We’re all more conscious shoppers now, especially when it comes to our supplements and wellness products. If you’re doing something for your wellness, it only makes sense to care about where those products come from and how they were made.
There are many ways to make CBD oil, and every method includes some type of extraction from the cannabis plant. Here’s what you should know about the CBD extraction process and what goes on behind the scenes to make your CBD oil.
Where Does CBD Oil Come From?
CBD oil comes from the hemp plant, a variety of cannabis that contains 0.3% THC or less. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive compound. These low levels of THC aren’t enough to get you high. The FDA and the federal government allow industrial hemp to be grown as a commodity crop and used in wellness products.
What Happens Before CBD Is Extracted?
Extraction is just one part of a very long process involving time, care, and commitment. We do it because we love it, and we want you to enjoy the benefits of CBD as much as we do.
Growing the Plant
CBD companies with their own farms (like us) raise hemp plants from seeds to full maturity. When hemp plants fully mature, female plants will flower. The flowers are full of cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), fragrant terpene compounds, phytonutrients, and antioxidant flavonoids. There’s so much good packed into one tiny flower.
When the flowers are ready, they’re harvested. Harvested flowers are dried under controlled conditions to ensure they don’t wither or retain too much moisture. The goal of the drying process is to preserve the flowers without the use of preservative chemicals. It’s a carefully managed natural process.
Drying and Curing the Flowers
Fully dried flowers are placed in special vessels to cure. The curing process locks in the cannabinoids and terpene compounds, allowing them to mature and ripen. It also keeps them from evaporating in the time period between harvest and the creation of CBD oil.
Decarboxylating the Hemp
Here’s where things get interesting. The dried and cured hemp flowers don’t technically contain any CBD. They contain a cannabinoid called CBDA, which stands for cannabidiolic acid. Most cannabinoids in the hemp flower exist in an acidic form. They have a small group of acids attached called carboxylic acids, which change the shape of the CBD compound.
If you’re smoking or vaping CBD flower, the acid group will naturally burn away on its own. High heat or flames will convert CBD to CBDA in real time. CBD oil shouldn’t be exposed to high heat or flames.
Hemp flower is ground into fine flakes and gently treated with heat to remove the group of attached carboxylic acids in decarboxylation. This primes the cannabinoids and gets them ready to go. Your body will be able to utilize them in their decarboxylated form.
Getting Ready for Extraction
When a full batch is ready for extraction, the flowers will be moved through a special process to separate the compounds from the plant matter. The plant matter is discarded, and the resulting concentrated hemp extract will be used to make CBD oil.
What Are the Main CBD Extraction Methods?
The extraction process can be approached in a legitimate hemp laboratory. Some of these methods are safer than others.
How Does Butane Extraction Work?
Cannabinoids can be extracted from hemp using butane or propane. Both of these gases are highly flammable. This process is dangerous, even when performed by professionals in a controlled environment — there have been explosions due to small mistakes in the butane extraction process.
Given the fact that butane and propane extraction are extremely risky, we don’t want to go into the details here. We strongly urge you against attempting it on your own and providing an instruction manual would send the wrong message. We have a much safer method explained below if you want to extract CBD from hemp flowers you grew at home. Be smart and stay safe.
How Does Solvent Extraction Work?
Solvent extraction is the same process used to make extracts for cooking and baking, like vanilla extract and almond extract, and it can also be used to create essential oils. The term “solvent” sounds like something you would use to strip paint off a car, but this isn’t always the case. There are natural solvents, and even edible solvents, that can be used to make CBD extract.
CBD is placed in special extraction systems with multiple chambers. One of the chambers is filled with a food-grade solvent, like ethanol. Ethanol is a clear, neutral alcohol. It’s essentially industrial vodka. With ethanol extraction, the ethanol pulls all of the compounds away from the plant, and the plant matter is separated from the hemp extract.
The extract undergoes an additional process to remove residual solvents. The extract is set aside for additional refining processes.
How Does Supercritical CO2 Extraction Work?
Supercritical CO2 extraction is one of the most complicated methods of CBD extraction. It’s one of the few effective solventless extraction methods.
When carbon dioxide is pressurized, it reaches something called a supercritical state. In a supercritical state, it develops a wealth of unique abilities. You’re familiar with the three phases of matter: solid, liquid, and gas. Almost everything can only be one thing at a time. Supercritical CO2 is simultaneously a liquid and a gas. In its special state, it develops properties similar to a solvent.
While the CO2 is supercritical, it extracts the cannabinoids from the hemp flower. The pressure is released, and the CO2 turns back into a gas. It immediately evaporates away from the hemp extract, leaving no trace of CO2 behind.
What Happens After CBD Is Extracted?
Crude hemp extract can’t be used like CBD oil. It needs to be refined a little more before it can be bottled, turned into gummies, or placed into softgels for you.
Hemp extract contains a lot more than just CBD. It also contains plant waxes, fatty acids called lipids, and phytonutrients. These things must be removed from the extract to give the oil a better consistency and prevent it from being sticky.
The process of removing these parts of the hemp extract is called winterization. It’s called winterization because freezing the extract causes the fats to stick together, making them easier to remove from the mixture.
Cannabinoids Can Be Separated If Necessary
There are many types of CBD oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains every cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. Broad-spectrum CBD contains every cannabinoid except for THC. CBD isolate is only CBD.
Full-spectrum CBD oil doesn’t undergo any processes to isolate, remove, or separate cannabinoids. Broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate need to undergo these processes. With broad-spectrum CBD, special equipment is used to isolate, remove, and safely discard THC. With CBD isolate, special equipment is used to isolate and remove the CBD from the extract to be used in CBD products.
CBD companies technically aren’t required to send samples of their CBD extract off for lab testing, but reputable companies go the extra mile. A cannabinoid lab analyzes a sample to verify the cannabinoid content of each batch. Labs can also check for the presence of pesticides, contaminants, and residual solvents.
The lab will prepare a report called a certificate of analysis for each batch of hemp extract. The hemp’s batch code will match the code on the lab report. You can verify the information on the label of your CBD product by cross-checking it with the information on the certificate of analysis.
The end product of these processes is extremely concentrated. It can’t be used raw. It needs to be diluted with carrier oil into reasonable daily doses. Hemp extract is combined with a neutral oil and diluted to an appropriate strength before it’s bottled.
During this process, natural flavors can be added to improve how hemp extract tastes. We use flavors like energizing lemon, calming spearmint, or tasty bananas foster to mellow out the earthy natural taste of CBD.
Can You Extract CBD at Home?
We’re big fans of growing your own hemp plants. We offer up our specially selected seeds, seedlings, and clones because we want you to experience the process of growing the hemp plant firsthand. If you’ve harvested your crop and you don’t want to smoke the flower, you need to be able to extract the CBD from the plant.
Industrial extraction involves a lot of expensive equipment, and extraction systems take up a lot of space. They’re also designed to process more hemp than the average person would grow for personal use. There’s no need to invest in an entire factory. You can make CBD extract at home, and you might already have some of the tools you need to do it.
How To Make Homemade CBD Tincture
You can make homemade ethanol-based CBD tincture from the CBD flower you grew yourself. This method contains alcohol, but you’ll only be consuming a few drops at a time. If you prefer to avoid alcohol entirely, skip down to the CBD-infused oil section for a suitable alternative.
- Dried, cured, decarboxylated CBD hemp flower
- A glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
- Small funnel
- A dark glass dropper bottle
Place your decarboxylated hemp in a glass jar. Pour high-proof vodka into the jar. Don’t fill the jar completely — you only need to fill the jar to about an inch or two over the hemp, because the hemp only needs a small amount of room to float and move.
Vigorously shake the jar for about one minute. Make sure you’re standing in a wide open space where you won’t bash the glass jar against your counter, cabinets, or drawers. No one wants to clean up broken glass, vodka, and cannabis from the kitchen floor. If you’ve ever had a house party, you’ve already done that enough. Come back every two hours for about 12 hours to shake the jar again.
After the final shake, hold the cheesecloth over a bowl and pour the mixture through it. You might feel tempted to squeeze the cheesecloth very hard, but don’t. Crushing the plant material can change the flavor of your tincture.
After you’ve strained the mixture, use your small funnel to pour the mixture into your dark glass bottle. If you bought a multipack of dark glass bottles, it probably came with a tiny funnel you can use for this purpose.
Store your CBD tincture in a cool, dark place. Use it up within six months.
How To Make Homemade CBD-Infused Oil
Oil extraction is a very easy way to make CBD-infused oil at home. Olive oil extraction is a popular method, but refined coconut oil, hemp seed oil, and avocado oil would work just as well as olive oil.
To make CBD-infused oil, you need:
- A slow cooker with a low setting
- A thermometer
- Decarboxylated cannabis
- Neutral oil for your choice
- A bowl
- A small funnel
- A dark glass bottle
You can make CBD oil in your slow cooker. If the low setting on your slow cooker is between 175 and 200 degrees, you can slowly infuse cannabinoids into the oil of your choice. Just place your decarboxylated cannabis into the slow cooker with one cup of your chosen oil. Stir it very well. Come back to stir it every hour or so for about six hours.
Use your thermometer to check the temperature every time you stir the mixture. If it exceeds 215 degrees Fahrenheit, you may destroy the cannabinoids. If the temperature is getting too hot, turn the slow cooker off for about 20 minutes. The ceramic will retain the residual heat without getting hotter, and the process will continue.
After eight hours, follow the above steps to strain your oil mixture and transfer it into your dark glass bottle.
In Conclusion: Plenty of Hard Work Goes Into High-Quality CBD Oil
Growing, extracting, and packaging CBD oil is a labor of love. There’s nothing else we’d rather be doing. If you have your own crop of homegrown hemp you sowed with love, you can use it to make CBD oil or tincture in your own kitchen.