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What’s The Best Extraction Method For CBD?

cbd extraction
Written by Steven Bridge

CBD is an increasingly popular way to treat a variety of conditions such as anxiety, pain, and insomnia.

These days, many people are turning away from prescription medications, in favor of natural and holistic solutions. CBD is one such solution and works in surprising ways for some people. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a compound present in cannabis and hemp plants. Unlike THC, the compound associated with the “high and stoned” experiences, CBD has no such effects.

CBD does, however, help people suffering from a range of issues. Furthermore, CBD is extremely safe and comes in many different forms. Not all delivery systems are created equal though.

First, there’s CBD oil (or tincture) which is taken orally and only kicks in after an hour or two. Then there is CBD vape juice for those who are in need of instant relief. When CBD is smoked or vaporized and therefore taken into the system via the lungs, the effects are felt within seconds.

Both of these methods require that the CBD be extracted from a hemp or cannabis plant, but the method used has a significant bearing on its quality, potency, and safety. There are essentially four primary methods for extracting CBD (and other cannabinoids and terpenes) from hemp and cannabis: dry ice extraction, olive oil extraction, solvent extraction, CO2 extraction.

Dry Ice Extraction

cbd extraction

Dry ice is the solid form of carbon dioxide

Dry ice extraction for CBD is one of the original methods used. Similar in some ways to oil extraction, this method is laborious and requires patience. The crop needs to be cut into small pieces and then places inside a container. It’s then covered with dry ice and left for 2-5 minutes.

During this time the resins and oils from the plant freeze and can be extracted. A cheesecloth is placed over the bucket, and the contents of the container are shaken vigorously. When the container is turned upside down the frozen resin is separated, and the extract is right there. While this method is simple enough and produces a good yield, many of the cannabinoids and terpenes are degraded from all that shaking.

Olive Oil Extraction

Olive oil extraction is something one can do simply enough in the comfort of their own home. This would be the cheapest of the extraction methods, but it is time-consuming and a little frustrating. First off, the crop is heated to a specific temperature to activate the chemical compounds inside.

The dry herb is then put into olive oil and heated to boiling point for around an hour. The CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes are infused into the oil during this time, with the resulting extract being a type of CBD oil. However, even if it’s easy to do, the yields are low and often spoiled. It’s easy enough to mess up the extraction by allowing the oil to get too hot or to burn.

Solvent Extraction

cbd extraction

Alcohol-based solvents are extremely common

Solvent extraction for CBD is a controversial one. Some think that low-grade, alcohol-based solvents like ethanol and butane are fantastic. Others wouldn’t consider touching CBD extracted with solvents. There are pros and cons on both sides, as with most things in life. Solvent extraction does take out all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant.

However, solvents also extract chlorophyll from the plant during the process. That’s a con by the way as chlorophyll isn’t considered safe for humans. When CBD is extracted using this method, most of the chlorophyll is filtered out, but that also reduces the CBD and terpene content.

CO2 Extraction

Leaving the best for last, there’s little question that CO2 extraction of CBD is the best method known to man. Sure, the equipment is industrial and very pricey, but this method results in the best quality CBD extract on the market. A closed-loop system is used to cool CO2 to -56C, as the pressure inside the chamber is hiked up to 75psi.

The CO2 becomes “supercritical” at this stage and sits somewhere between a liquid and gaseous state. The CO2 is then passed through the closed chamber and, almost like a solvent, the cannabinoids and terpenes are extracted and remain intact. This process is called Supercritical CO2 Extraction. There’s also Subcritical CO2 Extraction which used cheaper equipment, lower pressure, and results in smaller yields.

Best CBD Extraction Method

The clear winner here is Supercritical CO2 Extraction when it comes to CBD. The fact is that almost all major CBD vendors in the industry invest a lot into the state-of-the-art machinery needed to extract the finest quality and most potent CBD, cannabinoids, and terpenes.

This results in a great-quality, pure oil and is the best extraction method. It’s a good idea always to ensure that the CBD you purchase comes from a reputable vendor. A good indication of this is third-party lab reports carried out to give customers peace of mind.

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About the author

Steven Bridge

Having been a cannabis and CBD aficionado for many years, Steven spends much of his time opposite a shiny MacBook, researching, exploring, understanding and creating interesting reading for people interested in knowing more about CBD, Vaping, Cannabis Strains and Delivery Methods, and just about anything related to magical green herbs that help people with anything from sleepless nights to pain.