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The CBD Extraction Process


With all the cannabidiol products on the market, it’s important to understand the interesting CBD extraction process and how it’s made.

Last year consumers spent over $500 million on CBD oil products. This figure is set to increase to $1,812 million by 2022.

And this is hardly surprising. Pure CBD oil and products that use it have huge health and lifestyle benefits. It works as pain relief, as a treatment for mental health illness and can even relieve symptoms of cancer.

You might be thinking of trying out CBD oil in your life. If so, you might like to know exactly what goes on behind the scenes. In that case, understanding how to make CBD oil is a must.

Well, you’re in the right place! Read on to find out everything you need to know about the CBD extraction process.

CBD Extraction Is a Long Process

Making CBD oil actually begins much further up the line with the planting. After all, without any plants there wouldn’t be anything to extract from, would there?

Most CBD oil manufacturers create cannabis plants using cuttings. They take these from already thriving plants. It essentially means that they clone their cannabis plants.

Cloning plants rather than growing them from seeds gives the growers more control. It means they can predict exactly what type of plant they will get.

CBD comes from the cannabis sativa plant. However, the THC levels in this plant can vary.

For CBD oil, growers want plants with less than 0.3% TCH. This is means the plant is technically hemp rather than marijuana. 

The cuttings have to sit for a week before planting in order to acclimatize to the weather. This gives them a better chance of growing well. Then growers plant them by hand.

It takes months of careful watering for them to blossom into successful plants. The growing season runs all the way from May to October. During this time it’s extremely important to maintain balanced soil moisture and pH levels.

Harvesting the Plants

Harvesting takes place every October on CBD farms around the country. Before harvesting the farmers have to ensure two things.

  1. They must get approval of the quality of their plants from the state agricultural department. This involves sending off a sample from each crop.
  2. They must ensure that the plants have fully matured.

Once out of the ground the plants are set to dry in special curing barns. This means that they air-dry.

For this to work properly they need to be in a dry and well-ventilated environment. A damp environment risks creating mold or mildew which will ruin the plants.

Once dried the farmers can strip the plants of their flowers. The CBD oil is extracted from these flowers. The remaining parts of the plant can be used at roots or recycled as plant waste.

How to Extract CBD 

Once the dried flowers are ready you can start the extraction process. 

This begins with grinding down the hemp flowers. For the best result, they should be a similar consistency to ground coffee. This creates a bigger surface area to extract from so makes the process quicker.

Extraction begins by steeping the dried flowers in a solvent solution. Some systems use a CO2 solvent, while others use cold methanol extraction.

This works by stripping the flowers of any terpenes. Terpenes are what give the cannabis plant its distinctive smells. They aren’t needed for making CBD oil. 

After this first step, the solution goes through the winterization process. This involves exposing it to the cold. The solution needs to be kept in a deep freezer overnight.

Winterization removes anything that might change the chemical make-up of the oil itself. Things like fatty acids, waxes or lipids can do this. So removing them is essential to creating a high-quality CBD oil.

After a night in the freezer, the solution looks cloudy. This is a sign that the winterization process has worked.

However, the unwanted elements are still sitting in the solution. And no one wants cloudly CBD oil! So what happens next?

Filtering the Oil

Filtering and distilling the oil are essential steps in how to extract THC oil or CBD oil. They ensure that you get the purest oil around. And they help to remove any solutions used throughout the extraction process. 

The first way to filter a CBD oil solution is by running it through filter paper. A popular way to do this is the run it through a Buchner Funnel. This removes undesirable elements and leaves the remaining oil solution in the extraction jar below.

The alcohol or alternative solvent solution is the next thing to remove. Some of this might come out during filtering but not all of it. Heat is the only way to fully remove it.

Any extraction solution should have a lower boiling point than oil. This is essential for this stage of distillation to work.

As the mixture warms up, different elements of the solution reach their boiling point. This means they evaporate off and can be cooled and collected for reuse elsewhere. The solution then cools and only the oil remains.

Another name for this process is Short Path Distillation. This involves heating the oil to various different temperatures to remove certain compounds. 

Short Path Distillation enables manufacturers to purify the oil. This is what produces pure CBD oil, which is the best kind out there!

There You Have It!

So now you know exactly how to answer the question ‘how do you make CBD oil’! Once CBD extraction is complete the oil is ready for sale. Or manufacturers use it to infuse other products, such as soaps, muscle balms or face lotions.

And to find out more about this amazing little solution, check out our guide to CBD oils!