One of the miracles of the hemp plant is it can be used to create a wide variety of products, from a fashionable T-shirt to industrial solvents. The plant is processed into hemp-based foods such as hemp seeds, “hemp hearts” (shelled hemp seeds), hemp protein, and hemp seed oil. It also has become a source of medicinal supplements: CBD oil and CBD extracts.
New CBD oil consumers generally are confused. How is CBD oil made? What are the differences between hemp oil products? Most importantly, how do processing methods affect quality? If it all comes from the same plant, how is CBD oil made compared to hemp seed oil?
Hemp as a nutritional food and hemp as a medicinal supplement have exceptional differences. Not all producers extract CBD oil from the hemp plant in the same way, and their methods can dramatically affect the final product. Quality varies between one CBD oil and the next. Take the time to learn about safe, effective extraction methods and educate yourself on how to source high-quality product.
If you are interested in learning more about CBD oil, including how it provides its multiple health benefits, check out this article:
Hemp Seed Oil Extraction
Hemp seed oil often is confused with hemp-derived CBD oil. After all, they both come from the same plant and have remarkably similar names. The similarities between the two end there. Hemp seed products are more nutritional, and CBD oil products have more medicinal qualities.
Hemp seed products are a nutritional addition to any diet; they pack a powerful superfood punch. The extraction methods are simple and require only rudimentary equipment. In fact, if you are patient, you even can try it at home. Both hemp seeds and hemp seed oil are relatively cheap when compared to CBD-focused products.
Hemp seed oil is made from processing only the seeds of the hemp plant, whereas CBD oil is obtained from processing the whole plant. Hemp seed oil usually is produced through cold extraction; the seeds are pressed or crushed under immense pressure. The temperature is maintained below 120 degrees Fahrenheit to preserve quality.
Because it is made from seeds only, the final product does not contain any measurable cannabinoids and therefore has more of nutritional value than medicinal.
Rick Simpson Extraction
To increase the cannabinoid content, you must process the entire plant: leaves, stems, and seeds. Cannabinoids are much trickier to capture and, generally speaking the extraction process requires quite complex equipment. Rick Simpson pioneered the extraction method most commonly used to make cannabis oil from marijuana.
The Rick Simpson Method, as it's now called, also sometimes is used for CBD oil products. Compared to other methods, the Rick Simpson Method is cheap and often used in lower quality products.
The method relies on soaking the plant in a strong chemical solvent (petroleum or naphtha), which eventually evaporates to leave behind a potent oil. The process often destroys the more sensitive cannabinoids, such as CBD, and also eliminates the terpenes. Although sometimes used for low-quality CBD products, this method is not preferred because it destroys much of the supplement’s integrity.
Ethanol extraction is a version of the Rick Simpson Method that produces a healthier end product. Ethanol is a safer solvent to use, but doesn't remove the bitter-tasting chlorophyll. The final product is murky, and its taste is problematic for some people.
Olive Oil Extraction
An extraction method using standard olive oil sometimes is used as an alternative to ethanol. This process relies on heating the oil to a temperature of 200 degrees Fahrenheit, which extracts the terpenes and cannabinoids from the plant. Olive oil processing can be done at home; it is so simple. The downside is olive oil doesn't lend itself to concentration, and copious amounts of olive oil extract are required to reap any benefit.
The most advanced extraction method is CO2 extraction. It requires expensive equipment, which is why many high-quality products are also higher in price. The technical know-how needed to build and use this system excludes most amateurs. The CO2 extractor is a system of small chambers that use pressure and temperature to push CO2 through a solution containing the hemp plant. As CO2 is forced into the plant, it splits into different cannabinoids, which then are separated into various collection chambers. Depending on preference, these cannabinoids then can be used in isolation or combined.
The CO2 method is used by CBD oil producers who care about the cannabinoid content of the final oil. The technique is used by companies that focus on whole-plant medicine, which has been found to be more beneficial than using CBD isolates.
As you can see, quality of CBD oil varies significantly depending on the extraction method. Some extractions rely on harsh solvents and produce low-cannabinoid oils. Not all CBD oils are made equal, so how do you choose the right one? Here are a few key points to keep in mind before you purchase:
1. Where was it grown?
Hemp plants are a product of their environment. They will absorb any harsh toxins found in the soil, or spread over it as fertilizer. Therefore, only source organically grown, non-GMO hemp CBD oil.
2. What extraction method was used?
The best extraction methods do not rely on high heat, which destroys the delicate nature of cannabinoids. It’s also recommended to look for CO2 extracted products, as they do not require any harsh chemicals and, generally speaking, end up with the highest CBD content when compared to other methods.
3. Is it whole-plant or isolate?
As mentioned, it is possible to isolate CBD from other cannabinoids, but it is not recommended. There are measurable benefits to using whole plant medicine, instead of using CBD in isolation.
For more tips on how to choose a high-quality product, an in-depth discussion is available here.
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