CBD, or cannabidiol, is a substance that individuals use for a variety of applications. Some people believe it can help to relieve anxiety or pain and other conditions. One reason so many people like CBD is that there is no THC in it. THC is what makes people get high. That means CBD is a good product for both children and adults. But you may be wondering how the product is made.
About CBD Oil
You likely know that CBD comes from cannabis. Every CBD product, from tinctures to edibles, has CBD oil in it. CBD comes from the hemp plant. This is why you can look at the ingredients list and see “hemp extract” there. Once it has been extracted, the oil can then be added to capsules, gummies, vape oils, topicals, and tinctures..
Methods of Extraction
When you hear about CBD products and how they are made, there is a specific method for extraction. A common method involves using natural solvents, carbon dioxide, or steam distillation. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Carbon Dioxide Extraction
With this method, supercritical CO2 is used to separate the plant material and the CBD oil. Supercritical means that the CO2 has both gas and liquid properties. For that reason, this method is sometimes known as supercritical fluid extraction.
During this process, pressurized pumps and chambers will expose the CO2 to extremely low temperatures and very high pressure. The oil that results has high levels of CBD in it.
In the beginning, one of the chambers will have the hemp plant, with the other chamber holding the pressurized CO2. Then, the CO2 will be pumped from the first to the second chamber. When there is supercritical CO2, the hemp in the chamber will be broken down. That will make the plant material separate from the oil. The last step involves pumping the oil and the CO2 to a third chamber. Then, the gas will evaporate. Only pure CBD oil will remain there.
Even though expensive equipment is required for this method, many extractors prefer the CO2 method to create CBD oil. The reasons are that this is fairly efficient and safe, and the result is highly concentrated CBD in the oil. The concentration can be as high as 92 percent.
Because of how precise the CO2 extraction method is, it is useful to create specific concentrations of the oil. By adjusting the pressure and the solvent ratios, a manufacturer can get a perfect concentration for the CBD. This process is also used to make other products. That includes removing the caffeine from tea or coffee and making essential oils.
With this method, steam will be used to separate the plant material from the CBD oil. The plant will be placed in a glass container that has an outlet and an inlet. The outlet will connect to a condenser tube. The inlet will go to another container under the first one. Plus, the second container has water that is ready to boil.
When the water begins to heat, the steam from it will go to the container that has the flask in it. That will separate the vapors that have CBD in them. A tube will catch the vapors and condense them to water and oil. After this step, the water and oil will be distilled. That helps to remove the oil from the water.
This method has been tested many times and found to work well. It has been used for many years to extract essential oils to make perfumes. But it is not as efficient as the CO2 method. With steam distillation, you need to have larger amounts of the plant to get the same amount of oil out. It is also harder to get an exact concentration of CBD oil.
This method can also present a risk. If the steam is too hot, then it may damage the CBD extract. That can alter the cannabinoids’ chemical properties.
Solvent Extraction with Natural Solvents
This method has similar steps to the steam distillation process. But it uses solvents instead of just water to separate the plant material and CBD. That makes a mix of solvent and CBD oil. Then the solvent can evaporate, which leaves pure CBD behind. Either natural solvents or hydrocarbons will be used.
Compared to steam distillation, this method is a bit more efficient. It also does not cost as much money. But the solvents, which include petroleum, propane, naphtha, and butane, can be concerning to some users. There can still be some residue after the solvent has evaporated. That can be toxic and might increase your risk of cancer. They are not always eliminated during evaporation.
To help reduce the risk of being exposed to toxins, some manufacturers are turning to natural solvents instead. That might include ethanol or even olive oil. These are as effective as other types of solvents, and there is not as much of a risk of toxicity.
Of course, there are still downsides to this method. When you use natural solvents, the plant’s chlorophyll can also be removed. That means that the oil may have an unpleasant flavor. If you use it in a topical or a capsule, it is not important. But you inhale or eat many CBD products, such as tinctures, gummies, and vaping oils. That means they are harder for manufacturers to sell.
However, the biggest issue is that many solvents do not properly evaporate. That causes the oil to have less CBD than it might with other methods.
Looking for the Best Extraction Method
Each extraction method has its benefits and drawbacks. However, many people believe the best method is CO2 extraction. It is more expensive, but it also creates a high-quality product because of the high concentration of CBD. You do not need to worry about any harmful residues being left behind, so it is considered safer.
When you are looking for CBD products to buy, you will want to see what method of extraction the manufacturers used. That can indicate if they are safe, high-quality products. If you find one that has been extracted using CO2, it can be more expensive than others, but it may be safer, as well.
There is more risk when using a product that has been made with another method of extraction. For example, hydrocarbon extraction can leave behind residual solvents. Natural solvent extraction and steam distillation both present lower risks. But they may also leave you with an inconsistent level of CBD. That might mean you have to end up taking more of the product to see the same results.
You will also want to check that a company uses third-party lab testing to determine how much CBD a product contains. That will also help you see how safe any other ingredients are.
Reputable manufacturers have these results available on their websites. It might also be on the product’s package, or you may have to request it. On the test results, you should be able to determine how potent the cannabinoids and CBD are. Any possible contamination issues will also be listed on the test results. In addition, you can see if it used hydrocarbon solvents and if there is any residue left.
After The Extraction Process
Once the CBD has been extracted, it will be known as full-spectrum. That just means that there are other cannabinoids in it besides CBD. That can include trace amounts of THC, CBDV, CBDA, and other cannabinoids. But if the product comes from the hemp plant, it will likely have less than 0.3 percent of THC in it.
With full-spectrum products, you also get some of the other elements of the plant. That includes amino acids and the terpenes. The additional components are why so many people like full-spectrum CBD oil better than other types.
The entourage effect is one reason full-spectrum oils are becoming more popular. By themselves, different cannabinoids may have a slight effect on your body. But when they are combined with other cannabinoids, they often have greater effects. This has not yet been proven with studies. But some users believe that the many cannabinoids can work together to better engage your endocannabinoid system.
You should keep in mind that full-spectrum oil does have some THC in it, however small. If you have to undergo routine drug tests and are afraid that the THC may show up, then you might want to look into CBD isolate.
To make CBD isolate, the extract will first be cooled. Then, it can undergo a purification process that will create a crystalline substance. The powder is white and flavorless, which is perfect to add to your food without adding a bitter taste. Since you are getting pure CBD and no oil in it, the substance is a little less expensive. It also has no odor.
Making CBD Isolate
First, CBD will need to be isolated from the crude CBD extract. Winterization and decarboxylation will be used. During winterization, the plant waxes and lipids will be taken out. In decarboxylation, the plant’s inactive CBDA will be converted to CBD by using time and heat.
Once the oil has been winterized, it will then have a distillation process. That will remove the terpenes, chlorophyll, and other containments. With fractional distillation, the CBD can be concentrated and also separated from the other cannabinoids.
Then, it will be mixed in a reactor with a nonpolar solvent. This will be warmed up and then cooled. This process will help only the purest of the CBD come out. It will be in a crystal form at this point. This is the same thing that happens to sugar and water when you make rock candy.
Finally, the CBD will be washed with a nonpolar solvent. That will help to remove any remaining containments and purify the CBD. Then, the isolate can be placed in a vacuum oven. It will be left there for around 48 hours. At the end, the manufacturer is left with a 99 percent pure isolate that does not have any remaining solvent in it.
Because it has no taste or odor, it is easy to use CBD isolate. You can sprinkle it on your food and put it in a beverage. You can even put it in a cream or a lotion to create your own homemade CBD topical. Many people enjoy the fact that it does not have a bitter or earthy flavor like a full-spectrum CBD oil can.
Uses of CBD
If you are taking CBD oil at home, you can place it under your tongue for about a minute or so for fast absorption.
For delicious gummies, it can be added to corn syrup, juice, and other flavorings. It might be infused in butter and then used to make chocolates or baked goods.
Some manufacturers make CBD capsules, which involves adding the oil to coconut oil extracts. That will help the capsule be big enough. For soft capsules, it might be mixed with olive oil.
Some people like to vape their CBD. In this case, the oil will be mixed with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin. Flavorings will be added to improve the taste.
Finally, some manufacturers might combine it with shea butter, essential oils, waxes, or aloe vera. That will create topicals, such as salves or creams.
There are several methods that can be used to create CBD oil. While CO2 is one of the most popular, other methods can also be effective. Regardless of the method that you choose, it is important to look for a third-party testing report before you decide on a product.