How CBD Extract Is Made


This article will provide information about how CBD extract is produced using various solvents as well as CO2 and oil. It will also briefly address further refining methods and what to consider when purchasing. 

The flowers of the cannabis plant are rich in various wonderful compounds, but it is the Cannabidiol (CBD), one of its many chemicals, that have been receiving a lot of attention recently as the body of research has grown to show a breadth of potentially useful applications.

CBD extract can be made from many types of cannabis plants, including the one we call marijuana that contains THC, the strains bread purposefully to increase CBD and decrease THC amounts and the agricultural hemp, which is known to have no THC. In other words, CBD is abundant!

But how does CBD end up in the tasty gummies or handy tincture or lotions? Well, luckily the ways of making CBD extract from plants are numerous, especially from the plants such as cannabis strains that were bred for high content of CBD and agricultural hemp. Utilizing a solvent, either liquid such as CO2 or oil-based is the easiest and fastest route.

In the case of smokable cannabis, that contains THC, the manufacturers must work to separate CBD from THC and other cannabinoids. This process usually requires costly professional equipment as it becomes more complex. We are not planning to get too technical in this section, so let’s just first review extraction methods for plants without THC, the source most commonly used for extracting CBD for different types of CBD extract products.


How CBD Extract Is Made - Decarbing



It is the simplest method, in which liquid solvents such as ethanol, butane, isopropyl alcohol, or hexane are run over the dried plant parts confined in a container to extract cannabinoids and terpenes that create its unique flavor. Liquid hemp or CBD extract is processed in a way to allow for solvent evaporation, leaving only the oil with cannabinoids and terpenes.

This method is inexpensive due to being virtually equipment-free, but there are downsides, as there is a concern that traces of solvents remain in the final CBD extract product, despite careful processing methods and the right solvents used.

Additionally, in many cases, liquid solvents are also able to remove plants’ chlorophyll during the cannabinoids and terpenes extraction, which supplies the resulting CBD hemp oil a deep natural color and somewhat bitter taste.

Despite the drawbacks of this method, it is still very common for CBD extraction, because these problems can usually be relatively effectively dealt with via adjusting specifics in the process.




This method is a bit more complex as it uses a 'closed-loop extractor' a special three-chamber machine, with the first chamber holding solid, pressurized C02 or also known as ‘dry ice’, the second chamber containing dry plant matter over which at a very specific pressure a supercritical CO2 (a state between its’ liquid and gas form) is ran extracting cannabinoids and terpenes.

The third one, that is kept under the lowest pressure but the higher temperature is reserved for the finished product, where CO2 is able to rise to the top while the cannabinoid and terpenes containing oil extracted from the plant material concentrate below and can be collected for consumption.

This process harnesses the CO2 molecule’s unique ability to function as any state of matter, be it solid, liquid, or gas, depending on the pressure and temperature it is kept under, the variables that have to be kept very specific in C02 extraction.

One of the many upsides to this method is that the process akin to a liquid solvent extraction where the solvent must be evaporated is not needed and the chance it is going to end up in the final CBD extract is negligible. Another plus is this method is known to be very good at separating CBD or other cannabinoids from cannabis that also contains THC due to its useful ability to manage different pressures throughout the extraction.

The only problem with the closed-loop extraction method is that the systems required for it are quite expensive, therefore they are only available to bigger scale CBD extract producers.




Perhaps one of the oldest ways of cannabinoid extraction hailing from pre-biblical times is that of using various oils. Olive oil has been known to be used the most frequently. Cannabinoids are oil soluble and that allows for this sure and easy way to reach for their benefits. It is not usually used by a large scale or professional operations, but many small scale home CBD extraction operations still employ this simple extraction method while making their own CBD extract products. It uses the process of decarboxylation or heating the raw plant matter in order for the chemicals in the plant to be "activated".

Thereafter, the olive oil and dried plant material are combined and the entire mixture is heated at water boiling temperature for several hours. While this method does produce CBD extract, the olive oil remains, making the end product quite dilute in difference with CBD oil made with other methods, and its’ users to consume much higher quantities of this type of extracted oil as a result. An additional downside is that like any other eatable oil, this infused product is highly unstable and must be kept out of sunlight or high temperatures to prevent rancidity. 


The three methods just discussed are the most used ways of CBD extraction, yet this is a rapidly emerging field and technology is being constantly updated, therefore we expect some new creative methods to appear in the future as producers will continue to respond to ever-growing needs of this developing industry.

Each method is chosen based on the needs of a company or an individual. Important questions to ask are what will be the ultimate uses for the final CBD extract, is there specific flavor profile being sought, as well as those regarding the product reliability and potency.

Various other processes exist after the initial CBD extraction. They are tailored to the production blueprint of each individual company in order to make a variety of products, such as CBD e-liquids, CBD crystals, cosmetics and much more. 




In the process of harvesting pure, high-quality natural CBD oil, such as CBD isolate, and not full- or -spectrum, CBD oil winterization is a vital step, as it is designed to remove undesirable substances from the oil.

The extracted oil is frozen after it is combined with alcohol (200-proof). The mixture is left overnight and filtered sometime around the morning. In doing so the extraneous lipids and other similar materials are removed and the alcohol is able to be later boiled off without harming the oil since its boiling point is below that of the oil.




The different compounds of CBD extract all boil at a different temperature threshold which is often lower than the oil itself. This is used in the process of distillation designed to refine the CBD oil further, specifically the distillation type with the catchy name "short path" distillation, which is often used to obtain the purest form of CBD oil.

Slowly heating the mixture is the key to the unwanted substances boiling off. The process uses distillation tubes that form vapors and make them travel until they reach specific coils of lower temperature and begin the process of condensation. That condensate is then collected in a container below. To reach the purest CBD form. This process needs to be repeated many times.




As the cannabis-related industry is still in its’ early growth stages, with many cannabis-related legal dilemmas in the United States, the standards for those are still very scares, which can potentially put the unsuspecting consumers at risk as they can and are often sold either impure cannabis oil or something that does not contain CBD oil at all. Therefore, to avoid that it is vital to research the company one is purchasing CBD products from.

There are several groups that are currently working on establishing the CBD industry standards, which are expected to focus on all aspects from cultivation, to extraction, to sale, and as marijuana-related products gain greater acceptance, more standards are likely to be adapted as a response in a future.


How CBD Extract Is Made - Making CBD Oil



Depending on how it is made, variations in color are also common for CBD oil and can help determine its’ type. The most expensive and pure CBD oil is filtered and is yellow or gold in color. The most potent CBD oil is decarboxylated or heated to “activate” its’ healing properties and is usually amber or brown color, while raw oil is commonly dark or green-tinged, as it is unfiltered and contains plant fibers and chlorophyll.




While knowing how CBD oil in a specific product is made is very important, what is even more important to its safety and purity is how the cannabis plants were grown and what contaminants they carry.

As we stated earlier due to CBD being a relatively new compound on the cannabis products market the existence and stringency of related regulations are lagging and there is still not much in place that is designed to protect consumers short of knowing the manufacturing company’s reputation, the responsibility that currently falls square on the consumers’ shoulders.

Learning about each individual product from the company they trust, and what testing was performed on the CBD used in those products are some of the key things one should be aware of before choosing a CBD extract oil.


 We hope this article helped you learn about the different ways to make CBD extracts. For more information please visit our Knowledge Base articles.

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