CBD Extraction Explained

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If you’re one of the thousands of people who have welcomed CBD into their lives, you understand its many benefits through first-hand experience.

You may not think passed how it makes you feel and where you get it from. But CBD and CBD oil must be extracted from the hemp plant and processed for consumption.

Not many people understand or know much about this process. And truth be told, there are several different ways to extract CBD and in some cases, the extraction changes the components and effects of a particular strain.

This article will explain the extraction process and different possible methods.

CBD Extraction from hemp plant

The Hemp Plant

Before we can discuss how CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, it’s important to know a little bit more about this CBD source.

Hemp plants are classified as cannabis plants that contain .03% THC or less. That’s what makes CBD use in many states legal. Without psychoactive side effects, more jurisdictions are open and willing to legalize this product.

The hemp plants used for CBD extraction are known as industrial hemp. There are several states within the United States where the growth of industrial hemp plants are legal. CBD is extracted from the stems and stalks of the hemp plant, which is done in an extraction facility.

How CBD is Extracted

There are several ways to extract CBD from the hemp plant. While some methods are more commonly used than others, one isn’t “better” than the other. But the extraction process may affect the potency and effects of the CBD.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction is one of the most commonly used methods of getting small amounts of CBD from the hemp plant but it can also be quite expensive. The equipment used for CO2 extraction is complex and costly.

During this process, carbon dioxide is placed under high pressure at very low temperatures. This is done using several different chambers. The changing pressures and temperatures are what allows very pure, safe, and potent CBD oil to be extracted at nearly 90% efficiency.


Ethanol extraction is another common method but the result isn’t the same. CBD extracted using the ethanol process is often less pure and potent than when done using CO2.

Ethanol is used to extract the CBD from the hemp plant, but it’s argued that during the process, the plant’s waxes are removed. This is less than desirable for cultivators who see the potential benefits of preserving the wax portion of the hemp plant.

CBD extraction


While CO2 extraction uses very low temperatures to extract CBD, the use of heat for this same reason is growing in popularity. This post from Rosin Authority explains how heat extraction creates a potent CBD extract.

Essentially, two heated plates are pressed onto both sides of the hemp plant or other material you’re extracting the oils from. High pressure and high heat are then used to loose the glands of the plant and release the cannabinoids. Think of it as squeezing the oils out.

Olive Oil

Yes, you can actually use oil to extract CBD oil. And what’s even more interesting is that you can use EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), which means it’s not meant for just cooking. This process is commonly used by people to make their own CBD oil at home, minus the fancy and expensive equipment.

In order to do so, you’ll need the actual cannabis buds ground into a very fine powder. Extractors then heat equal parts oil and water before adding the ground cannabis powder. You need to keep an eye on the mixture, as the water will slowly begin to boil. Once it does, maintain a slow simmer for approximately 30 minutes.

In time, the water will evaporate and the cannabis will now be floating at the top of the oil. Lastly, you let the entire mixture cool completely. Once the mixture reaches room temperature or a temperature you can easily handle, you can strain the mixture, leaving you with your CBD infused oil.

It’s important to note that once the oil is extracted, it should be stored in a cool, dark place.

CBD of drug addiction

How Extraction Changes the CBD Oil

Now that you know a little more about how CBD oil is extracted, it’s important to know how the extraction process impacts the quality and potency of the compound.

CO2 extraction is the purest of methods because no chemicals are used and the CBD oil removed from the hemp plant is 90% pure.

Other extraction processes like those that use ethanol or other chemicals, are less pure and often leave residual chemicals behind, which are ultimately consumed by the user.

The olive oil extraction process mentioned above likely produces the least potent form of CBD due to its basic and elementary process.

CBD Extraction

Full-Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate

One of the most beneficial form of CBD available is full-spectrum.

Full-spectrum CBD contains all the vitamins, cannabinoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids found in the hemp plant. This type of CBD offers users what’s known as the entourage effect, which is a phenomenon said to help reduce the effects of the high caused by THC consumption. It may also help activate a person’s own cannabinoid receptors, intensifying the user’s desired effects.

For more information on the entourage effect of cannabis check out the below video with Dr Teh, Cannabinoid Clinician explaining it in more details:

The other popular form of CBD most people know is CBD isolate. This form of CBD is exactly how it sounds and gives users the highest concentrate of the CBD component. CBD isolate products are made by completely isolating the CBD molecule and are often considered the purest form of CBD available.

Choosing between full-spectrum or CBD isolate is all about the user’s preference. For those who find the taste of the hemp plant unpleasant, CBD isolate might be a better choice. On the other hand, full-spectrum CBD is said to address a wider range of health conditions.

Most CBD users find a supplier or product they like and order it without a second thought. And while there’s nothing wrong with this, it might be useful to know and understand the extraction process and how that affects the product you’re using.

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