CBD extraction methods

All information on CBD extraction methods.

When choosing a good Virgin Olive Oil most consumers attach great importance to how it has been extracted. But have you ever wondered how it is possible to isolate CBD from the rest of hemp? Do you know the importance of the extraction method in the quality of your CBD oil? Knowing it is just as important as knowing how to take CBD oil.

When it comes to extracting a compound from a substance or matter in an industrial way there are several key concepts that we must take into account about the by-product we are going to obtain: the purity (quality), the by-product yield (quantity or concentration), the flavour and its conservation properties. The efficiency of the extraction method we use is crucial to ensure that all these by-product factors are optimal in addition to ensuring that their production is profitable.

One of the most important compounds that is becoming more important in the world related to cannabis is CBD or cannabidiol. It has several benefits,in addition to its great potential in medicine. For example, it emphasizes its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective power.

In addition to these benefits, it is non-toxic. We are talking about a simple molecule to consume and destined for a wide group of consumers. There are more and more products made from it, so CBD extraction has become sophistication. However, you can also practice extraction methods at home if you have the right equipment. Normally, CBD is extracted from stems, flowers and hemp leaves, as they contain very low THC values, being the only legal option.

CBD products are divided into two large groups: isolates and full spectrum extracts. The former offer higher levels of the compound, but extracts have other benefits attached to CBD.

By what processes is it possible to separate CBD from hemp?

There are different methods to isolate CBD cannabinoid as a by-product of the cannabis plant. If we want to extract CBD and avoid other cannabinoids we must start from a plant whose CBD content is high,because with any extraction method what we will do will be to separate the total of the cannabinoids contained in the raw material. Therefore, if we use a plant with high THC content and low Cannabidiol content what we will get will be a THC oil instead of CBD, so the byproduct may not be legal in many countries. Next, let’s look at the 3 most popular ways to isolate and concentrate Cannabidiol:

Extracting CBD with liquid solvent

In this extraction method a liquid solvent, such as alcohol, is used to obtain cannabinoids and other molecules from hemp flowers and cannabis.

Alcohol is very efficient at dissolving these types of molecules.

Some types commonly used are ethyl alcohol, isopropyl and naphtha.

For centuries, alcohol has been used to extract some chemical components from plants. When extracting molecules it evaporates, making it very popular. One of its main advantages is that it is one of the most economical methods. Also, you don’t need special equipment to do so.

In your own kitchen, I’m sure you have what it takes to be able to do it at home, although the necessary alcohol is very strong. The necessary elements are a rice cooker, a hot dish, a few containers made of glass and cutlery. In the most sophisticated and refined processes, however, distillers are used, which you will not be able to use so easily at home.

If we talk about disadvantages, the main one, of course, is security. These solvents are highly flammable, causing several explosions in laboratories and kitchens that have tried to implement this method. It is advisable to boil the alcohol outdoors.

Another disadvantage is that, if not performed properly, the residue of this solvent could remain after the evaporation process. This residue is not recommended to consume it.

extraction with liquid solvent

Extraction with organic liquid solvent

This way of separating the compounds is very recurrent in the oil industry due to its low cost. The target by-product, in our case cannabinoids, are isolated as an organic solvent (propane, butane, hexane, ethanol, etc…) dissolves the waxes of the plant taking some of its nutrients ahead while the cannabinoids next to the chlorophyll are trapped in the solvent that is then evaporated to leave behind the cannabinoids concentrated in the essential oil.

Advantages of extraction with organic liquid solvent

It’s an economic and effective process.

Achieve high concentrations of isolated cannabinoids.

Disadvantages of extraction with organic liquid solvent

It should be carried out in a safe and professional environment as the solvents are flammable and dangerous. Solvents fail to separate chlorophyll so the taste of the oil is bitter. Traces of solvent that are toxic to the body may remain. Other plant nutrients are lost.

Extraction with olive oil (or other food grade oils)

Food grade oil extraction is one of the oldest processes as it is the safest and most rudimentary way to separate CBD from the hemp plant. It is as simple as heating the plant until its chemicals are activated (
) and mixing it with olive oil. The mixture is reheated and then extraction occurs as the cannabinoids are fat-soluble and dissolve in olive oil. Therefore, CBD will be trapped in the oil while the rest of the liquid substances evaporate and solid substances can be filtered or removed by decanting.

In this technique CBD and terpenes are extracted using naturally occurring vegetable oils as a solvent.

I mean, putting alcohol aside. Effective products include olive oil, hemp seed oil or coconut oil, among other vegetables.

These are able to extract cannabinoids from other plant material, as they are lipophilic compounds.

Simply put, they absorb fat very well. It is the technique that beginners use, as it is very smooth and natural and does not have the above dangers.

There is also no risk of any residue that may be harmful. In addition, very healthy vegetable oils also add their own nutrients to the equation. This is the case, for example, with omega fatty acids.

However, even though cbd extraction with this food grade oil method is not as aggressive, it also takes much longer for the process to be complete. As an addition, the final result will not be so concentrated either.

In extractions where liquid solvents are used, we have seen that alcohol evaporates and leaves a substance, similar to tar, very rich in terpenes and cannabinoids. In this case, the extraction is more similar to the dyes, being considered the most natural.

Another disadvantage is that preparations made through this process last less over time, as they degrade earlier.

In addition, CBD oil must be kept and stored in the correct way. To do this, we will use small glass jars.

Advantages of CBD extraction with food grade oil

It is a homemade method, easy and safe.

You can make CBD-rich food grade oil to cook and season dishes with.

Disadvantages of CBD extraction with food grade oil

CBD concentration is low and difficult to measure.

The mixture of olive oil and cannabinoids is very unstable and difficult to preserve, very specific light and temperature conditions are needed so it is very perishable.


extraction with CO2

Extraction with super-cryptic CO2

As CBD has become popular, extraction methods have evolved as well. One of the most advanced methods for extracting cannabinoids from hemp is CO2 extraction in super critical state. It requires a lot of investment so it is only profitable if it is a large-scale business, but it is nevertheless the only way to isolate CBD that ensures to eliminate the bitter taste of chlorophyll and the highest concentration of the target cannabinoid.

In addition, it preserves many of the cannabis phytonutrients and terpenes that are interesting to our body. Unlike organic solvents, CO2 is available in the atmosphere in large quantities and is not flammable however subjected to low temperature and high pressure (in its super critical state) acquires the same solvent properties.

This method of extraction from CO2 can take advantage of the molecules you want from the cannabis plant using supercritical carbon dioxide.

Although CO2 is usually behaved like a solid or a gas, it can also be converted into liquid.

This is achieved if you bring to a critical and sufficient temperature and pressure, so you have to know how to do it professionally.

This is one of the most efficient methods to extract cannabinoids, terpenes and many other things, compounds and molecules.

Thanks to the properties of the gas, the substance can circulate very easily through the plant matter.

In addition, it also dissolves the components due to their liquid traits. As you can see, it is one of the most complete and safe techniques. Leaves no residue.

This is undoubtedly the most complex and also the most expensive option. Being able to access such a complete technique has to have a price. However, it is a good investment for those large-scale producers, although it is not recommended for a particular consumer.

best extraction method

How is CBD extracted with super-cryptic CO2?

CBD extraction by CO2 takes place in industrial extraction plants where they have the necessary professional machinery capable of withstanding high pressures. It is a closed circuit containing CO2 that is then recovered at the end of the process. In this way CO2 will never be in contact with external elements. The extraction system has 3 different components:

  1. An extraction vessel
  2. A separator
  3. An accumulator

First, the extraction container is filled with the raw material (hemp with high CBD content). The system is then loaded with liquid CO2.

When the desired temperature and pressure are reached in the extraction vessel the system will be able to separate the essential oils from the raw material. CO2 must be in its super-critical state, i.e. just between its liquid and gaseous state. This state allows CO2 to dissolve matter as liquid while effusion of solids as a gas. The mixture of CO2 and cannabis flows from the extraction vessel to the separator where the pressure is lower and it is the change in it that causes the cannabis oil to separate from the CO2 that is less dense and recirculate through the closed system. Pure cannabis oil leaves the circuit and prepares for the following processes.

We can conclude that the best CBD oil extraction method today is certainly with super-cooled CO2 for both producers and the end consumer. Once the barriers to entry into the industry (investment in equipment) have been overcome, the variable costs are not high and the fixed ones are diluted. The production of CBD oil by super-critical CO2 achieves the best yields and is a professionally supervised and controlled process so exactly all components of the final product are known. On the consumer side you can buy a pure oil, of very high concentration, easy to preserve, foodily safe, that preserves terpenes and other phytonutrients and totally free of chlorophylls (not bitter).

To assess the best method of CBD extraction you should look at many factors. It will also depend on the processes and utensils you have access to if you want to do it on your own at home.

However, CO2 extraction is the best for large-scale use and distribution to consumers.

The main reason is that it is able to produce cbd products ensuring the best quality, as it does not leave any harmful residue.

In addition, this method is able to create a safe, clean and rich full spectrum oil in the CBD compound, as well as in the terpenes that grant the rest of the benefits we hope to find in products of this type.

cannabis and extraction methods

CBD extraction method used in Higea CBD

In Higea CBD we extract cannabidiol in an industrial and specialized way with the super-cooled CO2 method. All our oils are subjected to the high quality standards required by the specialized production of CBD oils, that is why they maintain all terpenes and phytonabinoids that work together with CBD and nourish our body. In addition, Higea CBD full spectrum oils come from 100% organic cannabis.

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