While this is the easiest and least risky way to extract CBD oil, it is certainly not the most efficient. As with most DIY projects, there’s always room for user error. But even if you do everything right, you are going to sacrifice a large part of the organic compounds of the plant and you will produce less potent oil than a lab would. For these reasons, extracting CBD at home is an interesting experiment, but if you want to reap all the benefits of CBD it is advisable to get it from a reputable source instead.
Steam distillation is a centuries-old process that’s commonly used to distill alcohol as well as extract essential oils from organics. The process is much less complicated than CO2 CBD extraction. First, plant matter is introduced in a distillation tank. With the use of water and heat, the produced steam carries oils to the top of the tank, and it is then passed through a condenser, resulting in a mix of water and oil. The mix then goes through further distillation to separate water and oil, and the result is full-spectrum CBD oil.
These are the most commonly used CBD extraction methods and, as expected, each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. The main takeaway from this guide should be that the reason you may have seen “supercritical CO2 extraction” in ads and promotions is not just that it sounds cool (although it does!) Simply put, CO2 extraction is by far the cleanest and most efficient CBD extraction method—and a no-brainer for any lab that can actually afford it.
Activation and purification
While technically not steps of CBD extraction, activation of active organic compounds and purification of CBD oil are two processes that are very important in CBD production. The most common methods used for these purposes are decarboxylation and winterization.
Possibly the simplest way to extract CBD oil, as it only requires some CBD-rich bud, olive oil, and some basic kitchen equipment to ensure a steady supply of heat. If you’ve ever made cannabutter, then technically you have already utilized this method before. The only difference in this case, is that you are using hemp and olive oil—but olive oil can easily be swapped out for the oil or butter of your choice. This includes regular butter, coconut oil, hempseed oil, etc.
We’d like to thank CBDfx and Natural Hemp Solutions for supplying us with images of the processes used in their labs. You can find our review of CBDfx’s various product lines here.
The active organic compounds of the cannabis plant come in their acidic forms. In order to go from THCA and CBDA to THC and CBD, manufacturers need to apply heat and decarboxylate the compounds—that’s the lab equivalent to lighting up a joint. Heat removes a carbon molecule from the organic compounds and turns them into their active counterparts.
CBCA = CBC
Supercritical CO2 gives growers & concentrate makers the ability to capture and scientifically understand, not just THC and CBD, but the more elusive cannabinoids like cannabichromene (CBC) and cannabicitran (CBT). In other words, CO2 extraction is the key to understanding the hidden medicinal benefits of the other, less prevalent cannabinoids and terpenes and how they work together (the process known as “The Entourage Effect”).
* OUR TINCTURES, SOFT GELS & TOPICALS END HERE IN THE EXTRACTION PROCESS
Extraction: Step 3
CBGA = CBG
CBDA = CBD
CO2 Extraction kills any microbial bacteria, mold, mildew or insect mites. This guarantees that your concentrates will be cleaner and healthier for you to consume.
THCA = THC
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