How CBD Oil is Made: An In-Depth Guide

In recent history many people only associated cannabis with getting high. More and more people are starting to understand that cannabis actually has many other active compounds, other than THC, that all have different effects. One of these other compounds is CBD. Cannabis actually has more than 400 different chemical entities, with over 60 being cannabinoid compounds. It can be a little confusing trying to understand the vocabulary and how everything works, but the important thing is that CBD has many health benefits and won’t get you high.

Hemp vs Marijuana

Cannabis sativa comes in the form of hemp or marijuana. If the plant has 0.3% or less THC it is hemp, but if it has more than that it is marijuana. Hemp has been grown for quite some time and used not for its mind-altering affects, but for industrial purposes like making paper. Although hemp and marijuana are similar and even look almost indistinguishable, they are used for different reasons and grown in different settings. Because hemp generally has much less THC than marijuana, and often a higher CBD content, it is usually hemp which is used to make CBD oil—as well as, of course, hemp oil, which is a different thing altogether.

How CBD is Made

When addressing the question of how CBD oil is made, the truth is that there is more than one way to make CBD oil. The goal in making CBD oil is just to extract the oil from the plant, and this can be done through a few methods. One way is to use the supercritical carbon dioxide process, using nontoxic CO2 as the solvent. This is believed to be a good way to extract the oil because it is clean and pure, leaving no residue behind—and it is FDA approved. After the compounds—such as CBD—have been extracted from the oil the next step is distillation.

Winterization is the first thing to do when distilling, although it is not always necessary.The purpose of Winterization is to take out any elements from the plant that were extracted but are not desirable. A few examples are waxes, fats, and lipids that need to be removed. If the oil wasn’t extracted at either high pressure or high temperature Winterization won’t be needed. Using high temperature or pressure is an intense method of extraction, and it pulls a lot of additional material from the plant that you don’t want in the oil. What is left at this point is crude oil, which must be refined.

At this step 200 proof alcohol is added to the mixture and stirred thoroughly before being put in a freezer where it must stay overnight. After being in the freezer all night the mixture is ready for filtration. It should have a cloudy appearance at this point. This is when it is necessary to filter out the unwanted elements still in the oil, such as fat. Filter paper is used over an extraction jar, and the mixture is then poured through the paper and into the jar.

The only thing left behind that isn’t wanted in the CBD oil at this point is the alcohol. Everything else should have been properly filtered out, but alcohol should not be in the oil. To remove the alcohol heat is needed, so the mixture is warmed and gradually the alcohol evaporates. This works because oil has a higher boiling point than alcohol, so there is no risk of the oil itself evaporating.

The last step in the whole process is called short path distillation. This isolates the CBD and refines the mixture even further. Short Path Distillation works by heating the mixture to different degrees, which works because each compound has a unique boiling point and can be separated from the rest. During this process there should be some testing that the CBD oil is safe and reliable before it is put on the shelves. This is best done with experienced technicians, and they will check for contamination, damage, or degradation to ensure that consumers are getting oil that is safe to use.

At some point the majority of CBD oils will also go through decarboxylation. This is a heating process that removes a carboxyl group while at the same time releasing CO2. Decarboxylation makes it so that cannabinoids are readily available to the body and ready to interact immediately with the endocannabinoid system.

Of course, in its raw form CBD oil is not very palatable, so producers often add flavor to make it a little bit more enjoyable. There is also a question of potency. Of course more potent CBD oil is sold for more, but not everyone needs or wants CBD oil that is very potent. It is then up to the producers to dilute the oil to find the suitable strength and potency to meet the consumer’s needs.

In its pure form CBD oil can be consumed directly, but there are many other popular ways of consuming the oil. After the oil has been made it is often added to capsules, tinctures, liquids, and edibles, which are all commonly used. You may also find it in the form of lotions or creams that can be applied topically.


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