CBD oil is a fantastic health supplement that’s used to support the immune system, relieve pain, increase concentration and alertness, and can even be helpful in tackling addiction -- among so much more! But how is CBD extracted? Read about where CBD comes from and the process of extraction from the hemp plant.
The Hemp Plant
CBD oil comes from the hemp plant, which you might recognise from seeing cannabis being grown in TV shows! The same plant can also be used to produce cannabis and CBD. However, different strains of the plant have are used to control the levels of the different cannabinoids that are present, such as CBD and THC.
THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes the sensation of becoming high. CBD, on the other hand, has the opposite effects of THC: increasing alertness, concentration and even decreasing appetite.
Hemp plants that are used to make cannabis are high in THC and low in CBD, while plants bred for CBD oil are extremely low in THC and high in CBD. This ensures that CBD oil is safe for daily use as a health supplement. Learn more about the hemp plant and CBD in our Ultimate Guide to CBD! It's packed full of information.
Organic Hemp Plants
When you’re looking for CBD oil, the best kind is from organic hemp that is grown in extremely controlled conditions. This ensure the highest quality plants and therefore the highest quality CBD.
All the CBD oil that we stock at Natural Hemp Company is organic, vegan and of the highest quality.
There are loads of different techniques used to extract CBD from the hemp plant. Some are better techniques than others as they preserve more of the cannabinoids and associated terpenes that are found in the plant, as well as keeping the CBD pure.
They are all possible due to something called chromatography.
Chromatography is a laboratory process which separates out the different parts that make up a mixture.
It was discovered by a Russian botanist called Mikhail Tswett in the early 1900s. He was really interested in the science of plants and wanted to learn more about the individual chemical compounds that made up plants he was studying. He discovered that mixing ground-up plant extracts with different chemical solvents produced different coloured solutions.
In one of Tswett’s experiments, he poured a plant extract solution through a glass tube full of calcium carbonate. As the extract moved down the tube, different bands of colour appeared. These bands of colour showed the different compounds in the plant; he had separated out all the different components and had discovered the process of chromatography.
Chromatography allows scientists to separate out the different compounds found in the hemp plant and therefore extract the CBD. However, it’s a bit more complicated than grounding up the plant and pouring it through some calcium carbonate!
The process to achieve legally-compliant, high quality CBD oil for use in the health industry has been developed and perfected over years.
Cannabinoids, along with terpenes and flavonoids, are extracted from the organic hemp plant material. There are two ways this can be done: hydrocarbon or CO2 solvent-based extraction.
Supercritical CO2 Extraction
This is the superior method of CBD extraction and the one by which all the products at Natural Hemp Co are produced. It results in the purest and highest concentration of CBD because there’s no leftover residue in the CBD oil.
It applies a particular pressure and temperature to the organic matter using a ‘supercritical fluid’ -- which in this case is carbon dioxide. This has unique properties that are similar to both a liquid state and gaseous state at the same time and can therefore be used to dissolve materials like a liquid can, or can diffuse through materials like a gas can.
Supercritical CO2 extraction removes the valuable and volatile compounds (the CBD) from the hemp plant that are needed to create a CBD oil that’s effective at improving physical and mental health. However, when this stage in the extraction is complete, many lipids and other compounds remain. The process then moves on to winterisation.
The process of CO2 extraction means that there are still some fats, waxes and lipids in the compound which need to be removed.
The extracted material is mixed with a solvent, such as ethanol. It’s then placed in a deep freezer which, after twelve to twenty four hours, causes the mixture to look clouded. It’s then ready for filtration, which removes the fats and other lipids. Once this is done, the final step in winterisation is to remove the solvent by boiling the solution.
The CBD oil is nearly done, but it still needs some final steps to completely purify it.
Distillation might be a word you’ve heard in relation to creating high-percentage alcohol, but it also describes the process of CBD extraction from the hemp plant. It is the action of purifying a liquid, usually through heating or cooling.
Once the compounds have been extracted from the plant and purified through winterisation, they then need to be refined through distillation to reach a pure form of CBD oil which is then used in CBD products.
The process is called fractional distillation. You might remember learning it in chemistry at school -- it’s the same process that creates crude oil.
Because the different compounds in CBD have different boiling points, heating the mixture to different temperatures in a controlled environment means that each compound can be separated out one at a time. It results in high quality, pure CBD oil.
Pure CBD Oil
The final result of the extraction process is a pure form of CBD oil that is incredibly high quality. It’s perfect for use in a massive range of CBD products!
Why not read more of our blog or explore our website to learn more about CBD?