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How Is CBD Oil Extracted? Comparing Methods and Their Advantages

All cannabidiol (CBD) you find in your favorite oils, tinctures, gummies, and drinks comes from either hemp plants or cannabis plants. Whether crafting a full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate CBD oil, there are several ways in which the CBD itself may be extracted from the plant.

One of the most common questions we get asked is how CBD oil is extracted. The answer is that it depends on the company you’re getting your oil from. Extraction methods vary from company to company, but not all extraction methods are created equal.

Let’s take a look into some of the most common CBD oil extraction methods, their advantages and disadvantages, and what to look for when choosing your next CBD oil.

How Is CBD Oil Extracted?

The most common ways CBD oil is extracted are CO2 extraction, lipid-based extraction, solvent extraction, and steam distillation. Let’s take a closer look at how each method works.

CO2 Extraction

CO2 extraction, also referred to as supercritical CO2 extraction, uses pressurized CO2 to pull CBD and other cannabinoids from the hemp or cannabis plant using specialized equipment. Currently, this method is regarded as the industry standard.

Advantages:

  • Safe, clean, pure, and potent end product

  • No use of harsh chemicals like alcohols or other solvents

  • Efficient and precise extraction of CBD and other cannabinoids

  • Less post-processing needs than other extraction methods

Disadvantages:

  • Requires robust, specialized equipment

Lipid-Based Extraction

The lipid-based extraction, or liquid infusion, process involves applying pressure, heat, and time to absorb and encapsulate hemp compounds (cannabinoids) into a lipid or fat. Typically, this lipid or fat is something like coconut oil, medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, or olive oil. Lipid extraction is a newer method for extracting CBD oil and retains the same advantages as CO2 extraction while eliminating the need to use elaborate equipment.

Advantages:

  • Safe, clean, pure, and potent end product

  • No use of harsh chemicals like alcohols or other solvents

  • Efficient and precise extraction of CBD and other cannabinoids

  • Less post-processing needs than other extraction methods

Disadvantages:

  • Not yet widely used by CBD companies

Solvent Extraction

This method uses a solvent, typically ethanol or a hydrocarbon such as butane or propane, to extract CBD. The hemp plant is soaked in the solvent to produce a mixture of solvent and cannabinoids which is then further refined to remove the solvent. While this method is widely regarded as one of the simplest approaches to extracting CBD oil, it certainly has its disadvantages.

Advantages:

  • Simple and inexpensive extraction

  • Longer shelf life 

  • Does not typically require specialized equipment

Disadvantages:

  • Potential toxic solvent residue in end product

  • Inefficient extraction of CBD and other cannabinoids

  • Extraction of undesirable compounds like chlorophyll

  • Bitter, unpleasant taste of end product

Steam Distillation

In this method, steam is used to remove the cannabinoids from the hemp plant, producing a vapor which is then cooled, condensed, and separated to isolate the oil from the water.

Advantages:

  • Simple and inexpensive extraction

  • No use of harsh chemicals like alcohols or other solvents

Disadvantages

  • Inefficient extraction of CBD and other cannabinoids

  • Requires more plant material for less oil

  • Potential damage to chemical properties of some heat-sensitive cannabinoids 

  • Produces inconsistent concentrations of CBD

The Bottom Line: Safety and Quality

At the end of the day, what matters is that you’re getting a safe, high-quality CBD oil. Each CBD oil company has its own preferences when it comes to how its CBD is extracted. However, I think we can all agree that a minimally processed, expertly crafted, and well-tested CBD oil sourced from high-quality hemp plants is the best choice.

Currently, CO2 extraction and lipid-based extraction are the two cleanest and purest methods of extraction. In addition to understanding how your CBD oil was extracted, here are a few tips for choosing a safe, high-quality oil:

  • Spring for pure, potent, and high-quality CBD oil.

  • Regardless of how your CBD oil is extracted, ask for third-party testing results to verify the quality and safety of your oil.

  • Read the ingredients list to ensure there’s no added fillers, chemicals, or byproducts.

The Feals Approach

We use extraction best practices and industry standards to provide you with the purest and most potent CBD oil possible. Our products are formulated with only the purest ingredients. From sourcing to packaging, we act intentionally to ensure quality, safety, and sustainability. 

Our products are grown with care and are hand-harvested by Colorado farmers following organic farming practices. Our rigorous triple-testing of every batch of our oils and double-testing of our mints ensure we deliver the highest quality products. 

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

To learn more about what to look for when buying CBD oil online or what Feals can do for you, call our CBD hotline at 844-311-9090 or check out our products today.

Ella BrooksElla Brooks Ella has worked as a Product Development Scientist in the wellness industry for over 10 years and is passionate about the long-term benefits of CBD.

Likes: yoga, beach visits, PubMed
Dislikes: bad coffee, not having a good bookmark