How is CBD Oil Made?
Ask a lot of people about CBD and they’ll tell you that it’s kind of pot, but not really. Or they’ll say they see it on signs outside all the stores, but aren’t sure what it stands for. Even if you understand some of the basics, and have even used products made from CBD, it’s useful to understand it inside and out. So, here’s a guide to how CBD oil is made, from the soil to your pantry,
Where Does CBD Oil Come From?
- Just as there are varieties of Collies or Ford trucks, there are varieties of Cannabis plants. They differ based on how much THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) they contain. Those that have less than a concentration of 0.3% THC are classified as hemp; those with more, marijuana. And that’s how you know the difference between the two plants—not by looking!
Well, CBD oil is made from hemp—the whole point of it is to not contain THC. That’s a different product. Hemp is grown on farms across the U.S. It is now legal federally, and various states periodically pass their own regulations. Before the 2018 legalization, a lot of hemp was imported from Canada. Now, the growing number of companies that produce CBD oil can buy domestically.
What Should I know About How Hemp is Farmed?
Hemp thrives on Sun, needing minimal water. You can rest assured that, due to regulations, it can’t be grown with pesticides or herbicides or fungicides. Now, when the farmers have done their hard work to protect their crops without these chemicals, and the hemp is coming up, they get rid of pollen sacs from male plants. This is so there won’t be over-pollination, which essentially dilutes the crop in terms of CBD concentration.
Growers harvest female hemp plants with high concentrations of CBD, test it for THC levels, dry it, and it’s off to the races.
Extracting the CBD Oil
The hemp plants go to the processing facilities which is where the CBD oil is made. The first thing the CBD purveyors do is grind the hemp down just like coffee beans. The next step is to extract the CBD. The CBD is removed from the hemp by being put in a large stainless steel container that is filled with the solvent of choice. Solvents can include:
- CO2—This is a simple, safe, and clean way of extracting CBD from hemp. While costly, this method produces very pure CBD.
- Ethanol-Extracting the CBD with ethanol is slow, but preserves more of the CBD than any other method, meaning the highest yield.
- Olive Oil-This may not be very common at large commercial facilities, but it provides a plant-based extraction form.
This process is just like steeping tea—the liquid becomes filled with CBD from the ground hemp, and you now have CBD oil. But looking at the whole process of how CBD is made, it’s not quite that simple.
The next step is usually winterization, which you may think of as weight loss for the CBD. Well, not exactly. It’s about removing lipids, or fatty acids. When the hemp flowers are ground and then extracted, lipids come along with them. This compromises the purity of the CBD. Winterization involves combining the extract with alcohol and then freezing it overnight. The waxes and fats filtrate out after nearly 24 hours.
Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, CBD Isolate
We’ve covered the basics of how the CBD is pulled from the hemp plant. However, there’s the question of what kind of CBD, exactly, is made. To understand the difference between full spectrum, broad spectrum, and CBD isolate, we have to look at terpenes.
You can think of terpenes almost like hormones for plants. With humans, hormones determine things like how deep one’s voice is, one’s metabolism, etc. Terpenes determine traits in plants like their aroma and even flavor. Without going into way too much detail, cannabis contains terpenes and they have some rather valuable properties. Some of the common terpenes (such as Limomene, Myrcene, and Pine) have analgesic (pain-relieving) traits, antibiotic, and anti-anxiety properties. However, terpenes can create some odor or flavor in the CBD oil. Therefore, some manufacturers keep terpenes out, which usually means going through the extraction process above, which removes them.
Whether or not the terpenes are included in the CBD oil determines its spectrum. Full spectrum and broad spectrum oils have terpenes (plus other compounds) in them. These things are extracted first and then put back in after the CBD has been extracted. The difference between full and broad is that in broad spectrum, all THC is taken out. In CBD Isolate, the terpenes are left out. This means the user gets pure CBD. This Isolate product will give the best pain-relief and other benefits of CBD.
The upside of CBD oil made the full or broad spectrum ways is that the terpenes work with CBD to enhance their workings (the “entourage effect”). However, a serious issue with full spectrum CBD is that a user should live in a state where cannabis is legal. Also, full spectrum will show up on a THC test; broad spectrum doesn’t have these issues, it just isn’t pure CBD like CBD Isolate is.
To sum, CBD oil is, at heart, an agricultural product. It’s attended to with great delicacy by the farmers, and grown without chemicals. Whether you’re using an oil tincture (placed under your tongue with a dropper), CBD-infused baked goods, or other edibles, the oil base was produced in the way described above. If you purchase a CBD Isolate, you’ll be using pure CBD, but if you want to go the route of CBD including terpenes and flavonoids, you can go with a full or broad spectrum product. Find a brand you trust and stick with it.