By now, you must have already heard of the benefits that using CBD has on our health. As its popularity continues to rise, CBD is being manufactured in a wide array of products. This includes creams, oils, and edibles. The most common, however, remains to be CBD oil. Its consumption has proven to be an effective treatment for a number of different illnesses and is also the top choice for people because it does not produce that “high” that makes marijuana illegal in many countries throughout the globe.
Before we get to the extraction methods, and what makes one more preferable than the other, let’s talk more about CBD and how it actually works.
When it comes to benefits, the use of CBD comes with plenty—all of which are continuously being studied. What’s certain is that it does not come with the mind-altering properties of THC, thus can be used by people of all ages. From young children to senior citizens. This is great news as research shows that it has a downregulating effect on both disordered thinking and anxiety.
How does it work? Well, to simplify it, our body has special receptors located in the cells. These are referred to as cannabinoid receptors. These are mostly concentrated in our central nervous system, whilst there are others that can be found in nearly every organ in the body. There are receptors in our reproductive organs, digestive tract, as well as in our skin.
To better understand this, imagine agonists acting as keys and the cannabinoid receptors acting as locks. Now, whenever we consumer cannabis, we are also consuming agonists that then interacts with the different “locks” in our body. Together, they make up an ECS or a larger endocannabinoid system.
What does this mean? This ECS is a system of cell receptor proteins and it has many different functions. Some research suggests that it is the biggest neurotransmitter network in our bodies and helps in just about every important function and everything that happens inside us. This includes:
- Immune function
- Motor control
- Pain Perception
- Bone Development
The ECS has four main purposes in our body. These would be: stress recovery, homeostatic regulation, neuroprotection, and immune balance. What CBD does is tap into this system in order to produce beneficial—therapeutic—effects. It is able to positively interact with our body’s cells because it has a similar molecular composition to other chemicals which is naturally produced by our bodies—this is referred to as endocannabinoids.
The Difference Between CBD and THC:
As we’ve established, these two cannabinoids interact with our bodies in very different ways. They each connect to receptors in different locations; TCH engages with the orthosteric sites whilst CBD helps regulate said interaction by engaging with a separate receptor location. This is said to be the reason why CBD can actually restrain the psychoactivity which is a common result of THC. Basically, if you start feeling more than a little anxious after taking some cannabis, it only means you’ve taken too much THC and not enough CBD.
CBD Extraction Methods:
Alright, so let’s talk extraction methods. The purpose for this is simple—it is done in order to create a more concentrated form and make it good for human consumption. In doing this, you will need a plant material that’s rich in CBD. There are also special strains of CBD, such as Charlotte’s Web and AC/DC which contain a high concentration of CBD (18% in certain cases) and low levels of THC (sometimes as little as 5%).
With that established, let’s look at the most common extraction methods.
The Olive Oil Extraction Method
For this process, ethanol can also be used, but olive oil is the one that’s commonly utilized when you’re doing things at home. For the first step, you need to make sure that the plant material you’re deriving the oil from is properly decarboxylated. What this means is that it has to heat at the right temperature, following a specific amount of time. This would help activate the chemicals within the plant.
It is recommended that you heat everything at 248 degrees Fahrenheit and keep it there for an hour. You can also opt to hasten the process by upping the temp to 284 degrees, which then cuts the heating time to 30 minutes. After you’ve completed this step, add your plant material to the oil and re-heat to 212 degrees Fahrenheit for another 2 hours (or at least an hour). This process would extract the CBD effectively.
- Very safe.
- CBD infused oils are perishable so they must be stored properly.
- Low yields and very labor intensive.
Dry Ice Extraction Method
This is another technique that you can perform safely at home, but do know that it does take a bit more effort when compared to the olive oil method. Here’s what you’ll need:
- The Cannabis plant
- A large piece of mirror or Plexiglas
- 3 pounds of dry ice
- A putty knife or paint scraper
- A 5-gallon bucket (make sure it’s clean)
- Safety gloves (heat resistant)
- Goggles for eye protection
- 3 large, sanitized glass jars for storage
- 3 bubble has mesh bags (sizes: 73, 160, and 220 microns)
To get started, put all of your safety gear on then proceed to chop up the plant into smaller pieces. Place all of the pieces in your bucket after. Next, cover this with dry ice and then leave it for 3 minutes. Note that it is best to fill the bucket no more than halfway. This process freezes the trichome resins. Now, grab the 73-micron bag and fit it on top of your bucket. Shake the bucket around for about 4 minutes—in doing so, you help shake off the frozen trichomes.
Tip the bucket over to the mirror/plexiglass. Shake it as much as you can and do your best to get most of the resin through the mesh bag. Scrape everything off of the mirror/Plexiglas and keep it in one of the jars. Repeat the same step using the two other micron bags. You should get three different strains of extract through this method.
- Easy to follow steps
- Creates very little mess
- Generates a decent yield
- You can end up ruining the quality of your product if you shake it too much and for too long
- Dry ice can be difficult to find in some places
Solvent Extraction Method
When it comes to this process, butane and ethanol are the most commonly used substances. One thing to note is that while ethanol can extract the terpenes and cannabinoids from your source plant, thus making it safe for consumption, it also takes some of the chlorophyll and this can lead to some unfavorable side effects.
How to eliminate the chlorophyll? Well, you can do this by filtering your resulting extract. However, in doing so, you also lessen the oil’s potency quite significantly. On the other hand, while butane is a much stronger oil it is likelier to have solvents which can cause irritation to the lungs.
If this is a process you still want to try, the steps are easy to follow. What you need to do is add the liquid to your plant material. This will begin to remove the cannabinoids, as well as the flavor from your raw plant material itself. As mentioned, it will also take some of its green colorings too. Now, once you feel like you have enough of the liquid cannabinoid, heat it up in order to evaporate it. After, you’ll get your CBD base oil.
- Using high-grade alcohol for this process will generate quality oil that’s suitable for use in vaping cartridges.
- The process is straightforward. After you get all the equipment needed, everything else is easy to follow.
- Very dangerous. As you may already know, ethanol and butane are both flammable. They will easily catch fire should you accidentally start one in your home.
- Potentially harmful. Thing is, extracting oil in this way can actually produce oil that has chlorophyll in it as well as other contaminants. Another thing to note is that it can destroy plant waxes.
In closing, it is important that you understand and learn more about the different extraction methods as it does impact the quality of your end product—as well as your health. The solvent extraction method is the least recommended of the bunch, given the risks and possible health problems, it is likely to cause. The olive oil and dry ice method remain the most popular for people who do extractions at home as they both generate pure and decent yields.
Are there other extraction methods? There are! As a matter of fact, as you continue with gaining more knowledge, you can even create one that suits your needs best. It’s really all about finding what works and what doesn’t.
We wish you the best of luck!