CBD Extraction Method


With numerous options available to buy CBD oil products, the main thing to look for is quality. The quality of the end product that you will be consuming largely depends on the processing of the raw material. How can you purify a product while removing the unwanted ingredients effectively? This is why a good technique for extraction is crucial. Various methods are used to extract CBD from hemp. Before deciding on which is the best way to extract CBD oil, let’s get the basics sorted such as what is CBD, and where is oil stored in the hemp plant?

CBD – Where Does It Come From?

The plants from the Cannabis family contain more than 100 cannabinoids in them. The most widely researched and utilized ones are THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (Cannabidiol). Unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. CBD interacts with the Endocannabinoid System to produce its beneficial effects.

Nearly all species of Cannabis contain CBD though in trace amounts. The hybrid Cannabis sativa plant that is used for the production of CBD, known as Industrial Hemp, contains high CBD levels and very low levels of THC and other cannabinoids. Usually, people confuse Hemp plants with Marijuana plants, but they are distinct on so many levels. Hemp plants grow taller, have lesser flowering buds, and have strong stalks.

CBD is present abundantly in the trichomes (hair-like structure on the surface of the plant) of the aerial parts of the hemp plant, that is, the parts of the plant suspended in air – stems, flowers, leaves, except the seeds of the hemp plants which do not contain CBD at all. Trichomes develop during the flowering stage of the female hemp plants. THC is also present in these parts but the content of the hemp plants is less than 0.3%. THC is found abundantly in the trichomes present on the flowers of the female marijuana plants.

Extraction Methods of the Hemp Plant

The goal of the hemp extraction is to obtain CBD in the purified concentrated form that can be diluted or mixed with some carrier medium such as oils, topical application creams, or any other liquid.

CBD oil Processing by CO2 Extraction Method

cbd co2 extraction

This is the most precise extraction method which is used by the companies who offer premium products such as ours. This processing technique significantly reduces the potential for contamination. Also known as the Supercritical Extraction Method, this method incorporates the use of carbon dioxide in its supercritical state, that is, when it contains the properties of both gaseous state and liquid state. 

The method uses a piece of expensive machinery known as an Extractor which is divided into three parts.

  • In the first chamber, the CO2 is held under the pressure.
  • Then the CO2 gets pumped into the second chamber which contains the hemp.
  • When the CO2 is pumped into the second chamber, the hemp plant gets broken down by the supercritical form of the CO2, thereby separating the oil from the plant material. 
  • Then the oil along with the supercritical CO2 is pumped into the third chamber.
  • In the last chamber, the CO2 gets evaporated leaving pure CBD extract behind.

This method is the most effective for extracting CBD as the outcome will give you more than 90% concentration of the CBD with no toxic residue.

Issues with this method: The machinery is expensive. 

Extraction by Steam Distillation

Extraction by Steam Distillation

In this processing method, steam is used to separate oil from the plant. The steam distillation apparatus contains a glass flask that is connected to the boiler and an outlet that is connected to a condenser tube. 

  • The boiler heats the water and the resulting steam moves to the glass flask which contains the water.
  • The steam separates the oil in the form of vapors from the plant material.
  • The oil vapors are then collected in a tube.
  • The mixture of oil and water is then distilled to extract CBD oil.

Issues with this method: The steam extraction technique has been in use for many centuries, but it’s not an effective method for cannabis steam extraction as large quantities of the hemp plant will be required. Moreover, this procedure is difficult to extract good concentrations of CBD oil from the hemp plant. Other issues that are usually faced with this method are:

  • Damage to the CBD extract because of the high temperature.
  • Changes in the chemical properties of the constituent ingredients.

Solvent Extraction 

The least expensive method of all the methods, Extraction by Solvent Distillation is similar to steam distillation but makes use of a solvent in place of the steam. The end-product of the process is the dilution of CBD oil with the solvent. The commonly used solvents can be hydrocarbons or natural solvents. 

1. Hydrocarbon Extraction Method

: The commonly used hydrocarbons are petroleum, butane, naphtha, or propane which carry the CBD oil out of the plant material. Later on, the hydrocarbon solvent is evaporated to obtain the CBD oil extract.

    • The issue with this method: The solvent residue of the hydrocarbons can become toxic and may result in adverse effects. Moreover, these solvents also extract chlorophyll along with the desired components which may compromise the taste of the CBD oil.

2. Extraction by Natural Solvents:

Olive oil or ethanol are used as the natural solvents for the extraction of CBD oil. Although they eliminate the risk of toxic residues, they come with their own set of issues. Olive oil CBD Extraction can even be performed at home.

    • Olive Oil CBD extraction: Extraction of CBD from Hemp can be carried out with any natural, organic oil. Olive oil is preferred over other oils because it can conceal the taste of the CBD, which tends to be on the bitter side. 
      1. The hemp plant is first pulverized and then heated at a certain temperature to decarboxylate it.
      2. Then the material is further heated in olive oil, which helps in the extraction of the components into the oil.
    • CBD Extraction by Ethanol: In this method, crushed plant matter is soaked with ethanol, which separates the desired materials of the matter. Later on, the ethanol is evaporated from the mixture, leaving only the CBD oil behind.


Drawbacks: The natural solvents do not evaporate properly, thus the final concentration is not accurate. Moreover, the natural solvents also result in the extraction of certain unwanted components of the hemp plant like chlorophyll, which makes the taste of the oil unappetizing.




To understand the advantages and disadvantages of distillation versus CO2 extraction vs other methods, just go through the following points.


Method Pros Cons
CO2 Extraction Method
  • Highly efficient 
  • Safe for Environment
  • Quicker method
  • No toxic residue
  • No potentiality of contamination 
  • Expensive 
  • Need for qualified personnel to operate machinery 
Steam Distillation Extraction 
  • Not Expensive
  • No toxic residue
  • No solvent is required 
  • Requires more raw material
  • Heat may damage the CBD extract
  • Lower potency of the end product 
Hydrocarbon Extraction Method
  • Inexpensive 
  • The concentration of CBD is fair 
  • Specialized equipment is not required 
  • It may contain toxic residue
  • The solvents are flammable thus making the method dangerous 
Ethanol/Olive Oil Extraction Method
  • Not Expensive 
  • No toxic Residue
  • As chlorophyll also gets extracted, the taste of the final product may get affected rendering it unappealing
  • Ethanol is highly flammable thus extreme caution is required while performing
  • The potency of the final product is not optimum.


What Happens After The Extraction 


Once the CBD is extracted, the extra materials such as carrier solvents or oils are removed or evaporated. Later on, the purified CBD oil can be used to make further products such as:

  • CBD oil Tinctures –  where CBD gets emulsified in a carrier oil such as hemp seed oil or coconut oil.
  • CBD gummies – where CBD oil is mixed with fruit flavorings or juices to be added to other ingredients to make everyone’s favorite gummies.
  • CBD Vape Oil – to make the oil convenient for inhalation, the CBD oil is mixed with vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, along with some natural flavoring agents.


Ways To Extract THC

ways to extract thc

Most people have the question of whether the extraction process will concentrate the THC as well. The THC extraction methods are similar to the ones used for the extraction of CBD, the difference is the raw material we use. For the extraction of THC, flowering buds of the marijuana plants are used.

  1. Cannabis Extraction by Alcohol – This is a solvent extraction method where alcohol is utilized to extract the cannabinoids, and later evaporated to isolate the desired compound. The drawbacks of this method are 
    1. Flammable nature of ethanol, and
    2. The extraction of chlorophyll that alters the taste of the final product.
  2. CO2 Extraction of Cannabis – The cannabis compounds are extracted with the use of supercritical carbon dioxide. As already discussed, this method is highly efficient and yields high-quality products. 
  3. Hydrocarbon Extraction Methods for THC – The THC is extracted by use of butane or propane under specific atmospheric pressure and heat. This method has potential risks – the butane can explode if overheated, and leave toxic residues in the final product if not purified properly.


The Final Word

Having discussed the different methods of extracting CBD oil from the Hemp plant, CO2 extraction tops the list as the most efficient choice considering it uses no solvent, has no harmful residue, or any effect on the environment, and yields products of excellent potency. So next time you are looking for good quality products, consider the products which are extracted effectively. They may cost you more but you will be sure of what you are feeding your body.



Charlie Thompson

Charlie Thompson is an expert cannabis botanist and a plantsman who believes that our lives revolve around plants and that a person can create the healthiest version of himself by exploring the power of plants. Charlie, who's the Chief Editor at Divine Hemps suggests that choosing the right CBD product is as crucial as getting the right form of treatment for your ailment. He closely works with the team of Divine Hemps and helps them create unique formulations of CBD that are tailored to customer's needs and are safe, pure, and lab-tested.

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