*DISCLAIMER: This is a transcript of episode 11 – Most Common CBD Extraction Methods on Full Spectrum Living with CBD podcast. Click here to listen to the podcast episode or click here to watch the video.
Ep11_THE MOST COMMON CBD EXTRACTION METHODS
Meredith [00:00:06] All right. Welcome back to your next episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD. My name is Meredith and I am your co-host. And I have your hosts here today, Jessica and Adriane. And today, we’re going to talk about extraction methods. How exactly does CBD get removed from hemp and what are the different ways that that’s done? What’s good? What’s bad? Pros and cons of those things. And so, Jessica, I think you’re going to talk a little bit today about what is extraction in the first place. Right?
Jessica [00:00:33] Yeah. Yeah. Sure. So in general, it’s just the way that you remove the content that you’re trying to grow and produce for from the plant material. So we’re talking about your cannabinoids, so primarily CBD in our case and the other components of the plant. So the more minor cannabinoids like THC, CBG and CBC in our plant material. And then you’re also talking about terpenoids, the flavor and scent profile. And then there’s other things that some extraction methods pull out and some don’t. And so we’ll go into that with a breakdown of each type of extraction. But primarily it’s pretty straightforward. The number one type of extraction in hemp currently seems to be CO2 extraction, which we’ll talk about. And then there’s ethanol extraction and hydrocarbon distillation or extraction. So we’ll kind of break down each of those. But they all kind of have their strengths and weaknesses. And we are very partial to one in particular. Which we’ll tell you about. And then there’s a couple of myths surrounding it. So we busting that. But yeah, CO2, ethanol and hydrocarbon would be the top three categories. And then there’s like more kind of trendy ones like ice baths and bubble hash and crazy stuff that is gaining popularity. But they’re not really that readily available in the market right now. So maybe not this episode.
Meredith [00:02:10] Got it. Got it. OK. So you said that the most popular. I don’t know if that was a popular, but the most widely used method is the CO2 method. So, Adriane, how does that how does that even work?
Adriane [00:02:21] Yeah, absolutely. So they use CO2 in a really high pressure format to essentially blast all the cannabinoids or the desired cannabinoids off the plant material. The pressure is so high that the CO2 just simply disappears, which doesn’t leave a residual solvent. This makes it probably more appealing to a lot of producers out there who are quite possibly maybe worried about the residual solvents, which you should be worried about residual solvents. But the problem with this one is the fact that is because the pressure is so high, it is really harsh on that plant material. So the things like Jessica was talking about, like the terpenoids, they’re really sensitive. And so that high pressure blasts them. So through a CO2 extraction, it’s really hard to get any true terpene profile within the product itself.
Meredith [00:03:11] So how does that process even work? Right. So they have the hemp, they harvest the hemp and then the CO2 is not done in a in a specific environment like can you break down like the process itself?
Jessica [00:03:25] So, I mean, I’m not a CO2 expert, but my understanding is it’s a pretty complex system. It’s a highly pressurized the part per million pressure is insanely high, which does make it a little bit of a potential risk. You know, I think with like hydrocarbons, which we’ll talk about later, people talk about, well, but it’s dangerous and dot dot dot but we’ll dispel that myth. But I think it’s important to point out here, because of the high pressure that’s required for CO2 extraction, there is some risk for if an issue did occur. But it’s just simply just mechanical force. Sheer force. Just kind of hammering the trichome structures off of the plant. And then I think, you know, it has the benefit of being able to set really specific parameters to extract certain cannabinoids, kind of take those out of the content. And that’s where you get a lot of the isolation. So CO2 is how you produce like an isolate product, which is very common in hemp production right now for CBD. And I guess a thing to note, there is just kind of it allows for, I would say, just subpar product to be extracted out because it produces a very homogenous end product. So it’s all going to be really similar even if you’re using high quality or low quality product. And so it makes it very appealing to mass production because you can grow subpar plants and produce something that’s still gonna be just as good as if you put a lot of effort into the higher grade productions.
Meredith [00:05:13] So do you think that that’s maybe one of the reasons or maybe you can explain the reasons that this particular extraction method, the most popular?
Adriane [00:05:20] I think that’s absolutely one of the reasons it’s one of the most popular. So when you think about prior to the legalization here within the United States, the hemp was being grown overseas. Right. And so, again, they’re using it, or they were largely using it, whether it was to remediate the soil, to clean out and and cleanse some of the toxins that were found in the soil. They were essentially just throwing seed out there, growing it in large, really compact fields of land. So, again, being able to take that agricultural commodity that was actually used for something else, throw it into an extraction machine and still get CBD out of it. It’s almost the byproduct of what they were essentially really using the hemp for. So I do think that that was that’s one of the reasons why it’s really popular. Another reason why is because, you know, back in the day, hydrocarbon did get a bad rap, like Jessica said. We will talk about that in more detail. And I think just like in any industry, when something like that happens, you’re going to have manufacturers come up with another way to create a product. CO2 extraction equipment is really expensive. It’s really expensive. And so I think that we still see that push from the manufacturers to keep CO2 as one of the quote unquote, top ways to extract CBD from the plant material.
Meredith [00:06:40] Got it.
Jessica [00:06:42] I certainly think there’s kind of like it’s just a trend. It seems to be really popular. It has the benefit of mass production more easily as well. So you can just make a lot more product more quickly. So some some people say at least, which is a benefit. But I think the big things is it’s just you can take mediocre hemp and produce whatever kind of product. It doesn’t really matter. And then you can make it really quickly.
Meredith [00:07:13] I see. OK, OK. So then when it comes to that alcohol extraction method, tell us a little bit more about that.
Adriane [00:07:20] Yeah. That’s essentially soaking the plant material in alcohol or ethanol. The issue here is that ethanol is a polar solvent, actually. Yes, it’s a polar solvent. So it wants to bind to the more water soluble parts of the plant, which means that you’ll actually pull less cannabinoids and terpenoids and flavonoids because those are fat soluble. You’ll pull less of those and more of some of the other components of the plant that actually creates a less pure product. To be honest.
Jessica [00:07:52] You get a lot of chlorophyll content with ethanol as well. So it generally has. That’s probably something we should mention. It generally has a darker color and more of like a grassy or hay kind of flavor, often with ethanol. And then, you know, with your CO2 products, you’ll generally have a much lighter color and much lighter flavor. Just a lot of times it’s tasteless unless they’ve added additional terpenes back into the product. But sometimes you’ll get a mild cannabis flavor, but it’s generally a really mild flavor and appearance versus ethanol, which is really dark generally flavor and appearance because you’re getting chlorophyl from the the product more so than you’re terpenes.
Meredith [00:08:39] OK. OK. And then it comes to the kind of the third. Not not that there are only three ways, but the third most common way is this hydrocarbon distillation. Right. And that’s what that’s what you all use.
Adriane [00:08:52] It is. Yes. Yeah. And to be honest with you, we know that we’re definitely the only company east of the Mississippi that uses this extraction method. I’m pretty much ninety nine point nine percent sure that we may be the only hemp company that’s using a hydrocarbon distillation for our extracts or for their extracts. So you typically see this in the legal states there. They will use it for marijuana in order to be able to pull the extracts, create high quality resins and so forth. But essentially a hydrocarbon distillation uses hydrocarbons, which is a combination of carbon and hydrogen, and they’re naturally formed. It’s from old plant material and rocks and them being pressed into the ground. The most popular ones are butane, propane and hexane. Those are also known organic solvents and they’re recognized safe by the FDA and they’ve been used in food production for years now. So there they’re very safe. The issue with butane is that it gets a bad rap because there were some teenagers several years back that had some mishaps. Right. They they blew things up because they were doing it or utilizing it in an unsafe manner. So essentially straight piping butane. So when you do something unsafe, that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire process itself is unsafe. Right. Again, recognized safe by the by the FDA, commonly used. So we use a closed loop butane extraction. So what that means is our machine will have the butane in liquefied form. We will run it over the plant material. Removing, gently, removing the cannabinoids and terpenes and the trichomes from the plant material. And then it actually goes into a reservoir tank where butane boils at 31, 32 degrees Fahrenheit. So a really low temperature it boils and it’s evaporative, evaporation rate is around 33, 34 degrees. So we’re getting rid of any potential residual solvent during that time and then really making sure that what they get is as close to the plant as they possibly can get. That low temperature is really gentle on the cannabinoids and terpenes allowing us to really capture the best parts of the plant.
Jessica [00:11:15] And I think it should be noted that one of the benefits to butane is that the type of large hydrocarbon that it is really binds well to the fat solubility of the trichomes. And so it essentially is more of a direct connection, like a lock and key type of relationship with the trichome material and not the chlorophyll material and definitely the terpenes. So you’ve got the kind of, in our opinion, the optimal arrangement of how you’re extracting you’re getting all the things that you want. You have a very low chance of extracting out anything else other than your trichomes. And so it just leaves you with a really clean and pure product. That’s just your cannabinoid and terpenoid profile, the kind of like fat, waxy lipid structures that their housed in and and that’s it. So you get a really beautiful golden gooey like concentrate basically.
Adriane [00:12:16] Right. it almost looks like warm peanut butter, I guess. And it and it glistens. We have a great picture on our Website, but it actually looks gold glistening because of the sheen of it. But again, a really thick peanut butter golden kind of color. Of course, then we have to dilute that, you know. And then we use our MCT oil for that.
Meredith [00:12:39] Sure in your manufacturing process. So when you, when you all first started in this industry. Right. And you said, OK, well, we we think we wanted to create CBD products that are really high quality because we so believe in the ability of this to help people for many, many, many reasons, which we’ve talked about quite a few of those. And I think that’s what’s got people tuning in. Right, is that they’re curious. They want to know that it’s safe. They want to know. So you had a choice. You created your company. There are all these different extraction methods. How did you go through the decision making process to say, no, you know, we’re going to use the hydrocarbon method over the others?
Adriane [00:13:17] Right. So let’s be real like hemp cultivation is new and the legalization of it is new 2014. There were already states, though, that had medical marijuana laws that already had processes in place, whether it’s through cultivation, best practices or actually through extraction, best practices. So really doing the research and looking and seeing not only what is the marijuana industry from a medical standpoint doing to create high quality resins and products, repeatable products for consumers. But what are other industries doing? Like what does the essential oil business do? You know, how else would you get natural resins from plant materials safely? Right. And so trying to find the way that we could pull the best parts of the plant, leaving the other parts that we don’t need behind, we, it was very it was a very easy choice for us. Very easy choice to go with the butane extraction.
Jessica [00:14:10] And I think that definitely deserves to note that it wasn’t just like the extraction method, but the way that we process in the kind of material we use for extraction and that really, you know, following more of the medical marijuana standards and procedures that we had observed led us to actually cure our our plant instead of like baling it and having it go moldy. It led us to actually growing for potency and having a really high resin variety of hemp. And to use just the groomed plant bloom material instead of the stalk and stem as well. So those are all practices that you would find for a higher quality medical marijuana product. You don’t necessarily find them in hemp and they’re getting less rare in the marijuana industry as well as people are looking to process like subpar plants into concentrates because they can’t sell them or whatever. But just same trends, they’re of cutting corners for dollars. And we were making for Adriane’s son. So it was an easy choice. Like do it the right way, use just the bloom, actually cure it. Get the most out of your plant and choose what we feel is the safest, most effective extraction method and then have it lab tested to ensure that we can show that there is not butane in our product. There’s never been any part per million of butane in our product. We have it tested. We’ve always had it tested since day one. And it’s just it’s a non-issue. It doesn’t show up in the end product. When you do it right. And that’s why we do it.
Meredith [00:15:48] Well. And so it sounds to me like and I don’t think you guys are coming right out and saying it, so I’ll go ahead and say it. It sounds to me like as the industry has grown right, as we’ve gone from medical marijuana only to now, really kind of more of an open playing field. Sounds like there’s been people that have been kind of trying to figure out how they could mass produce product, not necessarily at the highest level of quality using whatever extraction method they could that would let them produce in bulk. Maybe improve their margins. Although their product may not necessarily be cross tested and it may not be the level of potency or quality of what you all strive to to produce. Is that fair?
Jessica [00:16:33] I would agree.
Adriane [00:16:33] I mean it is fair and I don’t want to be here and think like or anybody listening think like we’re the only company who does it right. Because I don’t, I don’t believe that. I do believe that there are fewer companies doing it right than than those that aren’t. I will absolutely say that. But that’s again, it’s all part of the education and where consumers just really need to take a look at where they’re getting their product. Who’s making it? What information can I find? How are they extracting? Do they provide lab results? So many different things. And we’ve talked about whether it’s what’s on your label, you know, how they produce what parts of the plant they use. All of this is is part of it. And so essentially, we definitely just wanted to come out and say, hey, yes, we know that there’s different extraction methods. This is the reason why we choose this one, because I think there is definitely more people out there trying to bash the hydrocarbon and really push CO2. But there was an article that was done maybe a year or two ago and it was really, really good. I’ll link it whenever this episode launches so that people can go back and read it. But this reporter actually spoke with scientists that are even in the industry on the side. And they’re saying that even though their businesses are doing CO2, they’re going to see a complete switch because butane is going to be the where you can get the highest quality product. Right. So more and more companies are going to come back to butane. It’s going to circle back as it gets more and more competitive. And companies are trying to differentiate themselves from just the mass amounts of CBD that’s on the market today.
Jessica [00:18:09] Because when you go to, you know, with CO2, it’s not all bad at all. But when you when you produce the CO2, it does often just produce a lot of like the same kind of product. There’s just not as much variation achieved through CO2 production in general. And so I think, you know, Adriane is definitely right that people will look for the more artisanal style of production methods to differentiate their product. And, you know, potentially the benefits, because we know that, you know, the terpenes are essentially vital in a lot of ways to certain benefits that people get. And that maneuvering those or changing those slightly and the ratios can have an impact on how some people benefit from it. So I think it’ll be another way to produce products that reach different people and have different benefits potentially.
Meredith [00:19:05] So, from the consumer’s perspective. If I’m standing in a in a, you know, facility, if I’m at a retail establishment and I’m looking and there’s a bunch of different products there in front of me, how do I know? Is it always labeled which extraction method is used or… is that transparent to the consumer?
Adriane [00:19:25] Yeah. That’s where you’re gonna have to. And I know consumers do it all day everyday. I know, well, at least I do. If I’m in a store and I see something new and it interests me. I’ll pull up Google and I’ll look at it. Look at it really quickly. That’s that’s the only way that they’re going to be able to know what extraction method is used. There’s so many other required parts that are needed on the label that some companies are doing it and some companies aren’t anyway. But I think when it comes to extraction and how it’s produced, even that with the lab results, you’re going to have to go to the Website and do a little bit more research.
Meredith [00:19:57] Sure. Sure. Well, if someone wanted to find out a little bit more about your products, about your company, where would where would they go? Where would they find that?
Adriane [00:20:05] Absolutely. Go to our website, bluegrasshempoil.com. Check us out on Facebook and on Instagram as well. Visit our blogs. We try to blog a lot on this. We’ll definitely post links. That way you can kind of see some, whether it’s extraction videos or other people who are also talking about the different extraction methods. We’ll have those there for you as well.
Meredith [00:20:26] Awesome. Awesome. Well, for this episode of Full Spectrum Living with CBD, I am your co-host, Meredith, here with our host Jessica and Adriane. And we will see all the next time.