CBD is usually derived from the hemp plant and used for a variety of different products including oil tinctures, gummies, soft gels, drinks and cosmetics. Ideally when extracting CBD you want a strain of hemp that consists of a high % of CBD and low % of THC.
So how is the CBD extracted from the hemp plant? Well there are a number of different extraction processes but two of the most popular types are C02 and Ethanol.
Extracted CBD from the hemp plant usually consists of a solvent that is passed through the plant material in order to separate out active compounds.
Ethanol is an alcohol solvent generally regarded safe for human consumption. It is a cheaper method of extraction but still requires a fair amount of expertise. Ethanol extracts the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant, although it also extracts chlorophyll. The chlorophyll can be filtered out using post-extraction methods although this can also remove some of the cannabinoids. If the chlorophyll is not filtered out, the oil will be a dark coloured, bitter tasting product. This method can be more cost effective than C02 but there is more room for error and possibility for solvent contamination or a lower quality end product.
The C02 method comes in three types of extraction supercritical, subcritical and ‘mid-critical’, with the former being by far the most common due to the high-quality products it produces. Pressurised C02 helps to pull the CBD and other phytochemicals from the plant. The gas then acts as a solvent when set at certain temperatures.
Whilst it is safe and effective, it also involves expensive equipment which freezes the CO2 gas and compresses it into a supercritical cold liquid state. To create the liquid, the temperature must drop below -69 degrees Fahrenheit while increasing the pressure to over 75 pounds per square inch.
Starting with your C02 liquid, the pressure is raised using a compressor the temperature is raised using a heater. It is then passed through the hemp plant pulling out all the essential components needed for CBD oil. The oil and the C02 travel into a separator with the oil going to a collection vessel whilst the C02 is taken back in gas form ready to be used again.
There are many pros and cons for both extraction methods. We choose to use C02 and I would suggest when choosing a CBD make sure to ask how it is extracted so you know exactly what has been used in the process.