It’s easy to assume that CBD would be difficult to cultivate, but you couldn’t be further from the truth. While time-consuming, the process is now carried out by manufacturers on an industrial scale and it seems to be deceptively simple. So, how is CBD extracted and how can you turn your hand to potentially creating your own?
How is it made?
Commercial CBD is sourced from marijuana or, most commonly, from hemp plants; with the extraction process stripping the end product of any of the psychoactive THC. If you wish to try this at home, it is easy and legal to grow your own hemp plant either outdoors (in a sunny spot) or inside. Hemp has a naturally low THC content which makes it perfect for CBD cultivation. Once the plant has been grown to maturity, it is time to harvest the leaves and start the CBD extraction process.
There are a number of different ways to do this, including:
The Olive Oil Method
One of the safest ways to extract CBD, this method is used by many home-extraction enthusiasts. First, the plant matter is heated for just under an hour at 120°C to undergo decarboxylation and activate the material. Once completely dried, the plant matter is added to your olive oil and heated again at around 100°C for another hour to allow the cannabinoids to fully infuse with your oil. Sieve or strain out the plant matter, until you are left with clear, greenish oil.
Once ready, the oil can be consumed by holding it under the tongue or drizzling it over a nice bruschetta. This process is both cost-effective and simple, leaving little that you can get wrong. However, as with any at-home process, it is difficult to get the strengths right, and home-made CBD oil is likely to be a lot weaker than professionally-processed CBD. This means that you may need to consume large amounts of the oil to get the same effect from a few drops of a commercial solution.
The Co2 Method
This is where things get much more technical. This method uses a three-chambered device called a closed loop extractor with each part of the device used for a different step in the process. The first chamber contains liquid Co2 and the second part holds the hemp leaves or marijuana plant matter. When you are ready to process your CBD, the chamber containing the Co2 has its temperature and pressure steadily raised using a combination of manual heat and a compressor. This is then fed into the second chamber and left to infuse with the plant matter.
Once these are sufficiently mixed, the Co2 is carried to the third empty chamber where it evaporates into a gas, leaving CBD oil at the bottom of the container for collection. This process is relatively fast compared to other more intensive methods but has the highest skill - the ceiling of all the treatment types…and that’s before you factor in the £20k cost of the kit.
The Solvent Extraction Method
One of the most dangerous options for CBD enthusiasts, solvent extraction requires the use of alcohol-based agents to produce CBD oil that can then be used in cartridges and vape pens. All that is required is to add your chosen ethanol based solvent and leave it to steep for 24 hours. Once finished, boiling off the solvent will leave you with your pure CBD oil. This can then be fed into empty vape cartridges and tested to make sure that it is safe to consume. While the steps are simple (and the end product is effective), this method requires the highest-grade alcohol to ensure it is safe and useful. It is also worth remembering that all the agents in this process are highly flammable and an innocent accident can start a fire that may be difficult to extinguish. Adding solvents can also produce harmful carcinogens that are activated when they pass over the heated coils of your device. These options should only ever be used by professionals taking the utmost care who truly know what they are doing.
Can I extract CBD myself?
The simple answer is yes…with a but. CBD extraction is a straightforward process in theory, but carrying it out in the real world can be much more difficult. This means being aware of a number of roadblocks, the big three of which are:
Time: Creating your own CBD oil requires a great deal of time spent preparing your materials and learning how to perfect the process. You will have to undertake multiple test-runs to make sure that you’re doing it right. If you’re money rich and time poor, there may be much better options available to you.
Cost: Acquiring the materials required to create your own CBD can be very expensive and potentially illegal depending on the laws of your country. Always set a budget before you start your processing and take time to check the laws for your area or state.
Risk: Even if you follow every step of the CBD creation process, you may still find yourself with a final product that is weak, retains THC, or is dangerous to consume. Make sure you are fully aware of any potential problems you may face before taking cultivation into your own hands.
While creating your own CBD can be entertaining, using tried-and-tested products made by professionals is the only way you can truly guarantee safety, effectiveness, and true quality.