Cannabidiol Extraction Methods

When searching for cannabidiol (CBD) oils, you more than likely will notice that not all companies extract it using the same technique. There are numerous reasons as to why companies choose what extraction method best suits them, including cost, purity, and time.

 

What are the different CBD extractions methods?

CO2 Extraction:

Methodology: Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction has become one of the most commonly used methods, as an individual can obtain a pure and safe end product. There are three subcategories based on the “condition the CO2 is placed under during extraction:” supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical.

Supercritical CO2 extraction begins with the use of CO2 in the gas state, it then makes its way through a chamber that is -70°F and elevated pressure. This is where the CO2 turns from a gas state to a liquid state. After the CO2 is in a supercritical state, “between a gas and a liquid,” it passes through another chamber that contains the cannabis plant. As the supercritical CO2 passes through the cannabis, it extracts phytochemicals, like CBD.

Subcritical CO2 extraction is similar to supercritical, but the pressure and temperature are reduced. This is an environment where less of the compounds, like “essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals” are damaged from the conditions. Mid-critical is a mix between supercritical and subcritical extraction. Out of all three subcategories, supercritical is the most frequently used.

  1. Pros: If done correctly, pure CBD can be obtained. Also, this method is very safe and is commonly used in the food industry.
  2. Cons: CO2 extraction can be costly, precisely due to the equipment and trained staff needed for production.

Olive Oil Extraction:

Methodology: Using olive oil as a mean of extraction is typically done by individuals at home. It starts with heating marijuana to approximately 250˚F for 20-30 minutes. This decarboxylates the cannabis, which activates the CBD to ensure the end product will induce the desired therapeutic properties. Next, the substance is added to olive oil and baked at 212˚F for roughly 2 hours.

  1. Pros: Olive oil extraction is relativity cheap, easy to do, and is extremely safe.
  2. Cons: This process is time-consuming, and the end product is low in quantity.

Ethanol Extraction:

  1. Methodology: Ethanol extraction is a relatively simple technique. The cannabis plant is added to ethanol and left to stand for a period of time. Next, the solution is heated to evaporate the ethanol. Using this method “extracts the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant which makes the end product safe for consumption, it also extracts chlorophyll which may lead to some unpleasant side effects.” This method can also be used with butane to achieve the same results.
  2. Pros: Ethanol extraction is quick and very easy to accomplish. Also, there is a potential to produce high-quality full-spectrum CBD.
  3. Cons: Ethanol is extremely flammable, which if not very cautious and can lead to explosions or fire. In addition, if compounds like chlorophyll remain in the product, it can cause lung irritation for the consumer.

 

What is the best extraction method?

All methods have their benefits and pitfalls, but it is up to the preference of the company as to which procedure is best for them. Overall, I prefer using CBD that is extracted via the CO2 method, as this results in a pure CBD.

Having an idea of the variety of extraction techniques that are used to gather CBD is important to ensure you are purchasing a safe product. Currently, the production of CBD is not regulated by the FDA, so companies are not held up to particular standards. Some companies offer lab results to verify the compounds that their product contain, this is used to display credibility in the company. When shopping for CBD oil, it is imperative that one finds a trustworthy company that fits their expectations.