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How is CBD Oil Made - The Process Explained

By Alan Paul | Mar 28, 2019 in CBD Blog | 7 min read

Infographic explaning steps of how CBD is made

Updated: June 6, 2019

CBD is justifiably receiving a lot of attention with regards to the numerous benefits it offers to users.

From treating and managing intractable epilepsy to calming anxiety, CBD is expected to become more popular as the industry grows exponentially.

Whilst we understand the results of using CBD, not many individuals know the process it takes to produce it.

As CBD is now legal in all 50 US states, we wanted to take the time to explain the way these oils are produced.

From the growth of the plant, to harvesting, and finally the extraction process; this article clarifies the processes and provides a helpful guide to answer those questions about CBD production.

How to Make CBD Oil

In this guide we'll cover:

  • The hemp plant is grown for up to 120 days
  • The plant is then harvested towards the end of the flowering period
  • Once the plant is cut near to the root, it is left to dry
  • After drying the stems are soaked to soften the fibers
  • Decortication (separating fiber from the stem) is then carried out
  • The CBD is extracted from the stem by either CO2 Extraction, using Liquid Solvents, or Oil Extraction
  • The CBD oil is then used in tinctures, gummies, creams, and vapes

Understanding CBD

In any Cannabis plant, there exists a variety of compounds identified as Cannabinoids. Among these, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) feature dominantly alongside a hundred or so other compounds.

CBD has numerous health benefits while THC is renowned for giving users the 'psychoactive high.'

Research into the two compounds has led scientists to discover the connection within the Human Endocannabinoid system. CBD can have a significant impact on body receptors such as Adenosine, Vanilloid, and Serotonin.

Cultivation, Growth, and Harvesting of Hemp

Hemp, when planted, takes 108 – 120 days to fully mature. It can grow in a variety of temperatures and therefore can be cultivated in many places.

It is initially grown by drilling the seeds into the ground with short intervals between them. The plant is then harvested towards the end of flowering to reduce the seed yield and increase the fiber yield. This is because CBD oil is extracted from the stem, stalk, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plants.

The only part of the plant that does not contain any CBD oil is the seed.

During harvesting, the plant is cut a short distance from the roots and left to dry within a farm. Though the seeds and leaves comprising the upper portion are removed.

After drying, the stems undergo a process known as retting to separate the fiber from the stems, which is done by soaking the stem so the fibers can soften.

This is done either chemically, manually or through dew retting (leaving them out to ret using atmospheric moisture and dew).

After retting, decortication is done. This is the process of separating the fiber from the stem. In the past, it was done by hand, but there are now mechanical means of doing this.

Hemp is used for its various parts. The leaves and flowers can be used to make essential oil whilst the seeds can be eaten ground, whole or compressed for hemp seed oil.

The stems can be used to make biofuels of CBD oil, and can also be used to make bust fiber. The hemp core is called hemp hurd and is referred to as hemp shives when broken into pieces.

Factors to Consider When Growing the Hemp Plant

plant growing inside light bulb

Climate

Cannabis is known for growing well in dry and sunny climate ranges, and even in areas of  high-altitude.

The plant is adaptable to different conditions, although it can be vulnerable in extreme temperatures.

Such scenarios often necessitates farmers to grow their high-CBD Cannabis strains within greenhouses to allow for optimal growing conditions.

Water

Plants need plenty of water, though rainwater is often be enough to satisfy the needs of the plant. However, in the case of growing CBD-rich hemp plants, the main danger remains overwatering and the pH level of the water used.

On average, farmers living in areas of hot weather will need 10 gallons of water to boost any large CBD-rich hemp plants. Cannabis plants in waterlogged conditions may also require attention as they can end up becoming susceptible to root diseases. 

Soil Type

Cultivating CBD rich hemp plants will require optimal soil conditions compromising well-drained nutrient rich soil that has a slightly acidic pH level of between 6 and 6.8. 

Wind

High winds are sometimes a cause of concern for cannabis growers as strong winds can break hemp branches, damage the CBD trichomes and potentially help spread diseases and infestations. 

In order to minimise the risk of wind damage, plants are often grown in hoop houses, or secluded spots where trees are surrounding.

How to Make CBD Oil From Hemp

CBD Extraction Methods
Pros Cons
CO2 Extraction Highly effective, chlorophyll-free More expensive than alternatives
Ethanol Extraction Straightforward process Potentially dangerous extraction process
Oil Extraction Safe and cheap Low CBD yield

Extracting CBD oil from Cannabis plant material occurs in three alternative methods which we will cover.

Generally, the process of separating CBD from other cannabinoids can be complex as the plant materials still contain THC levels.

Below are some of the most commonly practiced extraction methods.

CO2 CBD Extraction

Carbon Dioxide (CO2 ) Extraction is a method that utilizes closed-loop extractor equipment to source CBD from the dry cannabis plant material. This is the method our farmers here in Colorado use to produce the oil.

The extraction device comes with three chambers, each with a separate function. In the first chamber, solid CO2  (dry ice) is put under variable pressure and temperature.

Later the dry ice can be pumped into the second chamber containing the cannabis plant materials.

The second chamber keeps the solid CO2  under specific temperature and pressure, making it behave more like a liquid and less like a solid.

In this process, the liquid CO2  runs through the cannabis plant material and extracts the necessary flavors and chemicals, just like a typical liquid solvent process.

Then the mixture of CO2  and cannabinoids is tapped into the third chamber where the CO2  gas and CBD oil separates.

Pros

  • Using CO2  is a safe method to use, and is usually involved in the process of producing carbonated soft drinks
  • It is highly effective and has been used by many producers over the years as an extraction solvent. For example, it is used to remove caffeine from coffee during the production of essential oils
  • It guarantees a highly pure product as the cannabinoids produced are potent and free from chlorophyll

Cons

  • It is a very expensive process as the equipment needed to do the work can cost cost many tens of thousands of dollars
  • The whole process needs to be conducted by an experienced chemist

Using Liquid Solvents to Make CBD Oil

Liquid solvents such as butane, ethanol, hexane, and isopropyl alcohol can also be used by some to extract CBD oil from the cannabis plant material. 

These liquid solvents are run through the dry cannabis material to strip it of flavors and cannabinoids. The plant materials and liquid solutions combined to form a Cannabinoid-solvent mixture.

The liquid is then evaporated to leave a concentrated blend of flavors and chemicals in the form of CBD oil.

Pros

  • Appropriate For Some Products: If using high-grade alcohol you can produce good quality oil suitable for vaping cartridges
  • Straightforward Process: Once you have the equipment it isn't difficult to complete the process of extraction

Cons

  • If not handled correctly, these chemicals can be dangerous to use
  • The initial cost of compiling these materials can be high

Oil Extraction Methods

hemp oil being poured into a small dish

Extraction using oils, and in particular olive oil, is perhaps the oldest method of CBD extraction.

In this process, home-producers would decarboxylate the raw cannabis material by heating it to a specific temperature which activates the cannabinoid chemicals within the plant.

Olive oil is then added to the plant materials and heated to 100 C for 1-2 hours. The olive oil evaporates away during this process, and only the highly-concentrated CBD oil remains.

Pros

  • It is a very safe method to use when extracting CBD
  • Cheap to conduct and can be done at the comfort of your home without spending as much money.

Cons

  • Produces very low yields for the effort that is required
  • The product is highly perishable so it needs to be stored in a cool, dark place
  • The extracted oil can be made into different forms to suit the needs of the user. Some of these common forms include capsules, tinctures, vapes, sprays, and topicals.

Hopefully this article, and our graphic has explained how to make CBD vape and tincture oil.

We're often asked by users 'How do you make CBD oil', or 'How to make CBD oil at home'. This post has explained the complex processes involved in the creation of oils, so it's not feasible for most to make your own CBD oils.

You can be reassured that our CBD oil is made from 100% organic hemp, in Colorado. Whilst there are a number of methods which can be used, ours is created through CO2  extraction and then thoroughly tested for purity.

As more research is being conducted to find out the numerous ways that CBD can be beneficial to users, we can only expect that the CBD market will expand and we are committed to providing the highest purity and quality of CBD oil.

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