A Guide to CBD Oil Extraction Methods

A Guide to CBD Oil Extraction Methods

Wondering how your little bottle of miracles came to be? We’ve got the answers to how all the goodness of the cannabis plant is extracted and made into an oil filled with therapeutic benefits. Read on to learn about Cannabidiol (CBD) extraction methods.

What is CBD oil extraction?

CBD oil extraction is the process of separating the beneficial oil from the hemp plant so it can be consumed.

By now, you probably know that CBD oil can improve your health in many ways. For starters, it’s good for calming anxiety, improving sleep and reducing pain and inflammation. But did you know that CBD can also help relieve your allergy symptoms and fight against brain ageing?

So how are all of these benefits bottled up? Through different processes, collectively known as CBD extraction methods. 

There are quite a few different methods that can be used. Some are more popular than others and present different benefits but they all depend on preference as extraction methods may even impact the taste and potency of the final product as research suggests.

Here are a few CBD extraction methods:

1. Carbon Dioxide (CO2) extraction or supercritical method

This is known to be an efficient and reliable method for extracting CBD oil. It’s a highly scientific process that involves three steps in separate chambers.

  • Phase 1

The first step requires a chamber filled with carbon dioxide. The pressure is then turned up and the temperature is turned down so the gas can turn into a liquid. Once in its liquid state, it’s pumped into the second chamber.

  • Phase 2

In the next phase, the temperature is gradually increased to a perfect balance so the liquid doesn’t go back to a gaseous state, but shares properties of both states. You’ll notice that the CO2 will expand like a gas yet have the density like a liquid. This point is called the supercritical point which is why this method is sometimes referred to as the supercritical extraction method. At the supercritical point, the CO2 absorbs all the hemp plant’s oils and flavours, also called phytochemicals, separating them from the plant. The CO2 is then passed into the third chamber with hemp benefits in tow.

  • Phase 3

In the final phase, the CO2 is completely turned back into a gas, naturally separating itself from the CBD extracts. Because this method requires a sophisticated approach, it can get expensive. It is, however, precise and ensures potency and safety with no chance of harmful toxins being present. The supercritical method is generally used to produce full spectrum CBD oil.

2. Extraction by solvent

Pure CBD oil is extracted by using an alcohol solvent like butane or ethanol. It’s usually a method used when making CBD isolate, the form of CBD that doesn’t contain any Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Without THC, CBD isolate has no psychoactive effects. 

The hemp plant is washed or soaked in food-grade solvent to draw out the phytochemicals. Since the cannabinoids are mixed with the solvent, they will have to be separated. To do this, the alcohol is evaporated, leaving behind pure CBD. If needed, the solvent is further purged to remove any excess.

The solvent extraction method is good for drawing out the desired compounds from the hemp plant without affecting the plant’s flavour and aroma. It also doesn’t require specialised equipment and is very efficient. Sometimes, the solvent method is used after the supercritical method. Since the supercritical method is used to make full spectrum CBD, the solvent method can be introduced to remove THC and other undesired extracts to leave behind a pure CBD oil.

3. Steam distillation

A method similar to solvent extraction, steam distillation is a tried and true method for extracting essential oils. Steam is used to release the phytochemicals from the hemp plant and this gas, with all the benefits of CBD, is captured. In order to separate the phytochemicals and prepare the CBD oil for bottling, the vapour is cooled and condensed so it turns into a liquid. 

The liquid is then distilled to separate the water and oil, leaving behind just the CBD extract. Although this is an inexpensive method, it can be inefficient and inconsistent. The concentration of the end products can be different each time it’s extracted because there is no way of controlling how much the steam will remove, and how much can be lost in the distilling process. 

The properties of CBD can change when exposed to high temperatures so the steam distillation method poses the risk of this damage occurring.

4. Ultrasonic-assisted extraction 

One of the latest scientific methods of extracting CBD, the ultrasonic method involves a complex and technical execution. Needless to say, it can be expensive, but it yields effective and rapid results. It uses an ultrasonic probe that’s immersed in a liquid to help release the cannabinoids. The probe transmits high and low-pressure waves which create micro-bubbles that burst and cause the plant to erode. 

Once it does, a solvent is introduced that releases the bioactive compounds. Because the concentration of cannabinoids is high after extraction, the taste and smell of the end product are preserved.

Is there a CBD oil extraction method that works best?

Yes and no. Depending on your preferences for the end product, each extraction method has its pros and cons. The two most common are the CO2 method and the solvent method because they both yield good results.

The supercritical method offers a precise and safe way to extract CBD oil but it requires expensive equipment. It also needs to be used together with the solvent method if you’d like a CBD isolate product, but is advantageous for full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD oils

The solvent method is efficient and effective. It can preserve the smell and taste of CBD. This method, however, does require meticulous execution to ensure that no solvent residue is left.

Frequently Asked Questions About CBD Oil Extraction

  • Where do you extract CBD Oil from?

CBD is extracted from the leaves of the hemp plant in oil form. You may get pure CBD oil, also known as CBD isolate, or there may be other compounds present depending on the extraction method.

  • What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp extract?

Hemp extract is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant while CBD oil is derived from the leaves, stalks and flowers of the hemp plant. 

  • What do you use hemp extract for?

Hemp extract can be used in nutritional supplements because of its high omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid contents. It’s also suggested to help maintain good cardiovascular health but more research is still needed to determine its efficacy.