How is CBD extracted from the hemp plant?

How is CBD extracted from the hemp plant?

Excellent video explaining this process

Throughout history, medicinal plants have been used by all civilizations to treat various illnesses. More recently, scientific evidence is showing that our ancestors were on to something. This has led to an explosion in manufacturing, research, and use of plant-based extractions. But how do they get the stuff out of the plant?

Well, there are many ways in which extractions are done. In the old times, people would ingest fresh or dried plants. Eventually they realized that they could crush and grind these plants to yield more medicine. This was fine if you had to treat a small village, but now, the demand for these medicines has gone global. This requires more sophisticated, larger-scale methods of extraction with higher yields.

Extraction in this context is defined as: the separation of medicinally active constituents of a plant, using selective solvents through standard procedures. When it comes to high-quality CBD, there are two leading extractions methods: Supercritical CO2 extraction and ethanol extraction.

  • Supecritical CO2 – has become an important commercial and industrial solvent due to its low toxicity and environmental impact. Applying pressure to CO2 (a naturally occurring gas) at varying degrees allows selective extractions with little damage to the target component. Well known applications are the extraction of caffeine from coffee, creation of essential oils, and extraction of CBD from hemp.
  • Ethanol extraction - is often used for the extractions of organic compounds because of its versatility and its long-standing safety as a solvent of substances intended for human consumption. 

The CBD in our products is produced using both types of extractions, ending up with the same high-quality product. When using supercritical CO2, the extract is further purified using vacuum distillation and winterization to remove chlorophyll, waxes, and THC. After the unwanted components are removed, the resulting product is a phytocannabinoid rich oil with 60-80% CBD, minor cannabinoids, and terpenes. The second process utilizes food-grade ethanol (alcohol) as a solvent for extraction instead of CO2, followed by the same purification processes, to remove chlorophyll, waxes, and THC. The only difference between the two processes is that the first step, extraction, utilizes different solvents, but the quality remains the same.

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