CBD has exploded onto the scene and has become the hottest trend in years. From a small alternative medicine movement to a 20 billion dollar a year industry it can be purchased just about anywhere these days. By now you probably know someone who is taking CBD and raving about how it has helped them. Anecdotal reports from thousands, if not millions, of people suggest that CBD has helped with anxiety, depression, pain, epilepsy, cancer, skin conditions, digestive issues, and many more. For some CBD is a miracle and they could not imagine their life any other way. With all this talk of CBD, you may have wondered where exactly does it come from and how do we extract it in the first place? A CBD Extract Lab is the best and most consistent way to get the best extracts possible.
Where Does CBD Come From?
CBD is short for cannabidiol which is a cannabinoid present in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Cannabis is the same plant that marijuana comes from and the much more popular cannabinoid called THC. THC and CBD share a lot of the same properties such as chemical structure and reported healing benefits. The major difference between the two is that THC is the compound responsible for the feeling of euphoria associated with marijuana, whereas CBD has no feelings of being “high” associated with it. Another key difference is that marijuana tends to be very low in CBD and high in THC. On the other hand, CBD is generally extracted from marijuana’s lesser-known cousin called hemp, which is very low in THC and high in CBD. While both marijuana and hemp come from the Cannabis Sativa plant, they are very different from one another and serve very different purposes.
Types of Extracts
While CBD is the most sought-after compound in the hemp plant there is also a myriad of other compounds that have been reported to be beneficial. These other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are not the goal, but often find their way into the extract. Extracts that contain them are referred to as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum. These are sometimes put through a secondary process known as crystallization that removes all other compounds and impurities, leaving behind a 99% pure white powder called CBD isolate.
How is CBD Extracted?
There are three main types of extraction all with their own advantages and disadvantages. They are solvent extraction, steam distillation, and CO2 supercritical extraction and no matter the method the end goal is to get the goodness out of the hemp plant and make it fit for humans to ingest, inhale, or apply to the skin. Let’s go over how CBD is extracted in detail below.
Solvent extraction involves using two main types of solvents. Hydrocarbons like propane, naphtha, petroleum, or butane can be used. The other type is natural solvents like ethanol and olive oil. The hemp plant is then mixed with one of these solvents and heated up. This will allow the cannabinoids and other compounds in the hemp plant to dissolve in the solution. Once the CBD is extracted the solvent is evaporated off and we are left with a CBD rich extract. This extract can then be further processed into other products. Solvent extraction is efficient and inexpensive, making it a great choice for some companies. The biggest drawback to solvent extraction is that when using hydrocarbons, it must be done with care to make sure they are completely removed from the final product as they can be toxic. While natural solvents are safer, they leave behind the chlorophyll which can affect the taste of the finished product making it a bit more bitter and earthy.
This technique is very similar to the solvent extraction process, but instead of using solvents steam is used. Steam distillation is a tried and true process that has been in use for many years. It is the primary way that essential oils are extracted from a variety of plants. To extract CBD the cannabis biomass is mixed with steam, which in turn evaporates off the CBD and other compounds in the hemp plant. Once this solution condenses and cools down it is further distilled to remove the water. What is left behind is a CBD rich oil that can be further processed into other CBD products. Steam distillation is inexpensive and leaves behind no toxic residues while also removing the chlorophyll. The disadvantages of it though are it takes more hemp than other methods and if the heat is too high it can actually damage the CBD in the process.
CO2 Supercritical Extraction
While being very expensive and requiring very specialized equipment CO2 supercritical extraction is what can be called the treasure of the CBD extraction methods. It is extremely efficient and leaves behind no toxic residues or chlorophyll. It also results in the highest concentration of CBD and it is easier to adjust accordingly during the process than other extraction methods. CO2 supercritical extraction starts with raw hemp biomass and is mixed with carbon dioxide under high pressure. The CBD and other compounds in the hemp plant are then extracted by dissolving into the CO2. At the end of the process, the CO2 is evaporated off and reclaimed, leaving behind no traces of carbon dioxide and an oil that is rich in CBD. This is by far the most efficient and safest extraction process that leaves us with an extremely safe and potent CBD extract. After extraction, the distillate can be further refined into other CBD products such as isolate, gummies, topicals, or a wide array of CBD products.