Before deciding to make CBD extracts, you need to be clear on the purpose of your extractions. A CBD plant is considered as such when its CBD content is high, but the THC-CBD ratio can range from 1:1 to 1:20 or higher. If you are only interested in the effects that CBD provides, then the extraction needs to be performed with “industrial hemp” cannabis plants, as their THC levels are lower than 0.3%, which is the maximum permitted by law for cannabidiol products.

Making a CBD Extract with ethanol solvents

Using ethanol solvents to make BHO is very common. However, plenty of people don’t reckon this method is such a good option to make a CBD extract, as there could be toxic traces in the final product.

ethanol molecule

For this method, you need to have an extractor tube. One’s budget will be decisive when it comes to choosing a high quality equipment or a more affordable version, either way, most of them are perfectly suitable to make extractions. This CBD extraction equipment can have a closed, semi-closed or open-loop system. They are sorted from more to less effective and complex to use.

Ethanol is introduced inside the extractor tube with the vegetable material through the entry valve. This solvent drags all the cannabinoids and terpenes, which will result in CBD oil with solvent traces. Purging these residues is essential in order to get as much CBD suitable for consumption, topical use or similar, as possible.

What does the extract contain?

Once the CBD extract is purged, the result is described as “full spectrum”. This means that it contains CBD and also other cannabinoids present in cannabis flowers, such as CBDV, CBDA or THC among others.

CBD with bubbles

The controversy is on the final product expected by the user. By using only industrial hemp, THC content will be lower than 0.03%. Full spectrum oils aren’t any worse than other types. As a matter of fact, they provide the extra benefits of the other cannabinoids included in the composition. Plenty of people actually prefer this alternative.

However, it is possible to isolate CBD completely in a crystalline concentrate, which wouldn’t include any additional component.

Advantages and disadvantages of making CBD extracts with ethanol

The main advantage of using ethanol to make a CBD extract is its reduced cost in comparison to other techniques, such as CO2, due to the price of gas. Take into account that using carbon dioxide requires more sophisticated equipment due to its dissolution capacity.

The biggest disadvantage to this method is how dangerous it is. Ethanol is highly flammable. It requires great security measures such as making the extraction in the street or out in the open air, using thermal gloves and keeping it away from any heat source. On the other hand, this gas is toxic and the CBD extract will soak it, requiring posterior purging to avoid a possibly serious intoxication.

Making a CBD extract using CO2

Extracting CBD using CO2 is very similar to doing it with ethanol. The main difference is on the quality of the gas. Contrary to ethanol, carbon dioxide facilitates the extraction of a higher amount of terpenes and cannabinoids, therefore, the resulting CBD extract will include a greater amount of components.

CBD extracts

CO2 is not toxic for human consumption. Although a good quality purging is still necessary, CO2 traces wouldn’t cause any harm. Its high extraction capacity requires specialized equipment; otherwise, CO2 could dissolve plastic tools that are usually suitable for other types of extractions.

CO2 extractions divide into three different sub-categories: supercritical, critical and sub-critical.

CO2 supercritical CBD extracts are the most efficient but high temperatures can damage certain phyto-chemicals, which could lower CBD’s properties. Therefore, the other two options, which use lower temperatures, are more suitable.

Advantages and disadvantages of extracting CBD with CO2

CO2 gas has been present in the food industry to make essential oils for years; which means that this is a refined technique that guarantees unprecedented efficiency. Another great advantage of CO2 is its high extraction capacity and its toxic-free aspect.

Unfortunately, the necessary equipment is a lot more expensive and usually only affordable on an industrial level rather than individually. Besides, working with gas is always dangerous.

CBD extraction with oils

CBD extracts made with oil

Making CBD with oils is the easiest way for rookies to do at home as it doesn’t need toxic substances or complex methods. The most common solvent for this type of CBD extraction is olive oil, although coconut and hemp oil are also very popular.

The first step is to decarboxylate the vegetable material to activate its properties with heat. Next, add oil to the decarboxylated mixture and heat up to 100 Celsius degrees for approximately 2 hours. CBD will be extracted automatically during that period of time.

Advantages and disadvantages of making CBD extracts with oils

The main reason to choose this method over other ones is that it is cost-effective on a small scale; it’s also safer, as these oils are not flammable or toxic. They actually add properties to CBD, such as Omega fatty acids.
The downside is that CBD extracts made with this system are less pure and have restricted properties. This method is not suitable for commercial extracts. Because it is mixed with oil, its lifespan is shorter. Proper storage is necessary in order to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

storing CBD extracts

On a commercial level, there are CBD products suitable for all needs and preferences; specially creams, CBD oils, shower gels and shampoos. The properties, efficiency and quality of the final product depend on the extraction method used, but also on the levels of CBD, THC and presence of other components.

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Erik Collado

With more than 10 years of background in the cannabis sector, his experience and knowledge are the base of GB The Green Brand’s success

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