CBD has become very popular among people because of the therapeutic properties it possesses. All around the world, people are using different types of CBD products for alleviating several health disorders. All these CBD products are made from CBD oil that is extracted using a number of extraction methods.
CBD Extraction Methods
The purpose of extracting CBD is to end up with a highly concentrated form of cannabinoid that is best suited for human consumption. This is done by choosing a strain of hemp that contains a high amount of CBD and a low concentration of THC. Usually, cannabis strains like Charlotte’s web or AC/DC are favored because the CBD content in both strains is up to 18% and the THC content is only 5%. There are several CBD extraction methods but the most common ones are CO2 extraction, solvent extraction, and steam distillation.
Let’s take a look at each of these extraction methods of CBD.
CO2 Extraction Method
This is one of the most common and expensive extraction methods in CBD extraction. In the CO2 extraction method, supercritical carbon dioxide is used to separate the CBD from the plant material. supercritical carbon dioxide means the CO2 that has both the properties of liquid and gas. Due to this, the CO2 extraction method is also known as supercritical fluid extraction.
During the extraction process, the CO2 is exposed to high pressure and low temperatures in a series of pressurized chambers and pumps. The pressurized CO2 will be on one chamber and the plant material on another. The process starts by transferring the pressurized CO2 from the first chamber to the second, the one with the plant material.
When the pressurized CO2 gets mixed with the plant material, it will break down the hemp, which causes the oil to separate from the plant material. In the next stage of the process, the oil and CO2 are pumped into a third chamber where the gas is allowed to evaporate and leaves the pure CBD extract at the bottom of the chamber.
The CO2 extraction method is the most preferred CBD extraction process by CBD manufacturing companies even though the process requires expensive machinery. This is mainly because the CO2 extraction method is extremely safe when compared to other extraction methods of CBD and the amount of CBD available in the end product is very high.
As the name suggests, solvent extraction uses solvents for extracting CBD from the plant material. Hydrocarbons or natural solvents are usually used in this extraction process. The end product of the process will be a mixture of CBD oil and the solvent used in the process. In the end, the solvent is allowed to evaporate, leaving pure CBD oil behind.
One of the major drawbacks of the solvent extraction method is that there is a chance of the solvents ending up in the final product. The hydrocarbon used for the extraction can be toxic and may increase the risk of getting cancer. In many of the CBD products that use the solvent extraction method, trace amounts of petroleum residue were found.
Natural solvents like ethanol and olive oil are used for the solvent extraction process for avoiding the risk of toxic residue. However, natural solvents also have their drawbacks. When ethanol is used to extract CBD from the plant material, the chlorophyll also gets extracted that gives an unpleasant taste to the resulting CBD oil.
In this CBD extraction process, steam is utilized for separating CBD oil from the hemp plant. This extraction process requires a series of glass flasks connected to each other. One of the glass flasks holds the plant materials. The glass flask has an inlet and outlet. The inlet is connected to another glass container and the outlet is connected to a condenser tube.
The water is boiled in the glass container that is placed beneath the glass flask full of plant material. The first step in the extraction process is the heating of water. The steam produced will travel upward to the glass flask with the plant material and it separates the oil from the hemp. The oil vapors will then move to the condenser tube and then condenses into water and CBD oil.
The final step is the distillation of the CBD oil and water mixture for extracting the CBD oil from the water. This extraction process has been used for hundreds of years. However, it is not as much preferred as the CO2 extraction method because of its inefficiency. The CBD concentration in the end product of steam distillation is very less when compared to the CO2 extraction method.
Which Is The Best Extraction Method?
Each extraction method has its benefits and drawbacks. However, for the commercial production of CBD oil, most CBD manufacturing companies prefer the CO2 extraction method even though it is expensive. It is mainly because of the high CBD concentration in the end product and it being one of the safest extraction methods.