CBD Extraction: How CBD is made and How to Choose What is Right for You
Cannabidol has seen a major rise in popularity over the last decade. As more states greenlight
legalizing CBD and THC-based products, fresh methods and techniques have emerged to
synthesize CBD in the form of tinctures, edibles, topical creams, and other wonderful
What is CBD and how is it Extracted?
Cannabinoids from the hemp plant include 113 separate cannabinoid molecules - the most
famous of which is cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These specific
molecules have gained notoriety for their separate effects on our endocannabinoid system.
Both CBD and THC have been attributed to wonderful therapeutics including pain relief,
decreased inflammation, anti-seizure treatment, arthritic relief, and other famous examples such
as the treatment of nerve damage in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Upon testing, CBD extract should reflect a 0.3% concentration of CBD in the test to ensure that
it is concentrated properly. This is also true for most THC extracts as well.
But how is CBD extracted? Research in the development of CBD extraction has shown
promising results in extracting pure CBD as a single cannabinoid from the hemp plant.
Let’s look at some of the methods and techniques used to extract pure CBD. Manufacturing
CBD for consumer use is both safe, reliable, and has an extremely high rate of purity due to its
Carbon Dioxide Extraction
One of the most popular and safe methods for extracting CBD comes from using gaseous CO2
for purification. The process works by using what are known as closed loop chambers. It begins
where a solid piece of CO2 is heated to a gaseous form in one chamber and then transferred to
a second chamber where the hemp resides.
This second chamber is then heated and pressurized, causing the CO2 gas to condense and
form a liquid that absorbs the hemp material. Afterwards, the oil is extracted and can be tested
The fantastic thing about the technique of CO2 extraction is that it creates an extremely pure
form of CBD. Manufacturers of consumer CBD have ample labs and equipment that ensures
each batch of CBD oil is safe, pure, and ready for sale.
The cost of materials for running effective closed loop chambers requires a hefty investment.
When done correctly, this method produces some of the purest forms of CBD ready for market.
However, the problem resides in startup costs, often compromising the concentration and safety
from boutique production of CBD.
Using ethanol is safe, reliable, and a highly time-efficient way to extract CBD oil. Ethanol such
as high-grain alcohol is used to ferment the hemp material over time, allowing the material to
release CBD molecules into the ethanol solution.
Afterwards, the ethanol is filtered and the ethanol is removed from the extract. Other post-
processing techniques include evaporating any leftover ethanol from the filtered solution.
The next step in the process is through what’s known as winterization. The filtered and
evaporated solution is then chilled in freezers or refrigerators for a few hours or overnight. This
allows chlorophyll, waxes, and other fatty molecules to rise to the surface of the solution, where
it is later removed by the manufacturers afterward.
A final step in the processing of CBD extract includes adding activated charcoal to the solution.
This lightens the hue and translucence of the solution, making it easier to measure.
Manufacturers of industrial-grade CBD oil use closed loop chambers to finalize a highly pure
CBD extract from hemp.
Ethanol extraction is an incredibly safe, reliable, and alternative ‘solution’ to extracting pure CBD
extract from hemp. This technique can be performed in both hot and cold temperatures, and is
much more time-efficient than CO2 extraction too.
Ethanol is considered to be very low in toxicity according to the Food and Drug Administration.
This makes it a safe process for creating hemp oils and other THC extracts as well. Thus, the
technique is considered to have a low environmental impact and is eco-friendly.
After removing impurities, ethanol extraction is popular due to low costs for production and is
also much faster in production than some of the other techniques. It’s popular among vape
cartridge manufacturers due to its high concentration and purity.
There are a few extra cons associated with ethanol extraction over the CO2 method. FIrst, the
process requires ample start-up costs for industrial manufacture. Although the process can be
done from home, it’s highly advised to go through commercial production instead.
Purity above 98% efficacy requires a closed loop chamber much like the CO2 processing
technique. These machines are expensive and are only utilized by commercial suppliers of
Another problem with ethanol extraction is that it often destroys much of the more gentle
terpenes and cannabinoids in the hemp plant. These CBD molecules are associated with much
of the anti-inflammatory and pain relief aspects of CBD. Vape cartridges are often more popular
among THC manufacturers using ethanol extraction because much of these CBD compounds
are excluded intentionally.
Liquid Solvent Extraction
One of the last forms of CBD extraction that we’ll look at for this week’s post on manufacturing
CBD is the use of liquid solvents. Natural liquid substances such as hexane, butane, and
isopropyl alcohol are highly effective in extracting CBD molecules from hemp. The use of these
solvents is very popular among home manufacturers, but there are problems associated with
impurity and concentration through this method.
Using liquid solvents for extraction is very similar to ethanol and CO2 extraction. Liquid solvents
can be used in the place of the active agents in these processes, making a concentration that is
usually pure and safe as well.
Solvent extraction is fairly cheap to operate from home. Manufacturers often filter and distill
CBD much the same way as they do with ethanol and CO2 extraction - both processes of which
are considered highly safe and non-toxic.
The major con with liquid solvent extraction includes the purity and concentration of CBD after
production. Although the method can be done from home, chlorophyll and fatty molecules are
often not able to be removed from the concentrate. However, this isn’t always the case and
often manufacturers find that the CBD extract has a green tint and a bitter taste. These
impurities often go unremoved due to this boutique technique.
Bonus! Oil Infused Extraction
I can’t leave you without the oldest method of CBD extraction! Many home manufacturers use
this process as well. Hemp is heated through an oven at a high temperature where it goes
through a process known as decarboxylation. Some sort of oil or similar carrier is used to cover
the hemp and then added to an oven set for 212 degrees F for two hours. Afterwards, the oil
can be filtered and used for adding to brownies or other edibles.
To keep this one brief, I’ll list the pros and cons quickly here about oil infusion. Like solvents and
ethanol infusion, this process is often done at home and gives quick results after a few hours of
work. Because of this, oil infusion is often unreliable to make large-scale pure CBD extract and
doesn’t produce measured results. Another problem with oil infusion is that it takes time, effort,
and creates an offensive odor for those who choose to make it at home.
There are more and more processes and techniques for extracting pure CBD from hemp as it
receives more greenlight for consumers by various states. To effectively produce large-scale
CBD production, trusted retailers often have the resources and investment to make sure that
their products are pure, safe, and consistent across the board. Some methods can be done
from home, but in order to get the purest and most effective extracts, make sure to stick with
commercially-produced CBD for the public.
CBD extract is safe and pure when it is developed by professional-grade CBD manufacturers
such as Green Planet and if you’re curious about the processing of CBD, please visit your local
CBD dispensary to learn more about their own processing techniques and see what is right for