Extracted CBD oil from hemp and bubbles inside

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

CBD has become very popular recently. CBD infused gummies, drinks, topical creams, oils, and tinctures, vapes have penetrated beauty and wellness industry and our lives.

However, we, consumers, very seldom stop to ask ourselves a very important question: how to extract CBD from the plant to be later infused into our favourite products? It is an essential question as the type of extraction later determines the quality of the product and the effect that it delivers.

There are many types of CBD extraction methods and each of them has its pros and cons. It is rather difficult to say which is the best method, but one thing is obvious: it should possess the following criteria. The best method is the one that pulls out the largest amount of the organic compound from the hemp plant, is safe and environmentally friendly, leaves no chemical residues, has the highest grade for large-scale production and can retain all the therapeutic properties of the plant material.

Do you still have unanswered questions ? Then, go on reading to find the answers to your questions, as we leave no stone unturned explaining the details, strengths, and weaknesses of the most popular CBD extraction methods.

To begin with, here is the list of the most widely used extraction methods:

  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) CBD oil extraction
  • Alcohol extraction
  • Carrier oil extraction
  • Solvent extraction (The Rick Simpson Method)  

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) CBD Extraction

Since the rise in popularity of CBD oil and various related CBD products, CO2 extraction has reached the industrial production scale. Large-scale production needs a safe, efficient, and environmentally

friendly method. Supercritical CO2 extraction method meets these requirements, as it is non-volatile, sustainable, and environmentally friendly.

How does it work?

The CO2 extraction method has been used in many other industries for ages, for example in the process of coffee decaffeination, the production of essential oils.

Dealing with this method requires profound 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!

CO2 Extraction Process

  1. 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”. At a specific temperature CO2 acts both as a liquid and a solvent. Thus, at its supercritical point it becomes both a liquid and a gas. This is the point perfect for cannabinoid extraction.
  2. In the second chamber CO2 dissolves cannabinoids as a liquid. Afterwards cannabinoids get separated from the solvent. At this point CO2 acts as a gas turning them into oil.
  3. In the third chamber, CO2 rises to the top, and the extracted material stays at the bottom. This method involves cold separation and protects fragile cannabinoids and terpenes.

There is one more type of CO2 extraction called subcritical method. Its solvency power is low; hence, it leads to lighter oil extraction. But the problem is that the extraction process takes much longer,

while the yields are much lower. Therefore, it is not as commonly used as supercritical CO2.

Pros and Cons of CO2 extraction

PROs

  • It is safe and non-toxic
  • It is highly efficient as it does not damage the plant matter and makes the most out of it
  • It is very precise and reliable
  • It is environmentally friendly! The leftover CO2 can be used again and there is almost no waste from the production.

CONs

  • Since it requires high-level technology, it is 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 is not really a DIY thing.

Alcohol Extraction Method

The alcohol CBD extraction method is the oldest one ever used and is the best method for small-scale production. It is simple, cost-efficient, safe and highly effective.

It is safer than some other methods since ethanol is approved by the FDA. Besides, when compared to other solvent methods, ethanol is safe to consume, therefore it is so commonly used in other industries.

Moreover, it is highly effective, because it provides full spectrum CBD oil, that is along with CBD, other natural compounds and terpenes are pulled out of the cannabis plant. The therapeutic benefits of the final product is multiplied as all the compounds and terpenes act in sync.  

The extraction process is simple:

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

Pros and Cons of Alcohol Extraction

PROs

  • This method is simple and cheap
  • It is easily scalable
  • It provides fast extractions

CONs

  • Ethanol is expensive, so many people use denatured ethanol which can have many unsafe chemical contaminants
  • This method of extraction also pulls chlorophyll, which can give unwanted side effects, and cause a very bitter taste
  • Because of the removal of some important components, high boiling temperature, and a lengthy purification process, some CBD products cannot 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, hempseed oil or olive oil extraction. This method is used mostly by CBD aficionados for personal and not commercial purposes.

  1. The first step is decarboxylation, the plant itself is heated at a specific temperature.
  2. Then it is added to the oil and then heated again for a long time.
  3. The third step involves the process of extracting the cannabinoids into the oil.

Pros and Cons of Carrier Oil Extraction

PROs

  • The process is simple and affordable
  • It is safe and non-toxic
  • It needs rudimentary equipment.

CONs

  • The CBD extract is hard to preserve: it requires a cool and dark place all the time
  • The end product is diluted as it is mixed with the natural solvent, it is rather CBD infused oil
  • It is biodegradable, that is why some preservatives are needed
  • This method 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. Solvent CBD extraction method is probably the oldest. It is the cheapest, the easiest and the most dangerous method available. 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.

Pros and Cons of the Rick Simpson Method

PROs

  • It is cheap and requires a minimum amount of equipment\
  • Cannabinoids are extracted in high concentration
  • It does not require a high scientific knowledge
  • It provides a higher yield of CBD oils

CONs

  • This 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 CBD extract which can be very harmful
  • Higher temperatures risk destroying some important compounds of the plant

THE NEXT STEP AFTER EXTRACTION

The final step after any extraction method is winterization. This process involves the removal of all the undesirable elements, such as waxes, lipids, contaminants, fats which make the final product degraded. It is this process that ensures the purity of the final product.

The extracted material is first mixed with ethanol and then frozen. The impurities harden and drop off. All that remains is a pure product. Then ethanol is separated from the oil.

WHICH Extraction METHOD IS THE BEST?

There is no straightforward answer to this question. First and foremost, 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 method 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 the 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.