From Plant to Product: How is CBD Oil Made?
CBD oils have become a hugely popular product, with nearly 50% of Americans age between 18-29 reporting to have tried some form of CBD product. Even if you have never tried a CBD product yourself, you are likely familiar with the ingredient, and you’ve at least heard the name CBD before. While many people are familiar with CBD, very few people could give you a clear account of how the product came to be.
It all Starts with a Seed
The 2014 Agriculture Act redefined hemp. As long as the plant contains no more than 0.3% THC, it was no longer regarded as an illicit substance but rather an agricultural product like any other. This changed the game when it came to CBD production, as it is meant that farmers across America could begin sewing the hemp plant legally.
Farmers can plant hemp seeds outside or inside in greenhouses or under ultra-violet lights to aid photosynthesis. The seeds come from plants that have been selectively bred to be high in CBD and other favored cannabinoids while remaining low in THC.
Extracting the Oil
Once the hemp plants reach a certain age, they begin to create flowering tops. These flowering tops will then be harvested so that the farmers can begin the extraction process. There are a few different methods that a farmer can use to extract crude CBD oil from the plant. A farmer could choose to use a specialized piece of equipment that has a vacuum oven with pump, which is used to heat ingredients. The isolated compounds can then be extracted. Alternatively, one might choose to use an alcohol solvent, commonly ethanol, to dissolve the water-soluble compounds contained within the plant. Whichever method is employed, the aim is the same, to dry out the plant material and separate the active compounds.
Purifying the Extracted Oil
It does not just take one extraction process to create a pure CBD oil. In fact, the process of heating or pressurizing the plant means that there are serval different compounds that are extracted alongside CBD. These commonly include fatty acids, chlorophyll, and other plant materials. This means that a farmer will have to take further steps to purify and clean the extracted substance before it can be ready for sale.
The more common purification step that is taken at this point is called waterization. The first step of the waterization process involves mixing the CBD oil extract with 200 proof alcohol, and this mixture is then left to freeze. Once the mixture is completely frozen, it is then ready to be filtered. The mixture is put over heat, and since the alcohol has a lower boiling point than the oil, this substance evaporates, taking the other unwanted compounds along with it.
Some farmers continue with similar processes until they reach their desired level of CBD. Products that contain CBD isolate have likely undergone serval rounds of purification.
The Final Product
Once the desired level of purification has been obtained, the substance is ready to be made into the final product. CBD can be packaged up to be sold as a stand-alone ingredient in oil or capsule form. Alternatively, it is often used as an ingredient in foods and cosmetics. It is most common that the CBD oil is sent from the farmers onto a producer to be made into the final product.