How to extract CBD oil in your home kitchen
Non-psychoactive and increasingly popular as a relaxation drug, CBD can also be a DIY extract
By Sandra Hinchliffe
Published March 10, 2019 10:00AM (EDT)
Excerpted with permission from CBD Every Day: How to Make Cannabis-Infused Massage Oils, Bath Bombs, Salves, Herbal Remedies, and Edibles by Sandra Hinchliffe. Copyright 2019 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.
Cannabidiol (CBD), an extract that many use as an anti-anxiety or relaxation tool, comes from the Cannabis sativa plant and cannot be divorced from this original source. Cannabis sativa has many different variations, and not all of these contain significant amounts of CBD. Prior to the gradual ending of cannabis prohibition in many locales, CBD was practically eliminated from the commercial black market to maximize profitability of the psychoactive cannabinoid content of the plants through selective breeding, according to many of the black-market growers I have spoken with throughout the years. The reason CBD is now widely accessible is most assuredly due to the change in social perceptions of this once-outlawed plant and the legalization of this plant in many locales. Without cannabis legalization, CBD would be difficult to acquire—and there would be no testing to ensure that consumers receive the product they are paying for.
In the process of developing recipes, I spent much of my time talking to CBD farmers and exploring their lush farms. I am forever grateful to my friends at Feather Canyon Farms in Del Norte County, California, for introducing me to some of the most impressive plants I’ve ever seen in my life. Beforehand, my experience with these plants had been limited to small indoor grows and the product offerings of our legal cannabis dispensaries.
One of the things I learned from the CBD farmers is that CBD can be an unstable and fleeting trait in cannabis plants. CBD production doesn’t just depend on the genetics of a plant, but the methods of growing, and what is also recognized in grape and wine production as the terroir. New strains of CBD-rich cannabis are being developed for the legal market all the time. I haven’t been able to try them all, but I’ve had the privilege of trying some of the most well-known strains, such as Harlequin, Harle-Tsu, ACDC, Cannatonic, Charlotte’s Web, Sour Tsunami, and a rare crop of Golden Goat, which expressed more than 8% CBD. This list is by no means complete in terms of CBD-rich cannabis strains available.
Hemp, the low-to-no THC variety of Cannabis sativa grown for the oilseed and fiber it produces, can also produce CBD in varying amounts. Both wild hemp and cultivated hemp can produce CBD in their resins. No matter what variety of Cannabis sativa produces CBD, the molecule is always the same.
Farmers, Plants, and Test Results over Brands: How To Select CBD Products
I believe that quality, whole-plant infusions and extractions matter. Epidiolex, the FDA-approved drug, is a whole-plant extract of CBD, purified, standardized, and manufactured for consistency. It’s rare as far as pharmaceuticals go; GW Pharma grows and processes their own cannabis to make therapeutic pharmaceuticals. Whether you are in need of a pharmaceutical treatment or are using CBD as a home remedy or for pleasure, you should be using whole-plant infusions and extractions. The cannabis farmers I spoke with have expressed a similar belief.
I am often asked about which brands of CBD are the best and which products to choose. But the truth is that when it comes to CBD, brands do not matter. Farms and plants matter. Selecting quality CBD-rich cannabis plant products begins with the farm they are grown on. Before you purchase any CBD product, know the farm and farmer. This is an easy task in most of our state-legal cannabis dispensaries, as this information will be readily available and even used as a marketing tool. This information is harder to find if you are purchasing CBD products from the over-the-counter herbal supplement market.
CBD products sold over the counter in the mainstream herbal supplement market do not have the oversight and regulated testing that most of our state-legal dispensary systems have. If you choose to purchase CBD products in the herbal supplement market, you must rely on the information they provide to you in terms of acquisition of plant material and test results. You must also be aware that there is controversy (both legal and scientific) surrounding the purchase of CBD products over the counter through the mainstream herbal supplement marketplace.
Test results matter. The herbal supplement marketplace is largely unregulated and a bit like the Wild West. An exposé in the New York Times in 2013 detailed some very disturbing problems with the herbal supplement marketplace and the fact that consumers often do not receive the products they are paying for. As well, CBD supplement merchants in the over-the-counter herbal supplement market have been cited by the FDA for many violations around the labeling and distribution of their products.
Certainly, I am not saying that all herbal supplement products are bad. What I am saying is that it is a wise decision as a consumer to seek out information and verify it if you are purchasing supplement products of any kind. And you should also be aware that not all locales will regard the purchase of CBD products as a legal activity.
The functionality of this book is to show you how to seek, find, and enjoy CBD-rich cannabis. Facts and aesthetics both matter if what you seek is a quality product and a satisfying experience.
In the recipes that follow, the focus is on whole-plant CBD-rich cannabis extractions and infusions, as these high-quality, artisanal, and farmer-centric whole plants and whole-plant resins will unfold themselves with fragrant and delicious complexity in your kitchen. My wish is for you to enjoy and benefit from everything CBD-rich cannabis offers without missing anything.
CBD to THC Ratio Selection and Dosing
Selection and dosage amount of CBD or CBD: THC is a very individual process and an ideal dosage that works as a one-size-fits-all amount does not exist. If you have concerns about what is best for you, this is something you should discuss with your personal physician. There are also MDs and DOs who specialize in cannabis therapeutics who can guide you based on your current health situation. If you are considering CBD for therapeutic medicinal purposes, it’s a good idea to consult with a physician who has knowledge and experience in this area before you begin.
I’ve developed a checklist that you can use and that I hope will guide you to the products that are worthy of your consideration:
— Is the name of the farm or farmer disclosed on the product label or available from the company or merchant selling the product?
— Does the product have test results from a third-party lab independent of any brand or manufacturer? Can you verify these results independent of a company, merchant, or legal dispensary?
— Do the test results include more than just CBD and other cannabinoid content?
— Are there test results for pesticides, mold, and other contamination? (Cannabis is a powerful soil remediator and easily absorbs toxic chemicals from the soil it is grown in.)
— If the product you would like to purchase is raw plant material, have you scoped it to check for mold or insects? Most dispensaries have magnification scopes for their customers to use—take advantage of this.
— Does the product look fresh, and does it smell fresh and clean? Is the product or plant material dated with harvest time or an expiration date?
CBD Farmer’s Oil Recipe with Whole Flowers
When one considers flavors, textures, freshness, effects, and fragrances as the starting point of evaluating a quality CBD oil product, this recipe will produce a gourmet oil extraction that will impress even the most experienced connoisseur.
Farmers know best. And this oil recipe was given to me by one of the most hardworking and knowledgeable CBD farmers I have met, Mr. Jesse Davis of Feather Canyon Farms in Del Norte County, California.
I experienced many pleasant surprises while sampling this oil at home, and the process of making it was even more surprising. Rich in both CBD and the natural terpenes of the Harle-Tsu CBD-rich cannabis plant, this oil is a gorgeous emerald color with a sublime minty and herbaceous flavor that I have never experienced with a CBD oil previously. This oil was completely non-intoxicating, but it was very pleasant and relaxing.
This oil, processed in MCT oil (fractionated coconut oil) at a low temperature for 24 hours, produced a CBD oil product that has lab tested at 10mg CBD and less than 1 mg
THC per 1ml dose. How low was that temperature? 175°F (80°C)—a temperature much lower than what is typically expected for a complete decarboxylation. What made the difference? The slow processing of this oil over a 24-hour period. Decarboxylation takes place with temperature, time, or in this case, both time and temperature.
I am satisfied that the flavor profile of this oil was only possible due to the careful, low-temperature processing technique that retained the majority of naturally occurring terpenes in the whole cannabis flowers from the CBD-rich Harle-Tsu cannabis strain grown in the mountain region of Del Norte County. Flower quality really does matter when it comes to producing an exquisite CBD oil such as this one.
This makes approximately 10 oz. (296ml) of CBD oil, but you can increase or decrease the amount of oil or flowers depending on the CBD concentration you desire.
10 oz. (296ml) MCT oil or more (otherwise known as liquid fractionated coconut oil)
1 oz. (28g) or more whole CBD-rich, low-or-no- THC cannabis flowers, cured, dried, and chopped
- This recipe requires a slow cooker with a low heat setting to process this oil correctly. Add the chopped cannabis to the slow cooker.
- Pour the oil over the cannabis, making sure that all the flower material is covered. If you need to add a little extra oil to cover the flowers, you should do so at this time. Cover the slow cooker and set to the low or low cook setting (depending on your model).
- Within at least 3 hours, your slow cooker should reach the final processing temperature of about 175°F (80°C). Use a candy thermometer to verify the temperature and adjust if necessary. Stir the oil and plant material at this time and cover the slow cooker once again.
- Every few hours, stir the oil and flower material to evenly distribute the infusion throughout the process. Do not stir frequently, as this will allow more of the volatile terpenes to escape into the air. To preserve as many of the volatile constituents as possible, such as terpenes, leave the lid on the pot throughout the entire process. This can be left to process overnight without stirring.
- After the 24-hour period is over, cool the oil by unplugging the slow cooker and allowing the materials to remain in the pot and the oil to cool to room temperature a few more hours.
- Strain the oil from the plant material through cheesecloth and into a clean glass jar. The oil is now ready to use by itself in measured doses or in any recipe.
Store in a cool, dark, and dry area. Use within 6 months for freshest flavor
Sandra Hinchliffe is the founder of posyandkettle.com, a home herbalist, allergy chef, autoimmune disease survivor, and an inventor of pretty things for people of sensitive constitution. She uses her 30+ years background as a home herbalist and medical cannabis patient to create a repertoire of recipes designed to be both beneficial and delightful. She is the author of “The Cannabis Spa at Home,“ the first book to bring together cannabis, spa, and herbal healing, “High Tea,” a collection of gracious cannabis tea-time recipes for every occasion, and “CBD Every Day,” a farm-to-table CBD experience guide with a collection of allergy-friendly, preservative-free, artificial fragrance-free and dye-free CBD-infused edible and spa recipes.
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.
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CBD Extraction 101: How to Extract CBD Oil
CBD extraction is a highly technical process that can be made using a variety of different solvents. Each of these methods has their pros and cons, which we’ll cover in the article.
Knowing how your CBD is extracted will help you understand how all quality CBD products are made.
Without extraction, the CBD market would be far in the stone age, and we would have never experienced such a diversity in the cannabis industry.
Could you imagine the world of CBD without oils, capsules, gummies, and topicals?
Okay, that was a rhetorical question.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Where CBD is sourced from
- How to extract CBD from hemp plants
- Why reputable brands choose CO2 extraction
- How to extract CBD without expensive CO2 equipment
Let’s start with the basics.
What is CBD (Cannabidiol)?
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, one of the two major cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
Unlike its cousin THC, CBD won’t get you high or stoned because it doesn’t have mind-altering properties.
In very simple terms, CBD allows you to experience the health benefits of cannabis like reduced anxiety, effective pain management, sleep support and improved immune function — but without the buzz.
That’s because CBD doesn’t directly bind to any of the cannabinoid receptors.
Instead, it signals the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to release more of its natural endocannabinoids while slowing its breakdown so these valuable compounds can stay in your system for longer, supporting your body’s ability to self-regulate important biological processes (homeostasis).
CBD also acts on several other ECS-independent routes. For example, it activates the TRPV-1 receptor, which controls a range of functions from inflammation to pain perception and body temperature.
Finally, CBD can alter the intoxicating effects of THC by preventing the FAAH enzyme from breaking down anandamide, an endocannabinoid whose chemical structure is almost identical to THC. With more anandamide in the bloodstream, the molecule competes with and reduces the intoxicating effects of THC.
How is CBD Extracted?
CBD can be extracted from hemp and marijuana plants grown in the US or overseas.
The source of CBD is paramount because it determines what other compounds are captured during extraction. This, in turn, affects their legal status.
Hemp is a variety of Cannabis sativa that contains higher concentrations of CBD and only a trace amount (up to 0.3%) THC by dried weight.
Marijuana, on the other hand, is naturally high in THC, the psychoactive compound that makes people feel high.
Is CBD Legal?
As mentioned, the legal status of CBD depends on its source.
Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states under the 2018 Farm Bill. The new law allowed farmers to grow hemp plants for commercial use, including paper, clothing, fuel, building materials, food, and health supplements such as CBD.
The best companies use non-GMO, organically grown hemp from local farms. In the United States, regions like Colorado, California, Kentucky, Oregon, and Tennessee are known for the best environmental conditions for growing organic hemp. The problem, however, is that growing hemp organically on small farms is more expensive, so many companies prefer to use lower-quality mass-produced hemp to cut down on costs.
At Royal CBD, we put quality ahead of costs, sourcing our hemp from friendly farmers in Colorado who cultivate their plants in clean soil and without pesticides or growth boosters.
If you’re looking for CBD products from marijuana, you’ll need to be in one of the states that have legalized it for recreational or medicinal use because marijuana remains illegal on the federal level as of this writing.
CBD Extraction 101: How to Extract CBD
The idea behind CBD extraction is to capture the desired chemical compounds from the hemp plant while eliminating unwanted compounds such as fiber, plant sugars, and minerals.
Once mature and harvested, hemp plants are brought to an extraction facility, where the whole magic happens.
There are several methods of extracting CBD from the hemp plant including:
- CO2 extraction
- Olive oil extraction
- Coldwater extraction
- Dry ice extraction
- Solvent extraction
Below we cover each method in detail.
1. CO2 Extraction
CO2 is by far the best extraction technology for CBD oils. There’s a good reason why this method has become so popular.
First, CO2 extraction is highly efficient. It yields pure extracts with consistent concentrations of CBD.
Secondly, and more importantly, it’s extremely safe because it avoids using toxic solvents.
Pressurized CO2 acts as a solvent itself when put under certain temperatures. It can isolate the active compounds from the unwanted plant matter and other phytochemicals.
Although CBD extraction with CO2 is safe and effective, it also calls for very expensive equipment. The machines required for CO2 extraction can cost up to $150,000.
There are two types of CO2 extraction: supercritical and subcritical.
Here’s a brief overview of both methods:
How to Extract CBD with Supercritical CO2
CBD behaves like gas in its natural environment. However, this can be easily changed when you apply different temperatures and pressure levels.
At Royal CBD, we use supercritical CO2, as it yields optimal results in terms of the yields and preserved compounds.
When the temperature of CO2 gets reduced below -69 F, with pressure levels over 75 PSI, it enters a supercritical state, behaving both as a liquid and a gas.
Supercritical CO2 can fill a container without losing density, being just the perfect solvent. It yields a clean product without damaging its active compounds.
When you apply CO2 through some quality hemp plants in an extractor, the carbon dioxide will pull the cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils from the plant material.
Any of the fat-soluble compounds will be contained in the extracts, leaving away insoluble compounds.
The final step involves verifying the solution by a separator and splitting it into its requisite ingredients.
Once there, CBD is sent along with other cannabinoids and phytochemicals to the collection container. Meanwhile, CO2 gets condensed into its liquid form again and transferred to a special storage tank for future extractions.
How to Extract CBD with Subcritical CO2
Unlike supercritical CO2, its subcritical version operates at a lower heat and lower pressure. The extraction process is more time consuming and yields smaller quantities of CBD, but on the other hand, subcritical CO2 is more likely to save more vulnerable compounds such as terpenes, which often evaporate at higher temperatures.
Subcritical extraction is a similar process to cold water or dry ice extraction — more on that later article.
Mixing supercritical CO2 with subcritical extraction helps to create full-spectrum CBD oils that produce the entourage effect.
Pros & Cons of CO2 Extraction:
- It’s the safest extraction method out there
- It produces high-purity extracts
- It’s a well-known technology in other industries (e.g. caffeine extraction)
- It’s very expensive
- It requires a big learning curve
2. Vegetable Oil Extraction
You can easily extract CBD at home using vegetable or cooking oils.
These oils work as solvents, but the whole process follows the same principles as all other forms of extraction.
You can use any common cooking oil, such as:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Hemp seed oil
- Sweet almond oil
- Sunflower oil
- Argan oil
The choice oil usually boils down to its availability and what you’re planning to use the end product for.
For instance, if you want to extract CBD for edibles, we recommend that you use a saturated fat like butter or coconut oil. For salves and creams, people typically go with sweet almond oil or argan oil. When looking for homemade CBD oil, cheaper solvents like olive oil are a good choice.
How to Extract CBD Using Vegetable Oils
Extracting CBD oils with vegetable oils is pretty straightforward.
You need to decarboxylate your dried CBD plant material; decarboxylation is a fancy term for activating cannabinoids with heat. You want to heat your cannabis at 250 F for 30–60 minutes in the oven, stirring time and again.
Once done, add the decarboxylated herb to the olive oil in a saucepan and slowly heat the mixture to 210 F.
Maintain the temperature and keep the CBD cooking oil over low heat for up to 2 hours.
Pros & Cons of Vegetable Oil Extraction
- Low efficiency
- CBD products extracted this way have a shorter shelf-life
3. Organic Solvent Extraction (Alcohol and Hydrocarbons)
Organic solvents include compounds such as butane, propane, or alcohol (methanol or ethanol). These are the least expensive methods to extract CBD from the hemp plant.
Here’s a shortlist of popular choices of organic solvents for CBD extraction:
While cheap, not all of these solvents are equally safe. While alcohol is generally considered safe, most of the above solvents are toxic and need to be removed after initial extraction before the product is bottled up.
Solvent-based extraction requires soaking the plant material in the solvent. The liquid will run through the hemp, pulling the cannabinoids and terpenes from the flower along with chlorophyll. Once the solvent has collected enough cannabinoids, the liquid is heated in a special dish to evaporate it and suspend the extract in a carrier oil.
NOTE: Not only are most of the solvents toxic, but they’re also highly flammable. It requires precision to remove the highly explosive vapors from the extract to avoid serious injuries or property damage.
If you want to run solvent CBD extraction at home, we recommend using alcohol to omit the evaporation process. This is the easiest method to produce homemade CBD oils. What you’ll essentially get in the end is a hemp tincture. Tinctures become more potent over time, so the longer you soak the plant in alcohol, the stronger it will get.
How to Extract CBD at Home Using Alcohol
- Decarboxylate your CBD in the oven (this step is the same as in vegetable oil extractions).
- Transfer the decarboxylated buds into a jar and soak it in high-proof alcohol.
- Seal the jar tightly and allow it to sit for a few weeks, giving it a vigorous shake once a day
- Strain your extract through cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer and bottle your CBD tincture up.
You can speed up the third step using two different techniques. The first one involves pasteurizing the jar in a water bath at 170 F for about 20 minutes; the second technique requires you to shake the jar continuously for 3 minutes after combining CBD flower with alcohol.
However, remember that the reduced waiting time will result in the lower potency of your tincture, so if you want a highly concentrated product, we suggest that you let it sit for at least 2 weeks.
Pros & Cons of Solvent-Based Extraction:
- Doesn’t require expensive machines
- Highly efficient
- More bioavailable than other forms of extraction
- Very dangerous (shouldn’t be performed at home unless you’re going to use alcohol)
- Often leaves unwanted plant material in the final product
4. Dry Ice Extraction
The dry ice method is another way to perform CBD extraction at home. However, it’s more time-consuming than olive oil or alcohol extraction.
This technique uses dry ice to pull CBD from the plant material. It’s a relatively cheap and safe method to produce high-quality CBD hash without using toxic solvents.
Solventless extraction always yields cleaner products than solvent-based methods. Besides, making CBD extracts with dry ice brings a lot of fun.
How to Extract CBD Using Dry Ice
- 3 lbs of dry ice
- A large sheet of plexiglass (or a large mirror)
- Thick, heat-resistant gloves
- Eye 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
- Put on the gloves and goggles.
- Break apart (or grind) your CBD buds into smaller pieces and place it in the bucket.
- Cover the cannabis with dry ice, leaving it there for 3 minutes. Make sure the bucket is filled halfway. This process will freeze the resin so the trichomes can be transferred to the hash mesh bags.
- Fold each bag over the bucket with your dry ice mixture and shake it several times to separate the frozen trichomes from the plant.
- Turn the bucket upside down on the mirror and shake again, collecting as much resin through the hash bag as possible. Once you’ve scraped the hash off the mirror, you can transfer it into one of the jars.
- Repeat the process with the remaining bags and enjoy your homemade dry-ice CBD hash.
What is Decarboxylation and Why is It Important in CBD Extraction?
Most CBD products go through a process called decarboxylation.
If you’ve ever made cannabis edibles, you should be familiar with the process.
Decarboxylation means heating the cannabinoids so that an extra carboxyl group is broken down, activating THC and CBD.
This way, he cannabinoids can immediately engage with the endocannabinoid system. Without decarboxylation, CBD remains in its acidic and inactive form CBDA.
Some CBD oil brands label their extracts as “raw” if they don’t decarboxylate it.
Key Takeaways on CBD Extraction
Knowing how to extract CBD gives you many opportunities to make your own CBD products at home, but it’s also a great way to learn the difference between low- and high-quality CBD oil.
People have been using different cannabis extracts for hundreds, if not thousands of years to deliver high concentrations of therapeutic compounds to their system. Without CBD extraction, the market would be limited to dried CBD flowers.
CO2 extraction is currently the best method to produce CBD, although if you want to kickstart a DIY extraction facility, there are less expensive techniques that can still yield decent products.
If you’re looking for commercial CBD products, make sure they have been made with supercritical CO2 like the entire Royal CBD line. CO2 extraction doesn’t require additional heat or solvents to produce pure and potent CBD oil; it does, however, require expensive equipment and know-how, so if a company uses CO2 extraction, it’s a sign they’re committed to quality.