CBD oil is being used in a variety of products and items, slowly growing in popularity. With more and more reasons to try CBD, from its applications for anxiety and chronic pain, knowing what CBD products to try is critical and having a basic understanding of its development helps you choose products that have maximum benefits for your health.
Another point to consider is the differences between hemp and marijuana, and their role in CBD. While both marijuana and hemp are types of cannabis plant, hemp needs to contain less than 0.3% THC content. In comparison, marijuana plants are specifically grown to contain more than 0.3% THC and are used to supply states who have legalised ‘weed’ either recreationally or medically.
This distinction is important because it is THC that is the psychoactive component in the cannabis plant. Hemp has been used for many industrial purposes like textiles and rope due to its strong fibres. It contains very little THC and copious amounts of the cannabidiol CBD. Here’s how this legal substance is made.
Steps to Making CBD Oil
Good CBD is made from refined hemp extract that is eventually combined with a good quality carrier oil but how exactly is it made? Here is our guide to the CBD oil production process:
1. Plant the Hemp
The first part of CBD oil production is ensuring that you have hemp to harvest CBD from. Wherever you decide to plant, the soil is prepared and tested for any herbicides that might be present. From here, the hemp seeds are sown into the ground. Hemp is an incredibly hardy and versatile plant, which also allows crops to be planted as close as four inches together.
This closeness allows for a greater yield with less land use - every farmer's dream. Not only that but it is also brilliant for regenerative agriculture. This is due to the fact that, when crop rotation occurs it can help put nutrients back into the soil. These nutrients are amassed through the high quantities of biomass that hemp produces through matter returning to the soil before decomposing and feeding the ground as these nutrients.
The best time to plant hemp is between the third week of May right through to the first week of June according to the Farm Journal. A resilient crop, hemp grows at a quick pace, sprouting in 60 days.
Hemp is grown all over the United States with considerable success in Montana, Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Kentucky. It is also grown in large amounts in Canada, Japan, and China. It is also grown successfully in the United Kingdom but does require a government permit for growth.
2. Harvesting the Hemp Plant
To get the most out of the hemp plant, the flowers are some of the most important parts for harvesting. This is because cannabinoids are most commonly concentrated in the resin glands of the trichome of the plant. While most plants are usually harvested around September or October, it depends on the climate of the country or even the state.
Before harvesting officially occurs, a sample of each crop is tested and then cleared by government officials to ensure that the hemp product is below 0.3% THC content. This also ensures that the highest quality farming is occurring so pesticides and heavy metals are not present near the group which could affect the quality of the CBD.
Once these hemp plants are harvested, they are put in a well-ventilated area to air dry or are put up to be cured. This process can take anywhere from three to four weeks. Once the plant is dried off, the flowers are stripped from the plants and shipped to the relevant manufacturers to allow for them to extract the cannabinoids to add the most important ingredient in, the CBD itself.
3. Extracting the CBD
CBD has to be extracted from hemp plants in order to turn it into something usable to include in products. This could be in for ingestion or even topical methods. Every extraction ends in slightly different results but usually the raw extract has a thick and oily texture with an almost black hue.
There are a variety of different extraction methods to choose from. Every method has its positives and negatives but all produce CBD efficiently when done correctly. Here are some of the extraction methods that can be used to gather CBD:
The Butane/Solvent Method
A popular method of extraction is using the butane solvent CBD extraction. This is where a solvent is selected to allow the process. You can select a variety of solvents to achieve this including butane, alcohol or other hydrocarbons like propane or hexane.
First used in the 1960s, solvent extraction was designed to remove metals from their ore. When this method is being used to extract CBD, a solvent will be passed through finely ground hemp which dissolves all the fats and nutrients and leaves the fibre and cellular materials behind. Once the waste has been filtered out, the mixture that is left is heated inside of a vacuum to evaporate off any solvent leaving target oils and cannabinoids behind.
Positives of Solvent Extraction
If a high-grade hydrocarbon or alcohol solvent is used, a reasonable quality of CBD will be produced. The major push for solvent extraction is an economic one: it is cheap. This is due to solvents being easy to buy and there being very little specialist equipment required to allow for the process of extraction.
Negatives of Solvent Extraction
The major issues with solvent extraction is that you lost around 10% of the cannabinoids. Due to the properties of solvents, it is also one of the harsher methods available. This is due to the fact that raw material from the chlorophyll of the plant and other plant structures is simply stripped from them creating a bitter green oil - a far cry from the translucent and smooth oils that are seen on the market.
Another major negative is the risk of toxic residue from the solvent which can remain in the extract. There have been small amounts of solvent found in oils that are made this way. While solvent extraction can be done safely, it can be extremely hazardous without proper safety precautions.
One more issue with solvent extraction is that the oil might contain contaminants that were present in the original plant material. This can include anything from pesticides, heavy metals, and even polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These are often present in the soil and can accumulate in CBD oils. Their major issue is that they are carcinogenic. Using other extraction methods can reduce the number of contaminants in your finished product.
The CO2 extraction method
The CO2 CBD Extraction Method is a process that involves using cutting-edge industrial equipment which removes the required cannabinoids from raw plant matter. It is considered to be the best method of extraction in the CBD industry but it also happens to be the most expensive.
To begin with, plant material is compressed at a very low temperature. After this has happened, supercritical CO2 is passed through it and is held at a temperature and pressure above the standard, critical state. This essentially means that it is transformed into a liquid to act as a solvent.
Another exciting development using this method is that it can be used to remove nearly all traces of THC - something that is prohibited by many governments globally. Due to needing to extract hemp with very low levels of THC, it does take much longer to do which causes it to be more expensive. Though, when done right, it can create a product that is as close to 0% THC.
The Positives of CO2 Extraction
One of the positives of using CO2 extraction is that carbon dioxide is safe for human consumption. CO2 is often used by food companies to create fizzy drinks. Another benefit is that this extraction method is one of the most effective ways to have a high yield of cannabinoids - getting more content for your time and money.
Due to having more cannabinoid yield, this also means that you are going to have an even purer oil with no contaminants present. This process ensures that you will have no harmful chemicals and you won’t have to worry about toxic residues in your CBD oil and the products it finds itself in.
The Cons of CO2 Extraction
While this is the best way to extract CBD, it is also incredibly expensive, making it almost unattainable for individual use or smaller companies who want to create CBD products. With specialist scientific equipment being used, the cost of equipment is often exceeding £30,000 - so it’s not a process for those who are making CBD products as a hobby.
The Olive or Coconut Oil Extraction
The simplest method of extracting CBD from hemp is using oil. A method that has been used for centuries, it is simple and easy to do at home as it involves steeping the hemp grounds in a natural planted-based oil which allows plant and cannabinoid compounds to absorb into it.
The first step is to finely grind the raw material before the decarboxylation process. This allows the cannabinoids to be converted into their most active form. Before CBD becomes what we know, it is formed as CBDa or cannabidiolic acid. Using decarboxylation, which requires you to slowly heat the dry plant material, allows it to transform into CBD.
Once this process is complete, activated hemp grounds are then combined with good quality oil like coconut or olive oil. From here, the mixture is heated and simmered for at least two hours. After, it can be left to cool and can finally be filtered for any plant residue.
The Positives of Oil Extraction
One positive to oil extraction is that it is relatively inexpensive to do. It is also very gentle and can be reproduced at home very easily. Hemp oils have been produced through this method for centuries, so it is considered a tried and tested process.
The Cons of Oil Extraction
When made this way, CBD oil is more diluted and less potent than when using more refined techniques to create it. It can be considered inefficient as well as it does leave a large portion of cannabinoids in the plant material. For example, large businesses don’t use this method as it wastes valuable cannabinoids that are required for good CBD oil.
Another issue with this method is that it is also more likely to contain large particles of plant matter, giving a sharp, bitter flavour. This means that it has to be stored with care as it has the potential to perish more quickly. It is recommended that it is stored in cold, dark places to prolong shelf life. Oil extraction also retains most of the contaminants that might be present in the hemp plant, exposing users to pesticides and even heavy metals.
1. Creating CBD Oil & Topicals
After CBD has been extracted from the hemp plant and it is in its purest form, it is then combined with other ingredients like flavouring and carrier oil. Oil like hemp seed and coconut are popular choices for full spectrum CBD. This is due to the fact that they have a natural abundance of saturated fats.
Natural saturated fat molecules are easily absorbed by the body and directly through the liver. This means that the body gets as much CBD absorbed into the bloodstream as possible.
2. Laboratory Testing and Packaging
Every reputable CBD producer will ensure that their batches of CBD undergo third-party testing to ensure that the purity and potency of their products are good. Doing this is how to separate good quality CBD products from those that have simply been labelled as CBD products.
Developing the Final Product
Organic hemp farming is what produces the best extracts for CBD products that can be found in brick and mortar shops as well as on the internet. Combining it with an efficient carrier oil ensures that the CBD holds its potency and makes it easier for the body to use it and absorb it into the bloodstream.
Hemp seed oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, and even olive oil are all suitable carrier oils which come with their own benefits. MCT and coconut oil can give the body an energy boost which can deliver cannabinoids into your bloodstream at a faster rate. Hemp seed oil is rich in fatty acids and olive oil simply tastes nice.
CBD Oil Production and You
CBD oil can be made at home but the process that is used can give a clear indication of the quality you are going to receive. Use CBD brands that are transparent about their production processes and the raw materials they use - these are always the best oils.