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How It’s Made: A Look at CBD Oil Extraction and Purification Processes and Equipment
Categories: News cannabis

How It’s Made: A Look at CBD Oil Extraction and Purification Processes and Equipment

Posted: October 15, 2019

Have you ever wondered how CBD oil was made? Not just an explanation of it but what steps and equipment are used in this process? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. CBD extraction can be a relatively straightforward process, but it can also be a very scientific one too. CBD can be extracted at home using simple equipment. In this manner, CBD rich hemp is used to make a thick CBD oil. The oil is then most often turned into a tincture using alcohol. The CBD you get from companies is made much differently. Most often, CBD products from big companies are extracted using commercial equipment that looks amazingly complicated and for the most part, is. Let's explore how CBD oil is made, as well as some of the equipment used during the extraction and purification process.

Alcohol Extraction

Glass Bottles Alcohol extraction is performed using ethanol, not your regular rubbing alcohol. Ethanol has a very high proof and is free from impurities in comparison to ISO or isopropyl alcohol. Sometimes home extractors will even use Everclear. CBD abundant hemp flowers and biomass are soaked in alcohol for a certain period of time. During this soak, essential cannabinoids like CBD, along with other beneficial plant compounds, are drawn from the plant material. Some of the benefits of alcohol extraction are fast extractions and inexpensive equipment. The downside is alcohol will extract chlorophyll, and during the extraction, the material is flammable. Unless you have a good understanding of what you are doing when it comes to this extraction process, it's best left to the professionals.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction removes some of the risks but comes with expensive equipment and requires some skill to operate. CO2 extraction units that are automated can also be purchased, but they come with hefty price tags. Benefits of CO2 are no residual solvents making the end product great for vaping, and cold temp extraction helps preserve terpenes, which means more flavor. CO2 extraction is considered by many to be the cleanest method of extraction. A special system is used during this process that attaches to a holding tank containing CO2. While there is no leftover residual solvent like with alcohol extraction, CO2 will produce unwanted lipids, fats, and wax. To make the cleanest, most potent CBD, the extracted material will go through two other processes know as winterization and distillation. These processes remove those undesirable lipids, waxes, and fats. For many consumers, this is a difference that is night and day when it comes to flavor and effectiveness.


Winterization is performed on extracted CBD oil to help remove those fats, lipids, and waxes. During the winterization process, alcohol is mixed with CBD oil and placed into a deep freezer overnight. Once the mix becomes cloudy the next day, it is filtered. Next, the product is heated to remove the remaining alcohol. Alcohol has a lower boiling point than the oil, so it will all cook off during this process. The result is a clean winterized CBD oil.


Distilling Distillation works much in the way the second part of the winterization process does. During distillation, the CBD oil is heated. This process is known as short path distillation. It allows the individual compounds to be separated due to each having a different boiling point. Upon completion of the short path distillation, a producer has an exceptionally high-quality CBD oil. This process can be done at home but does require a deep understanding of chemistry and cannabis. For this reason, many people choose to leave this area to the pros.


Decarboxylation or decarbing sounds like a technical process but is actually probably the easiest of them all. Decarboxylation is the process of heating cured CBD rich hemp to a specific temperature for a certain period of time. During this time, CBDa is converted into CBD. The heat removes the acid in return activating the plant compound. As you can see, there is quite a bit to the world of extraction. Most people chose to let those who know give this a go and enjoy the products they craft. But, that doesn't mean that you might not want to try crafting your own CBD oil or enjoying knowing how it is done.