In recent years, the demand for hemp-based products such as CBD has increased dramatically—and with it, the potential to form a business around it. But going into the CBD oil business involves knowledge of CBD and the process of extracting it from hemp. There are several different methods of CBD extraction, each with its own benefits and pitfalls, and it pays to be aware of all of them when you’re going into the field.
One of the most popular methods of extracting CBD from hemp is to soak the hemp in a solvent that has been cooled, heated, and agitated. Some of the solvents utilized in the process include propane, butane, and the ever-popular ethanol. Solvent extraction is popular primarily because of its relative simplicity as well as its cost effectiveness when compared to other methods. However, one of the main downfalls is the fire hazard of using any of these highly flammable solvents. Also, if propane and butane aren’t utilized properly, they can leave behind toxic substances, which is why ethanol tends to be the preferred choice.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a natural gas that exists in the earth’s atmosphere. You breathe it every day, and it’s far less harmful to the human body than its brother, carbon monoxide. In CBD extraction, gaseous CO2 is converted into a liquid form through a series of temperature fluctuations and extreme pressure. This is called going into a “supercritical” state. Once CO2 is in a supercritical state, it can effectively break down the hemp molecules to extract the CBD. This method is appealing because it skips the flammable, toxic substances of solvent-based extractions while targeting certain compounds in hemp. The downside is that putting CO2 in a supercritical state requires high pressure, and the process can be complicated and expensive.
The simplicity and low cost of olive oil makes it a popular choice for people making CBD oils at home. Basically, hemp is boiled in a mixture of water and robust olive oil between 200 and 300 degrees; strained; and cooled until it congeals. Olive oil doesn’t have any overly strong flavors that might affect the experience of anyone who uses the CBD oil it produces. However, this method’s yield is very low, and the oil itself has to be stored in a cool, dark place to keep from spoiling.
With all the different CBD products on the market, it makes sense that there would be multiple methods of CBD extraction. Ultimately, you can make any of these methods work for you with enough research and training. You simply have to find the one that works best for your operations and purposes.