Cannabis has taken on many forms since it has been legalized in most states of the USA. Used for its amazing therapeutic properties and for its more popular ‘getting high’ recreational use, cannabis truly is a magnificent plant with many functions.
One of the products that is widely used by consumers all over the world is CBD oil. But how does it get made? When we are accustomed to cannabis only appearing in dry leaf form, where does the plant store its oils?
CBD Oil: A Closer Look
To understand CBD oil, we should understand where exactly it comes from first. There are actually three types of cannabis: Sativa, Indica, and Ruderalis. From these three ‘parents’ derived many more hybrids. Depending on the hybrid planted and harvested, the strength and potency will be influenced. Read more about it by clicking here.
Within the Cannabis plant lays over a hundred different chemical compounds. Two of the most popular compounds are THC and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the compound that creates the ‘high’ sensation and has many psychoactive properties. Compared to cannabidiol that has no psychoactive properties but that carries all the medical benefits.
It’s because of this reason that developers harvest the hemp plant for high CBD levels. Hemp oil and CBD oil aren’t the same thing: Hemp, a Cannabis Sativa descendent, has a very low (almost non-existent) THC level and higher CBD levels. When harvested, farmers can extract CBD from the plant to ensure it doesn’t have any psychoactive effects on the user. When the Cannabis Sativa plant is harvested, farmers have to extract the CBD compound to separate it from THC.
Different Extraction Methods
High levels of CBD are found within the leaves, stem, and flowers of the Cannabis Sativa plant. Once harvested, the leaves and plant matter are taken through different kinds of processes to extract the cannabidiol compound.
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
This is the most commonly used method within the CBD oil industry, it can also be referred to as SFE (Supercritical Fluid Extraction). The method uses carbon dioxide in a supercritical form, this refers to a CO2 that has both liquid and gas states. The method separates plant matter from the oil itself.
Using three different chambers, the method will introduce pressurized hemp plant matter and CO2. When they are introduced, the supercritical carbon dioxide will break down the plant matter causing the oil to separate from the leaves.
After this process, the mixture is pumped into the last chamber in which the CO2 gas evaporates, leaving a pure cannabidiol oil in the chamber. Check out this video for an example on how this method works in reality: https://www.sacurrent.com/the-daily/archives/2020/07/27/all-about-extracting-cbd-with-co2-extraction.
This is the least expensive extraction method and is used by many at-home entrepreneurs. Instead of using water, it uses a solvent to separate the plant matter and oil from each other.
Natural solvents like ethanol and olive oils or hydrocarbon solvents can be used in this process. Hydrocarbon solvents like butane, propane, naphtha, and petroleum do raise some concern in that it can create a toxic end product. It’s important that there is no hydrocarbon residue left in the end product.
Even though this method is cheaper than the rest, it has its disadvantages. It might result in an unpleasant smell and taste and leave toxic residue in the final product.
Using water one can create steam that will separate plant matter from oil. It uses the same kind of process as solvent distillation by replacing the solvent with water. Even though the method has been tried and used for many years, it can still be much less efficient than CO2 extraction methods.
Mainly because the steam can overheat. This can result in damaged plant matter and oil. It can completely change the chemical properties resulting in a less efficient end product with less therapeutic benefits.
Out of the three methods used, Carbon Dioxide extraction is definitely the most efficient. When buying supplements for health benefits, you should always request information from the dispensary about the extraction method used. CO2 extraction method products will cost you a little bit more, but you’ll be guaranteed a quality product.