British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals recently received FDA approval of their oral solution Epidolex for treating seizures associated with Avoid hot hemp extract products by investing in a cost-effective and scalable THC remediation solution that can eliminate THC and reduce loss of CBD. How to extract CBD oil – The extraction process & how to make CBD oil CBD (Cannabidiol) is a compound that has shown promise in a variety of medical applications, like relief from pain and
CBD Oil: A How-To Guide for At-Home Extractions
British pharmaceutical company GW Pharmaceuticals recently received FDA approval of their oral solution Epidolex for treating seizures associated with Tuberous Sclerosis, adding another condition to the list of health issues that their CBD oil solution can successfully and safely treat. Individual users, however, claim that cannabis oil helps reduce pain and anxiety, as well as other issues that still await clinical confirmation.
Apart from its medicinal use, CBD oil can also be used to cook various dishes, sauces, dressings, and gummies. The wave of legalization that has swept North America recently also allowed entrepreneurs to start-up businesses and sell oil and other products made via CBD extraction to a wide array of consumers, not only those with medicinal needs.
If you’re looking for a way to make your own oil, however, this article is here to show you how to extract CBD from a cannabis plant at home.
Distinct types of CBD oil
Depending on the strain you use and the preparation method, there are three different types of CBD oil:
- Full Spectrum
- Broad Spectrum
- CBD Isolate
Each of these three types of products provides a separate set of compounds and effects. It’s very important to know what you’re introducing into your system, especially when it comes to potentially psychoactive substances.
Full Spectrum CBD oil contains more than just CBD; there’s a wide array of other cannabinoids, including THC, terpenes, and essential oils. This type of CBD oil allows the use of both leaves and flowers to assure the presence of every compound; however, leaves hold a high concentration of chlorophyll, which gives the oil a dark color and a somewhat bad taste.
Broad Spectrum CBD oil gives you the full set of substances, as well, however, there is no THC, which means you won’t get high or show positive on a drug test if you consume the oil on a regular basis.
CBD Isolate is the purest form of CBD oil extracted from nothing but the plant flower. If you’re opting for this type of oil, you should use hemp flower for this purpose. Hemp has been legal in the U.S. since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill.
Since the extraction of Full Spectrum CBD oil is the way to obtain the most of the plant’s benefits to our wellbeing, we’ll go through to examine this method, not only because buying complex equipment for marijuana processing might get you in trouble, but also because it’s the simplest process and easy to implement at home. For those of you who would like to know other methods of marijuana oil extraction, we’ll also mention some alternatives at the end.
Extracting CBD oil from a flower
Before you start the process, it’s of paramount importance to know that Ethanol or Ethyl Alcohol is a highly flammable substance so make sure you take every precaution to keep yourself and your environment safe from fire hazard. That being said, let’s get on with the preparation process.
What do you need?
Cannabis flowers – make sure you trim down every leaf and leave nothing but the flower for the extraction process. Break larger buds into smaller pieces to make it easier for processing or even better, grind the flower so that the herb could absorb the alcohol better.
Ethanol – Best use 95% Food-Grade Ethyl alcohol.
Filtering equipment – Best use paper filters or fold gauze into several layers.
Fireproof bowl – the size of the bowl depends on how much material you have prepared.
Large glass jar – This is where you’ll mix alcohol and weed.
To activate cannabinoids, we must place the ground herb into an oven for about 45 minutes. Spread marijuana over a casserole dish or something similar and keep the oven heated at around 110 degrees Celsius. Depending on the granulation, it could take less than 45 minutes for the decarboxylation process, so pay attention not to burn your weed in the oven.
Mixing and filtering
Place your weed into the jar and pour alcohol over it until it covers the weed completely. Stir the mixture every 5 minutes several times and let the mix sit for an hour or two. You can’t let it sit for too long, so don’t worry if you leave it sitting longer than this.
Place the layered gauze or paper filter over the fireproof bowl and start pouring the solution. It’s not a bad idea to repeat the filtering process several times until you’re satisfied with the achieved purity of the filtered solution.
Removing the alcohol
Ethyl alcohol boils at 78 degrees Celsius which is the temperature you should set on your heating surface and slowly mix the solution within the fireproof bowl. Keep the bowl over the heat source until no alcohol vapor or bubbles is appearing on the surface of the heated liquid.
More oil extraction methods
There are numerous ways to extract oil, some even answer the question of how to extract THC from your product. As these require a bit more experience, we’ll only go through some of the most popular methods.
This is one of the newest ways to produce CBD oil and it offers the purest oil extract, called CBD Isolate, free of any additional compounds. It requires a CO2 machine because it relies on carbon dioxide as a solvent. The herb is being placed into a Co2 machine and kept under pressure. This process also includes the Winterization and Decarboxylation process. The first is used to separate CBD from wax and lipids that might be left, while Decarboxylation activates the CBD.
Similar to Ethanol extraction, the oil method requires the use of olive or coconut oil as a solvent. One major difference is that the herb is being mixed with water and dehydrated before it’s mixed with the oil and heated. This method is most commonly used by people who need to create CBD tinctures or topicals that can be applied directly to the affected area and deal with muscle pain.
We hope this article has helped you capture the basics of CBD oil extraction. We tried to cover the extraction process as comprehensively as possible so you wouldn’t have any setbacks while trying to make your extract at home. Also, we avoided the use of specialized chemistry equipment because, let’s face it, not too many people have a lab set up in the house. Enjoy your new knowledge and have fun making your CBD oil.
Tia is an editor and contributor for AskGrowers. She is passionate about traveling, yoga, and horse-riding, and at some point wants to see every corner of the Earth. She’s been working in the cannabis field for some time and is excited to continue and discover even more about this industry.
THC Remediation of Hemp Extracts With Compliance and Purity
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), once the darling of the industry, seems now to be playing second fiddle to its counterpart, cannabidiol (CBD). THC-free products are now all the rage in the wellness and pharmaceutical space due to their powerful therapeutic effects without the intoxicating experience.
For hemp producers, growing hemp that contains less than 0.3% THC is a tall but doable order with the right genetics and cultivation methods. If a farmer is unable to produce compliant cannabinoid concentrations, it can result in a loss of crops and, ultimately, a lower bottom line.
For hemp processors, producing THC-free extracts with non-detectable levels of the cannabinoid requires investment in high-tech and cost-effective THC remediation technology and skilled technicians to achieve a low loss rate at scale.
What Is THC Remediation?
In an effort to remain compliant with federal and state regulations and satisfy consumer demand, hemp producers have turned to advanced methods to purify their hemp extracts.
THC remediation refers to the process of removing THC from hemp-derived extracts. THC remediation methods include dilution and chromatography techniques. Essentially, these remediation methods can yield up to 99% CBD concentrations.
Why THC Remediation Is So Important in the Cannabis Industry
After the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp production in the United States, many farmers jumped on the hemp bandwagon seeking to enter the lucrative, exciting, and fast-growing CBD market.
The bill effectively removed hemp from the definition of cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act. Essentially, it is no longer a controlled substance like marijuana.
Under the bill, hemp is defined as any part of the plant and all derivatives with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Due to this change, hemp producers and processors must ensure their products contain less than the federal limit.
In some cases, due to genetics or the growing environment, farmers can grow “hot hemp,” referring to hemp that has higher THC levels than allowed. If plants are over the limit, they cannot be sold, which can result in a loss of overall income.
In its interim hemp regulations, the USDA required farmers to destroy the plants. In January 2021, they created final rules allowing “common on-farm practices for the disposal of noncompliant plants.”
Common disposal practices include:
- Plowing under non-compliant plants
- Composting into “green manure” for use on the same land
While the rule change decreased the cost of hot hemp disposal by more than 90%, it still means the hemp cannot be used for the creation of hemp extracts such as CBD distillate, CBD isolate, and CBD crude oil .
For hemp processors who want to make CBD products with non-detectable THC levels, THC remediation technology ensures that the hemp extract remains compliant with federal and state laws. In some states, the sale of THC is prohibited.
The remediation process is also an important step in removing THC to meet the increased demand for non-intoxicating cannabis extracts. In some states, CBD sales are restricted to products without any THC.
Some users with safety-sensitive jobs such as police officers, firefighters, and factory workers require cannabis products that won’t put them at risk for testing positives for THC. That means THC products or even CBD:THC products are out of the question.
As a growing number of cannabis producers continue to bet big on hemp farming, they will be in dire need of THC remediation when the biomass gets extracted into a crude oil.
Extraction methods cause a spike in THC concentrations compared to its starting plant material that may not be desirable for cannabis producers.
THC Remediation Methods In the CBD Industry
THC remediation of hemp plants can be accomplished in a variety of ways, depending on the processor’s preference, budget, equipment, and skill level. Methods of THC removal depend on the chemical content of the starting material and the desired final concentration of cannabinoids.
Since THC and CBD have similar boiling points, it can be challenging to separate CBD and THC from each other.
Here are the most common methods of separating THC from large quantities of hemp extract. All remediation techniques are effective, but differ in terms of price, equipment, and scalability.
Dilution is a common and low-tech method of lowering the level of THC in the extract. Dilution can be a cost-effective and straightforward method of THC remediation compared to other high-tech methods.
Processors can use other substances to lower the THC levels within an extract, so the product can be compliant. Common substances used include hemp seed oil or mid-chain triglycerides (MCT) such as palm oil.
One of the downsides of this method is that dilution reduces the overall amount of CBD per volume in the final product.
Crystallization is another popular method of THC remediation since CBD crystallizes easily.
Extraction technicians can activate the acidic compounds such as cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THCA) through the decarboxylation (heating) process using a heated solvent. The process converts the acidic forms into their neutral forms (CBD and THC, respectively).
After the decarboxylation process, the active CBD cannabinoid can easily crystallize allowing the filtration of other cannabinoids. Crystallization can also aid in pesticide remediation.
Reverse-Phase Flash Chromatography
Chromatography is a popular way to create THC-free products. Investing in high-tech and expensive chromatography equipment can streamline the extraction and remediation process for faster results at high volumes.
Flash chromatography, in particular, is a common and efficient type of gas chromatography that manufacturers can help with THC remediation.
Flash chromatography uses specialty polymeric resins and high solvent amounts, adding to expenses and storage needs. During the process, operators use a pressurized gas to pump the solvent needed to separate molecules at a fast rate compared to standard column chromatography methods.
Normal flash chromatography is not effective at removing THC. Instead, reverse phase chromatography techniques using water, silica, and ethanol solvents are common in THC remediation.
In this chromatography technique, CBD is removed first by using a specialty filter media in the column that allows it to travel more quickly than THC.
Here is a quick look into how reverse phase chromatography works:
- The extract is pumped into a column featuring stationary phase media.
- As the crude oil passes through the media, the THC and CBD interact differently with it making the CBD move through the media at a quicker rate.
- CBD exits the column before the THC and is collected separately.
- The THC exits the column later and can be destroyed (if necessary).
Flash chromatography can be costly for many processors and require highly skilled lab technicians. For small-scale processors, scaling up to bigger volumes of production can require a high investment. but is one of the most effective ways to remove nearly 100% of the THC.
This chromatography method uses the principles of polarity to separate CBD and THC. These two compounds have different polarities. THC is less polar than CBD.
High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
HPLC is a type of liquid chromatography that uses less solvent and has shorter run times than flash chromatography. HPLC can be the ideal solution for manufacturers looking to scale their operations. HPLC is a common method of testing the potency and purity of cannabis samples.
Centrifugal Partition Chromatography (CPC)
CPC uses standard column chromatography techniques but instead of using a solid phase, uses liquid stationary and mobile phases. Centrifugal force helps the liquid remain in one place, while the other liquid moves through the column.
Countercurrent chromatography (CCC) is a type of liquid-liquid chromatography technique that uses liquids as its mobile and stationary phase. CCC uses centrifugal force to maintain the liquid’s stationary phase in place.
CCC can reduce the total amount of solvent used since the crude oil can be captured during the stationary phase. This process can also reduce the loss of yield and avoids the need for additional equipment for the stationary phase.
Supercritical Fluid Chromatography
Supercritical fluid chromatography (SFC) can produce great results in THC remediation. Generally, lower solvent amounts are needed compared to conventional systems. However, SFC can also result in large losses of minor cannabinoids and a lower yield of crude oil.
SFC uses a supercritical fluid that is created using a temperature and pressure beyond the fluid’s critical points. A supercritical fluid has a relatively low viscosity and high diffusivity compared to a liquid mobile phase and higher density compared to a gas. All of this allows for the remediation process to occur at lower temperatures.
Molecular Imprinted Polymer (MIPs) Technology
Molecular imprinted polymer technologies use MIP beads with open spaces designed to trap the desired compound alongside food-grade ethanol and water. This nanotechnology can provide a cost-effective way that can rival the results from chromatography.
With MIPs, you can produce high yields. MIP technology enables processors to work with everything from crude oils to isolates and result in a lower loss of yield. In addition, it can reduce the operational costs compared with most chromatography methods.
For cannabis processors who cannot invest heavily in chromatography equipment to remove THC, there are new THC remediation techniques being developed that use the natural THC degradation process to convert the intoxicating cannabinoids into another valuable one.
A combination of light, heat, and pressure cause the THC compound to age and degrade over time. Exposure to these elements convert THC into cannabinol (CBN), a minor cannabinoid known for its sedative effects.
For some cannabis consumers, CBN can be a potentially therapeutic cannabinoid that can be used for its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, neuroprotective, and sleep-inducing effects.
Some processors are experimenting with degradation techniques that involve a chemical conversion using solvent techniques, UV light degradation, and heat oxidation to speed up the natural aging process.
Using these techniques can help create CBD-rich products without THC. During the process, THC can be converted into the relatively non-intoxicating CBN compound. Chemical conversion techniques can make economic sense compared to chromatography; however, the process rarely produces consistent results.
Naturally, the degradation process could take months or years, depending on the exposure to light, heat, and pressure and storage methods. Using these techniques, the process can be sped up for high-volume production.
Degradation techniques can help reduce any problems with yield loss but also cause CBD to degrade, depending on the SOPs. In addition, the degradation process can take a lot longer than chromatography. It is important to compare the cost effectiveness of each.
For large-scale production, chromatography cannot be beat.
Processors must also consider that CBN has its own regulations, which vary by country, compared to other cannabinoids. For instance, the United Kingdom prohibits CBN. When using chemical conversions, you enter a quasi-legal space since THC is illegal and CBN may be considered an illegal “analog” of THC in the U.S.
Handling the Challenges of the Cannabis Industry
In the cannabis industry, THC restrictions vary depending on the applicable regulations. Preparing products with compliant THC concentrations can help companies set their sights on international expansion.
For instance, in the U.S., the Farm Bill set the THC cutoff to 0.3% THC for hemp-derived products. In many European Union (EU) countries, the limit for THC can be as low as 0.05%. In some South American countries, such as Colombia, the limit is 1% THC.
Regulations requiring extremely low THC levels pose a great challenge for processors in the cannabis industry, especially for high-volume production. Companies must consider the one-time and ongoing expenses required for high-tech equipment and technician training.
In addition, processors must consider their state’s unique cannabis transportation laws. In some states, you cannot even ship a hemp extract sample for analytical testing if it contains a THC concentration above the legal limit.
Finally, manufacturers must ensure their remediation efforts do not significantly reduce their yield. In all remediation efforts, there is bound to be some loss. It is up to companies to strike a balance between their expenses and the quality of their remediation.
In terms of cannabis potency, the remediation process can also lead to reducing the average CBD potency. Cannabinoid potency losses are as low as 3%. Generally, losses range between 10% to 25%.
By using the most innovative remediation technology, CBD concentrations can remain about the same without any significant loss during the process.
What Is the Best THC Remediation Method?
Choosing the right THC remediation technique is an important choice that will require considering several factors. Extraction companies must consider the types of products they plan to create.
In addition, they must consider their brand messaging and audience they are appealing to. If they want to choose the right type of THC remediation for the business, they must consider the final product. No one choice is right for everyone.
In terms of the final product, THC remediation can enable processors to break into the CBD market by providing consumers with a reliable, effective, and THC-free product.
Here are some of the many CBD products that can be created using THC remediation:
- CBD Isolates: CBD isolates are crystallized forms of the pure cannabinoid containing well over 99.5% CBD. All other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids have been removed from the extract.
- CBD Distillate:CBD distillate can contain between 80% to 95% or higher CBD levels after the proper THC remediation techniques have been used.
- Crude oil: Broad-spectrum crude oil can contain other cannabinoids and bioactive terpenes. Crude oils can contain between 50% and 75% CBD.
It is important to note the difference between broad-spectrum CBD and full-spectrum CBD. Unlike a broad-spectrum CBD extract, a full-spectrum CBD extract contains low levels of THC (usually below 0.3% on a dry weight basis).
Full-spectrum CBD will not cause a high but can be prohibited in some states and increase the risk of failing a drug test. However, full-spectrum products may provide elevated benefits due to the presence of all cannabinoids.
From the THC-free extracts, CBD manufacturers can create a variety of consumer packaged goods including edibles, tinctures, capsules, topicals, transdermal patches, nano-emulsions, water-soluble powders, and so much more.
THC Remediation at the Source
THC removal has largely been focused on the extraction part of the supply chain. However, producers have been looking for new ways to remove THC from the plant material at the beginning of the production stage.
For example, some cannabis companies are using selective breeding techniques to create hemp cultivars that contain zero THC.
Creating a hemp plant that is free from the intoxicating THC compound enables farmers to grow these THC-free hemp varieties without worrying about growing hot hemp.
Certificate of Analysis
After all the hard work of THC remediation, a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from a third-party lab testing facility can confirm your efforts.
Investing in batch testing before and after the remediation process can give your customers confidence in knowing your CBD products are compliant and have the highest purity and potency.
Crafting a Pure and Compliant CBD Extract
As the cannabis industry continues to grow and exceed market expectations, THC removal will continue to be a significant step in the supply chain of hemp-derived extracts and infused products. Knowing how to remove THC without reducing CBD yield will determine the success of extraction operations.
Cut Labor Costs
Automated controls eliminate weeks or months of apprenticeship training required for manually controlled hydrocarbon systems.
Eliminate Operator Error
Pre-programmed recipe-monitoring system checks pressures and temperatures hundreds of times per second to remove risk of operator error.
Process 18 pounds of dried plant material or 25 pounds of fresh-frozen material per run. Single operator can process 400 pounds of biomass in a single day.
Improve Run Time
50-minute average run time with a 10-minute soak. Run-to-run changeover times of two minutes.
How to extract CBD oil – The extraction process & how to make CBD oil
CBD (Cannabidiol) is a compound that has shown promise in a variety of medical applications, like relief from pain and anxiety which are most common, along with many other ailments. A major benefit to CBD is that it doesn’t contain THC, which is the compound that makes users high, so this makes CBD an ideal product for children. Below you will find a step by step outline of how cbd oil is made.
CBD extract oil from cannabis or hemp.
There are many ways to extract the oil from the plant and make cbd oil. Apeks CO2 extraction systems use CO2 as a solvent to extract the oil. The solvent is considered a cleaner, purer form of extraction because there is no residue after extraction.
To isolate the individual compounds (CBD being one of them), the extracted oil needs to be distilled after extraction. The first step is a process called Winterization, followed by Short Path Distillation.
Winterization is the process to remove undesirable elements that were extracted from the plant, for example fats, waxes, and lipids. This process is only needed when the oil was extracted at high pressure/high temperature (supercritical) because this intense extraction pulls everything from the plant, including material you don’t want in the final products. The extracted oil is effectively crude oil, which needs refining.
Once extracted, the mixture is combined with 200 proof alcohol and stirred vigorously until completely mixed. It’s then placed in a deep freezer overnight. In the morning, the mixture looks cloudy and is ready for filtration. One way to filter out the fats, etc. is to run it through a filter paper into an extraction jar. A common piece of equipment for this is a Buchner Funnel. Once it’s been filtered to satisfaction and the undesirable elements have been removed, it’s time to remove the alcohol. This is done using heat. The extraction is warmed and as its warmed, the alcohol evaporates since the boiling point of alcohol is lower than the oil. The removed alcohol may then be used on a different batch of crude oil.
Mixing oil and alcohol prior to freezing
Short Path Distillation equipment
Short Path Distillation
To further refine the CBD extract, and to isolate the CBD, the oil goes through Short Path Distillation. This works in much the same way as Winterization in that the extract is heated and each compound is then separated because each one has a different boiling point. In this way, each compound is isolated and can be used by itself.
Benefits and Uses of CBD
Research is showing that CBD extract has a huge potential in the medical market. CBD’s common benefits are treating anxiety, reducing pain and inflammation, helping prevent seizures, among many others. Because it’s a natural extract, there are few, if any, side effects. The extract works with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is the system’s method of regulating processes, like pain, mood, appetite, and memory. CBD works with the natural system rather than being an unnatural substance, so the body doesn’t try to reject it. CBD extract may be sourced from cannabis or hemp, most typically from hemp, which is naturally high in CBD. Cannabis can also be bred to have low THC levels and high CBD levels, but it’s possible that the THC will get concentrated and included in your final products.
Tne Entourage Effect
Despite the benefits of CBD as an isolate, there is much to be said for treating patients with all the compounds in the plant, not as separate isolates. Patients can still use the oil without getting high, as long as the THCa has not been heated, which converts it into THC, which is what makes you high. The Entourage Effect is the effect that all the compounds of the plant have on the body, as a whole.
Hemp and cannabis oil extraction processes and techniques.
Andy is on a panel of experts, answering questions from the community. We compiled a collection of questions and answers below, about hemp and cannabis oil extraction processes and techniques.
Click here to get more information on the CBD Extraction Process.
What are the safest and most effective ways to extract and produce CBD-rich cannabis oil? CO2, oil, or ethanol?
What are the safest and the most effective ways to extract and produce CBD oil? CO2, oil, or ethanol?
Thanks for the great question! There are really 2 questions here, so I’ll try to answer them separately.
First question: What are the safest ways to extract? When it comes to extraction, safety is an important issue and has many areas to consider. The list below represents some of the major areas that need to be addressed with the popular solvents being used in the cannabis industry today:
- Materials of Construction- Stainless steel materials for food/consumed oil applications
- Electrical for Flammable Solvents – Class 1, Division 1 (explosion proof) electrical components for compressed flammable gasses, Class 1, Division 2 for ethanol/alcohol
- Electrical, Non Flammable Solvents – NEMA 4x wash down electrical enclosures
- Pressure Rating – usually 300 psi for hydrocarbons, 2000 or 5000psi for CO2.
- Overpressure Protection – non-isolable relief valves set to 110% of maximum allowable working pressure
- Food grade – welds in contact with extracted material should be ground flush and polished
- Accessibility for Cleaning – vessels and piping should be accessible from both ends to allow proper cleaning
- Storage tanks – should be stainless steel to prevent corrosion
Facility – In addition to the equipment considerations, the facility must also be appropriate for the extraction solvent.
- Compressed Flammable Gasses – Class 1, Division 1 facility. This includes electrical fixtures, and also monitoring and evacuation equipment in the event there is a release of flammable gas into the area around the equipment.
- Ethanol/Alcohol – vent hood or equivalent walk in vent area
- CO2 – asphyxiation hazard. Monitoring and audible alarm to warn of leaks.
- CO2 – Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA for consumption
- Compressed gas – GRAS for use as a propellant, states differ on safe residual solvent levels
- Ethanol – GRAS for food products, states differ on safe residual solvent levels
So the answer to the question about safety really doesn’t have anything to do with the solvent, rather the equipment chosen and the facility where the extraction is performed determine safety. The solvents commonly used in extractions today all have pros and cons, and all can be operated safely as long as proper guidelines and regulations are followed.
I addressed the safety question in the first part of the answer, in the second part I’ll address the efficiency question: What is the most effective way to extract CBD-rich oil?
A major problem facing the cannabis industry today is a lack of commonly accepted standards – as evidenced by the question referring to “CBD-rich”. Does “CBD-rich” mean 40% CBD? 99% CBD? And CBD in what form, CBD, CBD-A or some combination? There are groups that are working towards creating standards, such as FOCUS and ASTM, but they have not been widely accepted yet. Without standards, quality also becomes difficult to determine because the only standard is personal subjectivity.
That being said, there are some generalizations about extraction methods that can be made. Keep in mind – every extraction method has benefits and drawbacks. Each method will shine in certain applications, and perform poorly in other. No method is great at everything.