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Cannabidiol, or commonly known as CBD, is one of the main cannabinoid compounds found in the hemp plant. The therapeutic benefits of CBD make it very popular among people all around the world. Have you ever wondered how CBD is extracted from the hemp plant?
There are a number of extraction methods that are used to extract CBD from the hemp plant. Each of those extraction processes is unique and can produce highly different end products that benefit your health differently.
The reason why we need to extract CBD is to make it into a concentrated form that can be consumed by humans. A concentrated CBD extract will be more effective than raw cannabis. In this article, we will discuss the various CBD extraction methods.
Carbon Dioxide Extraction
This method is the most common and advanced way of extracting CBD from the hemp plant. Carbon Dioxide extraction makes use of the superficial CO2 for the separation of CBD oil from the plant material. This method is also known as Superficial Fluid Extraction. Superficial CO2 is the one that has the properties of liquid state and gas state. The machine used for CO2 extraction contains three chambers; one for holding pressurized CO2, the other one is for the dried hemp material and the last one is for separating the final product.
During the process, the CO2 in the first chamber is pumped into the second chamber. There CO2 will change into superficial CO2. Then it will run through the dried hemp in the second chamber and extract the materials from it. Then the CO2 and extracted materials are pumped into the third chamber. In that chamber, CO2 will be evaporated and leaves the pure CBD extract behind.
In this extraction process, the separation of CBD oil from the hemp plant is caused by steam. The machine used for the steam distillation has a glass flask with an inlet and outlet, a condenser, a boiler and a collection flask. During the process, the water in the boiler heats up to produce steam. This steam will move up into the glass chamber that contains the plant material and separates the oil from the plant. The resulting mixture of steam and oil vapor is then condensed into oil and water.
In the final step, the mixture of oil and water is distilled for extracting the CBD oil from water. Steam distillation is not an efficient method of extraction. It requires large quantities of the hemp plants and extracting an exact amount of CBD concentration is very difficult. One other drawback of steam distillation is that, if the steam gets too hot, it will alter the chemical properties of cannabinoids present in the extract.
Solvent extraction is similar to steam distillation. The only difference is that it uses a solvent instead of water for separating CBD oil from the plant material. Hydrocarbons or natural solvents are used as the solvent in this extraction method. In this method, hydrocarbon like ethanol is used for separating the CBD extract from the plant material. Then the mixture of ethanol and extract is heated until the ethanol evaporates and leaves behind the extract.
Solvent extraction is very efficient and less expensive than steam distillation. However, in solvent extraction, there is a chance of chlorophyll also getting extracted. This can result in an unpleasant taste to the final end product. Another problem is that the CBD extract will contain a lower concentration of CBD if the solvent is not evaporated well.
Vegetable Oil Extraction
It is one of the oldest extraction processes of CBD. It is the easiest, safest and cost efficient CBD extraction method. The extraction process begins with the heating of the raw plant material at 248 F for about 30-60 minutes. This will activate the chemicals in the plant material. Then the heated plant material is mixed with olive oil and the mixture is heated at 212 F. This will extract the cannabinoids from the plant material.
The resulting extract also contains olive oil because it does not evaporate. Because of that, the extract is not very concentrated. The extract should be kept in a cool and dark area. Therefore, the extract is not so effective as other extracts. Instead of olive oil, you can also use coconut oil, sunflower oil, MCT oil, sweet almond oil, etc. to do this type of extraction.
Dry Ice Extraction
This method uses dry ice for extracting CBD from the plant material. It is a cost efficient and safest way of CBD extraction that can be done at home. For doing this extraction you will need around 3 pounds of dry ice, some CBD-rich cannabis, a Plexiglas, knife, a clean plastic bucket, 3 bubble hash mesh bags of different sizes and 3 large glass jars for storage.
Chop the plant material into small pieces and put it in the bucket and add the dry ice. After three minutes put a mesh bag over the bucket and shake it well for about 5 minutes. Then turn the bucket upside down on the Plexiglas and shake it well to remove the resin through the mesh bag. Repeat this process with the mesh bags of different size and you will get three different strains of extract.
Learn more about the methods and effects of CBD extraction here.
Related: Are you curious what the differences between THC and CBD are? Click here to find out more.