How is CBD made?

From Plant to Product- how is CBD made? 

CBD is used for a variety of reasons including pain relief, anti-inflammation, elliptic anticonvulsants, stress and anxiety reduction, and as a sleep aid. It has been put into many products including oils, topicals, capsules, sprays, gels, makeup, food, and drinks – all of which bring us the benefits of CBD.

The more we can get out of CBD the more things people want to put it in. 

As research and technology advances, so does commercial CBD production. Businesses want to make high-quality cannabis merchandise- without the high. 

Whether you’re an aspiring connoisseur or a novice customer you might be wondering: how exactly is CBD made?

CBD Cultivation

CBD is a hemp-extracted phytocannabinoid, or plant-derived cannabinoid, that comes from the flowers and leaves of the cannabis sativa plant. Cannabis plants that produce low tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels but are high in cannabinoid compounds are known as hemp and are optimal for CBD cultivation.

Hemp is planted in carefully tested soils to ensure they are not subject to contact with herbicides. Many commercial hemp farmers also refrain from using pesticides or nonorganic farming methods during the growing process. Sprouting quickly, hemp plant growth is rapid, and usually ready for harvest in a matter of months.

After the hemp is harvested, the plant is hung up and dried out for a few weeks, an agricultural process also known as curing. Once cured, the flowers or buds (the part of the plant where cannabinol is most potent) are bucked from the plants and sent off for extraction.

Extracting CBD From the Cannabis Plant

The removal of CBD from the hemp plant enables the substance to be made into a consumable, usable form.  The extraction process can be done in a few different ways.

Ethanol Extraction of CBD

Ethanol is high-grade alcohol. When the cured hemp flowers or buds are soaked in ethanol, it operates as a solvent and separates cannabinoids from the plant.

This method is fast and efficient and has become a commonly preferred choice for CBD extraction. Ethanol extraction is especially popular in vape pen cartridge production, as this process is detrimental to the wax found in cannabis which provides health benefits preferable to certain products.  

Carbon Dioxide Extraction of CBD

Another method of CBD extraction is the use of carbon dioxide (CO2).

When this occurs, solid CO2 is placed in one chamber and pumped into a secondary, pressurized chamber containing the cannabinoid material. The pressure transforms the CO2 into a liquid state, allowing it to mix with the cannabinol and flavors.

The CO2-cannabinoid combination is then sent to a third chamber, where the carbon dioxide is transferred back into a gaseous state, separating it from the oil and flavor, which are no longer embedded within the plant materials.

This form of extraction can result in extremely pure CBD extract, but requires costly equipment and is subject to error if not performed correctly.

At Saving Grace, we use the CO2 extraction method for our CBD as it is the cleanest, purest extraction process.

Liquid Extraction

Butane, hexane, or isopropyl alcohol are liquid substances used for CBD absorption and function similarly to ethanol and carbon dioxide extraction.

When these liquids are run through decarboxylated hemp, terpenes and cannabinoids are removed.

Though less expensive and easier for commercial-level extraction, liquid solvents are also highly flammable, making this process a more dangerous one. These solvents are also unable to remove all impurities from CBD including chlorophyll, which can leave the oil green and bitter.

CBD Oil Infusion

Oil infusion is the oldest form of CBD extraction and more commonly used by home growers rather than commercial producers.

To conduct oil infusion, plants must be decarboxylated, combined with a carrier oil (such as olive oil) and then heated at 100 degrees Celsius (blank Fahrenheit) to ignite compound activation. The result is genuine, CBD oil.

Secondary Processes: Purifying CBD

To produce the most potent forms of CBD possible, cannabinol often undergoes a two-step purification process such as winterization or distillation.

Winterization

After CBD has been extracted it is mixed with 200 proof alcohol. Unwanted and undesirable materials will separate from the oil, freeze, and be filtered out.  

After the filtered mixture is frozen, it is filtered again through paper and heated to remove the alcohol from the oil, leaving purified CBD behind.

Distillation

The process of distillation slowly heats the CBD until terpenoids, flavonoids, and other contaminants vaporize or are vacuumed off the oil. The vapors are sent through a distillation tube to cool, condense, and collect into a container, repeating until only purified CBD oil remains.

The Endocannabinoid System and CBD

Purification and oil combination allows for the human body to better digest CBD. The endocannabinoid system is a complicated biological system in the body that regulates human health, immunity, and bodily function interactions. 

Taste and Testing

Pure, extracted CBD is combined with flavors and other carrier oils to create ingestible or topical products and are tested for purity and potency and to ensure they are compliant with federal regulations. Many tests occur in third-party laboratories for impartiality purposes.  

High-quality manufacturers and CBD companies also often obtain various certificates that label them as such. These certificates include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) certification, European Union, Australian, or Canadian organic certifications, the National Science Foundation international certification, and other organic and eco-farming certifications. 

From soil to oil, the cannabinol production process makes for the purest, most potent products. The next time you vape, take sublingually, drink, or apply you can take comfort in knowing how your CBD came to be.  

 

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