Similar to the processes used to make essential oils, minerals and vitamins, extraction is how products that have high levels of terpenes and cannabinoids, such as CBD oil, are made from whole plant material. As the world of concentrates, dabs, budders, and oils expands into a complex market with a plethora of options, understanding how these products are made, and what part an extraction method plays in the finished product’s purity and quality is vital knowledge for consumers. Without standard wide regulations, understanding the details of each extraction method is critical when choosing what CBD products to purchase. The extraction method can determine the amount of beneficial terpenes and cannabinoids that make it into the finished product you are consuming, as well has how many of the undesirable compounds may still be present.
Extraction using a gas or liquid solvent like Butane or Hexane is a fairly cheap and quick way to make cannabis concentrates, but unfortunately poses serious health and safety risks. Most of the solvents used in this process are highly flammable, and can cause dangerous accidents when not done by professionals. Even when carried out in a professional setting, it is often very difficult to remove one hundred percent of the chemical residue from the finished product. If purchasing a concentrate or oil that was processed with one of these chemical solvents, make sure to check for a third party test measuring the remains of the solvents used in the processing. The potential presence of harmful substances in the concentrates makes this extraction method a bad choice for those seeking CBD for medical purposes, and should be carefully researched.
Using food safe oils as a base to extract cannabis products is a cleaner alternative to using chemical solvents, and can be effective for creating certain kinds of concentrates. The natural fats found in many oils successfully extract the resins from cannabis plant matter. Olive Oil was found to be the most effective for use in this method in several studies, though a variety of other carriers, including Hemp Oil, can be used. Usually there are no harmful residues found in products extracted with natural oils, though the shelf life of these extractions is limited.
CBD Oil can also be made using high-grain alcohol like Ethanol. The Ethanol extraction method is simpler than the more complex Co2 method, but the alcohol has the potential to damage some of cannabis’ naturally occurring oils, or plant waxes. Because of this, some producers worry that ethanol extracted products will not provide all the health benefits achieved when consuming the full spectrum of compounds found in a pure hemp extract. Ethanol extraction also requires the final product to be purified to assure there are no harmful residues left in the concentrate.
Preferred by professionals in the industry, (and used exclusively by IrieCBD in making all our tinctures) Co2 extraction relies on temperature and pressure to extract all the terpenes and cannabinoids into a smooth, even finished oil product. Co2 extraction is the most scientifically measured, safe and controlled process for cannabis extraction, and requires professional equipment and expertise. The process relies on turning Co2 from a gas into a supercritical liquid, which can then be used as a solvent. This solvent is filtered through the plant matter multiple times, making sure all the desired terpenes and cannabinoids have been gathered. The Co2 then returns to its gaseous form, leaving a pure concentrate behind. Because of the specificity allowed in this method compared to the others, products made with Supercritical Co2 extraction can have a variety of accurately measured concentration levels. This process insures a finished products that is safe, potent and removes all unwanted compounds such as chlorophyll. Because no harsh chemicals are used in the extraction process, there are no dangerous trace remains of chemicals in Co2 extracted oils.
Though it requires experience, and dedicated technology to achieve, Co2 extraction is by far the safest and most reliable method, and is favored for those looking to achieve the medicinal and wellness benefits of CBD oil without any harmful residues.