CBD isolate is accomplished using chromatography. This process takes out all of the terpenes, which are responsible for scent, flavor, and other differentiators. Additionally, chromatography separates out the unwanted cannabinoids, such as the most commonly known psychoactive one — THC. Last, but not least, this process removes all plant matter.
While each of these extraction methods have their place, BHO extraction is one of the most widely used methods with cannabis and is now moving to dominate the hemp market with ts ability to extract the full representation of the plant in concentrated form. This is called full-spectrum extraction.
Hemp extraction is the most popular form of CBD extraction for a variety of reasons; it has rich CBD content, low THC levels, and the added benefit of coming from a less-aggressively regulated source. Every strain of cannabis and hemp has its own unique chemical profile, meaning that each product will contain different amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes that were purposely bred by cannabis farmers.
How Is CBD Isolate Made?
State-of-the-art chromatography processes remove all of the THC from a full-spectrum extract. This method of extraction keeps the hemp strain’s intended compounds. Adding cannabinoids and terpenes back into a CBD isolate would not be considered broad or full-spectrum.
Many people prefer CBD isolate due to its neutral flavor and taste, which makes it easy to add to food, drinks, and topicals. Extraction methods remove every other compound including THC. Individuals who don’t want to risk consuming THC or failing a drug test will often look for CBD isolates.
To learn more about BHO extraction methods, check out our post on BHO extraction here.
Broad-spectrum CBD products fall somewhere between CBD isolates and full-spectrum extracts. Essentially, broad-spectrum contains much of the hemp’s cannabinoids and terpenes, minus the THC.
With steam distillation, steam causes the CBD oil to separate from the hemp plant. The hemp plant is contained in a glass flask, with an inlet and an outlet. The inlet connects to another glass container, beneath the plant flask, that contains water that is set to boil. The outlet connects to a condenser tube.
CBD products made using other extraction methods can be safe and high-quality as well, but there can be more risk with these products. Specifically, CBD products that were made using hydrocarbon extraction may contain solvent residuals. And while steam distillation and natural solvent extraction are lower-risk, they can produce lower or inconsistent amounts of CBD, which can affect the cost/mg value of your CBD product.
Solvent extraction is more efficient than steam distillation, and it’s also less expensive. However, the solvents used in hydrocarbon extraction (including naphtha, petroleum, butane, or propane) create cause for concern. The solvent residue can be toxic and increase one’s cancer risk if they aren’t fully eliminated during the evaporation step—which doesn’t always happen. Some studies have found traces of petroleum or naphtha hydrocarbons residue in CBD products that used solvent extraction.
Full-spectrum CBD oils also contain other beneficial elements from the plant material, such as terpenes and amino acids. Many people prefer full-spectrum CBD oil because of the “entourage effect.” While this effect has not been proven, some users believe that the CBD is able to engage the endocannabinoid system more effectively when more cannabinoids are present.
The precise nature of CO2 extraction also makes it suitable for producing specific concentrations of CBD oil. Manufacturers can simply adjust the solvent and pressure ratios to achieve the desired concentration of CBD.
• Allows for the extraction of clean and safe concentrates without the use of additional additives or contaminants.
• Offers highly efficient yields, getting the most out of the hemp plant.
• CO₂ extraction is sustainable and environmentally friendly
Once decarboxylated, mix your plant matter with olive oil and heat it on the stove for several hours. CBD, other cannabinoids and essential terpenes will bind to the fats in the oil, creating an infused product. Finally, the mixture is left to cool before being filtered to remove any leftover plant material.
In this method, CO₂ is manipulated to enter a supercritical state. With characteristics of both a gas and a liquid, it’s pumped through raw plant material under controlled conditions, stripping away essential terpenes and cannabinoids without damaging them.
Cons of solvent extraction
• No additional equipment needed
• Makes use of the whole hemp plant
• Cheapest method of extraction
Solvent extraction is a rudimentary and risky practice, but it has fans. Essentially, it involves running a liquid solvent through decarboxylated hemp to remove cannabinoids and terpenes. The usual solvents include butane, ethanol, and hexane, so you need to safely evaporate any residual solvent post-extraction to ensure usable CBD extract.
• Can be performed easily at home
• Relatively safe, with no previous extraction experience needed
• Greater degree of purity compared to solventless extraction
• Little control over the final extract
• Weak and unreliable CBD content compared to more professional methods
• Not suitable for commercial sale