This article explains how the compound CBD is extracted from cannabis plants to create CBD oil. It looks at the different techniques for extraction and purification, such as carbon dioxide extraction, oil infusion, and ethanol extraction. As you may well know, CBD oil is made from hemp. Crude oil is extracted, refined and thoroughly tested – this is how Good Hemp’s pure CBD oil is made.
The CBD Manufacturing Process – How CBD Oil is Made
CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of the many chemical compounds found in hemp and marijuana plants. CBD oil is a supplement that can be added to a variety of different products, such as lip balm, lotion, drinks, and gummies. CBD oil is created by extracting cannabidiol from the flowers and buds of hemp or marijuana plants. The plant cannabis sativa can be classified as either hemp or marijuana, depending on the amount of THC, the chemical that creates a high when consumed, in it.
If the particular sativa plant contains less than 0.3 percent THC, it is technically hemp. If the plant has more than 0.3 percent THC, it’s classified as marijuana. Hemp is generally used more for CBD extraction, as it contains more CBD and is legal in all 50 states. But how is the CBD extracted from the plant? The process varies by CBD manufacturer.
There are many ways to extract CBD from a plant, and they vary in safety and efficiency. It’s important to know the difference since how CBD is extracted affects the final product’s purity and efficacy. This article will explain the different methods of how CBD oil is made. If you’d like to learn more about the business side of CBD, you can check out our article on how to start a cannabusiness.
One of the more popular extraction methods for CBD oil uses carbon dioxide, or CO2. This system takes advantage of how CO2 can function as a gas, solid, and liquid. Closed-loop extractors are most commonly used for CO2 extraction.
The process starts with a solid piece of CO2 in a chamber that is then pumped into a second chamber containing the cannabis material. The second chamber is kept at such a pressure that the CO2 stays in a liquid-like state and absorbs the plant’s oils and flavors. Then, the CO2-cannabinoid mixture is pumped into a third chamber where the CO2 returns to a gas state, leaving behind the plant’s oil and flavors. CO2 extraction is exact and can produce some of the purest cannabinoid extracts when done correctly. However, this is not always the case because of the high cost of equipment and the steep learning curve.
When this is done well, CO2 extracted CBD oil is some of the world’s purest, but there is ample room for error when done in less-than-optimal conditions. That potential for error is why subcritical CO2 extraction is used mainly by more “boutique” CBD brands.
Ethanol extraction is another popular extraction process, as it is safe, simple, and effective. In this method, high-grade grain alcohol (ethanol) is used as a solvent to separate CBD and other cannabinoids from the plant itself. Ethanol extraction can be done under warm or cold conditions and is considered extremely time-efficient compared to other CBD extraction processes like CO2 extraction. The CBD oil created with this method is often used for vape pen cartridges and other products. However, this extraction method destroys the cannabis plant waxes, which may have health benefits that some product-makers favor.
The idea of using a liquid to absorb CBD oil from the cannabis plant doesn’t stop with CO2 or ethanol. Naturally liquid substances are also used, including butane, hexane, or isopropyl alcohol. The process works much like the CO2 or ethanol extraction process, as a liquid solvent is run through decarboxylated hemp to remove cannabinoids and terpenes.
Liquid solvent extraction is a less expensive and easier way to extract CBD oil and is easy to scale for commercial production, but it has its downsides. Not all solvents can remove all impurities, and the chlorophyll from the plant may remain in the oil, giving it a greenish tinge and a bitter taste. A CBD manufacturer must adjust the process as needed to avoid impurities. As many of the liquid solvents used are highly flammable, this method can be considered more dangerous than others.
Oil infusion is one of the oldest techniques for extracting CBD oil, and many home growers and producers still use this method today. It’s one of the most straightforward ways, but it does come with some drawbacks.
Before starting oil infusion, the plant material must first be decarboxylated or heated to a specific temperature to activate the compounds. The plant material is added to olive oil or a similar carrier oil and heated at 100 degrees Celsius for a couple of hours. The olive oil can’t evaporate out of the CBD oil, so one of the primary downsides is that a lot more oil is used compared to the amount of liquid solvents used in their processes.
As some of the above processes result in impure CBD oil, many manufacturers choose to use one or both of the following secondary processes in order to further purify their product.
Winterization is the secondary process of removing undesirable substances from the oil to result in pure CBD. After the oil is extracted, it is combined with 200 proof alcohol and stirred vigorously until thoroughly mixed. The alcohol thins the crude oil out, as the desirable parts of crude will go into solution with the alcohol while the unwanted parts will coagulate and freeze, allowing them to be filtered out.
The mixture is then placed in a deep freezer at below-zero temperatures. Once it has time to freeze overnight, it looks cloudy and is ready for filtration. The filter removes the fats and other such materials. The oil and alcohol mixture is placed in vessels that use paper filters. The actual CBD oil remains with the alcohol solution and passes through the filter while the unwanted frozen parts are caught by it. When the oil is of the desired quality, the mixture can be heated to alcohol’s boiling point, which is lower than that of CBD oil, to boil off the alcohol. The alcohol evaporates, and CBD oil is left behind.
For further CBD oil refinement, it is run through a process called short path distillation. This secondary takes advantage of the fact that different CBD oil compounds each have their own boiling point. Short path distillation starts by slowly heating the CBD oil until the unnecessary substances such as terpenoids, flavonoids, and contaminants, begin to boil off. Sometimes a vacuum is also used to separate the vapors with a lower boiling point.
The vapors formed travel through a distillation tube until they reach cooling coils, where they condense and drip down into a separate collection container. The process continues until only pure CBD oil is left in the original container.
Outlined above are the basics of what CBD is and how CBD is made. Following the manufacture of the oil itself also requires manufacturing of delivery mechanisms, which include containers such as vials and bottles, to vape cartridges and other mechanisms. Of course there is a lot more to the manufacturing process such as CBD product packaging. To find more information on domestic commercial and industrial suppliers of custom manufacturing services and equipment on all levels of the supply chain, visit the Thomas Supplier Discovery Platform, where you will find information on over 500,000 commercial and industrial suppliers.
How is CBD Oil Made? The Process Explained
Here at Good Hemp, we’re all about transparency in everything we do – that way we keep ourselves honest and you can hold us accountable! We want the production process of our pure CBD oil to be as sustainable as possible so that the planet doesn’t have to suffer – but we know we aren’t perfect (yet) either.
Good Hemp Pure CBD Oil
250mg Citrus CBD Oil
250mg Natural CBD Oil
250mg Peppermint CBD Oil
Natural 1000mg CBD Oil
Natural 2000mg CBD Oil
For example, due to outdated and restrictive legislation, growing hemp in the UK is legal if you have a licence to grow it as a controlled substance, but the most valuable parts of hemp – the high-CBD leaves and flowers – have to be destroyed onsite.
That’s right. British farmers are allowed to grow hemp for the purposes of making hemp oil, hemp seed hearts, construction materials… but not CBD oil.
That’s why at the moment the hemp we use for our pure CBD oils is derived in the USA, where the extraction of CBD oil from hemp leaves and flowers is permitted. We’d like to improve our supply chain, however, to rely less on hemp being shipped across long distances – so we’re hoping that the UK government changes their restrictions ASAP. The pictures below are of our farm in Devon where we grow hemp for seeds and fibre, however not CBD. But hopefully they give you an idea of what the growing and processing of hemp looks like!
How Our CBD Oil is Made Today
Today, we do what we can to keep our CBD oil production process as sustainable as possible while we focus on producing a 100% natural and pure CBD oil product. Not a single fertiliser, insecticide or toxic chemical is involved in the growth of our non-GMO hemp, and the thorough CBD extraction and testing process ensures that we get the strength, contents and dosages of our CBD oil products just right every time.
Join us as we walk you through the journey our hemp goes through from seed to CBD.
1. Soil prep
At the very start of the hemp growing process the soil is prepared through the process of tilling; drainage lines are installed to help increase yield by ensuring that the soil doesn’t become saturated. The dirt is then broken up with approximately 12-18” deep grooves that the seeds will be sown into.
Between annual hemp cycles, a different crop is grown in the same area so that the soil doesn’t become exhausted of one particular set of nutrients. This reduces the need for synthetic fertilisers when growing other crops, and as hemp cleanses the soil, it’s a crop-rotation favourite.
Around March, when the frosty weather has passed, seeds are sown into the grooves that have been made in the soil. The sowing is done by machines, and the results are quick: seeds will typically show signs of growth in as little as 24 to 48 hours, with plantlets growing to be two feet tall after four weeks’ time!
Again, no fertilisers, insecticides or any other form of chemical fortifying is required for our natural hemp to cultivate. The natural rain water and the condition of the soil are sufficient for steady growth and great plant health.
The growth cycle for hemp flowers is around 6 months (it’s less for seeds), which means that they can be harvested around August/September time. The cultivation process of our hemp is fairly easy, as the sturdy naturally adjusts to changes in the weather and environment (god it’s good…)
Much like Goldilocks’ finickity standards, for hemp to be harvested correctly, the conditions have to be juuuuust right. It can only be completed once the plants are fully grown, the yummy hemp seeds have been harvested, the conditions are dry without any excessive humidity or rain, and sacrifice has been made to the hemp gods. Ok we’re joking about the last one, but you get the jist – it’s not easy.
Head hemp farmers will monitor these requirements closely and choose the right time to harvest them. This is done by a funky type of combine harvester which has a huge crop wheel at the top, collecting the leaves and flowers, and a lower component which slices the 3m tall hemp stems at the base. The stems are collected separately and used for their fibre, while we steal the flowers and leaves for CBD.
Once it’s been harvested, the hemp is dried and in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment. Depending on its quality, the hemp is either selected for cannabinoid extraction – the final product being our pure CBD oil – or sold to be used as a herbal tea.
6. Testing for CBD quality and contamination
Next the graded hemp material is tested for quality, purity and overall safety. This includes testing the dried material for cannabinoid content, mould and toxins or any other unwanted compounds. If the test results come back as we want them, the material is put forward for CBD extraction.
7. Supercritical CO2 extraction
The CBD extraction starts with the ‘supercritical CO2 extraction’, in which pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to pull the entire profile of cannabinoids, waxes, fats and terpenes from the hemp plant. This CO2 extraction process doesn’t require any solvents, which means it’s a very clean process. The supercritical CO2 extraction results in a full-spectrum extract, from which the cannabinoids will be refined further to create CBD isolates.
8. CBD extraction
By using distillation methods, all controlled substances – including THC and other unwanted compounds – are removed from the crude oil to leave a broad-spectrum hemp extract that’s free of THC. Next, the extract is further refined to a pure CBD isolate through an isolation process called reverse chromatography (RC). RC totally isolates the CBD with hardly any contaminations, ensuring that the CBD oil you buy contains 99.9% pure CBD.
9. HPLC testing
This is where it gets very science-y. You’ve been warned.
To ensure that the CBD remains pure and the isolation has been successful, it’s tested thoroughly through a fancy-sounding process called ‘high-performance liquid chromatography’ or HPLC. This involves a pressurised liquid solvent containing the CBD sample being pumped through a column filled with a solid adsorbent material. As each component of the sample interacts slightly differently with the absorbent material and exits at different flow rates, the HPLC process will separate and identify each of the compounds of the original CBD sample. The result? A clear and precise overview of the exact value of CBD and any other molecules present.
10. Final formulations
Once our pure CBD has been tested for purity and quality, it’s time to make the final formulations. Each of our CBD products is mixed with organic, cold-pressed hemp seed oil to, creating a range of strengths (based on the ratio of CBD to hemp seed oil). On top of that, our peppermint- and citrus-flavoured oils are infused with clean, steam-distilled, plant-derived terpenes that give them their delicious flavour and aroma.
11. Testing by third-party laboratories
The last stage of testing that our CBD oil undergoes is typically on the final formulations. Each batch we produce is meticulously tested by third-party laboratories for its cannabinoid content to ensure that the purity and quality remain accurate to each strength and ratio.
Once all lab reports are returned satisfactorily, the CBD oil is ready to be packaged and labelled, ready to be shipped off to you guys!
You can find our full range of CBD drops, starting at £15, here . To read more about CBD, what it does and why it’s great, head to The Spill .
At Good Hemp, we want to make the benefits of CBD oil available to all. Whether you use CBD to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, depression or pain , we’ve got your back. We take pride in producing pure CBD oil that comes with all the benefits to your health and wellbeing without any of the unwanted side-effects, artificial compounds or harm to the environment.