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A Deep Dive Into CBD Extraction Methods and Why They Matter

A Deep Dive Into CBD Extraction Methods and Why They Matter

Have you recently dipped your toes into the exciting world of CBD products? It’s easy to choose between CBD oil, gummies, capsules, or creams without much prior knowledge.

Not all CBD products are the same, though, so discerning consumers who are determined to buy quality products benefit from learning more about cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol needs to be extracted from industrial hemp or marijuana plants before this compound finds its way into the CBD products you incorporate into your wellness routine. That can be done in various ways — and the extraction method used can impact the quality and composition of the final product. 

We’ll show you around in this guide. Our exploration covers the most common CBD extraction methods, including CO2 extraction, ethanol extraction, chemical solvent extraction, and olive oil extraction. We’ll highlight the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best CBD product for your needs.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) CBD Extraction

CO2 extraction has a long history as a highly-favoured way to decaffeinate coffee beans — and this extraction process has become popular in the CBD industry as well. That’s because carbon dioxide is easy to manipulate, shifting between gas and liquid when nudged with the right conditions. 

CO2 extraction is fast and reliable. Most crucially, extracting CBD from industrial hemp plants through a CO2 extraction process doesn’t require harsh chemicals that could impact the composition of the final product.  

Two different CO2 extraction methods are popular in the CBD industry: 

  • Supercritical fluid extraction, also called supercritical CO2 extraction, uses specific temperature conditions and pressures to get CO2 to act as a liquid and a gas simultaneously. The main benefit is that this method allows the final CBD product to be free from solvents.
  • Subcritical CO2 extraction relies on liquid CO2. Extracting cannabidiol in this way takes longer, but it may help to preserve more terpenes.

Consumers who choose CO2-extracted CBD products know they are buying clean products free from the potentially-harmful chemicals. The main downside is that CO2 extraction is expensive, as it requires complex machinery that only skilled operators can use. That extra cost shows up in the price you pay for your CBD products.

Ethanol CBD Extraction

Ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is the same compound people use to get tipsy or drunk — but the alcohol used in chemistry is a purer form that lacks additional ingredients. People have been using ethanol as a solvent for millennia, and ethanol extraction is a safe and reliable way to extract CBD from industrial hemp. 

Two different methods can be used to extract cannabidiol from hemp with ethanol:

  • Cold ethanol extraction uses cooled alcohol to draw cannabidiol and other cannabinoids from hemp plants. 
  • Warm ethanol extraction uses heated alcohol to extract cannabinoids more quickly and efficiently. Because this CBD extraction method also draws unwanted compounds like wax out, the resulting product is refined. Some terpenes are lost during the extraction process.

Ethanol extraction is a safe method that steers clear of potentially-dangerous chemicals. It is fast and efficient, and the resulting CBD products can be budget-friendly. “CBD snobs” who want full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD products that retain as many terpenes as possible may, however, prefer CO2 extraction.

Olive Oil CBD Extraction

Lipid extraction — in which oils are used to extract cannabidiol from hemp — is another common CBD extraction method that has major advantages. It’s easy and cost-effective, doesn’t require specialised equipment, and is a fantastic choice for people experimenting with making their own CBD products from scratch. 

Various different oils can be used during a lipid extraction process, but olive oil remains one of the most popular. That’s because olive oil is safe to consume and even offers several distinct health benefits.

Research shows that olive oil CBD extraction is the best method if retaining terpenes is the goal. There’s a major downside, though — CBD products created in this way can’t be concentrated. That means consumers have to ingest higher volumes to get the same dose of cannabidiol. 

Additionally, while olive oil is safe to eat, it’s not suitable as an ingredient in vape liquids.

Chemical Solvent Extraction with Butane and Other Chemicals

Gaseous solvents like butane, hexane, and propane can also be used to extract CBD and other cannabinoids from hemp plants. This extraction method is frequently used to extract edible oils from seeds and vegetables. 

Because this CBD extraction method can leave harmful residues and traces of solvents in the final product, it’s not generally recommended. Several studies point out the potential dangers. 

What to Consider Before Purchasing CBD Products

CBD products are everywhere now. Novices might think they only need to pick their preferred delivery method — CBD oil, gummies, capsules, creams, vape liquids, or other exciting products, but doing your research pays off. 

If you want to enjoy high-quality CBD products, consider the extraction method used. Reputable manufacturers are proud of their process and happy to tell you all about it. 

Supercritical CO2 extraction has become the gold standard in the CBD industry. While you’ll pay a premium for products created in this way, you’ll end up with a pure product free from harmful residue or solvents. 

Each extraction method has its own set of pros and cons. Ethanol extraction and olive oil extraction can also produce high-quality CBD products with an excellent safety profile. However, consumers with high standards may want to avoid butane, hexane, and propane extraction.

Don’t stop there, though! If you’re shopping for the best CBD in the UK, you’ll also want to consider:

  • Whether the CBD product you’re considering has undergone third-party lab testing. 
  • If the CBD product you’re looking at has relevant third-party certifications from trusted sources. You may want to look for organic, GMO-free, gluten-free, vegan, and cruelty-free labels. 
  • Customer reviews. Some customers have impossible standards, but reviews can still tell you about the taste profile, shipping times, customer service quality, packaging quality, and other important factors.

CBD Extraction Methods: A Final Word

Cannabidiol can be extracted from hemp in several safe and effective ways. Each top method — CO2, ethanol, and olive oil — has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

Informed CBD consumers don’t necessarily need to limit themselves to manufacturers using a particular method, but you do want the company you buy your CBD from to be transparent about its process. Manufacturers with high standards are excited about sharing their processes with their customers.




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