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Best CBD Extraction Methods

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Best CBD Extraction Methods

Ever wonder how CBD products are made? It all begins with an extraction, where CBD and other cannabinoids are separated from the hemp plant.

There are several methods which can be used to extract CBD. You can use old school solvent extraction methods -- the kind you probably learned about and maybe practiced in high school. Or you can use a method known as steam distillation. 

But the most preferred method is a super high-tech process known as CO2 extraction, which uses some chemistry wizardry to create extremely pure and highly concentrated CBD.

Let’s take a look at all three CBD extraction methods and how they work.

Three Methods for Extracting CBD

1. CO2 Extraction 

You’re probably most familiar with CO2 as a gas -- after all, you exhale it all day! Or if you’ve been to a few Halloween parties, you might know it as a solid in the form of dry ice.

But did you know that CO2 can also be a liquid? Not only that, when heated to the right temperature and put under extreme pressure, CO2 becomes what is known as a “supercritical liquid.”

This is a truly amazing physical phenomenon where a liquid can exhibit the properties of both a liquid and a gas. Supercritical CO2 can easily pass through porous materials and even function as a powerful solvent.

In a CO2 extraction, hemp plants are first ground and placed in an extraction chamber. CO2 is then heated and pressurized to reach its supercritical phase, before being pumped into the extraction chamber to mix with the hemp material.

This supercritical CO2 rapidly breaks down the hemp plant, extracting the waxes, resins, and cannabinoids like our precious CBD.

The resultant mixture is then pumped into a separating chamber where the pressure is gradually lowered. No longer in its supercritical phase, the CO2 transforms from a supercritical liquid back into a gas, rising and leaving the hemp extract behind.

At the end of this process, you are left with an incredibly concentrated hemp extract which is completely free of solvents and pollutants. Since the only solvent used was supercritical CO2 -- which evaporates completely when the pressure is lowered -- this extraction method produces some of the cleanest, purest CBD and hemp extract available anywhere.

It is also a so-called “tunable” extraction method, meaning that by altering the pressures and temperatures involved, it is possible to extract very precise high-yield concentrations

Though certainly the gold standard for CBD extraction, CO2 extractors can be quite expensive to set up and maintain. 


2. Traditional Solvents

Traditional solvents come in the form of hydrocarbons like naphtha or butane, or natural solvents such as ethanol. To extract CBD with a traditional solvent, hemp plants are ground and soaked in the solvent.

This causes the waxes and resins -- along with CBD and other cannabinoids -- to become dissolved in the solvent. The rest of the hemp material will separate into a different layer, which can then be drawn off and removed.

Now we’re left with a mixture of hemp extract and solvent. In a process known as distillation, we can now heat the mixture to remove the solvent, which will evaporate before the desirable compounds in our extract, leaving us -- in theory -- with nothing but hemp extract.

While this is a very common task used in chemistry for the creation of all sorts of products, it does have a major downside: if the mixture isn’t properly distilled, it can leave traces of the solvent in our final product.

This can be pretty nasty, since most solvents are highly toxic. Even small traces of these solvents left behind could have a detrimental impact on your health, potentially raising your risk of getting cancer and other diseases.

Not only that, this distillation process can also reduce the concentration of the final product, causing some precious CBD to go to waste. 

3. Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is a technique which has been used to extract essential oils from plants for centuries. However, it is a rather energy intensive process which has a much lower yield and requires more plant matter to work that CO2 extraction or traditional solvents.

In steam distillation, a large container of ground hemp material is prepared in a specially constructed still. Steam is then introduced to the chamber, which dissolves the hemp oil and causes it to rise.

This steam and the oils it contains then make their way to a condenser, where the steam is cooled and condenses into hemp oil and water.

Finally, this mixture is distilled again to evaporate the water, leaving behind pure hemp oil.

While this method avoids the use of toxic solvents, it is quite inefficient, requiring huge amounts of hemp to produce relatively low concentrations of hemp oil.

After the Extraction

After completing any of the three extraction methods above, you’ll be left with what is known as Full Spectrum Hemp Oil.

This is not pure CBD. Instead, it is “hemp extract,” a mixture of cannabinoids, terpenes, amino acids, and other organic compounds produced by the hemp plant.

In the CBD world, this product can be sold as “Full Spectrum CBD Oil.” The “Full Spectrum” part refers to the fact that it doesn’t just contain CBD, but also traces of all the other cannabinoids found in the hemp plant.

Creating CBD oil starts with the very genetics of the hemp plant. The hemp plants which are used as the raw material for extraction are bred and selected for their high CBD content and minimal THC content.

Under the provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill, “hemp” is defined as a cannabis plant containing 0.3% or less THC. This means that -- technically -- “Full Spectrum” products do contain traces of THC, but this is in such a minute quantity that it does not have any effect when consumed and is completely legal to sell and possess in the United States.

This mixture of cannabinoids may actually be quite beneficial, with some research into the so-called “entourage effect” suggesting that these various cannabinoids work together to provide better support. 

However, for those interested in purity, CBD can be isolated from hemp extract, producing what is known as “Isolate CBD oil.” This requires further processing in the form of filtration and cooling. Cooling the hemp extract results in a powdery crystalline form of pure CBD, which can then be used to create CBD Isolate products.

Final Steps

After all of this fancy chemistry, our hemp extract or CBD isolate should be tested by a laboratory, using a process such as chromatography to analyze the chemical makeup of the final product. 

This lets us verify that we have just what we’re looking for and no contaminants or solvents left behind. It also gives us information on the concentration of our product, letting us create products with a precise dosage of CBD.

Finally, our extract is ready to be made into products. The type of CBD oil tinctures you purchase on the market are made by mixing this extract with a carrier oil such as hemp or coconut oil. 

Alternatively, the hemp extract can be infused into candies, made into topical solutions like CBD balms and lotions, or even made into pet treats.

How Does Sabaidee Do It?

Sabaidee starts with the highest quality high-CBD hemp plants grown from a farm in Colorado.

All of our CBD products are produced using state of the art CO2 extraction. After extraction, we test our product with chromatography and verify results with an independent laboratory. 

We take this resulting full spectrum CBD oil and combine it with the best ingredients available to create our tinctures, balms, and pet treats, giving you nothing but the best! No leftover solvents, no contaminants, nothing but the highest quality hemp extract!


Frequently Asked Questions

Which extraction method is the best?

Supercritical & Subcritical CO2 Extraction. These are the most widely-used and best methods for extracting CBD.

How much CBD oil do you get from an ounce?

An ounce (30mL) of a 500 mg bottle, in turn, has approximately 16.6 mg of CBD per 1 mL, and a 1000 mg tincture comes with somewhere around 33 mg of CBD in 1 mL.

How long does a bottle of CBD oil last?

On average, a bottle of CBD oil will be good for approximately 14 to 24 months.

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