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How Is CBD Extracted?

How Is CBD Extracted

Understanding how CBD is extracted is important for CBD users to know before they buy a CBD product. Different extraction methods can result in CBD products that offer varying potencies of CBD with different benefits. There are some key advantages and disadvantages of the most popular extraction methods to understand, so you can choose the right CBD products for your health and wellness needs. 

Different Ways to Extract CBD

The various extraction methods deliver CBD oil with differing cannabinoid profiles which can impact how the CBD oil affects your body. 

Supercritical CO2 Extraction

Though more expensive than other large scale methods of extracting CBD, supercritical CO2 is popular when it comes to obtaining the purest and most potent full-spectrum CBD extract.  

The process uses a pressurized chamber to put carbon dioxide gas under extremely high pressure to change the state to a liquid. The liquid CO2 is then passed through the plant material and acts as a solvent to separate out the CBD oil. The solution then enters a third chamber in which the CO2 is evaporated off leaving behind pure CBD oil.

Pros and Cons of Using Carbon Dioxide

Supercritical CO2 extraction is highly efficient and is one of the safest methods for extracting CBD. The oil produced using CO2 extraction has a high concentration of CBD and avoids extracting chlorophyll along with the oil, which can give the extract a bitter, herbal flavour. 

The main disadvantage of supercritical CO2 extraction is the initial investment required for the complex machinery and the highly-qualified staff needed to operate it. This often means that CBD products containing oil extracted using supercritical CO2 are sold at a higher price than other brands. However, premium CBD vendors such as Canzon prefer to use this extraction method for certain products as it results in a pure, safe product for our customers.

Solvent Extraction

Solvent extraction is often preferred by companies as it is the most affordable and easy means of extracting CBD from hemp. If done correctly, the final CBD concentrate is pure, with no petrochemical contamination and produces a potent end product.

During the process, the raw hemp is drenched in a liquid solvent such as butane, propane, isopropyl, or ethanol alcohol. This strips the plant of its cannabinoids and dissolves the nutrient-dense plant waxes. The cannabinoid-enriched solution is then evaporated to remove the solvents – which have a low boiling point – leaving behind pure full-spectrum CBD oil.

Pros and Cons of Using Solvents

While solvent extraction is highly efficient at removing CBD from hemp, it also carries a significant amount of risk if not done properly. Studies have shown that some products made with solvent-extracted CBD contain a residual amount of petroleum and hydrocarbons. It is important to purchase CBD products from reputable companies who can provide third-party lab test results.

Olive Oil Extraction

Olive oil extraction is the most ancient method used to obtain CBD from hemp. The olive oil method of extraction is even simple enough to perform at home. Before beginning the extraction, the raw industrial cannabis plant needs to be decarboxylated to transform the cannabinoids into their active form. 

This is achieved by heating the raw plant material to approximately 120°C, then combining the olive oil and decarboxylated hemp and heating them together. 

Pros and Cons of Using Olive Oil

Olive oil is a natural solvent and eliminates the risk of harmful residues remaining in the final extract as with standard solvent extraction. 

Unfortunately, the resulting oil does not have a high concentration of CBD and consumers need to be aware of this when it comes to finding the right dosage. Olive oil is also too expensive to be considered as a viable solvent for producing CBD products on an industrial scale. Olive oil is perishable, so it needs to be kept away from direct sunlight in a cool place, which can make it inconvenient as a product to take on-the-go. 

Steam Distillation

Steam distillation is one of the simplest methods for extracting CBD oil and has been practised for centuries as a way to obtain essential oils from plants. The extreme heat and pressure created by the steam draw the CBD oil out of the hemp plants.

A condenser returns the water vapour and CBD oil to a liquid state, which is then separated via a filtered flask. 

Pros and Cons of Using Steam

Steam is a clean way to distil CBD from hemp and does not leave behind any residues, resulting in a high-quality pure CBD-rich product. It is ideally suited to small-batch products rather than large manufacturers. 

However, while the steam distillation method has been used for centuries, it is very inefficient compared with other methods for CBD extraction. This method also requires larger amounts of raw plant materials and extracts less CBD concentrate. The high heat required to separate the CBD from hemp can affect the cannabinoid profile of the extract if not controlled properly. 

What Happens After the Oil is Extracted?

Raw CBD extract contains a high concentration of CBD. Yet, it also contains a number of other compounds including phytonutrients, fatty acids, plant waxes, and residual solvents (depending on the extraction method). This often means that the extract needs to go through a further purification process to get the final CBD oil extract. 


Winterization is the process of combining the extract with alcohol and then freezing the solution overnight. The frozen solution is filtered to remove the fat and wax solids, then heated to evaporate the alcohol. 

Short-Path Distillation

To further refine CBD oil to obtain pure isolate, the winterized extract goes through a purification process called short-path distillation. The extract is heated and each compound is separated out due to the different boiling points. What is left behind is pure CBD free from THC and other cannabinoids and terpenes. 

Which Is the Best Extraction Method?

Most CBD producers consider the CO2 method to be the most effective way to extract CBD because it is highly efficient and relatively safe. It also produces full-spectrum CBD oil with the most diverse cannabinoid profile. Consumers can benefit from the Entourage Effect which is reported to enhance the benefits of CBD on the endocannabinoid system. 

The Takeaway Wrap Up

If you are looking for a safe and potent CBD oil to add to your daily routine, consider supercritical CO2-extracted CBD such as that found in Canzon CBD products. Canzon’s CBD can help support your overall wellness.

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