Cannabidiol, also commonly known as CBD, is one of the cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. This compound has become increasingly popular all over the world due to its potential health benefits.
In 2018, the World Health Organization deemed CBD safe for consumption, and it led to an even greater increase in the number of CBD-based products available in the market.
Below, we’ll dive deeper into the different extraction methods available for commercial purposes, as well as the main pros and cons of each option.
The Different Extraction Methods
When searching for high-quality CBD products, many people might overlook the extraction method used by the brand they’re buying from. After all, not everyone knows how the extraction process impacts the final product.
Due to this, we want to help our readers make more informed decisions when purchasing CBD products, especially when it comes to the different extraction methods used during the manufacturing process.
Supercritical Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction
Industrial production of CBD products tends to use the supercritical CO2 extraction method. This is one of the safest and cleanest options available, especially because CO2 is non-volatile.
Moreover, this extraction method has been used for decades in other industries, particularly due to the high degree of purity it allows the final product to have.
This extraction method uses CO2 that is at a supercritical point – this means that the CO2 possesses the characteristics of a gas and a liquid at the same time. The CO2 acts as a solvent, separating the phytocannabinoids from the plant in the form of an oil. At the end of the process, the CO2 is removed from the oil, leaving just full-spectrum CBD behind.
While there are several benefits to using this extraction method, one of the main cons is that it is extremely costly due to the necessity of specific technology and qualified personnel.
Another extraction method that is often used for commercial purposes is solvent extraction.
This is also a safe extraction method, however, the final product isn’t as pure as the one resulting from the supercritical CO2 extraction.
Solvent extraction is also a cheaper option, as the solvents used (often butane, ethanol, or hexane) are fairly affordable.
For this extraction method, the hemp is submerged in the solvent, which extracts the natural cannabinoids and terpenes. This method also extracts chlorophyll, which might end up in the final product if further processing isn’t done.
Although this is a fast and cheap option for the industrial production of CBD, it doesn’t offer the purest yield of cannabidiol extract.
Vegetable Oil Extraction
The two extraction methods mentioned above are the only ones that companies use for the industrial production of CBD extract, but they aren’t the only ones available.
One of the oldest forms of extracting CBD from hemp plants requires the use of vegetable oil, such as olive or coconut oils. For this extraction process, the hemp flowers are boiled in vegetable oils for a while until the cannabinoids are extracted from the plant.
Other common cooking oils or fats that can be used for this method of extraction include:
- Hemp seed oil
- Argan oil
- Sunflower oil
Depending on the final product, people might opt for oils that are high in saturated fats for edible products, or denser options such as butter or coconut oil for salves or creams.
Other Extraction Methods
While the extraction methods we described above are the most common, several other options allow CBD and other cannabinoids to be extracted from the hemp plant.
Albeit not used as frequently, it’s also possible to perform this process through:
- Steam distillation
- Dry ice extraction
- Natural solvent extraction
- Cold pressure extraction
How Long Does The Extraction Process Take?
The answer to this question varies according to the extraction method used. For industrial purposes, where supercritical CO2 is often used as the extractor, the process can take up to four hours.
Moreover, since industrial farms have high-capacity equipment, it’s possible to process hundreds of pounds of hemp in a single afternoon.
What Happens Once CBD Is Extracted?
From the moment CBD is extracted, another process begins called winterization. During this stage of manufacturing, crude CBD oil is transformed into purified CBD oil.
The winterization process removes unwanted elements and impurities that may have been extracted from the plant along with the cannabinoids during the previous process. This is conducted through the filtering of the oil.
Can I Extract CBD At Home?
It’s possible to perform CBD extraction at home with the vegetable oil process. Although this is a fairly simple process, it’s recommended that people pay attention to some factors:
- The temperature of the oil can’t be too high, as it might degrade the quality of the final product
- Ensure that all safety measures are taken as to not burn yourself
- Understand that the final product won’t be as pure or have the same potency as an industrial-grade CBD oil
What Is The Best Extraction Method For CBD?
Each extraction method has its own set of pros and cons, however, when it comes to the industrial production of CBD oil the best option is the supercritical CO2 method.
This extraction process offers the cleanest, purest, and safest CBD extract. Although it’s the most expensive option, especially due to the technology, materials, and personnel needed to conduct the process, it’s the one that most companies have chosen to use.