HOW IS CBD ISOLATED FROM THE CANNABIS PLANT?There are a few extraction methods, and if you are interested in it we do encourage you to visit our suppliers website to have a look at how they work their own magic. We will here mention the most popular ways to extract the CBD compound from a Cannabis plant:
extraction uses supercritical carbon dioxide to separate the CBD oil from the plant material. “Supercritical” refers to the CO2 containing properties of both a liquid and a gas state, which is why you’ll sometimes see this method referred to as Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE). During CO2 extraction, a series of pressurized chambers and pumps are used to expose CO2 to high pressure and very low temperatures, resulting in an extracted oil containing high amounts of CBD.
1. At the start of extraction, one chamber will hold pressurized CO2, while a second pressurized chamber holds the hemp plant.
2. The CO2 is then pumped from the first chamber into the second. The presence of supercritical CO2 breaks down the hemp also in the chamber, causing the oil to separate from the plant material.
3. Finally, the CO2 and oil are pumped together into a third chamber. The gas evaporates, leaving an extract of pure CBD oil behind.
While it requires expensive specialized machinery, CO2 extraction is the preferred method for making CBD products. It’s extremely safe and efficient at producing high concentrations of CBD in the resulting oil—as much as 92% according to one analysis. The precise nature of CO2 extraction also makes it suitable for producing specific concentrations of CBD oil. Manufacturers can simply adjust the solvent and pressure ratios to achieve the desired concentration of CBD. The CO2 extraction process is also widely used to create many other products besides CBD oil, such as decaffeinating coffee or tea, or extracting essential oils for use in perfumes.
With steam distillation, steam causes the CBD oil to separate from the hemp plant. The hemp plant is contained in a glass flask, with an inlet and an outlet. The inlet connects to another glass container, beneath the plant flask, that contains water that is set to boil. The outlet connects to a condenser tube.
1. As the water heats up, the steam travels upwards into the plant flask, separating the oil vapors that contain CBD.
2. These vapors are then captured in a tube that condenses them into oil and water.
3. Once collected, the oil and water mixture is distilled to extract the CBD oil from the water.
The steam distillation technique is tried and true, having been used to extract essential oil for centuries, but it’s less preferred than CO2 extraction due to its inefficiency. Steam distillation requires significantly larger amounts of hemp plant, and it’s more difficult to extract exact amounts of CBD concentration using this method. There’s also an element of risk with this method. If the steam gets too hot, it can damage the extract and alter the chemical properties of the cannabinoids it contains.
Solvent extraction follows a similar process to steam distillation, except that it uses a solvent rather than water to separate the CBD oil from the plant material. This creates a resulting mixture of the CBD oil with the solvent. The solvent then evaporates, leaving pure CBD oil behind. Solvent extraction uses either hydrocarbons or natural solvents. Solvent extraction is more efficient than steam distillation, and it’s also less expensive. However, the solvents used in hydrocarbon extraction (including naphtha, petroleum, butane, or propane) create cause for concern. The solvent residue can be toxic and increase one’s side effects is these residue are not completely eliminated. One would prefer to use high grade Ethanol as a solvent in order to extract CBD. This method is the one recognized to yield the best results for CBD extraction. However the residue need to be taken care of by extra filtering in order to really get the purest products. Purity with this method can reach 99% unlike other methods.
Cancer risk if they aren’t fully eliminated during the evaporation step—which doesn’t always happen. Some studies have found traces of petroleum or naphtha hydrocarbons residue in CBD products that used solvent extraction. To avoid the risk of toxic residue, solvent extraction can use natural solvents instead, such as olive oil or ethanol. These solvents are just as effective at extracting CBD oil, but remove the risk of toxic residue. However, natural solvent extraction is not without its downsides. When natural solvents like ethanol are used, chlorophyll may also be extracted. This gives the resulting oil an unpleasant taste. If the CBD is used in capsules or topicals, this isn’t a big deal, but many CBD products are eaten or inhaled (such as gummies, tinctures, vape oils), so this can make them harder to sell. The larger problem with natural solvents, though, is that they don’t evaporate very well. As a result, the CBD extract contains a lower concentration of CBD than it would with other methods.