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So let’s take a quick look at how Cannabidiol is extracted from hemp or marijuana plants and then processed into an oil or other formats. As with all things the important starting point is the feedstock or crop that is going to be processed.

Typically manufactures of CBD will use high quality, pesticide & herbicide-free, industrial hemp strains that are high in CBD with low THC levels. This is to comply with regulatory requirements that the THC is less than 0.3% THC.

There are a number of extraction processes available but let’s focus on how cannabidiol is extracted from hemp using the supercritical CO2 process, which the bigger and more professional companies use. This is a far more costly exercise than the other solvent extraction processes but is considered the safest and most efficient method for CBD recovery, in addition to using non-toxic liquid carbon dioxide as the solvent. Supercritical CO2 is used extensively for commercial extraction in the food industry, so it is nothing new and experimental.

The basic supercritical CO2 apparatus is a closed loop system comprising three main components or vessels/chambers. The 1st chamber holds the solid, pressurised CO2 (what is also known as ‘dry ice’), a second chamber, or extraction vessel, contains dry plant material and the third chamber separates the finished product.

how cannabidiol is extracted from hempThe solid CO2 is pumped into the second chamber, holding the plant material, and which is kept at a specific pressure and temperature, causing the CO2 to behave more like a liquid (although it’s actually somewhere between a liquid and gas in this state, referred to as supercritical CO2). In this state, the CO2 is able to permeate through solids like a gas and dissolve materials like a liquid. It runs through the plant material and extracts the essential oils, much like in the liquid solvent process. The CO2 & cannabinoid mixture is pumped into a third chamber called the separator, where it is kept at an even lower pressure and higher temperature. This allows for material separation and the CO2 gas rises to the top of the chamber while the oils from the plant material, being denser fall to the bottom.

This material is collected for further processing and refining through emulsification with alcohol and filtration to remove waxes and fats, then removal of the alcohol to produce a refined high-quality cannabis oil.

As it is a closed loop the CO2 is re-captured and further this ensures the CO2 never comes into contact with external elements. By understanding how the various cannabinoids react to different temperature and pressure conditions it is possible to extract specific compounds such as CBD versus THC, for example.

So this is how cannabidiol is extracted from hemp. Sounds straightforward but be advised to look for products that are produced with GMP certification (Good manufacturing practice) to ensure a high-quality product.



This post is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Namaste Superfoods or its staff. There is a wealth of data and information freely available on this topic and links to more scientific research and we suggest you undertake some of your own research.