How To Extract CBD From Hemp

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 and is desirable among those looking for relief from inflammation, pain, anxiety, psychosis, seizures, spasms, and other conditions without disconcerting feelings of lethargy or dysphoria.

Where is hemp 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 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.

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 a CBD product, make sure the company uses a safe solvent and a verified extraction method.

Extracting CBD from hemp

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, cannabis plants are 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, 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.

An alternative method is ethanol extraction 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 extract with this method. Ethanol also removes unwanted components such as chlorophyll from dried hemp when performed at very cold temperatures.

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 the extracted oil 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 or coconut oil, turned into CBD capsules, or processed into a powder or slab isolate form for consumer use.