How To Extract CBD: Everything You Need To Know

Posted September 1, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
hemp plant

The cannabis plant is one of the most grown organic floras all around the world, all thanks to the numerous health benefits the plant poses. It is a rich source of various cannabinoids- a group of organic compounds which interact with our endocannabinoid system and helps in restoring the normal homeostasis of the body. However, out of these compounds, the cannabidiol or the CBD is the most sought one. 

CBD has proven to be extremely beneficial for humans because of two reasons: first, it is anti-psychotic and hence won’t produce high and second, it has a lot to do with your health. Since it has become so beneficial, the compound is extracted industrially nowadays in masses. However, not much is known about the extraction processes and how the compound is transformed into a usable form from its raw nature. 

So, let’s start the discussion about the various extraction processes of CBD and other relatable facts:

extracting CBD from hemp plant

From where CBD is industrially extracted?

Before moving into the extraction process, we need to learn from where the cannabidiol is extracted. Industrially, the raw leaves are extracted from the hemp plant. It is a subgroup of the cannabis family but it contains only .3% of the THC compound.

This is why the cannabidiol is free from any psychotic effect like a mental high, ecstasy, and so on. The leaves of the plant are collected in its green form where the cannabinoid compounds are concentrated the most. 

Why the extraction of the cannabidiol is necessary?

Now, you will probably wonder that when cannabis is a floral species, why we cannot consume the raw leaves directly, right?

Well, to answer your question, let us give you a glimpse of the problems that you might face while consuming the raw green leaves. 

  • Raw leaves are bitter and might not sound too delicious for some people’s taste buds. 
  • When the leaves are consumed raw, it doesn’t have the same effects as compared to when you will consume the processed CBD compound. 
  • Raw cannabis leaves have a lot of microbes on the surfaces, which will pose more danger than what the cannabinoid will cure. 

What are the major CBD extraction methods?

The extraction of the CBD compound from the leaves of the hemp plant involves a series of small steps. However, since we won’t be going into a deeper discussion today, let’s have a brief look at the four major extraction methods which are carried out in the manufacturing and production units. 

  • Carrier oil extraction: here, the plant is first decarboxylated. The process includes heating the leaves and the stem to a particular temperature over a calculated period of time. The heat helps the compounds in the plant to get activated faster. After decarboxylation, the leaves are then transferred into a boiler containing carrier oil, specifically coconut or olive oil. The mixture is then boiled till all the cannabidiol concentration mixes with the oil. 

   Even though this process is much better as compared to the Rick Simpsons method, the CBD oil extracted has low potency. Also, the characteristics of the oil can easily get destroyed if you are not using a preservative. 

  • CO2 extraction: this is one of the most economical extraction processes of the CBD isolate. Here, the CO2 gas is first transformed into its liquid form under a very low temperature, which is scientifically termed as the supercritical temperature. This liquid carbon is then passed over the hemp plant parts including the stacks and the buds. The speed of this process is kept slow which gives the liquid chemical enough time to absorb the cannabinoids and other helpful components from the plant. 

Once the process completes, the mixture is passed through a separator device which traps all the CBD compounds and releases the pure CO2 for the next batch of extraction. 

  • The Rick Simpson method: it is actually one of the oldest extraction methods of the CBD oil. Here, a hydrocarbon like butane or propane is used in its liquid form. The leaves of the plants are soaked and left for hours for the process of steeping. During this time, the cannabidiol compound gets infused into the hydrocarbon liquid. Once the leaves are stripped of its CBD content, they are taken out of the liquid mixture. It is then boiled. 

Since the hydrocarbons which are used have a low boiling point as compared to the cannabidiol, they evaporate faster, leaving behind the oil. Due to its simplicity, it is known to be the cheapest method of extraction. However, there are many side effects of the Rick Simpson method because of which it is now considered an almost obsolete process across the globe.

  • Alcohol extraction: in this process, first the leaves are decarboxylated. This helps in preventing the absorption of chlorophyll by the solvent at the time of extraction. The decarboxylated leaves are then kept in a container to which the ethanol is added drip by drip. The slow pace allows the alcohol to absorb the cannabinoids and then the mixture is allowed to settle in a collection reservoir. Once all the cannabinoids are extracted, the ethanol is boiled off which leaves the CBD oil behind. 

Each of these steps has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. However, amongst these, the alcohol and the CO2 extraction methods are widely used for the mass production of the CBD oil.

Also, since these two steps have very little side effects, the cannabinoid oil generated afterward is very much pure and fresh. 

Have you ever used CBD? Let us know in the comments below!