Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in hemp plant. Over the years, scientists have found that different cannabinoids have different effects on the human body. However, there is still a great scope for further research. CBD is one of the most researched elements of the cannabis plant. It is currently well received in the western markets and gained a lot of popularity in the United States.
You can find CBD products in pharmacies, health food stores or online shops. In addition to the oils, many shops also sell CBD foods, vape cartridges and even lotions with a CBD content.
However, the growing popularity of CBD faces many unanswered questions. Most people wonder how to get CBD from the cannabis plant without having other illegal substances like THC into the product. In this article, we’re going to talk about how to get CBD through the CO2 extraction process. But first, let’s talk a little more about what CBD is.
What is cannabidiol?
When people hear the word cannabis, they immediately think of marijuana, even if this is just a strain of the cannabis plant. You associate it directly with the people who just use it to experience a “high”. This intoxicating effect comes from one of the cannabinoids called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While cannabis and THC are highly stigmatized and notorious for their psychoactive properties, CBD has a completely different effect.
Cannabidiol affects our body differently than its mind-altering counterpart. Whenever cannabinoids enter the body, they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Every human body has the ECS, a network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids. These are compounds that our bodies produce naturally. THC mainly interacts with CB1 receptors in the brain and central nervous system. As a result, it creates an intoxicating effect. Although CBD also interacts with the CB1 receptors in the brain, it mainly focuses on CB2 receptors. These are found in abundance in the immune system, tissues and organs.
In other words, although it is a cannabinoid, CBD cannot make you “high”. In addition, there are claims that CBD could help balance THC levels while consuming marijuana. Regardless of whether this is true or not, you can be sure that taking CBD oil will not affect your mind.
Why do people use CBD?
People buy CBD oils to use as supplements. You integrate the oil into your everyday life to promote your general well-being.
As already mentioned, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system. The main task of the ECS is to maintain homeostasis in the body. In other words, it ensures that all conditions in our body remain within the right parameters which helps us lead a healthy life. Therefore, the ECS is vital for our survival, which is why it is essential for maintaining normal body functions.
The body produces its own endocannabinoids to keep the ECS at bay. However, sometimes, our body cannot produce enough cannabinoids for some reason. If you feel sick or bad, there is usually a problem with homeostasis, which is why your ECS struggles to get your body back on track.
By taking CBD oil, you can bring some extra cannabinoids into your body to promote your well-being and healthy lifestyle. That is why CBD products are becoming increasingly popular among people.
CBD Extraction Methods
To meet the growing need for oils, companies need a way to extract the cannabinoid from the cannabis plant in a concentrated form that is suitable for human consumption.
To do this, the company must have access to hemp. We already mentioned it briefly, but we want to emphasize once again that we cannot extract CBD from marijuana. The ideal source for CBD is hemp, and all the certified manufacturers in the US extract it from hemp because of its low THC content. This is legally permissible under the US law, so many manufacturers grow their hemp crops on clean soils across the US or import it from other countries.
Hemp plants contain less than 0.2% THC and are a great option to extract CBD because it contains only negligible amounts of THC. The portions in the harvest can be filtered out if the company wants to sell an oil with 0% THC.
Now let’s look at the four most common extraction methods for CBD.
Olive Oil Production
A very cheap and easy way to extract cannabinoids is to use olive oil. Before the oil it used in the process, the dry raw material is decarboxylated. We heat it up to a certain temperature for a while to activate the substances in the plant. Generally, this takes either 60 minutes at 248°F or 30 minutes at 284°F.
Next, put the plant material in olive oil and heat it to 212°C for 1 to 2 hours. We extract the cannabinoids from the plant and put them in an oil carrier. The end result is cannabinoid oil.
Although this process is simple and inexpensive, the resulting oil is very perishable and tends to produce lower yields of cannabinoids. In other words, it is not exactly profitable for companies to use this method.
Dry Ice Extraction
Dry ice extraction method is a slightly more complicated and expensive than extracting olive oil. It is quite labor intensive and time consuming, but gives a much greater yield.
First you cut the hemp into small pieces and put them in a large bucket. Then you cover about 3.3 pounds (based on the availability) with dry ice and let it stand for about three minutes. This method freezes the plant’s resins.
Next, attach a mesh bag to the bucket. Then shake the ice-hemp combination for a few minutes. This separates the frozen resin from the plant mass. Then you turn the bucket upside down. The frozen chunks of resin can fall on a flat surface like a plexiglass pane through the mesh.
As you can see, this method is very simple and brings a decent return. However, shaking the product too much can actually affect the quality of the resulting cannabinoids. Therefore, we advise you to be careful. This method is also very labor intensive.
Solvent Extraction (Ethanol)
Solvents such as low-quality alcohol, ethanol and butane are ideal for the production of cannabinoids. This method extracts the entire spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant, which is great for the entourage effect. This effect means that chemical compounds in cannabis work even better when used together.
While solvents like ethanol produces better quality products, they can also pull out the chlorophyll content from the plant. Chlorophyll isn’t an entirely safe compound for humans and it can have some side effects. Fortunately, we can filter out the chlorophyll. Unfortunately, this filtering reduces the effectiveness of the oil.
In this method, the solvent is added to the plant material. The liquid extracts the terpenes cannabinoids and some chlorophyll. Then we heat the mixture until evaporation to get CBD base oil.
This is also a very simple method that can lead to decent returns. However, solvents are not good for human health. For example, butane is more effective in extracting cannabinoids, but is more irritating to the lungs. Therefore, it is best to avoid this method as it can be harmful.
The most commonly used and effective method for CBD extraction is CO2 extraction. There are actually different “levels” of CO2 extraction, including subcritical and supercritical. In general, manufacturers of CBD oils use supercritical CO2 extraction as it is highly effective.
This method requires a lot of special equipment and know-how. It works with a closed loop system, which means that the process takes place in a completely separate cycle. First, cool the CO2 down to -123°F while increasing the pressure to 5 bar. This puts the CO2 in a “supercritical” state. This means that the boundaries between liquid and gas become blurred and both behave simultaneously in accordance with both states of the aggregate.
In this state, the CO2 acts a little like a solvent.
The CO2 extracts the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant. Then you put it in a separator, which breaks it down into different parts. Then the system sends the extracted compounds to a container while CO2 returns gets recycled after passes through a condenser. Here you can use it again and again for the process.
Subcritical CO2 extraction is a similar process, but requires a lower pressure and is therefore less expensive. However, this leads to a lower yield and takes longer.
CO2 extraction creates a safe, high-quality and pure oil, which is why companies prefer this technology. The cost and technical skills required drive up the price of the product. However, it is still worth it due to the increased security and high-quality product.
What you should consider when extracting CBD
If you were wondering at the beginning of this article how you can extract CBD from the cannabis plant, hopefully we have answered your questions! There are several ways to do this. However, commercial manufacturers tend to use CO2 extraction due to the quality of the oil produced. Yes, it is enormously expensive and technically complex, but it is a very safe and efficient method.
When buying CBD products, pay attention to where they come from. Most companies boast of CO2 extraction. Now you know what are the reputable sources that you should consider when buying.