How is CBD Oil Made? Best Extraction Techniques Explained

CBD oil became one of the most popular discoveries of the century and considering the results of the recent studies it seems to be one of the most important as well. Its fame is due to the high media exposure of its benefits, and doctor Sanjay Gupta is one of the spokespersons who promotes them intensively because he was very impressed with the results he obtained using CBD for treating children with epilepsy.

CBD is one of the substances found abundantly in hemp. Because hemp and cannabis plants were considered dangerous drugs, they fell under strict regulation, and their use by the broad public was banned. Even if hemp was used in the ancient medicine to treat different health problems, for many years these plants have been associated with health hazards and rebel behavior. Luckily, now people are more open-minded and realize that there is more about this plant than meets general perception. It was the beginning of the 1930’s when scientists discovered that humans and all the living creatures are genetically equipped with a unique system which processes the substances found in hemp. This means that hemp and cannabis are not dangerous at all. It took a few more decades for the scientists to learn about cannabinoids and their potential to improve health.

Even if the consumption of hemp is forbidden, CBD is perfectly legal to use in all parts of the world because it doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects and also the list of unpleasant reactions reported so far is short. These are the main reasons why many manufacturers of dietary products rushed to release on the market a wide variety of supplements based on CBD oil. This only increased the risk for users to come in contact with questionable products presented as miracle workers. The fact that The Food and Drug Association hasn’t put CBD on the list of substances accepted as dietary supplements only kept it away from a strict control and regulation.

First of all, cultivating hemp is illegal in the USA territory, unless you are part of a special group allowed to grow and share this plant for medical purposes. Manufacturers of CBD oil need large quantities of hemp, so they turn to European countries where this plant is legal. In Europe, special farms grow organic hemp plants which were not genetically modified and then ship them over to the USA to be processed. To ensure a high-quality final product, most manufacturers try to obtain the approval from FDA for their laboratories. This certification guarantees that the producer uses professional equipment and respects safety and quality standards. It is important to underline the fact that FDA approved only the laboratory and not the use of CBD. So, before buying CBD oil, it is recommended to research the product and the manufacturer first. Try to find a company with multiple dietary supplements available on the market and read the as many reviews as possible. Of course, we are all different, so a dietary supplement will have a different effect on each user, but the opinion of other people who already used them represents a good starting point.

As a consumer, it is utmost important to learn how the product you want to buy was made. There are multiple ways of obtaining CBD oil, and the extraction technique is usually influenced by the way the oil will be used as a final product. CBD oil is available in various concentrations and presentation forms like pills, capsules, tinctures, oils, topical products, sprays, e-liquids and so on, each targeting mainly one type of health problem.

How is CBD oil obtained?

As mentioned before, CBD oil is obtained from the hemp plant, and the first step in getting a high-quality product is selecting the best plants. It is essential to choose a strain which naturally contains high amounts of CBD. Most types of hemp include CBD, but famous producers invest lots of time and resources in identifying those special ones who are genetically built to generate large quantities of this cannabinoid. Once they identify that one strain which they consider the perfect source, it will be used over and over again, for the formula consistency sake.

After the plant reached maturity, it is prepared for extraction. The CBD oil can be obtained from the flowers of hemp, but its highest concentration is found in the resin glands, also known as trichomes. Different strains of hemp contain within their gland CBD oil of various levels and quality. The oil obtained from the flowers is distinct from the one extracted from the glands. The first one requires a unique technique which includes purification before using it, meanwhile when the CBD oil obtained from the glands is high quality it can be used in smaller dosages in the final product. Considering that lower dosage helps the manufacturer save money, most of them try to find the best strains of hemp.

Some manufacturers use the whole plant, while other rely on isolated form of CBD in order to create the final product. For the first option, the entire plant is thrown into the extraction process. Usually, the seeds and stalks are used for extracting the CBD oil because these parts of the plant contain the largest amounts. In the medical community, the idea of using the entire plant became popular based on the fact that by adding the leaves into the extraction process the oil obtained will have a larger spectrum of cannabinoids. It is believed that the more cannabinoids are part of the mix, the more effective the product will become because they will support the CBD in reaching full potential. This process is known as the “entourage effect”. On the other hand, the manufacturers who use isolated base their products success on the quality of the strain used. The oil obtained from these is believed to represent the purest form of CBD. The products containing CBD oil available on the market have different prices. The difference is made by the strain of hemp used and the extraction technique. The most expensive one is not always the best, but the price usually reflects the quality of the oil and the extraction method used. Find out how to choose the best cannabidiol product.

To obtain industrial amounts of CBD oil, the manufacturers used to combine the plants with a high concentration of cannabidiol and other chemicals more or less harsh which always leave behind some sort of residue. The additional substances are chosen according to the final purpose of the oil.

Here are the most important and frequently used techniques for extracting CBD oil from hemp:

CO² Extraction or Decarboxylation Method

This is one of the cleanest and also the most expensive ways of extracting CBD oil. Specialists refer to it as supercritical CO² or sub-critical method because it uses different pressures of carbon dioxide to separate the CBD oil from the rest of the substances and obtain a highly potent and pure extract. Not all manufacturers afford to use this process as it requires skills and more devices than other methods. They must be willing to invest in hi-tech equipment and specially trained personnel. The main advantage of this extraction method is that the final product is perfectly pure CBD oil without any trace of additional chemicals. It directly drives the carbon dioxide through the plant to get the CBD out. In turn, CO2 extraction needs a series of chambers each with a specific role in controlling the temperature and the pressure of the gas which makes the CBD oil react and get separated from the rest of the plants. Once this happens, cannabinoids are stored in different chambers. This way they can be used separately in the amounts the manufacturer needs them for the formula. However, there is an extra precaution to take when processing the hemp this way because too much heat can destroy the terpenes and the oil will have less medical properties and also lose the particular flavor. If processed correctly the oil obtained through this method has an amber color and looks transparent. Also, it has a full spectrum of cannabinoids and ensures all possible health benefits which make it superior to all the other oil obtained with different techniques.


Carrier oil extraction method

On the opposite side of costs when it comes to extracting CBD oil is the carrier oil extraction process, and it is taken into consideration by various managers of prominent companies in this field. By removing CBD oil with this method, it is ensured that the final product contains a high dose of Omega fatty acids and very little chemical residue. The name of the method comes from the fact that hemp seed oil or olive oil is used to extract the CBD from the flowers or any other part of the plant. The only disadvantage is the short shelf life of the final product. The CBD oil obtained this way is very efficient when taken orally or in treating a skin condition by applying it topically.

Extraction with Solvents

This method is frequently used by the companies who produce CBD or THC oil on a relatively small scale because it is quite inexpensive. The extraction process uses some harsh solvents like alcohol, ethanol or butane obtained from grains to separate the CBD from the other substances derived from hemp. This method is convenient from the financial point of view, but it also has some disadvantages and the most important one is the risk causing an explosion. Also, there is another major problem this type of extraction poses which is the risk of solvents to contaminate the final product. Doctors and scientists are reluctant in recommending the use of CBD obtained through this method for medical purposes because it can make things a lot worst for health instead of improving them. The residues which remain in the final product can diminish the healing properties of the CBD Oil.


The Rick Simpson Method or Extraction with Grain Alcohol

This is also among the most popular techniques for extracting CBD oil from cannabis. This method requires the use of solvents like naphtha or petroleum for separating this type of cannabinoid from the other chemicals derived in the process. The name of this approach comes from the creator of the “original” CBD oil, and the process itself is simple. The piece of the plant is completely soaked into a solvent like grain alcohol, and the remaining liquid is rich in all types of cannabinoids, including CBD. The final step is evaporating the alcohol to obtain the oil ready for consumption. This method represents an inspiration for large-scale manufacturers.

Alcohol is not necessarily harsh chemical which destroys the benefits of CBD Oil. Using the grain of alcohol to extract this cannabinoid from hemp is common for the companies which aim to create medicinal grade CBD. This method obtains from each flower between 2 and 4 grams of oil, and the best part is that the alcohol leaves almost no residue behind. The CBD oil extracted through this method is recommended to be consumed directly and not used for smoking or vaping.


Even if the Rick Simpson method is quite effective the oil resulted might not be exactly what one needs. This way the active compounds from the plant are efficiently extracted, but the final product contains lower amounts of CBD and terpenes, which have a positive impact on the health and higher concentration of THC which might cause hallucinogenic effects. So, if you are looking for the healthiest CBD oil, the one obtained through this method might not be exactly what one needs. Also, the solvents used in this process might leave some residue behind and the oil achieved with the Rick Simpson method is not necessarily safe for consumption.

Extraction by Cold Pressing

Hemp oil contains high amounts of nutrients, and it represents an inspired addition to any diet, but if obtained by cold pressing the seeds it is not very rich in cannabinoids. The method of extraction itself is straightforward and not that expensive. All you need is a machine which presses or grinds the seeds of hemp, or any other part of the plant at a temperature which doesn’t go above 120° F. The oil obtained this way keeps the genuine flavor and the nutritional value, and it represents an excellent base for any type of CBD supplement. Usually, CBD extracts have a thick consistency are a bit difficult to handle. If mixed with the oil obtained from the hemp seeds it becomes easy to process. The cold pressing technique is more suited for extracting oil from the seeds of hemp and less from the stems and stalks, which contain a higher concentration of CBD.


Extraction with the use of Ethanol or Olive Oil

These two substances, olive oil, and ethanol are very effective when it comes to extracting the CBD from cannabis or hemp, and compared to the other solvents used in various methods; they are safe to be used by people because they are not toxic to health.

Ethanol is a prevalent substance when it comes to extracting CBD. This extraction method is similar to Rick Simpson method because it too implies to soak the plant into one of these substances and then put the solution into a Roto-Vap which heats up the alcohol until it evaporates. This machine keeps the CBD oil just obtained into an individual chamber ready for use and the vapors from the ethanol on another one for later use.

Nevertheless, this method has its drawbacks as well. If ethanol is used, along with cannabinoids there is another substance which makes its way into the final product, and it is called chlorophyll. This chemical makes the oil have a little disturbing shade of green and also a funny and unpleasant taste. It is not impossible to remove chlorophyll from the mix, but during the filtration process a significant quantity of CBD is lost, and as a result, the final product is less useful. The alternative, the olive oil, also makes the final product less potent. The extraction technique using this type of oil is relatively straightforward because it only requires the oil to be heated to 200° F and then filtered. But after filtration, the CBD is also lost, and to notice a health improvement, one must consume large amounts of CBD oil obtained through this method.


CBD oil is very useful in improving medical conditions like chronic pain, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, alcoholism, epilepsy, schizophrenia or PTSD because of its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antispasmodic and anti-nausea properties which work efficiently for many people.((

Extraction is Only the Beginning

The methods presented so far are not the only ones used in the industry of dietary supplements, they are just some of the most popular ways of obtaining CBD oil from cannabis. But the extraction is just the first step in creating the final product. Once the pure oil is obtained, the next phase is flavoring and later, the dilution.

The CBD oil in its purest form doesn’t have the greatest taste possible. To make the supplement more appealing for the people so that they will take it on a daily basis, the taste must improve, and manufacturers do their best to make it happen. They are very creative when it comes to changing the taste and presentation form. The variety of flavors is wide, from sweet, fruity, fresh, or minty to different types which make the final product more attractive. Also, consumers are different and have different needs when it comes to the CBD concentration, so this is another aspect producers must keep in mind when creating new dietary supplements based on this cannabinoid.

How to Make Your Own CBD Herbal Oil [DIY]

As a consumer, it is essential to know everything about the ingredients used in the dietary supplement like where they came from and how they were processed. It’s hard to trust that both large and small manufacturers won’t sacrifice the quality of the product for the sake of profit. Unless you found a manufacturer who gives you reasons to trust it, like a history, broad product portfolio, good reviews and so on, you can make your own CBD oil in the privacy of your home. This way you can be sure it is not contaminated with dangerous chemicals that can alter your health instead of improving it.

The recipe for home-made CBD oil is not that complicated as one might expect. First, you need a coffee grinder, about 15 grams of organic and GMO-free hemp leaves and stalks and one cup of high-quality coconut or almond oil which will act as a carrier for the CBD. The pieces of the plant must be thoroughly ground and placed in a jar with enough oil to cover the hemp. Close the lid tightly and place the jar into a pan with 2-3 inches of water and let it boil at around 200° F. Keep the water at this temperature for about 3 hours and cover the pan with a towel while it cools down for the next 3 hours. Repeat the boiling and let the jar cool again over the night. The oil can be used at this point, but it is recommended for the procedure to be repeated over the next three days to increase its CBD concentration. Before using it, you must strain it through a cheese cloth which you should squeeze really well, so you don’t waste any drop of oil. As a tip, some people recommend adding a few drops of essential oil so it will smell nicer and some beeswax into the mix to make the oil more stable and easier to use, but adding too much it will leave the oil very hard. If this happens, it is not too tragic because eventually, you could soften its consistency by adding some more oil. It is recommended for this oil to be applied only on the skin and not ingested.

Final Thoughts

CBD created a big controversy all over the world and especially in the USA where this substance seems to be considered by many people an answer for their health problems. There are many studies focused on bringing scientific prove to The Food and Drug Association that CBD is an excellent dietary supplement. Even so, there are thousands of clinical trials which showed that CBD oil obtained from cannabis has therapeutic properties which help improve a broad range of medical conditions like multiple sclerosis, arthritis, insomnia, schizophrenia, depression anxiety and many others.((

To obtain all the benefits CBD has to offer it is important to invest into a high-quality product which contains only the best ingredients and was carefully processed. The first step in creating an effective product is the raw material. Organic and GMO-free cannabis or hemp represents a good start. The extraction process usually takes place into laboratories approved by the FDA, so this is an additional guarantee that the manufacturer respects safety standards. There are many methods of extracting the CBD, and the producer decides which one to use. Some techniques are quite expensive, and they promise a pure and high-quality CBD oil which can safely be used for medical purposes. Meanwhile, others don’t require the existence of cutting-edge technology. Instead, they use more or less harsh solvents to separate the CBD from the rest of the substances. Some of these solvents leave residue behind, and this can make the final product dangerous for the health. Usually, manufacturers adapt the extraction method to the final purpose of the CBD oil. This cannabinoid is often used as a dietary supplement, but it is included in the formula of topical products or vape liquids. The CBD oil doesn’t have a good taste so if it is intended to be used for making various dietary supplements the taste must be improved with different additives. Also, the concentration of the primary active ingredient must vary because different people have different needs.  Even if the extraction procedure ensures the best CBD oil possible its quality might be destroyed during the second phase of making the final product. In a world driven by the will of prosperity, some people might find it difficult to trust their health to large companies. They can always make their own CBD oil at home and enjoy its health benefits.

Regardless the choice, if you intend to start treatment with CBD oil it is important to talk to a doctor before you do. Considering your health issues and personal medical history the doctor can advise you on a particular product and a daily dosage. Remember CBD was not yet approved officially as a dietary supplement by the FDA because there is not yet available a complete list of benefits and side effects. Even if CBD oil is an entirely natural product which shouldn’t cause problems for most people it is recommended to have medical supervision during the treatment.