This blog post will discuss the three widely accepted extraction methods: C02 extraction, oil extraction, and solvent extraction. Read on to find out how we arrive at processed CBD products besides your local budget buds.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the potent compounds found in marijuana and hemp plants. The other high-forming compound in cannabis is THC, the psychoactive compound. Hemp-derived CBD has a lower concentration of THC, making it safe for various uses. Some of the uses of CBD include combating anxiety, relieving pain, revitalizing the skin, and helping with muscle recovery.
1. Solvent Extraction
This technique utilizes hydrocarbon solvents to extract CBD oil from hemp. Solvent extraction entails running a solvent through decarboxylated hemp, resulting in a mixture of CBD oil and the solvent. During this process, terpenes and the cannabinoid are carried away from the hemp plant. The solvent evaporates, leaving behind pure CBD oil. It’s one of the most cost-effective and efficient CBD extraction methods because it does not require much equipment.
However, there are several drawbacks to using this extraction technique. Firstly, the use of hydrocarbons can be highly hazardous due to the flammable chemicals involved. When improperly handled, it can result in severe and fatal injuries. These solvents need to be left to professional lab technicians.
The other drawback is that hydrocarbons such as propane, petroleum, butane, and naphtha are harmful to the end user’s health. Traces of these toxins in the end product can increase the risk of cancer development. There is a need to make sure that these toxins are eliminated during the evaporation process. Solvent extraction techniques are not 100% thorough, and studies have revealed traces of hydrocarbons in CBD products manufactured using this method.
Another drawback is that solvent extraction strips the plant of chlorophyll, waxes, and other valuable compounds. This can result in low-grade, thicker, and darker CBD oil. Due to these drawbacks, most reputable CBD brands steer away from this extraction method.
2. Oil Extraction
In this extraction technique, olive oil is used as the critical solvent. The decarboxylated hemp plant is heated in the oil solvent for a couple of hours instead of being soaked into hydrocarbons. During this process, the cannabinoids in the hemp plant attach themselves to the fats in the oil solvent, creating a mixture.
Once the mixture cools off, the residue gets filtered out, leaving behind CBD-infused oil. The significant difference between oil extraction and hydrocarbon extraction is that, unlike hydrocarbons, olive oil is a natural solvent that does not pose the risk of unwanted toxic residue. Oil extraction is generally a simple DIY process, making it the most viable at-home CBD extraction method for individuals that would wish to experiment at home. Though effective, natural solvents come with their share of pitfalls too.
Some natural solvents can also strip the hemp plant of chlorophyll, responsible for giving CBD a smooth taste. If the CBD is to be delivered topically or in the form of capsules, removal of chlorophyll won’t be a significant problem. However, most CBD products are meant to be inhaled or eaten, and the removal of chlorophyll can result in an unpleasant taste, jeopardizing the consumer’s experience.
The primary issue with natural solvents, especially oils, is their reluctance to evaporate. This renders CBD oils extracted using this method less potent compared to those extracted using other methods.
3. CO2 Extraction
CO2 extraction is the best CBD extraction technique as far as achieving premium-quality CBD oil is concerned. However, it is essential to note that the CBD industry is yet to outline regulatory guidelines for this method. Even so, CO2 extraction is gradually becoming the standard option among the most reputable CBD brands in the US.
There are three types of CO2 extraction techniques: mid-critical, sub-critical, and supercritical. The difference between the three methods lies in the intensity of the extraction and the size of the molecules extracted. Mid-critical and sub-critical methods are generally used to produce full-spectrum CBD oils. On the other hand, the supercritical method yields the purest form of CBD, making it the most preferred method among the three.
In supercritical CO2 extraction, CO2 is used as the solvent. The gas is cooled to shallow temperatures using special equipment to achieve a liquid-gas form known as a supercritical state. That is followed by the fractionation process. The CO2 is pumped through the hemp plant at various temperatures and at different angles to dissolve the cannabinoids and terpenes at their varying solubilities.
The CO2 extracts are pretty effective because they do not damage the plant compounds in the process. It’s considered the safest CBD extraction method because it does not rely on any additives that can contaminate the oil, posing health risks. For brands that mass produce CBD products, CO2 extraction is the most economical method because it’s possible to reuse the CO2. However, this is an industrial process, and due to the equipment required, it is not economically feasible for small-scale CBD producers.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]