CBD is a cannabinoid found in the plants belonging to the cannabis family famous for its therapeutic benefits. Cannabis plants have been traditionally famous for their medicinal properties and the wide selection of CBD products available in the current markets aim to make use of the medicinal properties of hemp plant from which CBD is extracted.
A CBD product undergoes a series of extraction and purification processes before it gains the final form.
Why Should We Extract CBD?
Even though CBD can be extracted from marijuana as well as hemp plants that belong to the cannabis family, the US law allows the production of sale of hemp-derived CBD alone. Marijuana-derived CBD is regulated as per the marijuana laws that vary according to the state that you are in. Just because hemp plant parts contain CBD doesn’t mean that you consume the CBD rich plant parts as such.
The CBD in hemp has to be extracted and converted into a concentrated form that is consumable for humans and pets. Chewing on raw cannabis is an unpleasant experience and fails to give the effects as that of concentrated cannabidiol.
Ingestible cannabinoids have to be decarboxylated by applying heat to make a concentrated form of it that can be easily absorbed through digestion. Vape CBD products require partial decarboxylation only unlike ingestible CBD products, as the cannabinoids get fully decarboxylated while you vape or smoke it.
The raw form of cannabis hosts a variety of microbes that poses a health risk if proper extraction and purification methods are used. Plant waxes and lipids might be harmful to our health and thus a suitable extraction process is required to remove undesirable compounds.
Extraction Methods Of CBD
Extraction methods vary according to the ingredient profile of the final extract and purification levels. Here is a list of extraction methods of CBD.
Solvent Extraction Method
The solvent extraction method uses solvents like butane, propane, ethanol, etc to extract CBD from hemp plants and is an easy as well as affordable method. The solvents have a highly flammable nature that increases the risks associated with the extraction.
As the extraction process begins, the flowers and plant trimmings are put into a container after which the solvent is run through the plant material-removing all cannabinoids from the plant parts. The solvent in the concentrated cannabinoids is removed by evaporation.
The solvent extraction method extracts chlorophyll along with the cannabinoids that give the extract a bitter taste. The solvent residue leftover in the extract due to the inefficiency of the extraction process can contribute to the toxicity of the extract, as extraction solvents like butane and propane are toxic.
Olive Oil Extraction
It is of the oldest methods of extraction that is famous for its high safety level, low cost as well as ease. At the beginning of the extraction process, the raw plant material is decarboxylated by heating it to the desired temperature for a fixed amount of time to activate the plant chemicals. As the next step, olive oil and plant material are combined before heating again. Cannabinoids are extracted at this stage. The olive oil doesn’t get evaporated, indicating that the resulting extract is not concentrated as in other extraction methods. The user has to fix the dosage by keeping in mind the presence of olive oil in the extract.
The highly perishable nature of olive oil is one shortfall of the olive oil extraction process. To prolong its shelf life, the CBD oil has to be kept in cool and dark areas.
CO2 extraction is the most advanced one among the CBD extraction methods although it is quite an expensive method due to the high cost of the extraction equipment. The method produces high-quality CBD oil with high purity.
CO2 extraction is carried out in a closed-loop extractor which is a machine that has three chambers, with the first chamber holding the pressurized solid CO2 and the second holding the dried hemp plant material. The third chamber separates the resultant product.
Subjecting CO2 to high pressure and temperature converts it into a supercritical state, which features a form in between gas and liquid. As the CO2 is pumped from the first chamber to the second, it gets converted to a supercritical state which is then run through the plant material kept in the second chamber. After the cannabinoids are extracted, the extract and CO2 are sent to the final chamber where CO2 rises to the top leaving the extract isolated from CO2 at the bottom.
The CBD extract obtained by CBD extraction methods has to be purified by employing various distillation methods like winterization and short path distillation. The quality of a CBD product depends on the efficiency of the extraction and purification methods.