What Are The Different CBD Extraction Methods?

Since the 2018 Farm Bill passed in the United States, many more people have had access to high-quality CBD products. This increased availability has led many to want to know more about the different types of CBD products, the effects they can have, and other information about the ins and outs of the industry. One aspect of CBD wholesale products that can often feel like a mystery is CBD extraction methods. CBDfx, for example, uses CO2 extraction to get CBD out of cannabis plants. But what does that mean?

Learn more about the different types of CBD extraction methods below. 

1. Solvent Extraction

Solvents are chemicals that can dissolve other substances, and they come in handy for food processing and the extraction of some compounds from plant matter. In the case of CBD extraction, solvent extraction is most often done with food-grade ethanol. Hemp and Cannabis plants are grown to maturity and trimmed, with their flowers and stems soaked in ethanol to extract their CBD and other desirable compounds. The resulting substance is further refined to remove the solvent and leave a finished product ready for consumer use.

The final refinement process varies depending upon which product a manufacturer desires to make. This method is highly cost-effective for manufacturers, and it doesn’t require nearly as much complex and expensive equipment as other methods. Some solvents are excellent at preserving the natural flavor of plants, allowing manufacturers to produce more authentic-tasting CBD or other cannabis products. 

At the same time, solvent extraction does have some downfalls. Ethanol and other solvents are highly flammable, making it dangerous in some cases. If a manufacturer does not use proper procedures and protocols to remove the solvent, some residuals may be present in the final product, harming the quality of CBD you consume. Finally, some solvents can extract more than the desirable compounds, which can also affect the overall quality. 

2. Steam Distillation

For manufactureres that don’t want to use solvents to extract CBD, many turn to steam distillation. This process is popular because it does not have the potential issue of residue from solvents. To extract CBD via steam distillation, plants are treated with steam to form a vapor. This vapor contains the sought after compounds, like CBD. The vapor is then cooled so that it forms a mixture of CBD oil and water, and the oil is then separated from the water. 

This method is also relatively inexpensive, easy, less hazardous, and does not rely on other chemicals to extract CBD. The major drawback of this method, however, is its inefficiency. In order to get the same amount of CBD oil out of the cannabis plants, manufacturers that use steam distillation will need many more plants. Plus, some heat sensitive components in cannabis may be damaged due to the heat from steam. 

3. Olive Oil Extraction

Touted as a more “natural” solvent extraction method, olive oil is used to pull CBD and other cannabinoisd out of hemp plants. This method is rarely, if ever, used by manufacturers, and is more popular with those wanting to make CBD-infused oil instead of pure CBD products.

The CBD is much less concentrated, and it becomes more perishable. It’s also less precise, but it’s inexpensive and it can be fun to try at home. 

4. CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction is a complex method to remove CBD from cannabis, but it is much more precise than other methods and leads to a more pure product. CO2 is first converted from gas to liquid, and is then heated until it hits a point where it is partially a gas and a liquid at the same time. This is called the “supercritical” point. Next, the supercritical CO2 passes through hemp, which separates the oil from the plant itself. Finally, the CO2 and oil move to a different section of the extraction equipment, and the CO2 eventually evaporates, leaving behind a pure CBD product. 

This method is incredibly precise, does not rely on solvents, and requires fewer plants, energy, and chemicals than other methods. Manufacturers may avoid this method, however, becaues it’s very complex and requires specialized and expensive equipment. 

Final Considerations

Each extraction method comes with its own set of pros and cons, though it’s best to choose products that are minimally processed, are made with a simple set of high-quality ingredients, and are crafted with care.

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