Ever wondered, "how is CBD oil made?" Learn the fascinating process behind our high-quality, organic full-spectrum CBD oil. Wondering how to extract CBD? How are CBD oils made? Here we explain the difference between different extraction methods wheying their pros and cons.
How is CBD Oil Made?
With so many CBD oil products emerging on the market, it’s only natural to wonder: how is CBD oil actually made? You might see various CBD products in stores, cannabis dispensaries, and online — but what goes into making a premium, high-quality CBD oil that you truly trust?
Most CBD oil is made by extracting the beneficial parts of the hemp plant and leaving behind the unusable parts of the plant, like the stalks and stems. This extracted material is then combined with a carrier oil, like olive oil or MCT oil to help with absorption and to make dosing more consistent. There are several extraction methods used in the cannabis industry to extract cannabinoids and terpenes, but not all CBD oil is created equal. In this article, we’ll break down the fascinating process of how Equilibria CBD oil is made!
How is CBD oil made? Learn the process behind our premium CBD oil
Here at Equilibria, we know that premium CBD starts at the very beginning — with proper seed genetics. We are proud to partner with a 1,100 acre farm located in Boulder, CO and all of our CBD is sourced from this one farm. It’s important to us that our hemp is from one single source, that way it’s fully traceable and you know exactly what you’re getting and where it comes from.
Our farm is organic, non-GMO, and run by a team of expert scientists and doctors with 30+ years experience in seed genetics! Our hemp plants are specifically bred to provide the highest CBD and cannabinoid content possible, while being naturally low in THC (under 0.3% THC). Each hemp plant is closely monitored during its life-cycle and undergoes constant in-house testing. From a tiny seed to a fully-grown hemp plant, our hemp is treated with the utmost care every step of the way! .
Another unique part of Equilibria’s process: our team hand-harvests only the flower portion of the plant. Why only the flower portion? Because the most beneficial part of the hemp plant is contained here. The flower is where you find a majority of the trichomes, which are the tiny hair-like structures that hold the plant’s medicinal compounds, like cannabinoids and terpenes. Learn more about terpenes and their special role in our blog post, What Are Cannabis Terpenes And What Do They Do?
We never use stalks, stems, seeds – only the most potent part of the plant: the flower. Because we harvest our plants using just the flower portion, Equilibria CBD products have about 3-5x more terpenes and cannabinoids than most products on the market!
Once the flower portion of the hemp plant is harvested, it’s time to move onto the next step: extraction .
The purpose of extraction is to separate the plant compounds even further so we keep beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes yet leave behind any remaining plant material that isn’t useful. Here at Equilibria, we utilize a subcritical CO2 extraction method for our full-spectrum CBD oil.
Subcritical extraction is a method that is considered gentler than other methods of extraction (like butane or ethanol) because this method uses lower temperatures and pressures. The idea with subcritical extraction is to extract the hemp plant very gently . We don’t want to disturb or lose any of the fragile trichomes, which can happen if the plant is over-stressed or handled improperly.
There are a few different types of extracted CBD on the market. You may see products labeled as “Broad-Spectrum CBD” or “Isolate CBD”, and while these may sound like good options, you really want to be looking for “Full-Spectrum CBD” because this style of CBD offers the greatest therapeutic benefits.
Broad-Spectrum or Isolate CBD
Broad-Spectrum CBD means that an additional extraction process has taken place to remove the THC from the formula. The downfall of removing the THC is that you don’t get the amplifying benefits that THC has to offer. Including even a trace amount of THC in your CBD product can help it to work more effectively in the body!
Another popular form of CBD is “Isolate CBD”, which means that the CBD has been stripped away from all the other parts of the plant. When you buy products labeled as Isolate or Broad-Spectrum, it’s often difficult to see desired results for stress and sleep, because folks often need large doses (around 1000-2000mg) to see any effect.
Equilibria CBD for women features “full-spectrum” hemp plant extract, which means that it contains a full range of beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids, including a trace amount of THC. The trace amount of THC in our formula acts as an “interpreter” and gives our body “instructions” for how to utilize CBD in the body.
When you combine CBD and a trace amount of THC, this is called “The Entourage Effect” , which is a synergistic effect explaining that the plant compounds work better when combined , rather than when taken alone.
Final Production & Testing
Once Equilibria’s full-spectrum CBD has been extracted and combined with the MCT oil base, it’s ready to be bottled up and sent out for testing. All Equilibria products undergo extensive in-house testing every step of the way + also 3rd-party lab tests to ensure there are no pesticides, microbials, heavy metals, or residual solvents. Our lab results (often called Certificates of Analysis or COA’s) are available on our website so you can feel confident that your CBD products are safe, and there are no fluffs or fillers.
Farm to Home
Here at Equilibria, we want you to have a true farm-to-home experience . It’s not just enough to provide you with high-quality, organic CBD right to your door — we want you to feel connected to our partner farm and have confidence that you’re getting premium hemp grown right here in the US.
If you’re brand new to the CBD world and aren’t sure where to begin, buying CBD oil is a great place to start. You can check out our 300mg Mint Daily Drops , which feature 300mg of full-spectrum CBD. We also have a Get Started Quiz that you can take to receive a free personalized CBD routine tailored to your specific health goals and lifestyle. Equilibria also believes in unlimited dosage support, so if you get stuck or need help at any point, you can email our CBD specialists at [email protected] .
How to Extract CBD Oil: Different Methods That Works Best
Wondering how your CBD oils are made? You’ve come to the right place.
CBD extraction is an advanced process that requires many skills and high-tech equipment to yield clean and potent products. Without extraction, the CBD space would revolve around hemp flowers, limiting diversity in the cannabis industry to a great extent.
Can you imagine the cannabis market without oils, gummies, vapes, capsules, and topicals?
Today, we’ll elaborate on how to extract CBD from hemp plants, compare different extraction methods, touch down on their pros and cons — and pick the best technology for making safe CBD oils on a broad scale.
How Is CBD Extracted?
CBD can be extracted from cannabis plants, meaning you can use both hemp and marijuana for extraction.
The source of CBD determines the chemical profile of the end product and has a profound impact on its legality.
Hemp-derived CBD oils have less than 0.3% of THC and thus can’t get the user high. The lack of intoxicating effects makes hemp plants and their derivatives legal on a federal level. You can buy them in all 50 states without a prescription.
Marijuana, on the other hand, comes with significant concentrations of THC — usually upwards of 10% — which is enough to induce intoxication. The federal law still holds THC on the list of controlled substances, making marijuana illegal on a federal level. Individual states can interpret these laws independently; so far, 16 states have fully legalized marijuana, while 48 states have some sort of a medical marijuana program.
As mentioned, there are several ways to extract CBD from hemp.
Let’s start with the golden standard — CO2 extraction.
CO2 behaves like a gas; however, this can be easily changed when you use different pressure levels and temperatures.
CO2 extraction yields optimal results in terms of the product’s potency and preserved phytochemical profile. When the temperature of CO2 gets below -69 F, with pressure levels above 75 PSI, it turns into a supercritical state.
Supercritical CO2 can fill an extraction chamber where the plant material is contained, being just the perfect solvent. It results in a clean product with consistent concentrations of CBD and terpenes throughout the batches.
The carbon dioxide efficiently pulls the desired compounds by breaking up the trichomes in the extraction vessel, leaving away insoluble molecules.
Then the manufacturer uses a separator and splits the extract into individual compounds. Once there, CBD and other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids are sent back to the collection container. Meanwhile, CO2 leaves the extraction chamber condensed into a liquid form and transferred to a special storage tank for future operations.
CO2 Extraction Equipment
The CO2 extraction equipment includes multi-chamber machines that use special pumps forcing supercritical CO2 into the extraction vessel where it interacts with the plant and breaks the trichomes, dissolving part of the plant material. These machines are costly; they usually cost around $150,000, which is the main reason why CO2-extracted CBD oils are more expensive than products obtained with other solvents, such as alcohol.
Ethanol extraction is one of the least expensive methods to extract CBD from hemp. Alcohol is generally considered safe, although purging it from the final product requires caution and precision on the manufacturer’s part; otherwise, it can trigger explosions.
Alcohol extraction requires soaking the hemp plant in ethanol. The liquid will run through the plant matter, stripping it from the valuable compounds along with chlorophyll. Once the solvent has gathered enough cannabinoids and terpenes, the liquid is strained and then heated in a special dish. After evaporation, the extract is suspended in a carrier oil to thin it down and improve its bioavailability.
Just keep in mind that ethanol is highly flammable, and you should never extract CBD this way at home unless you can ensure the necessary safety measures.
Ethanol Extraction Equipment
Ethanol extraction is usually employed by small-scale manufacturers because it doesn’t involve such heavy financial investments as CO2 extraction. Ethanol extraction equipment involves a professional decarboxylator, large storage tanks where the plant matter can soak in alcohol, industrial strainers, a gentle heating machine, and storage containers that will contain the extracts before they are infused into the carrier oil and bottled up.
Let’s compare the efficacy and safety of both extraction methods.
CO2 vs. Ethanol Extraction
Ethanol is called a “polar” solvent, and as such, it will be more hydrotropic, meaning it will attach to more water-soluble compounds like chlorophyll. Consequently, the final product is generally less potent and pure — requiring more post-labor than CO2 extraction.
People advocating for ethanol extraction usually argue that these downsides can be avoided using very cold temperatures below -5F. While this is true, the process becomes more time-consuming and less efficient if the manufacturer wants to scale up its operations.
Properly performed CO2 extraction can still maintain many of the plant’s phytonutrients, not to mention that it can continuously yield potent products.
Other Ways to Extract CBD
The idea behind CBD extraction is to pull the desired phytochemicals from the plant matter and transform it into a viscous liquid full of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Although CO2 and ethanol are the most popular solvents, they aren’t the only ones. As mentioned, there are several ways to capture these valuable compounds, including:
- Dry Ice Extraction
- Hydrocarbon Extraction
- Vegetable Oil Extraction
Dry Ice Extraction
The dry ice method is one of the best ways to extract CBD at home. However, it requires more time than CO2 extraction or organic solvent extraction.
The dry ice strips CBD and other phytonutrients from the plant material. It’s a relatively inexpensive method of making high-quality CBD hash without using aggressive solvents.
Solventless extraction always produces cleaner extracts than solvent-based methods — not to mention that using dry ice brings a lot of fun to home extraction
How to Extract CBD Using Dry Ice
- 3 lbs of dry ice
- A large mirror or plexiglass sheet
- Heat-resistant gloves
- I goggles
- A putty knife
- A clean 5-gallon bucket
- 3 bags of bubble hash mesh (73, 160, and 220 microns)
- 3 large jars with lids
Dry Ice Extraction (Step-by-Step)
Put on the gloves and goggles. Next, grind your CBD buds into smaller pieces and place them in the bucket.
Cover the CBD buds with dry ice, leaving them there for 3 minutes. Make sure you only fill the bucket halfway. Doing so will freeze the resin so the trichomes can be separated from the plant material and transferred to the special mesh bags.
Fold each bag over the bucket with your CBD and dry ice, and shake it several times to cause the trichomes to fall off from the plant.
Turn the container upside down on the mirror and continue shaking to collect as much of the resin as possible. Once you’ve gathered the hash of the mirror, you can place it in one of the jars.
Do the same with the remaining bags and be proud of your homemade dry-ice CBD hash.
Hydrocarbon compounds include substances like propane, butane, and hexane. These solvents are relatively inexpensive, but they’re difficult to purge from the end product and thus can leave toxic residue at the bottom of the extract.
Hydrocarbon extraction requires soaking the hemp plant in the solvent. The liquid runs through the biomass, pulling the cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower along with water-soluble compounds such as chlorophyll.
Once the solvent has extracted enough phytochemicals, it is heated in a special dish to evaporate it and create a thick liquid.
Vegetable Oil Extraction
CBD can be easily extracted at home using vegetable cooking oils. These oils act as solvents, but the whole process follows similar rules as all other extraction methods.
Any common cooking oil can be used for this kind of extraction, including:
- Coconut oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Argan oil
- MCT oil
- Sunflower oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Olive oil
If you want to extract CBD for homemade edibles, it’s best to go with a product with the highest amount of saturated fats, as they significantly improve the bioavailability of cannabinoids. People typically choose butter and coconut oil for cooking with CBD, while for salves and creams, argan oil and sweet almond oil are the most common choices.
How to Extract CBD with Cooking Oils
Cooking oil extraction is pretty straightforward. First, you need to decarboxylate your dried CBD in the oven. Set up the heat at 250 F and bake the flowers for 30-60 minutes, depending on how dry they are.
Then you combine the decarbed herb with the oil in a saucepan or slow cooker and slowly heat the mixture to gently simmers. Maintain the low heat and keep the CBD infusion for up to 2 hours.
Once done, strain the liquid from the plant matter and place it in a glass jar. You can keep it in a fridge for up to 6 weeks.
Why Is Decarboxylation Important for CBD Extraction?
Most CBD products are decarboxylated, which involves heating the CBD buds to transform the acidic precursor of CBD into its active version.
If you’ve ever cooked something with cannabis, you should know the process very well.
Decarboxylation, also known as decarbing, removes an extra carboxyl group from CBDA (the acid form of CBD), allowing it to interact with the endocannabinoid system immediately.
If you see a CBD product labeled as “raw,” it means it hasn’t been decarboxylated.
Final Thoughts: What’s the Best Way to Extract CBD?
Knowing how CBD is extracted allows you to evaluate the efficacy of different products based on the solvents used in the process.
People have been extracting cannabinoids from cannabis plants for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to use them for therapeutic purposes. Thanks to the current scientific breakthroughs, we can enjoy a wide range of cannabinoid-based extracts with a lot to offer in terms of their therapeutic properties.
Some extraction methods are superior to others when it comes to broad-scale manufacturing. CO2 extraction is currently the golden standard because it yields the purest products without bringing water-soluble compounds such as chlorophyll.
It does, however, require higher costs when it comes to equipment and lab workers, which is why some manufacturers turn to ethanol as their go-to solvent.
If you want to perform CBD extraction at home, you can either go with a solvent-based method — using cooking oils — or take a solventless approach and use dry ice to capture the desired compounds into DIY CBD hash.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.