The CBD oil extraction market has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. Since CBD (cannabidiol) is a potent therapeutic powerhouse, there’s no wonder why it is becoming a top choice of extraction for use in oils and other products. A unique phytocannabinoid initially discovered in 1940, CBD is acknowledged as 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis.
As of 2021, clinical research surrounding CBD has delivered promising insights into its potential to treat pain, anxiety, arthritis, epilepsy, sleep disorders, acne, Parkinson’s disease, and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. However, cannabis-based medicines are by no means new, what with the first recorded use of CBD and cannabis dating back to 2700 BC, at which point the Chinese emperor relied on it as a topical ointment and as a complement to teas.
Accounting for up to 40% of the cannabis plant’s extract, CBD is non-psychotropic and will not induce a mind-altering “high,”; unlike its cousin cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). What’s more, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that the naturally occurring compound does not cause any severe side effects, even when consumed in the form of full spectrum CBD.
Specifically, full-spectrum is a type of CBD rich in all of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids. Not only this, but full-spectrum CBD contains additional flavonoids and terpenes, which can work in synergy with CBD to amplify its overall power.
An extraction process must occur to withdraw CBD (or any cannabinoid, for that matter) from the plant. This technique usually involves isolating the plant matter’s chemical compound before it is distilled in high concentrations. Following extraction, the oil can be added to a wide range of products, including topicals, vape oils, tinctures, capsules, and edibles.
The cannabis plant falls into two main categories — Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. While marijuana and CBD can be derived from each type, the non-psychotropic hemp plant can only be derived from Cannabis Sativa. Based on U.S. federal law, THC levels in hemp must not exceed 0.3% THC; otherwise, it is federally legal.
Individuals seeking out full-spectrum CBD should look for a provider that extracts the cannabinoid from organic, whole-plant cannabis. When derived from industrial hemp, CBD products may not be as potent; hemp contains smaller amounts of CBD. In addition to this, since hemp is regarded as a “bio-accumulator,” the plant naturally absorbs toxins from the soil in which it grows.
Moreover, cannabis-extracted CBD is more abundant in medicinal terpenes and secondary cannabinoids, beneficial to the human body than hemp.
This process of extracting CBD oil utilizes pressurized carbon dioxide to draw the sought-after phytochemicals from cannabis. An extraction vessel then gets to work on the pulverized plant material.
Using a pump, the extraction vessel is forced with supercritical CO2. The broken trichomes lead to the plant material dissolving. Once this step is complete, extractors have amber-colored oil (CO2 oil).
Another CBD oil extraction method is steam distillation, which involves sending saturated steam through the cannabis plant. First, the plant material is stashed inside a flask that features an inlet and an outlet; the inlet gets joined to a boiling water-filled glass flask, whereas the outlet blends with a condenser tube. Once the water reaches boiling point, steam is produced and transported through the flask. Consequently, CBD oils are abstracted from the raw plant material before being vaporized into the steam and sent to the condenser. Next, the steam is compressed into oil and water. Finally, the CBD oil is extracted using distillation.
A popular option for CBD oil manufacturers that want to create a highly potent final product, solvent extraction is an efficient process for purifying the oil beyond its crude oil state. To master this technique, the solvent must be mixed with biomass to extract cannabinoids in the plant material. Moving forward, the solvent undergoes evaporation, which results in the CBD oil being leftover.
Hydrocarbon, isopropyl alcohol, ethyl alcohol (ethanol), butane, and propane are some examples of commonly-used solvents for CBD oil extraction. Note: Before going down this route, consult with an extraction specialist to determine if a solvent is Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA for human consumption.
The first step of this process involves grinding or decarboxylating the bud. Next, extractors will prepare an equal mixture of olive oil and water, combined with the shredded CBD-rich cannabis plant matter. Low heat and stirring techniques are then applied to the oil-water mixture. Once the boiled solution reaches 200˚F, it is simmered gently and cooled. Later, the cooled olive oil solidifies, forming a dense layer of CBD oil on the top and a water layer on the bottom.
Before we wrap things up here, let’s quickly cover something called “winterization.” This process focuses on removing impurities and any undesirable elements in the oil after it has undergone extraction. Examples of unwanted byproducts include fats, waxes, and lipids. In simple terms, winterization turns crude oil into purified oil. The extracted oil is mixed with ethanol and frozen, hence the name “winterization.” The outcome – potent CBD oil.
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