Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over a hundred distinct cannabinoids found in the cannabaceae family. It is different from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive constituent known for causing a high. On the other hand, CBD produces significant therapeutic effects without any psychoactivity. Research shows that CBD interacts with the pre-existing endocannabinoid system in the body. It binds to cannabinoid receptors and helps regulate various bodily functions to maintain internal balance. Since it plays a crucial role in your system, always consider using the best quality CBD oils.
For quality assurance, check each step of the process of forming CBD oil. Extraction is the first step that requires proper care and precision. While you can grow premium-quality hemp with high CBD proportions, all of that goes to waste without promising extraction techniques. So, the question is, why high-end extraction methods are necessary? To know all about the CBD oil manufacturing process, go through this post.
The Making Of CBD Oil
Manufacturers make CBD oil by extracting cannabidiol contents from the flowers, buds, leaves, roots, and stems of the Cannabis Sativa plant. This plant is either hemp or marijuana, depending on the THC traces found in them. If the plant has less than 0.3% THC, it is technically hemp. But if it carries more than 0.3 percent THC, it’s a marijuana source. Marijuana comes in the category of Schedule I drugs like heroin and cocaine.
On the contrary, Farm bill 2018 legalized hemp production, considering it safe and effective for medicinal purposes. Since CBD derived from hemp is legal in about 50 states, manufacturers generally use hemp for CBD extraction. There are numerous methods for extracting CBD from a plant, and the process varies by CBD manufacturer. Here is a discussion on the most commonly used techniques for making CBD oil.
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Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Extraction
Though there are many ways to extract CBD oils using CO2, manufacturers prefer supercritical CO2 extraction for perfection. This method uses pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) to obtain the desired substances. The technology relies on a supercritical fluid extraction process that involves pulling one component from another. Although CO2 is the most common ingredient used in this process, some producers supplement it with a co-solvent such as alcohol.
This method takes advantage of the fact that CO2 can be used in a solid, liquid, or gas form. CO2 acts as a gas at standard pressure and temperature. When it comes to supercritical CO2, it remains in the gaseous state. The producer achieves this by applying pressure and temperature above their critical thresholds. In a nutshell, here’s how supercritical CO2 extraction works:
- The procedure begins with a solid chunk of CO2 that is pumped into a second container containing the plant material.
- The CO2 in the second chamber is kept at a pressure, wherein it remains like liquid and absorbs the plant’s oils and flavors.
- The CO2-cannabinoid mixture is then pushed into a third chamber, where the CO2 returns to a gas state. It has the consistency of a liquid yet occupies space like a gas.
- The liquid flows through the cannabis material, dissolving the trichome membranes and leaving active plant components behind.
CO2 in its supercritical condition produces high-purity extracts with consistent potency levels. Eventually, it provides healthy-looking, gold-colored, thick contents. You can suspend it in a carrier oil or use it with thinners to make it vape-friendly.
Ethanol has long been used as a solvent in hemp extraction for decades. It extracts fast because it is a non-viscous liquid at atmospheric pressure. It is simple to use and very versatile in that it can deliver a wide range of desired end products. It’s perfect for small-scale cannabis ‘connoisseur’ processors and larger processors looking to isolate specific cannabinoids like THC and CBD on a large scale.
The ethanol extraction technique is safer and more manageable when compared to CO2 and hydrocarbon extraction.
- Ethanol is less explosive and hazardous, so it’s safer to operate than hydrocarbon extraction techniques.
- Since CO2 extraction systems function under high pressure, operators face potential risks and hazards. Ethanol extraction can take place in either warm or cold temperatures. It is a time-efficient, simple, and effective process.
- CO2 extraction equipment is substantially more expensive and has a much lower throughput (the amount of biomass it can extract in a particular period or batch) than ethanol extraction.
- While all extraction techniques have their respective complications, cannabis extraction using ethanol is the easiest among others. This ease of processing makes training operators simpler and faster.
- Extraction with CO2 and hydrocarbons involves manipulating pressure in sealed systems. It requires more extensive training to ensure a successful outcome. However, the ethanol extraction process does not include solvent-changing phases.
In the ethanol extraction method, extractors use high-grade grain alcohol (ethanol) as a solvent to separate CBD and other cannabinoids from the plant itself. This method produces CBD oil that often comes into use for vape pen cartridges and other products. However, this extraction method destroys the cannabis plant waxes, which may have health benefits that manufacturers may not want to lose.
Extraction Using Liquid Solvents
The theory of using a liquid to extract CBD oil from the cannabis plant extends beyond CO2 and ethanol. Butane, hexane, and isopropyl alcohol are natural liquid substances commonly used for CBD oil extraction.
A liquid solvent is run through decarboxylated hemp to remove cannabinoids and terpenes, similar to the CO2 or ethanol extraction processes. The extraction liquid will remove the cannabinoids and flavor from the plant material, but it may remove some green colorings also. After obtaining enough cannabinoids, heat the liquid until it evaporates and leaves CBD base oil behind.
Liquid solvent extraction is relatively inexpensive and does not necessitate the use of expensive, hi-tech equipment. It provides a simple and quick method for extracting CBD oil. Even though it is easy to scale for commercial production, it has some drawbacks.
- Butane is a highly concentrated form, more influential than ethanol, but it contains more solvents that may irritate your lungs.
- All solvents cannot remove all impurities, as plant chlorophyll may remain in the oil, giving it a greenish tint and a bitter taste. If you filter the extract to remove the chlorophyll, it reduces the oil potency.
To avoid contaminants, a CBD producer must make necessary adjustments to the process. This procedure is potentially more harmful than others because many of the used liquid solvents are highly flammable.
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Oil infusion is one of the oldest methods of obtaining CBD oil. Even today, many home growers and producers use this extraction method. It includes a simple two-step process: decarboxylation and infusion. Decarboxylation is a simple heating process that activates beneficial compounds in cannabis. Cannabis plant compounds are not active or bioavailable.
These compounds get activated by heat. Some people bake hemp flowers in a slow cooker or oven. Others use an extraction machine (called a decarboxylator) to get the most out of your plant material. This machine can maintain adequate temperatures required for CBD and other cannabinoids to be fully activated.
Infusion, the second step, comes after decarboxylating the hemp flowers. It involves releasing these obtained compounds into a carrier oil such as Coconut oil and MCT oil. After mixing the extracted oil with a carrier oil, the result is a vibrantly herbaceous oil with soothing anti-inflammatory properties. These CBD-infused oils are easy to take. The carrier oil formulation makes these compounds easier for your body to absorb.
This process is one of the most straightforward ways to extract CBD oil, yet it includes some drawbacks. Before starting oil infusion, the plant material must first be decarboxylated or heated to a specific temperature to activate the compounds. Moreover, when the plant material gets added to olive oil or similar carrier oil, it has to be heated at 100 degrees Celsius for a couple of hours. The olive oil can’t evaporate from the CBD oil, so one of the primary downsides is that it uses more oil in its operations compared to liquid solvents.
Also Read: Does CBD Isolate Need To Be Decarbed
Secondary Processes For Purification
Many manufacturers undergo additional processes to remove undesirable elements extracted from hemp. Without these secondary processes, the final product would be murky, darker, and have an unpleasant taste. Here is a brief discussion on them.
- The extracted crude oil contains all of the essential components of the hemp plant, including CBD, minor cannabinoids, terpenes, fats, waxes, and lipids. The winterization process aims to convert raw extract into a consumer-level product. It eliminates unwanted elements extracted from hemp sources, such as fats, waxes, and lipids.
- The process involves combining this viscous liquid with 200 proof alcohol and stirring vigorously until entirely mixed. The alcohol will make the CBD crude oil thin. The desirable parts will dissolve in the alcohol solution, while the undesirable parts will coagulate and freeze, allowing them to be filtered out. The producers will then keep this mixture in a deep freezer at temperatures below zero. The appearance of cloudiness is a sign that it is ready for filtration.
- The next step is to pour the liquid into vessels that use paper filters to remove the frozen substances. The pure CBD oil remains in the alcohol solution and travels through the filter, separating from the frozen, unwanted portions.
- Subsequently, the filters hold all frozen plant waxes from the oil as they settle on the top. The producer will remove the filtered components and collect the clean oil that flows through the filter into the vessel.
- The collected oil goes through refrigeration for multiple passes until it is of the desired quality. Once winterized, it can be heated to the boiling point of alcohol, lower than that of CBD oil. The alcohol dissipates, leaving the CBD oil behind.
- The cannabis industry uses the CBD distillation process to purify crude oil. The extraction method primarily works with solvents such as ethanol, butane, or CO2 to collect oil from the plant biomass. Distillation equipment eliminates volatiles traces and other impurities from the crude oil.
- Distillation may require many passes to separate all unwanted compounds and produce the intended final product. The first pass usually involves removing low boiling point volatiles. A second pass aims at distilling the targeted cannabinoids while wiping out contaminants such as waxes, sugars, and other plant residuals. It produces a pure CBD product of the desired spectrum.
- Multiple passes can be essential for a product if a company does not use a winterization process. Winterization will remove contaminants from the initial oil extraction, such as fats and waxes. Without this process, the impurities remain in the solution that gets removed during the distillation process for purity.
- Short path distillation is the most prevalent kind of distillation system. It is worthwhile because the vapor travels a short distance before it condenses and allows the equipment to occupy less space. The process begins with carefully heating the CBD oil until unwanted elements, including terpenoids, flavonoids, and pollutants, get discarded.
- The resulting vapors pass via a distillation tube until they reach cooling coils. Here, they condense and penetrate a separate collection container. After repetitive processing, only pure CBD oil remains in the original container. This process works on a small scale because it requires more manual operation or oversight.
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CBD Oil Uses
A 2021 study expresses that various extraction methods for medicinal cannabis have their respective pros and cons. Since extraction techniques affect the CBD oil quality, the choice is significant. People commonly use it to relieve chronic pain, skin inflammation, anxiety disorder, sleeping difficulty, or digestive issues.
You can enjoy the therapeutic benefits of high-quality CBD oil in several ways, including:
- Incorporating it into food or beverages
- Consuming orally or sublingually
- Apply oil directly to your skin
- Mixing in your regular topical product
- Smoke or vaping CBD concentrates
- Taking CBD-infused edibles, like capsules and gummies
Also Reads: Is CBD Oil Safe For Cats
Conclusion On CBD Oil Manufacturing Process
Cannabis is a herbaceous flowering plant in the Cannabis genus used for thousands of years. Patients take medicinal cannabis in various ways, including smoking, vaping, and ingesting infused oils. Manufacturers use different organic solvents (such as hydrocarbons and alcohols) to obtain the best quality. These solvents can be effective for extractions, but the final product may impact regulation and necessitate additional testing.
The primary motive for CBD extraction is to obtain a concentrated form that gets mixed into CBD e-liquids, CBD oils, and CBD topicals. A cannabis company may use any underlying method according to the required CBD spectrum, state regulations, and affordability of equipment. According to a research study, carbon dioxide supercritical fluid extraction is a clean and cost-effective method to extract cannabinoids from cannabis.