How is CBD Made? From Plant to Packaged Product

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If you are wondering how CBD is extracted, you’ve come to the right place. This post will go over the common extraction methods of CBD.

As CBD continues to attract the public’s attention, the demand for the truth on CBD’s rumored potential health benefits continues to grow.

Recent years have shed a lot of light on the infamous cannabinoid as it is being increasingly viewed as a natural form of medical treatment and health supplement. CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound from the cannabis plant (meaning you will not get “high” from it) which helps to relieve pain and inflammation, reduce anxiety, control epilepsy and more. Some studies have indicated it may even help with type 1 Diabetes, cancer and addiction.

To get a better grasp on CBD’s potential healing properties, we’re going to explain a few extraction methods of CBD, including the benefits and downsides of each.

Before getting into all of that, it’s worth giving an overview of the various cannabis strains to really understand this healing agent’s potential.

CBD Extraction and Cannabis Strains

The purpose of CBD extraction is to create the cannabinoid, along with other compounds, in a highly concentrated form to make it suitable for human consumption. To do this, you must use a plant material rich in CBD like special cannabis strains or hemp.

The health effects of CBD depend on the cannabis strain it is derived from and the method used to extract it. Because the extraction method has a significant influence on the quality of a CBD product, it’s important to know the pros and cons of the varying ways to extract CBD. CBD extraction not only determines the purity of the CBD extract, it also has an effect on the amount of other beneficial compounds in the final product.

As you may or may not know, CBD can be derived from two cannabis sources – either marijuana or hemp. Currently, CBD manufactures are using ingredients from hemp plants that are specially cultivated to produce high levels of CBD. Examples of cannabis strains with high CBD content include Charlotte’s Web, Harlequin, Cannatonic, Zen, Valentine X and Sour Tsunami. Cannabis strains must be processed with suitable extraction methods in order to produce the best results.

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CBD Extraction Methods

As long as a cannabis plant contains CBD, there is a way to extract it. If the plant is a high-CBD strain, the extraction process is quite simple and requires minimal equipment.

Things get more complicated when there are significant amounts of other cannabinoids in the plant, as that makes it harder to pull out CBD on its own. Complex processes and professional equipment are required to separate CBD then from the other (perhaps unwanted) cannabinoids.

Here are the most common methods for extracting CBD: (1) Liquid Solvents (2) Oil Extraction (3) Carbon Dioxide Extraction

Liquid Solvents Method

The Liquid Solvent extraction method is the simplest method for extracting CBD. Here’s how it happens:

Cannabis plant materials like flowers and trim are placed in a container. Then, a liquid solvent (usually ethanol, hexane, butane or alcohol) is run through the materials.
During this process, cannabinoids and flavors will be transferred from the materials to the liquid.
Finally, the liquid is evaporated to form an oil extract that contains concentrated CBD.

The liquid solvent method is widely used because it is the simplest, most equipment-free and least expensive method. Because it is easy and inexpensive, though, it comes with downsides:

The solvent may leave impurities in the CBD extract.
Certain solvents may extract chlorophyll from the plant materials, giving the final product a more bitter taste.

Oil Extraction Method

Oil extraction is an ancient practice, but it’s still being implemented today, especially by those who are into making their very own CBD at home.

The process begins with decarboxylation (the heating of raw cannabis materials to activate its chemicals), typically heated at 100 degrees Celsius for one to two hours. The number of heating processes, temperatures and durations can all vary depending on the desired quality of the final product.
The oil extraction method is simple, safe and cost-effective, and is furthermore a suitable option for individual CBD enthusiasts. While it works for CBD homemakers, it is definitely not the preferred method for commercial CBD production, as the final product here has a significantly lower concentration of CBD compared to products made with other methods.

Another downside of this one: The user must consume a much higher quantity of the finalized CBD extract to receive its health effects. Infused oil also perishes easily, so it needs to be stored in a dark, cold place.

Carbon Dioxide Extraction Method

Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction is the most complex of the three methods, but it provides the best results – namely, purer and higher quality CBD extract.

In CO2 extraction, variables like temperature and pressure have to be maintained at very specific levels, which is achieved with a device known as a closed-loop extractor. This closed-loop extractor consists of three chambers (1) dry ice (2) CO2 in its solid state and (3) the final CBD extract product.

  • At the beginning of the extraction process, the solid CO2 is pumped from the first chamber into the second chamber, where the pressure and temperature are kept at very specific levels so the CO2 will function more like a liquid.
  • While in the second chamber, the extract runs through the cannabis materials and extracts other cannabinoids and flavors from it. This chamber is kept at a higher temperature and lower pressure to turn CO2 into a gas.
  • The CO2 will then rise to the top while the oil containing CBD falls to the bottom for collection.

This method offers many benefits: Unlike the liquid solvent method, it doesn’t involve a long evaporation process and it leaves minimal impurities in the CBD extract.

And, since this method uses very precise temperature and pressure levels, it is an effective method for extracting CBD from cannabis plants with lower CBD content while retaining a higher level of beneficial compounds like terpenes (oils that give cannabis its unique smell and flavor, and provide additional health benefits) in the final product.

The one disadvantage of this method is that it is expensive, which is why it is usually only used by larger commercial CBD manufacturers.

Conclusion

The CBD extraction methods mentioned above are the most commonly and widely used methods out there today. Because technology in the cannabis market is advancing at a rapid rate, new methods will likely be developed as the industry grows.

Whether you are using CBD to treat specific conditions or to improve your general health, it is important users understand the different methods for extracting CBD as this information enables people to accurately evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the CBD products you want to call yours.

Takeaways

  • As long as a cannabis plant contains CBD, there is a way to extract it
  • If the plant is a high-CBD strain, the extraction process is quite simple and requires minimal equipment
  • The Liquid Solvent Extraction method is the simplest, least expensive, and least effective method to extract CBD
  • The Carbon Dioxide Extraction method it the most complicated, most expensive and most effective method for extracting CBD
What is Decarboxylation and Its Effect on CBD?
CBD 101: What is CBD, and Why is it so Popular?

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