CBD Oil Extraction Methods

CBD Oil Extraction Methods

CBD Oil Extraction Methods

The CBD oil you have in your tincture is grown from industrial hemp, a variety of the cannabis sativa plant, however before it reaches the bottle it has to go through an intense extraction process.

With the popularity of CBD growing exponentially over the past few years, it's worth knowing about the different extraction methods and what you should be looking for.

Different Extraction Methods

There are various methods adopted by brands in order to extract and isolate the individual compounds. The main focus is to utilise a method that maintains the quality and purity from plant to oil.

1) Solvent

Solvent extraction is the process of separating chemicals by washing over plant trimmings.

One of the traditional and oldest methods that has been used throughout history, solvent extraction has been a popular method for so long as it is much more low-cost than some of the others on this list.

The solvents that are commonly used are food grade ethanol, butane, hexane or propane.

With ethanol, there is a distillation process in order to separate out the hemp oil from the ethanol, whereas with hydrocarbon extraction, there will be multiple refinements in order to get to the end product.

The liquid is run over the flowers and plant trimmings, taking away the cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes into the liquid, before starting the evaporation process.

One negative that is commonly highlighted is that the solvent can also extract chlorophyll in the process, which has a really bitter taste, making the CBD oil less pleasant to take if it contains too much chlorophyll.

2) Steam Distillation

Steam distillation involves achieving distillation at a temperature below boiling point in order to isolate temperature sensitive materials, distilling both water and the organic compounds.

This has been a common method in the essential oil industry, with the compound containing vapour then cooled and condensed.

This is another method that has been used for hundreds of years, however one negative aspect that is often discussed with the steam distillation process is the excessive requirement of product to produce the same results.

You will require more hemp at the start of the process to gain enough oil to fill the bottle, while if the heat is too high then some of the cannabinoids may be damaged. For these reasons, this is not considered one of the best methods for extracting CBD oil and you won’t find many CBD brands utilising this method today.

3) CO2 Extraction

This is by and far considered to be the golden method of CBD extraction, largely because the end result is often more potent, much safer and is free from the bitter tasting chlorophyll that the solvent process struggles to remove.

While this is now considered the go-to method, it was only a few years ago this wasn't so commonly conducted.

The main reason for this was due to the increased cost, with the requirement for advanced and expensive equipment in order to precisely produce the highly concentrated CBD oil extract.

This process involves pressurised carbon dioxide used to extract the cannabinoids, terpenes and waxes from the hemp plant.

Co2 is converted into a liquid state in the first chamber, with the temperature dropped, before gradually increasing it until you reach that magic 'supercritical' point, where the Co2 is somewhere between liquid and gas.

The Co2 is then pulled through to the extraction vessel, where the ground up hemp sits, with the Co2 successfully separating out the oil from the plant, before moving onto the final section, where the oil and Co2 are divided.

4) Olive Oil

If you were to meet someone having an attempt at making their own CBD oil at home, without the budget for Co2 extraction and all of the necessary machinery, then it is fairly likely they will be using olive oil.

While olive oil could easily be swapped out for other oils such as almond or sunflower oil, olive oil has often been preferred as it does a great job at masking the strong hemp flavour that can be produced.

The hemp must initially be ground down to a very fine level, before it needs to be decarboxylated.

Decarboxylation is an important step when cooking with cannabis, removing carboxyl from THCA and CBDA.

This process is often labelled decarbing and involves converting the raw cannabis into the enhanced potent form and releasing the carbon dioxide.

Once you have decarboxylated the hemp, you add it to the olive oil and heat it up again.

As the oil won't evaporate, this will not be a highly concentrated product, therefore it's best to look at it as a CBD infused oil, while the taste can often be quite strong.

Why We Use CO2 Extraction Methods?

While there are many other methods that could be used, especially if we wanted to cut corners, it is clear that the CO2 extraction method provides the highest quality end result, therefore this was a no-brainer for us.

It might come at a steeper price, but the supercritical CO2 extraction provides a cleaner and healthier end product, releasing any undesirable substances such as chlorophyll.

Throughout our entire product range, you will find this method chosen, so we can rest assured we are bringing the greatest quality products to market.


While there are many methods that can be adopted for extracting CBD from the raw hemp plant, both for big brands or for homemade methods, the one we would recommend looking for is Co2 extraction.

This is the most expensive method for good reason, yielding the greatest results through supercritical heating.