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How to Extract CBD From the Hemp Plant + 2 CBD Extraction Methods

Ellese McKenney
October 18, 2017
What to know about the hemp plant

Cannabis plants contain naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids. CBD, which is short for cannabidiol is one of the many cannabinoids found in hemp and marijuana plants.

How to extract CBD from hemp

CBD can be extracted from hemp by CO2 or ethanol extraction. TheCBDistillery uses CO2 extraction to extract CBD Oil since CO2 extraction is a purer form of extraction that filters the hemp plants with controlled temperature and pressure.

Where is the hemp plant grown?

As previously mentioned, cannabidiol products sold in the United States can be sourced from hemp or marijuana plants grown either domestically or internationally. For legality purposes, many medicinal CBD products (containing less than .3% THC) are sourced from industrial hemp. Fourteen states within the United States can legally grow and process industrial hemp and hemp seeds. These states include California, Colorado, Kentucky, Oregon, and Tennessee.

Where you can grow the hemp plant

Many CBD companies source their industrial hemp grown with organic practices, but hemp, in general, is not a USDA certified organic product. Moreover, it is recommended that you choose a CBD product made from NON-GMO, pesticide-free, industrial hemp that is tested consistently for contamination to ensure safe consumption. When selecting CBD hemp products, make sure the company uses a safe solvent and a verified extraction method.

The 2 CBD extraction methods: CO2 and Ethanol

CBD can be extracted from marijuana or industrial hemp plants. For legality purposes, many CBD products are extracted from the stalks and stems of industrial hemp plants which are cannabis plants with .3% THC or less so they qualify as “industrial hemp”. Once cultivated, the cannabis plant is lifted from the ground and brought to an extraction facility.

Ethanol and C02 extraction are two commonly used methods for extracting CBD and are two of the cleanest ways to extract CBD for human consumption.

CO2 extraction

CO2 extraction, a popular extraction method typically used when extracting smaller quantities of hemp, involves filtering plants through a series of chambers that control temperature and pressure. When different temperatures and units of pressure are applied to cannabis plants, this sophisticated system is able to isolate cannabinoids at a 90% efficiency.

Extracting CBD

Ethanol extraction

An alternative method is ethanol extraction process which involves introducing the solvent ethanol to the hemp plant in order extract cannabinoids. Unlike CO2 extraction, you are able to produce a very high volume of full spectrum hemp extract with this method. Extraction
Ethanol also removes unwanted components such as chlorophyll from dried hemp when performed at very cold temperatures.

What happens after extraction?

Once extracted, hemp undergoes an additional step known as chromatography, a mechanism used to remove unwanted plant phytochemicals from the extracted oil. Cannabinoids like CBD have a strong interaction with chromatography media, thus traveling slower than unwanted plant material like chlorophyll which has a weak interaction. Once divided, cannabidiol and other terpenes can be isolated and undesirable plant material can be disposed of. 

Many CBD oil products also undergo what is known as decarboxylation. This involves heating the cannabinoids into a form that allows the cannabinoids to immediately interact with the endocannabinoid system making the compound more usable throughout the body. When oil extraction is decarboxylated it is converted from CBDA to CBD, thus removing the acid form so it’s readily bioavailable.

Once decarboxylated, the CBD hemp oil can be consumed directly, however it may not have a favorable taste. Instead, this oil can be mixed with a carrying oil such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil, turned into CBD capsules, or processed into a powder or slab isolate form for consumer use.

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