CBD oil took the world by storm a few years ago when Dr. Sanjay Gupta investigated the cannabinoid’s ability to treat children with epilepsy. Initially, CBD oil was viewed as a medicine for the critically ill, but its appeal to the general public is surging. With few regulations, the CBD oil market is congested with questionable products. As a consumer of CBD oils, it is essential for you to know how they are made.
Producing high-quality CBD oil starts with selecting the appropriate cannabis genetics. Whether you are creating CBD oil from marijuana or hemp plants, selecting a strain that is naturally high in CBD is key.
Today’s popular CBD producers, like Receptra Naturals, have worked for years to develop proprietary strains of cannabis that give each its unique appeal. While you can extract CBD from most cannabis strains, choosing a genetic that is naturally high in CBD will increase yields and quality.
Whole plant vs. Isolates
Once the cultivation process is completed, the plant material is set for extraction. There are a variety of CBD oil products on the market. Some of them are “whole plant” extracts.
Whole plant means pretty much what you think it does – the entire plant is used for extraction. This method is popular in the medical communities because it is believed that a wider spectrum of cannabinoids is captured during extraction.
The cannabinoid spectrum is important because it encourages the “entourage effect”, which stimulates the endocannabinoid system.
Comparatively, there are CBD isolates that are “pure” CBD. These isolates rely solely on the effectiveness of the CBD and ultimately the quality of the genetics used to obtain it.
Whole plant CBD oils can be made in a variety of ways. The “original” CBD oil was created by Rick Simpson. This method requires you to soak the plant material in a solvent, such as grain alcohol. Once the material soaks, the remaining liquid is full of CBD (and other cannabinoids), you evaporate the solvent and the remaining oil is ready for consumption.
The Rick Simpson method inspired larger operations to scale their extraction for commercial demand. Today, ethanol is popularly used to extract CBD for oils. This method requires you to soak the plant material in ethanol and then the resulting alcohol solution is put through a “Roto-Vap”.
The Roto-Vap heats the alcohol solution, causing it to evaporate. Instead of evaporating into the air, the Roto-Vap reclaims the ethanol for later use. In a separate chamber, the CBD oil is left behind, free of the solvent and ready for consumption.
Another popular method to extract CBD from cannabis is with CO2. This process requires a bit more skill and certainly more equipment than the alcohol method. CO2 extraction requires a series of chambers that control temperature and pressure. Simply put, the CO2 is forced through the plant material.
The temperature and pressure in the chambers cause the CO2 /cannabinoid solution to react and separate. As the cannabinoids separate, they are collected in different chambers. This method allows an extractor to separate the cannabinoids and ultimately introduce only those desired to their recipe.
These are not the only methods for extracting CBD from cannabis, but they are certainly the most popular today. But extracting CBD is only part of making CBD oil.
Flavoring and dilution
The extracted oil is usually not the best tasting. Now that consumers are taking to CBD oils as an everyday part of their lives, producers are working to make their products tasty.
Additionally, consumers want different strengths of CBD, so producers must “dilute” their raw CBD oils to accommodate.
As a consumer of CBD products, you should focus first on where the plant material used for production is sourced. The best companies in the CBD oil industry are vertically integrated, giving them control of quality and safety from seed to sale. If you identify a company that you believe is the right fit for you, stick with it!