How is CBD made?
CBD is a compound that comes from the cannabis plant, but before it is made into oils, tinctures, edibles or delicious gummies, an extraction process must take place. Manufacturers will extract oil from a hemp or cannabis plant using one of the many extraction methods.
A distillation follows the extraction process to provide the purest, highest quality CBD.
Types of CBD Extraction
1. CO2 Extraction
Hemp and cannabis oil extraction often take place using the CO2 extraction method. One of the most popular extraction methods, CO2 extraction can be automated, is straightforward and doesn’t leave behind any residual solvents.
The extraction method relies on two chambers: one with cannabis or hemp material and the other is used to collect the CO2 and oils.
Since CO2 can function as a liquid, solid or gas, the variety of states are beneficial for extraction.
The process includes:
- Solid CO2
- Liquid CO2 to absorb oils from the material
- Gas CO2, which leaves behind the oil
CO2 extraction rates are slow, and the equipment can be expensive, but with the process automated, manufacturers often choose CO2 for CBD extraction.
Ethanol is a low-cost method of extraction that a lot of companies use for the distillation process. The extracted oil may require more distillation or post-extraction processing to increase the purity of the product.
Alcohol is used as the solvent. Ethanol is most common because it’s often used as a food preservative and is generally safe.
Ethanol is considered a polar solvent, meaning that it mixes with water and can help dissolve water-soluble molecules, including CBD.
The problem is that the solvent also extracts chlorophyll, which makes the original oil dark and bitter.
Post-extraction methods will remove the chlorophyll from the cannabis oil, but this does create additional steps that the manufacturer must follow.
Why would ethanol be chosen over CO2 extraction?
Equipment is cheap and the extraction speed is very fast. Manufacturers can also scale their operations faster with ethanol. The drawbacks of ethanol extraction are that alcohol is highly flammable and secondary processing can be extensive.
Proper precautions need to be taken to reduce the risk of fire during extraction.
Hydrocarbon extraction is an early extraction method that uses a hydrocarbon solvent to extract CBD from hemp or cannabis. The solvents that may be used during this extraction method are:
- Isopropyl alcohol
The method is low-cost, but it requires extensive processing to increase purity. All of the solvents listed have a lower boiling point than CBD oil, so they’re easily removed.
The problem is that the concentration of terpenes is lower and there’s the risk of higher THC levels.
Residue from the solvents can be left behind, but they must be removed for safety. Due to the high processing requirements and risk of harmful residue, a lot of manufacturers are no longer using hydrocarbon extraction.
There are also limits to scaling this process because of hydrocarbon limit regulations. Automating the extraction method is also difficult, so a lot of the initial cost savings creates barriers for manufacturers that want to increase their operations in the future.
A lot of manufacturers are starting to turn away from this extraction method due to the risks of residue and the inability to automate extraction in a cost-effective manner.
CBD Winterization Process
Winterization is a process that occurs before the distillation of CBD. For some applications, the purity of the CBD is sufficient after the winterization process. The process begins with the extracted oils, which are combined with 200-proof alcohol.
The mixture is frozen overnight before being run through a filter.
The filter removes a lot of the impurities in the oil, primarily fats.
Once the oil is at a satisfactory level, the CBD is brought to a boiling point that allows the alcohol to burn off. Since the boiling point for alcohol is lower than CBD, the alcohol is removed, and the CBD remains.
If higher purity is desired, the winterization process will be followed by the distillation process.
What is Distillation and Why is it Important for CBD Purity?
CBD oil, once extracted, may still have other compounds in it. The next step is to refine the oil further using what is known as short path distillation. The process uses the boiling points of the different compounds to eliminate them.
Compounds that have a lower boiling point than CBD are removed through the slow heating process.
Distillation tubes will gather the vapors and funnel them to cooling coils where they will cool and drip into a collection container.
The process purifies CBD oil to ensure that the consumer receives the best product quality.
Purity standards can vary from one manufacturer to the next, so it’s vital that you research the company that makes your CBD. Groups are working to create standards for:
Once the oils are properly extracted and distilled, they are transformed into their final state for the consumer.
Where to buy CBD?
We are not just a blog and educator. At CBD Hemp Euphoria, we stock a vast range of CBD products to suit all your CBD needs. We deliver in the UK and worldwide. Shop now at www.cheuphoria.co.uk