Updated: Oct 2, 2020
The CBD (cannabidiol) compound has shown promising results in a plethora of medical applications, ranging from pain relief to reduction of anxiety, and many other disorders in between. One of the main advantages of CBD is that it does not contain THC, which is the compound responsible for making you feel high, as is often associated with cannabis. Therefore, CBD can be used by anyone, even children in certain conditions, because there is no risk of being high.
How CBD Is Extracted from the Cannabis Plant
There are several ways to extract oil from the cannabis plant and obtain CBD oil. In this article, we will share how CBD oil is extracted, which of the methods is best, and how to know which method was used to extract the CBD in the product you’re buying.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2) CBD Extraction
This CO2 extraction process uses a supercritical carbon dioxide in order to separate CBD oil from the cannabis plant material. The term "supercritical" is used to refer to the properties of the CO2 containing both the liquid and gaseous states. Therefore, this method is sometimes called supercritical fluid extraction (SFE).
During the CO2 extraction of CBD, there are a series of chambers and pressurized pumps used to expose the CO2 at very high pressure and low temperature, thus obtaining an extracted oil which contains a high concentration of CBD.
Olive Oil CBD Extraction
People who want to produce their CBD oil personally and on a small scale can employ the olive oil method to extract cannabidiol. It's incredibly easy and relatively inexpensive, but does not produce a very high quantity of CBD.
All you have to do is put the plant material in a saucepan of olive oil and heat it at a certain temperature for a while. First of all, however, it is necessary to decarboxylate the plant. What that means is that the plant must first be heated by itself, essentially in an oven, and baked for one hour at a temperature of 220°F, or for 30 minutes at 240°F. This helps to activate the natural compounds of the plant and converts the cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) to CBD.
Dry Ice CBD Extraction
Another simple method to extract CBD is the dry ice extraction method. This can, again, be done at home, although it requires even more equipment and is more stressful than the olive oil extraction method.
Before the CBD dry ice extraction method can be done, the plant material has to be chopped into small pieces. You then place these pieces into a large bucket and cover it with dry ice. When the mixture of hemp and dry ice is left for about 3 minutes, the trichomes are frozen by the temperature of the dry ice. Trichomes are small growths on the plant surface containing all the cannabinoids.
Solvent/Solvent-less CBD Extraction (Hydrocarbons and Natural Solvents)
The solvent method of CBD extraction uses a solvent to separate the CBD oil from its plant material. Consequently, this produces a mixture of the solvent and CBD oil. Then the solvent evaporates, leaving the pure CBD oil behind. The solvent used in this form of extraction is either hydrocarbon or natural solvents.
The solvent extraction method is quite economical. However, solvents used in the hydrocarbon extraction (such as butane, naphtha, propane, or petroleum) may raise concern. Solvent residues may be toxic and increase the risk of cancer if they are not eliminated during the evaporation phase, which is not always the case. Some studies have revealed traces of petroleum or naphtha hydrocarbon residues in CBD products for which the solvent extraction method was used.
In order to remove the risk of toxic residues, whoever wants to use the solvent extraction method may use natural solvents in place of hydrocarbons. Solvents like ethanol or olive oil may be used and they are just as effective, with the bonus that they remove the risk of having a toxic residue in your CBD product.
What Is the Best Extraction Method for CBD Oil?
Each extraction method has advantages and disadvantages. However, the CO2 extraction method is great. Although this extraction method is the most expensive, it produces the highest concentration of CBD, which results in a quality product. It is also one of the safest methods of extraction and leaves no neurotoxic residue.
How to Tell Which Method Was Used to Extract Your CBD
When buying CBD products, it is important to determine the extraction method used by the company because it can be an indicator of the quality of the CBD products you are using, and the values of the company as well. While the CO2 extraction method is expensive, it produces a high-quality CBD product.
Ensure you check the website of the company you’re buying a CBD product from. They should reveal the extraction process they use. And it is also important to check that the company uses a third-party lab to test the CBD concentration of their products, as well as the safety of the other ingredients used.