Though it might seem like it, CBD doesn’t just show up on store shelves, ready to be used to help boost wellness and alleviate pain and inflammation. Making CBD is quite an involved process from start to finish, and a great deal of care goes into making it. But how is CBD created? We’ll take you on the journey of how hemp is transformed from plant to CBD oil.
Growing & Harvesting Hemp
Traditionally, hemp was grown for the fibers found in the stem. Hemp fiber is strong and easy to grow in mass quantities, making it a no-brainer for farmers. However, the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill—which took effect in January 2019—federally legalized the production, sale, and possession of hemp, transforming it from Schedule I controlled substance to an agricultural commodity. This inspired a new generation of hemp farmers to also start growing the plant for CBD.
But while hemp grown for fiber is easy to do on a mass scale, hemp grown for CBD requires careful planning and TLC to maximum the number of cannabinoids in the plant and limit the THC to 0.3% or less.
For starters, only the female hemp plants are used for CBD. Growing both female and male plants together increases seed production and reduces the amount of CBD in the plants. Each plant is spaced anywhere from three to five feet apart to give it room to grow and thrive. Farmers then monitor the plants over the next four to five months to not only ensure they’re growing correctly, but to also test for CBD, THC, and mold content of the plants. This monitoring is essential because having too high THC or mold concentrations in the plants means it likely can’t be sold for CBD.
Once harvested, each CBD hemp plant is then moved to a facility and hung for drying and curing. Ideally, the facility is kept between 60- and 70-degrees Fahrenheit at 60 percent humidity with constant airflow (usually with large fans). This is because drying the hemp plants at a slow pace creates a higher quality product with more beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.
The whole drying and curing process can take anywhere from five to ten days, depending on a number of factors, such as the facility environment and number of plants.
Once the hemp is dried and cured, it’s ready to go through the CBD extraction process. The process of taking the CBD from a hemp plant is an extremely scientific process that is usually conducted in one of a few different ways:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2) extraction
- Ethanol extraction
- Water extraction
Carbon dioxide extraction is one of the most popular methods for getting the CBD out of hemp plants because it cuts down on the chances of chemicals and other toxic solvents contaminating the CBD. Frontier Jackson only sells hemp CBD products derived from this extraction method.
CO2 extraction uses a process known as supercritical fluid traction (SFE) to separate the CBD from the rest of the plant using supercritical CO2 (or carbon dioxide that has both properties of a liquid and a gas). As the CO2 is moved through the plant material, it brings along the most important parts of the plant, including the CBD, fatty acids, terpenes, and more. Then, the solvent is removed, leaving the full spectrum CBD oil behind.
While the machinery needed to use CO2 extraction is costly, it’s worth it. This method is the safest and most efficient way to extract CBD from hemp plants. It also produces the highest concentration of CBD (as much as 92 percent).
The ethanol extraction method is another popular way to get CBD from hemp plants. Like with CO2 extraction, ethanol extraction involves pulling the CBD—and the accompanying cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and more—from hemp by having an ethanol solvent pass over the plant material. The solvent is then removed, leaving the full spectrum CBD.
Water Vapor Extraction
Water extraction, also known as vapor extraction, can be one of the more inexpensive methods of extraction. For the process, finely chopped hemp plants are mixed with ice or dry ice, and then agitated to help separate the extracts from the plant material. After that’s done, water is added and the entire mixture is strained through a mesh bag until only the extract remains.
Some companies go through an extra extraction step after the CBD content is removed from hemp. This process, known as isolate extraction, uses the centrifugal partition chromatography (CPC) technique to dissolve everything else (including the terpenes), leaving only pure CBD behind.
Once the hemp plants are harvested and the CBD is extracted, it’s time to produce CBD products. While CBD isolate is often consumed in pill form, full spectrum CBD is added to a variety of products so you can take CBD in a way that’s most convenient and beneficial for you.
CBD edibles are made much in the same way as CBD gummies, which is by infusing the full spectrum oil into foods like brownies, protein bars, and more.
CBD tinctures are what many of us imagine when we think of CBD oil. Tinctures are created by combining the full spectrum CBD with a carrier oil. The carrier oils used can vary depending on the company, but Frontier Jackson uses coconut MCT oil in our tinctures. Learn more about CBD tinctures.
CBD Capsules & Soft Gels
Like tinctures, CBD in capsules and soft gels is often suspended in a carrier oil (like coconut MCT oil). The only difference is that the dose is housed in pill form. See Frontier Jackson’s line of CBD capsules and soft gels.
CBD Vape Juices
Creating CBD vape juices involves mixing CBD with vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol (to make it inhalable) and other flavors (for taste). Learn more about vaping CBD.
No matter what type of CBD you try, you’re sure to find one to help meet your wellness goals. Start your search now.
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