Extracted CBD oil from hemp and bubbles inside

What Is The Best Way to Extract CBD Oil From Hemp?

Although “the best” in this case depends on “the best for who”, given all the facts we can say that CO2 CBD extraction has the highest grade, at least for large-scale production.

But, let’s see what else is there.

Besides CO2 CBD extraction, the popular extraction methods for isolating CBD oil from the hemp plant are:

  1. Alcohol Extraction
  2. Carrier Oil Extraction
  3. Solvent Extraction (The Rick Simpson Method)

There are some other methods, but these are most widely used so let’s focus on them and their PRO and CONTRA points.

CO2 Extraction

Since the rise in popularity of CBD oil and various related CBD products, CO2 extraction reached the industrial production scale. Large-scale production needs a safe, efficient, and cost-effective method. The additional, but very important plus would be if it's also sustainable and environmentally friendly. CO2 Extraction has it all.

How does it work?

The CO2 CBD extraction method has been used for ages, in the process of decaffeinating the coffee. Dealing with this extraction method requires high scientific knowledge, but let’s try to understand it in the simplest way. CO2 or Carbon dioxide is a well-known component of the air. So, the main tool is very easy to find!

The CBD extraction process.

From the first chamber, CO2 is pumped into the second chamber where it’s manipulated by rising temperature and pressure into a so-called “supercritical state”. This state means that CO2 takes the form of something between gas and liquid.

  • In this form, it is acting like a solvent, able to extract CBD.
  • In the second chamber are cannabis plant, and the supercritical CO2 then runs through the materials and extracts the cannabinoids.
  • In the third chamber, CO2 rises to the top, and extracted material stays at the bottom.

Sounds simple, right? Well, it is, but it has some difficulties too. Let’s talk about pros and cons.

PRO CO2

  • It is safe and non-toxic
  • Highly efficient because it’s not damaging the plant and it’s making the most out of it
  • It is very precise and reliable.
  • Environmentally friendly! The leftover CO2 can be used again and there is almost no waste from the production.

CON CO2

  • Since it requires high-level technology, it’s expensive and therefore only suitable for big companies and large-scale production.
  • For the same reason, it requires professional employees involved in the production, so it’s not really a DIY thing.

Alcohol Extraction

This method of extraction is known as the best method for small-scale production. It’s simple, cheap, and highly effective. Also, it’s safer than some methods, since ethanol is approved by the FDA. Compared to other solvent methods, ethanol is safe to consume in small amounts and it is widely used.

This is why we wanted to mention it as a separate solvent method.

The extraction process is simple:

  1. The plant is decarboxylated by heating and then soaked in ethanol for some amount of time.
  2. The product is filtered in order to separate the liquids from the hemp plant matter.
  3. The liquid is left inside an open dish to let the ethanol evaporate.

PRO Alcohol Extraction

  • Simple and cheap
  • Easily scalable
  • Fast extractions

CON Alcohol Extraction

  • Ethanol is expensive, so many people are using denatured ethanol which can have many unsafe chemical contaminants.
  • This method of extraction also extracts chlorophyll, which can give unwanted side effects, and will cause a very bitter taste.
  • Because of the removal of some important components, high boiling temperature, and a lengthy purification process, some CBD products can’t be made this way.

Carrier Oil Extraction Process

This is the oldest method of extraction, but also the least precise and least efficient. You can use any oil that you like. People usually prefer coconut oil or olive oil extraction.

Firstly, you need to heat the plant itself at a specific temperature, cooking it in such a way that it activates the chemicals inside the plant material.

After that, you put it in the oil and continue heating for several hours.

This will extract cannabinoids into the oil. And it’s done!

PRO Carrier Oil Extraction

  • Simple and affordable
  • Non-toxic and safe

CON Carrier Oil Extraction

  • Hard to preserve, it requires a cool and dark place all the time or usage of preservatives
  • Gives a very low concentration of cannabinoids, compared to other methods

Solvent Extraction (The Rick Simpson Method)

There are many different extraction methods that use residual solvent.

We mentioned some above.

But, there is one particular solvent method that is popular, but dangerous. It is called The Rick Simpson method, by his inventor.

This method requires the use of many hydrocarbon chemicals such as:

butane, pentane, propane, hexane, or acetone.

The compounds are boiled and evaporated, leaving behind the CBD oil.

PRO The Rick Simpson Method

  • Cheap and requires a minimum amount of equipment
  • Cannabinoids are extracted in high concentration
  • Doesn’t require a high scientific knowledge

CON The Rick Simpson Method

  • Requires highly flammable substances, therefore it's a dangerous method.
  • It can cause fire, injuries, and even death
  • Some amounts of toxic chemicals will inevitably stay in the final product which can be very harmful
  • Higher temperatures risk destroying some important compounds of the plant

Which extraction method is the best for WHO?

There is no simple answer to the question of which extraction method is the best. It depends on whether you want to produce small or big amounts, and how much money you can invest.

If you are planning to make a real business out of it, which you surely can - given the increasing CBD popularity, then CO2 Extraction could be the best. But, be prepared for big investments in technology of production and professional workforce. If you want only to produce small amounts, for personal usage or small-scale business, solvent extraction with ethanol could be right for you.

Oil carrier extraction is definitely safest for home production, but it also gives the weakest CBD product.

What we know for sure, the Rick-guy invention should be avoided, given its lack of safety.

Better safe than sorry!