Everything About CBD Extraction Methods

CBD products have recently stolen the show in the beauty and wellness industries. Both consumers and researchers have become strongly interested in CBD, its types and products. Besides, according to some anecdotal evidence CBD may have a number of therapeutic effects on people. It is very likely to reduce pain and inflammation, ease stress and discomfort, improve the quality of sleep and just help you relax. This is all very good, and yet many questions related to CBD still remain unanswered. One of them is which is the best method of CBD extraction. So to ease the situation we offer a guide to some of the most popular CBD extraction methods.

What is CBD?

CBD is an organic compound found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Besides CBD, this narrow-leaved plant also contains hundreds of other compounds and cannabinoids. The most well-known ones are THC, CBG, CBN. THC is the most infamous cannabinoid. It is psychoactive and is responsible for “high” off. It enters your bloodstream and distorts your senses. Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive and does not cause addiction. It stimulates the endocannabinoid system to produce more cannabinoid receptors in the brain and maintain certain functions in our body. Besides, it may be used for medicinal purposes, to help with some health issues. A large number of companies sell different CBD oils and tinctures, capsules, creams, lotions… you name it. Not to get in the soup you will have to dig deeper and find out which types of CBD are more efficient or which method of extraction provides the best effect.

Which is the Best Extraction Method? 

There is no straight-forward answer to this question. Each method has its pros and cons, besides more and more methods come into being with each passing day. So if you are still curious about the ins and outs of CBD extraction, you might find this guide helpful. To start with, here is a list of the most popular CBD extraction methods:

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction
  • Solvent CBD extraction
  • Steam distillation
  • Natural solvent extraction
  • Cold pressure extraction

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction

Carbon Dioxide extraction method is considered safe as CO2 is non-volatile. It has long been used in other industries for various purposes, such as decaffeination of coffee, or the production of essential oils. The resulting extract is usually pure, devoid of any trace of the solvent. Besides this method allows cold separation protecting fragile cannabis and hemp terpenes. It is also environmentally friendly as CO2 is then condensed and turned back into the liquid to be used again, thus almost eliminating any emissions.

Otherwise, it is also called supercritical extraction. It is a term applied to a substance which at its supercritical point possesses both the characteristics of a gas and a liquid simultaneously. This point is perfect for cannabinoid extraction. It dissolves the phytocannabinoid like a liquid, and fills the container with oil like a gas. At this point, CO2 acts as a solvent and makes the plant material separate, carrying with it all the essential compounds. When completed, CO2 is separated from the organic compounds, and only full-spectrum CBD oil is left.

Of course, this method also has some drawbacks, the most important ones being its costly price and the demand for qualified personnel.

Solvent CBD Extraction

Solvent CBD extraction method is one of the oldest. It is probably the cheapest and the easiest method available. Yet it bears a risk as synthetic solvents are usually considered to be the most likely to cause problems with the final product. Some of the most popular solvents are ethanol, butane, hexane, and some natural oils, like coconut oil or olive oil. 

This method is, in fact, cost-effective and provides a higher yield of CBD oil as compared to other methods of extraction.

The main disadvantage is that the solvent extracts not only the natural cannabinoids and terpenes, but also chlorophyll, which may lead to undesirable side effects. Besides, after the extraction the compounds may either be denatured or degraded.

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation has been used for centuries with the main purpose of distilling alcohol. Recently it is also used to extract CBD oil. The process is not complicated. Steam is used to remove the volatile compounds from the raw plant material. The resulting vapor, containing the desirable compounds, is then cooled and condensed. The final stage comprises the separation of the resulting oil and water. The main disadvantages of this method are the following: more raw material is needed for less oil, and the properties of some fragile cannabinoids and compounds may potentially get damaged when exposed to excessive heat. Mainly because of these reasons this method of extraction is not preferable in this industry.

Natural Solvent Extraction

Another method of CBD extraction is using natural solvents, like olive oil, hempseed oil, coconut oil or any that you like. This is actually done not for commercial purposes, but by CBD enthusiasts. All you need is the raw hemp, olive oil and some rudimentary equipment. The first step is decarboxylation, i.e. the bud is heated to a specific temperature, then added to the oil and afterwards heated again to extract the cannabinoids. It rather inexpensive and easy, and you can try it in your home. But the main drawback of this method is that the resulting product is not as concentrated as in the case of CO2 extraction. Besides, it is not pure enough to have a wide use. And as olive oil does not evaporate, it stays with the extracted CBD oil turning into more of CBD -infused oil. Thus, a large portion of the organic compounds is lost during the process.

Cold Pressure Extraction

The cold press method is by far the most natural and environmentally friendly method of extraction. Besides, the final product will possess more compounds and cannabinoids and provide a better entourage effect. The process is quite simple: the hemp plant matter is cooled and crushed under pressure to extract the desired product. It is no wonder that the hemp plant retains all its cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids while cold pressing. The problem is that the yield of the end-product is rather small, so it is not so widely used on a large scale.

Final Thoughts

These are the most commonly used methods of CBD extraction. Of course, everyone has their tastes and preferences, but when it comes to our health, beauty, and wellness there are some standards to follow. The same is true about choosing a CBD product. It is obvious that none of the methods is perfect, each of them has its pros and cons. But one thing is indubitable: our best choice is always a minimally processed, meticulously manufactured CBD product made from high-grade raw material. 


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