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How Do They Make CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is among the many natural chemical compounds found in the Cannabis plant known as cannabinoids. Hemp and marijuana are both species of the Cannabis plant and both contain CBD. They are both used to create CBD oil, although hemp CBD oil is legal and used to produce the most CBD products, therefore it’s more accessible. Marijuana CBD oil is illegal as it contains the cannabinoid THC, which produces the psychoactive reaction known as a “high”.


Making CBD oil is a long and careful process, as the quality, contents, and purity can be affected in the process. There are various extraction methods used to create CBD oil from the hemp and marijuana plant. Most CBD products are made from hemp, as it’s a legal plant, though it is possible to find marijuana CBD products.


You might be wondering “how do they make CBD oil?”. Below are some of the most common methods of extracting and making CBD oil.


Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Extraction

Carbon Dioxide extraction is one of the most common and revered methods used, as it produces some of the purist and high quality CBD products. Specific equipment is needed to perform this process, and if not done correctly the product can be compromised. Supercritical CO2 is used to separate the CBD from the plant itself. A solid piece of CO2 is put in a chamber with cannabis material. It’s put under high pressure while maintaining a low temperature. Due to the high pressure, the CO2 is transformed into a liquid. The liquid then absorbs the oils from the plant, and the CO2 oil combination is put into the next chamber and the CO2 turns into a gas. The oils are then left behind to be used.


Ethanol or Solvent Extraction

Ethanol extraction is the most common method for extracting CBD due to it being simple, safe, efficient and effective. It’s also a lower cost method compared to CO2 extraction. As a solvent, ethanol is boiled in a pot or flask, then the alcohol is condensed on a cooled-coil. Then it’s passed through the plant, taking the cannabinoids out of the plant. This process can be done with other solvents, however, it’s important to use natural solvents such as ethanol or oil as they don’t leave toxic residue behind. An issue with using natural solvents is that chlorophyll may be extracted as well, which can leave the CBD with an unpleasant taste. Natural solvents also don’t evaporate very well, which can result in lower concentrated CBD products.


Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is a method that has been used for centuries, though it’s not always efficient like other methods are. The plant is placed in a flask with an inlet that connects to a flask containing boiling water, and an outlet that is connected to a condenser tube. The boiling water turns into steam and the steam passes through the plant, turning the CBD and other cannabinoids into steam as well. The steam then travels into the condenser tube where it’s turned back into water and oil. Then this mixture goes through a distillation process to extract the oil from the water. This extraction method requires a great deal of plant matter, and the concentration of CBD extracted varies. 


After the extraction of the CBD oil is complete, it’s classified as a “full spectrum” oil, as other cannabinoids such as THC are in the oil. To create a CBD isolate – removing the THC – the oil goes through a further distillation process. There are many different methods to extract CBD oil from the plant and depending on which extraction method is used, the concentration and quality of the CBD oil will vary.