
Alternatively, CBD may be combined with beeswax and essential oils in order to produce calming topical balms, or it may be broken down into tiny nanoparticles in order to incorporate it into softgel capsules that are easy to swallow and highly bioavailable. CBD is also often added to gummy sweets and mixed into energy drink mixtures. Another prevalent usage for CBD is in vaping goods.
Common Techniques for the Extraction of CBD
In order to create products that are useful and highly effective, the CBD must first be properly harvested from the hemp plant and stored. Only then can the CBD be used. Creating a premium CBD product requires ensuring that the quality and purity of the primary component is preserved throughout the manufacturing process.
There are a number of ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant, and there are even a few do-it-yourself versions, but we do not encourage using these techniques. But before we get into it, let's have a look at some of the most prevalent ways of extraction:
Extraction by Solvent:
This technique involves soaking or washing plant trimmings in a solvent, which is often an ethanol that is safe for human consumption or a hydrocarbon such as butane or propane, in order to extract the chemicals that are of interest.
In the case of hydrocarbon extraction, the resulting mixture, which now contains the cannabinoids as well as other useful compounds such as terpenes, is then further refined (the method of refinement depends on the desired end product), and the majority of the solvent is removed. In this step, the mixture contains both the cannabinoids as well as the terpenes.
After that, any trace of solvent that may still be present is removed, leaving only a concentrated form of CBD oil. When hemp is extracted using ethanol, the resultant liquid must be distilled in order to first separate the hemp oil from the food-grade ethanol and then further isolate the chemicals that are sought.
The approach is effective, not too costly, and does not call for as much specialist equipment as some of the other available options. Solvents are superior to other types of substances when it comes to grabbing onto and extracting the chemicals of interest. Hydrocarbons, in particular, are renowned for their ability to successfully preserve the taste and scent of the plant.
- Because the solvents tend to be combustible, there are certain situations in which using this procedure might put one in harm's way.
- There is a possibility of residual solvent being present in the end product if the process is not carried out with the utmost care.
- The use of specific solvents, especially ethanol, has the potential to remove unwanted components (such as chlorophyll), which may leave the finished product tasting bitter or unpleasant.
Extraction Using Olive Oil "Natural solvents"
Olive oils, are also employed for the extraction of CBD — not on a commercial scale, but rather by CBD and cannabis enthusiasts.
In order to extract the cannabinoids from the raw hemp, it must first be cooked to a certain temperature (known as decarboxylation), after which it must be added to the oil and heated once again.
Because olive oil does not evaporate like ethanol or hydrocarbon solvents, the final result will not be as concentrated and will be more of a CBD-infused oil rather than a concentrated extract. Olive oil is a good solvent for a wide range of organic compounds.
The process is simple, inexpensive, and can be done in the comfort of one's own home. Additionally, there is no need to worry about the presence of residual solvents or the cost of costly equipment.
- The finished product will likely not have as pleasant of a flavor and will have a shorter shelf life when compared to commercially available alternatives.
- Since this technique lacks the precision of others, the final CBD-infused oil combination will be less concentrated than a CBD extract. This is due to the fact that this approach produces less accurate results. As a result, the individual consuming the product will need to take a higher dose.
This process is a well-known, time-tested technology that is often used to remove essential oils, and it may also be used to remove cannabinoids from cannabis.
The raw plant material is subjected to steaming in order to extract the volatile chemicals, which in this case are the cannabinoids. The vapor that is produced, which is rich in the chemicals that are wanted, is then cooled down and condensed. After that, the water and oil that were produced are separated.
The process does not need the use of any solvents, is simple to carry out, and is inexpensive.
- CBD is produced in irregular amounts, the extraction process is inefficient, and more plant material is needed to create the same amount of oil.
- There is a possibility that the chemical characteristics of some heat-sensitive cannabinoids and compounds may be damaged by using this procedure.
Extraction by CO2:
This process involves the use of carbon dioxide, which is abbreviated as CO2, to remove cannabinoids and other useful components from hemp plants that have been harvested.
In most cases, three chambers are involved in this intriguing process that makes use of very modern scientific technology.
In the first chamber, the temperature and pressure are dramatically reduced, which causes the CO2 to transition from its usual gaseous state into that of a liquid. Under normal conditions, CO2 exists in the gaseous state.
Next, the temperature and pressure are raised gradually until the liquid carbon dioxide reaches a condition that is referred to be "supercritical." This is the cool aspect of it all. At this moment, the CO2 is in a state that is midway between that of a liquid and that of a gas, and it has some of the characteristics of both of these states.
For example, it has the ability to expand like a gas, but it is more concentrated like a liquid. After reaching this optimum condition, the carbon dioxide is then fed into the second chamber, which is where the hemp plant material is kept. The plant material is then separated from the oil, which is abundant in cannabinoids and other useful components, by the passage of the carbon dioxide through the hemp.
After that, both the oil and the CO2 find their way to the third and final chamber of the process, which is where the two substances are separated and the CO2 that is left over simply evaporates. What's left is an extract of CBD oil that's quite high in concentration.
Pros: An incredibly exact approach that does not utilize any solvents and is safe (no combustible solvents are used) and friendly to the environment (uses less energy and plant material).
Cons: It is a very complex and scientific procedure, which necessitates the use of extremely sophisticated and high-priced equipment.
When it comes to the goods they make use of and the processes that go into their production, every person has their own unique tastes. When it comes to products in the health and wellness category, including CBD, we can probably all come to a consensus on one thing: the best option is to go with a product that has undergone minimal processing and has been carefully crafted, as well as one that is made from simple and high-quality ingredients.