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Wondering how to extract CBD? How are CBD oils made? Here we explain the difference between different extraction methods wheying their pros and cons. British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals recently received FDA approval of their oral solution Epidolex for treating seizures associated with THC Removal – Remove THC from CBD | B/R Instrument Blog | Industry Leader in Laboratory Distillation Equipment

How to Extract CBD Oil: Different Methods That Works Best

Wondering how your CBD oils are made? You’ve come to the right place.

CBD extraction is an advanced process that requires many skills and high-tech equipment to yield clean and potent products. Without extraction, the CBD space would revolve around hemp flowers, limiting diversity in the cannabis industry to a great extent.

Can you imagine the cannabis market without oils, gummies, vapes, capsules, and topicals?

Today, we’ll elaborate on how to extract CBD from hemp plants, compare different extraction methods, touch down on their pros and cons — and pick the best technology for making safe CBD oils on a broad scale.

How Is CBD Extracted?

CBD can be extracted from cannabis plants, meaning you can use both hemp and marijuana for extraction.

The source of CBD determines the chemical profile of the end product and has a profound impact on its legality.

Hemp-derived CBD oils have less than 0.3% of THC and thus can’t get the user high. The lack of intoxicating effects makes hemp plants and their derivatives legal on a federal level. You can buy them in all 50 states without a prescription.

Marijuana, on the other hand, comes with significant concentrations of THC — usually upwards of 10% — which is enough to induce intoxication. The federal law still holds THC on the list of controlled substances, making marijuana illegal on a federal level. Individual states can interpret these laws independently; so far, 16 states have fully legalized marijuana, while 48 states have some sort of a medical marijuana program.

As mentioned, there are several ways to extract CBD from hemp.

Let’s start with the golden standard — CO2 extraction.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 behaves like a gas; however, this can be easily changed when you use different pressure levels and temperatures.

CO2 extraction yields optimal results in terms of the product’s potency and preserved phytochemical profile. When the temperature of CO2 gets below -69 F, with pressure levels above 75 PSI, it turns into a supercritical state.

Supercritical CO2 can fill an extraction chamber where the plant material is contained, being just the perfect solvent. It results in a clean product with consistent concentrations of CBD and terpenes throughout the batches.

The carbon dioxide efficiently pulls the desired compounds by breaking up the trichomes in the extraction vessel, leaving away insoluble molecules.

Then the manufacturer uses a separator and splits the extract into individual compounds. Once there, CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are sent back to the collection container. Meanwhile, CO2 leaves the extraction chamber condensed into a liquid form and transferred to a special storage tank for future operations.

CO2 Extraction Equipment

The CO2 extraction equipment includes multi-chamber machines that use special pumps forcing supercritical CO2 into the extraction vessel where it interacts with the plant and breaks the trichomes, dissolving part of the plant material. These machines are costly; they usually cost around $150,000, which is the main reason why CO2-extracted CBD oils are more expensive than products obtained with other solvents, such as alcohol.

Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol extraction is one of the least expensive methods to extract CBD from hemp. Alcohol is generally considered safe, although purging it from the final product requires caution and precision on the manufacturer’s part; otherwise, it can trigger explosions.

Alcohol extraction requires soaking the hemp plant in ethanol. The liquid will run through the plant matter, stripping it from the valuable compounds along with chlorophyll. Once the solvent has gathered enough cannabinoids and terpenes, the liquid is strained and then heated in a special dish. After evaporation, the extract is suspended in a carrier oil to thin it down and improve its bioavailability.

Just keep in mind that ethanol is highly flammable, and you should never extract CBD this way at home unless you can ensure the necessary safety measures.

Ethanol Extraction Equipment

Ethanol extraction is usually employed by small-scale manufacturers because it doesn’t involve such heavy financial investments as CO2 extraction. Ethanol extraction equipment involves a professional decarboxylator, large storage tanks where the plant matter can soak in alcohol, industrial strainers, a gentle heating machine, and storage containers that will contain the extracts before they are infused into the carrier oil and bottled up.

Let’s compare the efficacy and safety of both extraction methods.

CO2 vs. Ethanol Extraction

Ethanol is called a “polar” solvent, and as such, it will be more hydrotropic, meaning it will attach to more water-soluble compounds like chlorophyll. Consequently, the final product is generally less potent and pure — requiring more post-labor than CO2 extraction.

People advocating for ethanol extraction usually argue that these downsides can be avoided using very cold temperatures below -5F. While this is true, the process becomes more time-consuming and less efficient if the manufacturer wants to scale up its operations.

Properly performed CO2 extraction can still maintain many of the plant’s phytonutrients, not to mention that it can continuously yield potent products.

Other Ways to Extract CBD

The idea behind CBD extraction is to pull the desired phytochemicals from the plant matter and transform it into a viscous liquid full of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

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Although CO2 and ethanol are the most popular solvents, they aren’t the only ones. As mentioned, there are several ways to capture these valuable compounds, including:

  • Dry Ice Extraction
  • Hydrocarbon Extraction
  • Vegetable Oil Extraction

Dry Ice Extraction

The dry ice method is one of the best ways to extract CBD at home. However, it requires more time than CO2 extraction or organic solvent extraction.

The dry ice strips CBD and other phytonutrients from the plant material. It’s a relatively inexpensive method of making high-quality CBD hash without using aggressive solvents.

Solventless extraction always produces cleaner extracts than solvent-based methods — not to mention that using dry ice brings a lot of fun to home extraction

How to Extract CBD Using Dry Ice
  • 3 lbs of dry ice
  • A large mirror or plexiglass sheet
  • Heat-resistant gloves
  • I goggles
  • A putty knife
  • A clean 5-gallon bucket
  • 3 bags of bubble hash mesh (73, 160, and 220 microns)
  • 3 large jars with lids
Dry Ice Extraction (Step-by-Step)

Put on the gloves and goggles. Next, grind your CBD buds into smaller pieces and place them in the bucket.

Cover the CBD buds with dry ice, leaving them there for 3 minutes. Make sure you only fill the bucket halfway. Doing so will freeze the resin so the trichomes can be separated from the plant material and transferred to the special mesh bags.

Fold each bag over the bucket with your CBD and dry ice, and shake it several times to cause the trichomes to fall off from the plant.

Turn the container upside down on the mirror and continue shaking to collect as much of the resin as possible. Once you’ve gathered the hash of the mirror, you can place it in one of the jars.

Do the same with the remaining bags and be proud of your homemade dry-ice CBD hash.

Hydrocarbon Extraction

Hydrocarbon compounds include substances like propane, butane, and hexane. These solvents are relatively inexpensive, but they’re difficult to purge from the end product and thus can leave toxic residue at the bottom of the extract.

Hydrocarbon extraction requires soaking the hemp plant in the solvent. The liquid runs through the biomass, pulling the cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower along with water-soluble compounds such as chlorophyll.

Once the solvent has extracted enough phytochemicals, it is heated in a special dish to evaporate it and create a thick liquid.

Vegetable Oil Extraction

CBD can be easily extracted at home using vegetable cooking oils. These oils act as solvents, but the whole process follows similar rules as all other extraction methods.

Any common cooking oil can be used for this kind of extraction, including:

  • Butter/ghee
  • Coconut oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Argan oil
  • MCT oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Sweet almond oil
  • Olive oil

If you want to extract CBD for homemade edibles, it’s best to go with a product with the highest amount of saturated fats, as they significantly improve the bioavailability of cannabinoids. People typically choose butter and coconut oil for cooking with CBD, while for salves and creams, argan oil and sweet almond oil are the most common choices.

How to Extract CBD with Cooking Oils

Cooking oil extraction is pretty straightforward. First, you need to decarboxylate your dried CBD in the oven. Set up the heat at 250 F and bake the flowers for 30-60 minutes, depending on how dry they are.

Then you combine the decarbed herb with the oil in a saucepan or slow cooker and slowly heat the mixture to gently simmers. Maintain the low heat and keep the CBD infusion for up to 2 hours.

Once done, strain the liquid from the plant matter and place it in a glass jar. You can keep it in a fridge for up to 6 weeks.

Why Is Decarboxylation Important for CBD Extraction?

Most CBD products are decarboxylated, which involves heating the CBD buds to transform the acidic precursor of CBD into its active version.

If you’ve ever cooked something with cannabis, you should know the process very well.

Decarboxylation, also known as decarbing, removes an extra carboxyl group from CBDA (the acid form of CBD), allowing it to interact with the endocannabinoid system immediately.

If you see a CBD product labeled as “raw,” it means it hasn’t been decarboxylated.

Final Thoughts: What’s the Best Way to Extract CBD?

Knowing how CBD is extracted allows you to evaluate the efficacy of different products based on the solvents used in the process.

People have been extracting cannabinoids from cannabis plants for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to use them for therapeutic purposes. Thanks to the current scientific breakthroughs, we can enjoy a wide range of cannabinoid-based extracts with a lot to offer in terms of their therapeutic properties.

Some extraction methods are superior to others when it comes to broad-scale manufacturing. CO2 extraction is currently the golden standard because it yields the purest products without bringing water-soluble compounds such as chlorophyll.

It does, however, require higher costs when it comes to equipment and lab workers, which is why some manufacturers turn to ethanol as their go-to solvent.

If you want to perform CBD extraction at home, you can either go with a solvent-based method — using cooking oils — or take a solventless approach and use dry ice to capture the desired compounds into DIY CBD hash.

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Nina Julia

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

CBD Oil: A How-To Guide for At-Home Extractions

British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals recently received FDA approval of their oral solution Epidolex for treating seizures associated with Tuberous Sclerosis, adding another condition to the list of health issues that their CBD oil solution can successfully and safely treat. Individual users, however, claim that cannabis oil helps reduce pain and anxiety, as well as other issues that still await clinical confirmation.

Apart from its medicinal use, CBD oil can also be used to cook various dishes, sauces, dressings, and gummies. The wave of legalization that has swept North America recently also allowed entrepreneurs to start-up businesses and sell oil and other products made via CBD extraction to a wide array of consumers, not only those with medicinal needs.

If you’re looking for a way to make your own oil, however, this article is here to show you how to extract CBD from a cannabis plant at home.

Distinct types of CBD oil

Depending on the strain you use and the preparation method, there are three different types of CBD oil:

  • Full Spectrum
  • Broad Spectrum
  • CBD Isolate

Each of these three types of products provides a separate set of compounds and effects. It’s very important to know what you’re introducing into your system, especially when it comes to potentially psychoactive substances.

Full Spectrum CBD oil contains more than just CBD; there’s a wide array of other cannabinoids, including THC, terpenes, and essential oils. This type of CBD oil allows the use of both leaves and flowers to assure the presence of every compound; however, leaves hold a high concentration of chlorophyll, which gives the oil a dark color and a somewhat bad taste.

Broad Spectrum CBD oil gives you the full set of substances, as well, however, there is no THC, which means you won’t get high or show positive on a drug test if you consume the oil on a regular basis.

CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD oil extracted from nothing but the plant flower. If you’re opting for this type of oil, you should use hemp flower for this purpose. Hemp has been legal in the U.S. since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.

Since the extraction of Full Spectrum CBD oil is the way to obtain the most of the plant’s benefits to our wellbeing, we’ll go through to examine this method, not only because buying complex equipment for marijuana processing might get you in trouble, but also because it’s the simplest process and easy to implement at home. For those of you who would like to know other methods of marijuana oil extraction, we’ll also mention some alternatives at the end.

Extracting CBD oil from a flower

Before you start the process, it’s of paramount importance to know that Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol is a highly flammable substance so make sure you take every precaution to keep yourself and your environment safe from fire hazard. That being said, let’s get on with the preparation process.

What do you need?

Cannabis flowers – make sure you trim down every leaf and leave nothing but the flower for the extraction process. Break larger buds into smaller pieces to make it easier for processing or even better, grind the flower so that the herb could absorb the alcohol better.

Ethanol – Best use 95% Food-Grade Ethyl alcohol.
Filtering equipment – Best use paper filters or fold gauze into several layers.
Fireproof bowl – the size of the bowl depends on how much material you have prepared.
Large glass jar – This is where you’ll mix alcohol and weed.

Decarboxylation process

To activate cannabinoids, we must place the ground herb into an oven for about 45 minutes. Spread marijuana over a casserole dish or something similar and keep the oven heated at around 110 degrees Celsius. Depending on the granulation, it could take less than 45 minutes for the decarboxylation process, so pay attention not to burn your weed in the oven.

Mixing and filtering

Place your weed into the jar and pour alcohol over it until it covers the weed completely. Stir the mixture every 5 minutes several times and let the mix sit for an hour or two. You can’t let it sit for too long, so don’t worry if you leave it sitting longer than this.

Place the layered gauze or paper filter over the fireproof bowl and start pouring the solution. It’s not a bad idea to repeat the filtering process several times until you’re satisfied with the achieved purity of the filtered solution.

Removing the alcohol

Ethyl alcohol boils at 78 degrees Celsius which is the temperature you should set on your heating surface and slowly mix the solution within the fireproof bowl. Keep the bowl over the heat source until no alcohol vapor or bubbles is appearing on the surface of the heated liquid.

More oil extraction methods

There are numerous ways to extract oil, some even answer the question of how to extract THC from your product. As these require a bit more experience, we’ll only go through some of the most popular methods.

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CO2 Extraction

This is one of the newest ways to produce CBD oil and it offers the purest oil extract, called CBD Isolate, free of any additional compounds. It requires a CO2 machine because it relies on carbon dioxide as a solvent. The herb is being placed into a Co2 machine and kept under pressure. This process also includes the Winterization and Decarboxylation process. The first is used to separate CBD from wax and lipids that might be left, while Decarboxylation activates the CBD.

Oil method

Similar to Ethanol extraction, the oil method requires the use of olive or coconut oil as a solvent. One major difference is that the herb is being mixed with water and dehydrated before it’s mixed with the oil and heated. This method is most commonly used by people who need to create CBD tinctures or topicals that can be applied directly to the affected area and deal with muscle pain.

We hope this article has helped you capture the basics of CBD oil extraction. We tried to cover the extraction process as comprehensively as possible so you wouldn’t have any setbacks while trying to make your extract at home. Also, we avoided the use of specialized chemistry equipment because, let’s face it, not too many people have a lab set up in the house. Enjoy your new knowledge and have fun making your CBD oil.

Tia Moskalenko

Tia is an editor and contributor for AskGrowers. She is passionate about traveling, yoga, and horse-riding, and at some point wants to see every corner of the Earth. She’s been working in the cannabis field for some time and is excited to continue and discover even more about this industry.

THC Removal – Remove THC from CBD

Consumers are attracted to the purported health benefits of CBD but understand that THC naturally occurs in hemp along with other minor cannabinoids. They do not want to consume THC because they don’t want the “high” the comes along with THC or they don’t want to possibly test positive for THC in a work drug screening. The good news is that THC can be separated from CBD so that it can be consumed without concern for unwanted THC.

There are several ways to remove THC from CBD oil, CBD extracts and CBD distillate. The products can be THC Free (T Free) or low THC (0.3% or lower) which does not produce a “high”.

Broad Spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum products contain all of the cannabinoids with little THC (less than 0.3%/wt). This should not to be confused with THC Free or T-Free oil which contains no THC.

Chromatographic methods such as flash chromatography and CPC use solvents and a stationary phase to fractionate the cannabinoids from one another. In these processes, the THC is isolated and removed from the other cannabinoids. But, there is the unwanted side effect of losing some or all of the minor cannabinoids and CBD in the THC fraction.

In addition to using large volumes of solvents, chromatographic methods remove THC at a fairly slow rate and some CBD is lost in the process. At the same time, it requires an experienced operator to be available at all times during operation.

SCB-15 THC Remediation System

SCB-15 – Solvent Free THC Remediation System

Another technique for removing THC from full spectrum CBD is the SBC solvent free remediation system. This THC removal process is solvent free. It uses automation to maintain the optimum vacuum, temperature, and other parameters to remove THC (and some CBD) from the CBD oil. An operator occasionally monitors the THC level by Near Infrared or HPLC. Up to 100 liters of CBD or CBG oil can be remediated in 12-24 hours.

Pure CBD

Pure CBD (also called isolate) can be produced by crystallizing CBD oil/extract/distillate. CBD oil is mixed with pentane and cooled until the CBD crystallizes (crashes out). Crystallized CBD is filtered, rinsed, and dried. Purities of 99+% are possible. Re-crystallization can increase the purity even higher. All THC is removed along with minor cannabinoids.

CBD Crystals or “Isolate”

Full spectrum CBD

The “entourage effect” is the name given to the synergistic benefits of cannabinoids and terpenes working together in your body. It has been the subject of study for many years, however we are still only beginning to understand some of the possibilities. The entourage effect can produce many different results depending on the combinations.

Full spectrum is a term that applies to extracts or oils that contain all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids from the plant. For hemp products this often includes more than 0.3% THC. In order to stay legally compliant, something must remove the THC.

4 Comments

this is what i want to start doing as my income resource i want to learn everything i can about how this is done and if i need to attend a class or school to get the right training if you would please send me some information on what i should be doing in order to start the process would really be great thanks very much for your time ———————————- scott

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