There are various ways of extracting CBD from hemp plants. In industrial hemp or a high-CBD cannabis strain, the extraction methods are quite simple and require minimal equipment. The most common ways of extraction generally use some kind of solvent. It may be a liquid solvent, carbon dioxide, or an oil solvent. If, however, the plant you are extracting from is also high in THC, the process of isolating the CBD is more complicated and requires more advanced equipment. We’ll focus on CBD-only plants, since this is the primary means of producing legal CBD products.
This method involves placing plant material into a container and running liquid solvent through the plant matter to strip away the cannabinoids and transfer them into the liquid. When the liquid is evaporated away, the concentrated chemicals remain in an oily form. This method is simple and inexpensive, but there are question marks about the purity of the final product due to mixing with the solvents. Nevertheless, this remains the most common CBD extraction method.
CO2 molecules can function as any state of matter depending on the pressure and temperature you keep it under. To maintain consistent levels of pressure and temperature during CO2 extraction, this method is usually done with a closed-loop extractor. This equipment has three chambers:
– The first contains solid, pressurised CO2 (known as ‘dry ice’)
– The second contains dried plant material
– The third separates the final product
The CO2 from the first chamber is pumped into the second to achieve a specific pressure and temperature, forcing the CO2 to run through the plant matter and extract the chemicals like in the liquid solvent process. It is then pumped into the third chamber, where the gas rises to the top and the oils fall to the bottom to be collected for consumption.
This is the ancient method which involves using oils, most commonly olive oil, to extract cannabinoids. This method is used by many home-producers. First, you must heat the raw plant material to a certain temperature to activate the chemicals within. The plant material is then added to the olive oil and heated for 1-2 hours at 100 degrees to extract the cannabinoids. The olive oil cannot be separated, so the user must consume higher quantities of the produced oil to experience the benefits.
Each extraction method is best suited to certain situations. Companies and individuals are unlikely to use the same techniques, and your chosen method will affect the flavour, strength and consistency of the final product.