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How is CBD Oil Made? [The Complete Beginner's Guide]

September 16, 2018

How is cbd oil made

CBD oil is becoming increasingly used throughout the western world as a medicine to help treat a huge number of conditions, from psoriasis to even Parkinson’s disease.
By extracting the important CBD from the cannabis plant, CBD oil manufacturers can concentrate the isolated chemical and suspend it in inert oil, allowing for easy and convenient use.

But… How is it actually made?

You can generally imagine the production process of most of the things you put in your body (cheese, eggs, vegetables) but what about CBD oil?

Is it a safe process? Is it natural?

Why Would You Want to Extract CBD?

Well, first of all you need to understand why people extract CBD at all, as well as what CBD actually is.

CBD is one of the cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant. These compounds are unique to this type of vegetation, having evolved over millennia for the purpose of stopping animals eating the plants.

Cannabinoids interact with a health system within all mammals called the endocannabinoid system. When any cannabinoids are introduced to your body, they begin to interact with this system, triggering the CB1 and CB2 receptors, both of which have different effects.

Principally, when we administer CBD oil we are looking for its healing properties, as it helps encourage our body’s normal healing processes to function better. For instance, we know that CBD helps to fight off inflammation, as discovered in the famous study by Carrier et al. Thanks to this study, among others, we know that CBD encourages the body to stop inflaming an area that doesn’t need it, lessening pain and distress that would be normally suffered.

As amazing as CBD may be to help medical conditions, the question remains as to how you actually get it in your system.

It occurs naturally in the cannabis plant, but smoking or imbibing that plant comes with its own problems – CBD isn’t the only cannabinoid in cannabis.

THC, the infamous cannabinoid that gets you high, exists in cannabis plants at about ten times the rate of CBD. This means that, if you were to smoke cannabis for the purpose of getting CBD, you’d also be subjecting yourself to THC and its psychoactive properties.

This isn’t inherently a bad thing – there have been no recorded deaths due to THC or CBD overdose in history – but it isn’t entirely desirable either.

Leaving aside the illegality of THC in many parts of the world, it just isn’t practical to be high all of the time; sometimes you just want to take your medicine and get on with your day.

That is the very reason we extract CBD and administer it as an oil – you don’t always want THC or other cannabinoids in your system at any given time.

Now that we understand why the industry for CBD oil exists, how is it made? What is the process?

The CBD Extraction Process

CBD needs to be extracted from the cannabis plant so as to best access its medicinal properties, without having to deal with any of the plant impurities or THC that comes bundled up with the plant.

The process for removing CBD from the plant is actually quite simple and surprisingly un-chemical; you’d normally expect something like this to be industrial and disturbing, but CBD extraction is, in fact, an easy process.

CBD is extracted using CO2; however, there are generally two varieties of this extraction that are used: supercritical and subcritical.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Supercritical refers to the temperature and pressure to which the CO2 is heated.

When it is heated to over 31.1˚C, carbon dioxide enters into what is known as a supercritical state.

This means that it exists as both a solid and a liquid, maintaining properties of both states. If this sounds a bit too much like your physics lessons in high school, stick with it, because it gets even stranger. When CO2 is heated to a supercritical state, it is able to seep in-between materials like liquid, but still carry itself and move like a solid. This makes it excellent at dissolving other materials, as it can pass through it and lift particular compounds from what it passes through, all while leaving behind undesirables.

We generally call a chemical in this state a solvent, and it’s incredibly useful at extracting compounds from other materials.

Supercritical CO2 Extraction Process

The actual process of extracting CBD from cannabis is very simple. You put the cannabis plant material in an extraction chamber – essentially a sealed chamber with an appropriate air flow – and flood it with supercritical CO2.

The supercritical CO2 seeps into the plant matter, diffusing the CBD from the plant. You can actually control what compounds you want taken from the plant based on what temperature you superheat the CO2 to.

This supercritical CO2 then passes into a diffusion chamber, which releases the CBD into inert oil and alcohol solution. This same CO2 is then released and returned back into the system.

This means that the supercritical CO2 extraction method for CBD is an entirely closed system, only requiring new cannabis and the energy to power the flow of CO2.

What makes it even more environmentally friendly is the fact that the remaining cannabis can be repurposed.

This CBD-less cannabis can now be used to make THC oil or other THC products, or even sold as a textile to use in fabric or rope making.

As the cannabis market is primarily run and funded by lovers of the plant, you can expect a great deal of it to be as environmentally friendly as possible.

Alongside being environmentally friendly, supercritical CO2 extraction is extremely effective at maintaining efficiency, as evidenced in a study published by Laura Rovetto and Niccolo Aieta in the Journal of Supercritical Fluids. In the study, supercritical CO2 extraction was found to extract upwards of 92% of the total CBD product in a plant.

However, there is an issue with using supercritical CO2, and that is that it unfortunately does carry with it some compounds from the cannabis plant that you don’t want in your CBD oil.

To combat this, manufacturers use a process known as “winterization”.

Winterization of CBD Oil

Winterization is the process of steeping the diffused CBD that you just extracted in alcohol.

Once the alcohol solution has completely taken all the CBD from the supercritical CO2, the solution is then frozen to just below freezing. When this happens, the unwanted chemicals that the CO2 extracted – such as chlorophyll – are stuck in the alcohol solution, whereas the desired CBD remains in the inert oil.

Using this process, CBD is further filtered, allowing the finished product to avoid unwanted fatty substances or plant chemicals.

It’s incredibly important not to skip this step, as many countries expressly forbid the sale of cannabis products that contain above 0.2% THC within them. Through winterization, not only is the CBD oil made safe to consume, it is also protected legally. After all, not everyone wants to get high every single time they want to medicate themselves.

Interestingly enough, this is actually the same process used in brandy or wine making to concentrate the alcohol – as alcohol has a lower freezing temperature than other substances, you can actually remove water and unwanted chemicals while concentrating the taste and alcoholic content of a beverage; it’s basically the same principle.

If you don’t want to have to do this, you can instead use an alternate method of CBD extraction, known as subcritical.

Subcritical CO2 Extraction

As the name might imply, subcritical CO2 extraction is when you don’t superheat the CO2 to a supercritical state. Instead, you allow the CO2 to diffuse the CBD and carry with it a large number of the cannabinoids and other compounds within the plant matter.

When you use subcritical extraction, you are left with thick, almost molasses-like syrup that contains a great deal of compounds from the cannabis plant.
The reason you’d do this is if you want to try and create distilled marijuana oils with both THC and CBD, or if you’re looking to further refine the oil into purer CBD oil using a different method.
Some producers swear by the health benefits of terpenes that winterization removes, so by using subcritical extraction, these manufacturers are able to more carefully control which compounds they want to purify out of their final solution.

You can actually buy unpurified CBD oils with a variety of other compounds mixed in, but it is far better to look for pure CBD oil; this ensures you only get the dosage exactly as you need it, with no unintended side effects linked with regular dosing of chlorophyll or THC.

The Round Up

Despite its clinical appearance in the bottle, as well as what you might have heard from naysayers, the process of extracting CBD and suspending it in inert oil is surprisingly simplistic and environmentally friendly.

It’s always important to know what you’re putting into your body and a huge part of that is knowing how and why it was created.

Now you can enjoy your CBD oil with the full knowledge of where it comes from, especially that it’s an environmentally, reusable process.

Just keep an eye on your CBD oil and make sure it doesn’t have any THC in it!

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About the Author
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Jonathan Miller
Jonathan Miller, age 53 is an Ex Railyard Engineer who suffers from chronic back pain and anxiety. Jonathan’s goal was to create an unbiased site that would provide anyone who seeks help in CBD oil as a treatment, with accurate and helpful information.
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Getting Started with CBD Oil

If you suffer from anxiety (like me), depression or pain and are looking to get started with CBD oil, you need information on how to buy CBD oil, or you’re simply looking to learn more about CBD products, you’ve arrived at the right place.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, aka CBD, is a compound found in the cannabis plant that has significant medical benefits. CBD can be extracted from two different species of the Cannabis Sativa L plant, which include Cannabis and Hemp. Unlike its rival THC, CBD does not make people feel “stoned” and can actually counteract the psychoactivity of THC.

One of the main advantages of CBD is its non-psychoactive affect making it a great option for people looking for relief from inflammation, anxiety, insomnia, seizures, spasms, and other conditions.
As I mentioned above the primary distinction between Hemp and CBD oil is the part of the plant they are derived from and what parts of the plant are used to create the oil. Hemp oil is typically made from pressing cannabis seeds to extract the fatty oil from within, while some that have mastered the CBD extraction process also use the flowers as they contain high percentages of CBD. CBD oil, on the other hand, is usually made from the flowers of cannabis plant through various extraction methods.

How Does CBD Affect Your Body?

The way marijuana affects your body varies from person to person as it will often depend on genetics, tolerance to the cannabinoids, medical health, DNA, and more. It also depends on the way you consume the CBD, for example, the effects of vaping CBD are far different to smoking it in the form of high-CBD cannabis strains. 

CBD and the way it affects us is still of somewhat a mystery to researchers they still try to figure out how it effects the EndoCannabinoid system. During the previous century, it was discovered that our bodies have receptors within the brain and central nervous system. Specific cannabinoids such as CBD bind to those receptors and activate the EndoCannabinoid System (ECS). This then provides a wide range of psychological and physical benefits helping the body.

Without going into specifics, cannabinoids signal to the body to create endocannabinoids and build more receptors. This helps the body to limit things associated with pain and inflammation, repairs cells and provides a wide range of other health benefits. Unlike other cannabinoids, CBD is thought to be the ultimate anti-inflammatory cannabinoid.

Want to learn more about how CBD works read: How Long Does it Take CBD to Work

Medical Benefits of CBD

There is a misconception as to whether CBD can help treat patients, similar to pharmaceutical medicine, but thanks to the internet and a few different medical studies patients and researchers have been exposing their findings on how CBD oil is helping to cure a wide range of medical conditions.

The most popular story was the one of Charlotte Figi. At the time Charlotte was only 6 years old. As a little girl, she was experiencing over 300 epileptic seizures per week until she was successfully treated by a CBD-rich strain oil, later named Charlotte’s Web.

The high-quality CBD oil, changed her life, helping her to overcome a 6-year battle. Since her story hit the news, CBD and other cannabinoids of the cannabis plant are constantly being researched to understand how they can help to treat different medical conditions. As a matter of fact, CBD has been thought to help treat over 170 medical conditions, among them severe conditions such as Anorexia, Cancer, Arthritis, Depression, Anxiety, Chronic Pain, Insomnia, Glaucoma, multiple sclerosis and PTSD.

Recent studies have even shown that CBD, may cure life-threatening diseases by altering genes. Other studies have proven that it might even be an effective treatment for osteoarthritis and chronic pain.

The way that CBD works is that it interacts with receptors located in different parts of the central nervous system. These receptors are called CB1 and CB2. Both reflect the areas of the brain they interact with such as the limbic system. When taking CBD, this cannabinoid locks in on these receptors and affects the body in different ways. For example, it can help to block the pain caused by specific medical conditions.

While numerous studies have shown promising results, it is important to understand that CBD research is still at premature stages. A 2011 study that researched CBD for fibromyalgia showed extremely promising results. 56 of 112 participants who took CBD in the form of oil saw a great reduction in their symptoms and pain, while those using traditional methods didn’t see hardly any improvement.

Can you Buy CBD if you live in an illegal state?

The process is not cut-&-dry, and but thanks to the Farm Bill of 2014, forms of CBD can now be delivered to your doorstep. Those that live in recreational states can purchase CBD cannabis oil which is high in potency and extremely effective for helping to treat severe medical conditions, while those that live in other states that are not medical or recreational can benefit from CBD hemp oil. CBD Hemp oil is perfect for helping to treat a wide range of conditions including anxiety, depression and acute pain. 

Who is NaturalWellNessCBDOil?

My name is Jonathan, and I’ve created this loving resource that is packed with information about CBD oil. I am growing a community on Facebook and are constantly engaging with different people to help them make more informed decisions. I review products on a daily basis and provide unbiased reviews about some of the top CBD oil manufacturers. All the information on the site is FREE; I only ask that you help to share the information you find on the site with other people that are suffering. 

To your health and happiness.