A Guide to CBD Extraction Methods

Have you ever wondered how CBD is extracted from cannabis plants? And does the extraction method affect the quality of the product? 

The purity, potency, and safety of your CBD product highly depend on how it was extracted from the plant. Therefore, knowing the extraction method of the CBD product you are about to buy can help you make an informed decision. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss various extraction methods used to get CBD from cannabis plants. We will also explain which extraction method is the best one. 

Understanding CBD Extraction: Why it Matters 

Why would you want to know the extraction method used for the CBD you are using? The answer is quite simple! 

Knowing the extraction method can give you a good idea of the CBD’s –

Understanding CBD Extraction
  • Potency 
  • Purity, and 
  • Safety

Some extraction methods ensure that the end product is pure CBD, and there won’t be any other cannabinoids or terpenes. Some other methods can produce cheaper products while compromising purity and safety. 

As a result, getting a good idea of how your CBD was extracted from the plant is crucial for ensuring quality. Let’s get into some of the most prominent extraction methods.

CBD Extraction Methods

There are several CBD extraction methods, and most of them can only be possible commercially. Here are the most popular extraction methods available for getting CBD out of hemp or cannabis plants:

Solvent-Based Extraction 

As the name implies, solvent-based extraction isolates cannabinoids by using solvents like ethanol, butane, propane, or alcohol. 

Ethanol is the most used solvent for this extraction method. Here’s a simplified set of steps of this process:

  • This process starts by preparing the biomass for extraction by drying and grinding the plant material
  • The biomass is then soaked in ethanol under cold conditions 
  • The mixture is then filtered to get rid of the solid plant material
  • Using heat, the ethanol is evaporated, and we get cannabinoids and terpenes extracted in the form of resin or oil
  • After post-processing with winterization, the final product is collected and stored

CO2 Extraction 

The carbon dioxide extraction method is one of the safest and most efficient techniques for getting CBD. CO2 extraction produces high-quality and clean extract, and here’s a rundown of the process:

  • The process starts with preparing the plant material by drying and grinding 
  • CO2 gas is then pressurized and heated to reach the supercritical state, where it can act as a solvent
  • The supercritical CO2 is then passed through the plant material, where it dissolves and carries away CBD, terpenes, and other cannabinoids
  • The remaining mixture goes through a separator where CO2 returns to its gas state, leaving extracted oil behind
  • Finally, the extracted oil is stored, and the CO2 can be recycled for more extractions

Oil-Based Extraction 

The oil-based extraction method is one of the easiest on this list, and you can even do it at home. Here are the steps of oil-based extraction:

  • The process starts with heating the plant material, which is called decarboxylation
  • Then, the cannabis is mixed with a carrier oil (coconut oil, olive oil, or hemp seed oil)
  • This mixture is heated for several hours to infuse the cannabinoids with the oil
  • The remaining plant material is strained to get rid of anything that did not get infused with the oil
  • The final product is stored in an airtight container

Water-Based Extraction

If you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly method of extracting CBD that does not involve using harsh chemicals, water could be the answer.

There are several ways to extract CBD with water. You can do it by soaking hemp in boiling water and then cooling it to separate the oil from the water. There are also ways to get CBD from cold water and warm water ultrasonic extractions.

While this is the safest extraction method, the end product won’t be as potent or concentrated as some of the other methods mentioned.

Choosing the Right CBD Extraction Method 

When buying CBD products, it’s important to look at the extraction method used for it. Why? The extraction method can tell a lot about a brand’s quality, safety, and potency. 

For example, CO2 extraction is the gold standard for getting pure and safe CBD, as this method does not use any kind of toxic solvents. However, products using this extraction are much more expensive. 

Ethanol extraction, in contrast, is much more cost-effective. However, there can be potential contamination. 

Right CBD Extraction Method

Here are the factors to consider when choosing the right CBD products:

  • Potency: If you’re looking for highly potent CBD, get products that were made using CO2 or hydrocarbon extraction.
  • Safety: CO2 and olive oil extraction ensure the safest CBD products.
  • Budget: If CO2-extracted CBD is out of your budget, consider getting products made with ethanol extraction. 

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Extraction Techniques 

Chromatography and winterization are two critical processes that can ensure the purity, potency and safety of your CBD products. Let’s dive into these advanced extraction techniques:

Chromatography

Chromatography is a powerful technique that’s used for separating CBD from other cannabis extracts, increasing the purity of the final product. 

The types of chromatography include:

  • High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
  • Supercritical Fluid Chromatography (SFC)
  • Centrifugal Partition Chromatography (CPC)

Winterization

Similar to chromatography, winterization is a purification process of removing fats, waxes and lipids from crude CBD extracts. This method includes dissolving crude CBD extract in a solvent, freezing it, and filtering out the solidified fat and waxes.

The Future of CBD Extraction 

The CBD market is growing rapidly, and so is the technological innovation of its extraction. With supercritical CO2 extraction being at the forefront of CBD extraction methods, we are already seeing the fusion of technology in this sector. 

Moreover, solvent extraction techniques are also being improved to ensure high-quality products. Ultrasonics is becoming popular for breaking down plant cells. 

The future of CBD extraction is likely to see further advancements in technology that enhance efficiency, purity, and environmental sustainability. Innovations such as nanoemulsion technology for increased bioavailability and the development of new solventless extraction methods are expected to play a significant role.

FAQ 

Can I extract CBD at home? 

Yes, you can extract CBD at home. The most popular DIY extraction method for CBD is with oil. However, the potency of homemade CBD isn’t as great as commercial products.

What is the safest CBD extraction method?  

CO2 and ethanol extraction methods are the safest for getting CBD safely and efficiently. Moreover, the quality of CBD is also pretty high through these methods.

How can I tell if a CBD product is high quality?  

CBD products that come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) through third-party lab testing, are sourced from organically grown hemp, and have gone through CO2 extraction methods are usually the best in the market. 

What does full-spectrum CBD mean? 

Full-spectrum CBD is an extract that contains other cannabinoids, including THC and terpenes, alongside CBD. This product is supposed to contribute to the entourage effect, increasing the effectiveness of the extraction.

What does CBD isolate mean? 

CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD without any other addition that you get from cannabis extraction. Unlike full-spectrum CBD, isolates do not have any THC, terpenes, or other cannabinoids. 

Conclusion 

CO2 and ethanol extraction are two of the most popular methods for commercial CBD products. If you are okay with spending a higher amount for more potent and pure CBD, go for items that are made with CO2 extraction. Ethanol extraction, on the other hand, can produce more budget-friendly products. 

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Nazmul Nahid

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