The Process of Extracting CBD From Hemp

by Alfred van der Heide
extracting cbd from hemp

The Process of Extracting CBD From Hemp

extracting cbd from hemp

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the highly popular cannabinoid compound found in Cannabis sativa; it typically becomes extracted from industrial hemp that contains less than 0.3% Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – meaning it won’t make you high.

CBD molecules communicate with the network of cannabinoid receptors spread throughout the body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). These receptors work to keep our bodies performing at their best.

How is CBD Extracted?

The extraction of CBD shifts the compound into a highly compressed form that humans can consume safely. There are four commonly used extraction methods for CBD oil; each one uniquely draws CBD from raw hemp material.

However, some methods are a bit less hazardous than others; some may require only a handful of items while others will need specialized equipment. And while some may produce the best results, others may strip the useful contents altogether.

Here are the four main ways to extract CBD oil and their step-by-step process:

1. The CO2 Extraction Method

CO2 extraction makes use of carbon dioxide (CO2) that becomes pressurized and pulls CBD from hemp while also keeping other useful cannabis components intact. This method is typically for mass producing CBD oil commercially.

Top CBD manufacturers and suppliers primarily use CO2 extraction because it’s the safest way to yield the purest CBD oil product. This form of extracting hemp oil also breaks down into three sub-categories – supercritical, subcritical, and mid-critical – with supercritical being the most used one.

Is CO2 Extraction Safe?

When we breathe, our bodies produce carbon dioxide naturally – it’s a natural substance.

It’s also unpolluted, and the process doesn’t emit any harmful substances into the air. CO2 is what carbonates soda which makes it fresh and fizzy, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers it safe for several edible products.

Additionally, CO2 extraction isn’t flammable nor does it leave any flame-hazard particles within the final CBD product.

CO2 extraction requires relatively expensive equipment called a Closed-loop Extractor; this piece of machinery comprises of three chambers – one for the solid or liquid form of CO2, the second for raw hemp material, and the third for the complete extraction.

Step-by-step Process for CO2 Extraction

In the first chamber:

  1. Raise the pressure of CO2 with a compressor.
  2. Raise the temperature of CO2 with a heater.

This process creates the supercritical CO2.

In the second chamber:

  1. Pass the supercritical CO2 through the raw hemp material.

The CO2 pulls out the CBD molecules along with any other essential oils.

In the third chamber:

  1. Break the CO2 and hemp solution down into its parts with a separator.
  2. Collect hemp extracts inside a receptacle.

The hemp extracts become separated from the CO2 into a collection while it’s possible for the used CO2 to pass through a condenser to become liquid again.

extracting cbd from hemp

2. The Dry Ice Extraction Method

Using dry ice to extract CBD closely resembles CO2 extraction as a do-it-yourself (DIY) method – mainly because dry ice is the solid form of CO2.

Is Dry Ice Extraction Safe?

The dry ice method of extraction is typically safe and easy to follow, and it’s cleaner than other DIY techniques. The procedure can produce a decent amount of hemp extracts, but it’ll be low-quality that could become easily damaged – and dry ice is not readily available everywhere.

The process will require the following items:

If you are missing some of the items, we’ve attached links to them with our recommendations for this process.

Most items on the list can be found at your local hardware shop. The only ones you will probably have difficulty finding are the different sized hash mesh bags, which are critical for this method. We recommend Bubble Dragon, as they are competitively priced and are made from the highest grade material.

Step-by-step Process for Dry Ice Extraction

  1. Put on gloves and eye protection.
  2. Chop the hemp material into little pieces.
  3. Place chopped hemp into the plastic bucket.
  4. Fill the bucket halfway with bits of dry ice and make sure it covers the chopped hemp completely.
  5. Let the bucket sit for 3 minutes as the trichome resins from the hemp begin to freeze.
  6. Stretch the 73-micron bag on top of the bucket and shake it for about 4 minutes to break off the frozen trichomes.
  7. Place the bucket upside down over the plexiglass and shake all the resin through the mesh bag.
  8. Use the scraper to scrape the resin of the plexiglass and into one jar.
  9. Repeat steps using the 160 and 200-micron mesh bags.

Practice caution when working with dry ice; it should not touch any bare skin.

When storing dry ice, use a cooler made from styrofoam rather than a sealed container. Use dry ice in an area with proper ventilation and dispose of it by letting it become warm and evaporate.

3. The Olive Oil Extraction Method

Olive oil is the substance most commonly used for do-it-yourself, CBD oil extraction. The critical ingredient for this method is the decarboxylated hemp material along with the olive oil. The decarboxylation of raw hemp means to activate the plant’s chemicals through heat.

Is Olive Oil Extraction Safe?

The olive oil method is safe as it won’t cause any violent combustions – it’s best to be mindful of the heat temperatures to avoid any burns. It’s easy and inexpensive to get olive oil; however, it is perishable.

Once the hemp becomes infused with it, store the oil in a cool, dark place and use it often. It also only produces small amounts of CBD extracts.

Olive oil can be found in your local supermarket. As well as some online retailers such as Amazon, at a low price. Click here to see current prices.

Step-by-step Process for Olive Oil Extraction

  1. Heat the hemp material at either 248 °F for an hour or 284 °F for 30 minutes.
  2. Add hemp to the olive oil.
  3. Heat the heat/olive oil mixture at 212 °F for no more than 2 hours.

The olive oil will extract the cannabinoids from the hemp and will remain within the oil.

4. The Solvent Extraction Method

The use of conventional solvents like ethanol or butane to strip hemp extracts is quite possibly the most simple extraction process of them all. The solvents will pull the complete range of terpenes and cannabinoids upon contact.

Once the easy-to-follow process is complete, the result is a relatively good quality of CBD oil that could become vaped.

Is Solvent Extraction Safe?

Ethanol and butane are highly flammable substances; it may not be suitable to attempt outside a properly controlled area or without flame-resistant protection.

These solvents are not only capable of stripping the beneficial extracts from hemp, but also the plant wax, chlorophyll, and other harmful contaminants that could remain inside the final product.

extracting cbd from hemp

Step-by-step Process for Solvent Extraction Method

  1. Add the solvent of choice to the hemp material.
  2. Collect the desired amount of extraction liquid in a fire-resistant container.
  3. Heat the liquid carefully for it to evaporate into CBD-infused oil.

Why Extract CBD Oil from Hemp

The purpose of extracting CBD from hemp material is to create a compressed version of all the cannabinoids and other beneficial elements that are safe for consumption. Using CO2 – either supercritical or dry ice – is the most reliable method; however, it may require sophisticated equipment or hard-to-get items.

Olive oil and solvents are by far the most accessible substances to use for hemp extracts, but each has their drawbacks with solvents retaining the highest probability to cause harm through consumption and the process of extraction because of high-flammable chemicals.

While there may be other methods that haven’t become mainstream or popular yet, it’s best to research both the benefits and any hazards of extraction before attempting outside a controlled environment.


For more information on all things CBD, go check out the team over at cbdMD.

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